Thousands will be admitted, starting Friday, for the first time in three decades
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 16, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 02:52 a.m. HST, Oct 16, 2010
In the first public viewing in 32 years, more than 17,000 people from around the world will get to walk on "holy ground" inside the Laie Hawaii Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following a major renovation project.
From Friday until Nov. 13, the public will be allowed to enter the temple's hushed halls for only the third time in its 91-year history. Photographs will be allowed only outside the majestic white building, set back above Kamehameha Highway. Visitors will climb a wide, white central stairway, surrounded on both sides by impeccable, multilevel gardens, before arriving at the temple's front steps. Free tickets are still available.
"The temple is our most sacred place, set apart for those who have met the highest standards of the church," said Scott Whiting, the LDS' senior ecclesiastical leader in Hawaii. "It is holy ground ... one of the few places on earth today dedicated to the sacred."
Renovations that started in January 2009 include structural and mechanical repairs, more elevators for wheelchair users, and overall beautification inside and out, said Whiting, who described the temple as "magnificent."
An LDS release said the refurbishments include the restoration of bas-relief friezes of scriptural scenes and original LeConte Stewart murals. Also installed were new art glass windowpanes and glass panels, as well as hardwood trim and inlaid panels featuring koa.
TEMPLE OPEN HOUSE» The general public may tour the renovated Mormon temple in Laie from Friday through Nov. 13. The temple is at 55-600 Naniloa Loop.
» Reservations are required. Free tickets may be obtained at www.lds.org/reservations. For groups over 20 or people without Internet access, call 866-537-8457 or 808-570-0080 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hawaii time. Tickets will be mailed, so make reservations five to seven days in advance.
» October tours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. November tours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except for Nov. 1 and 8, when tours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
» No tours on Sundays.
"This is a very rare, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance for the general public or for members who don't have the Temple Recommend (a certification card)," Hoag said.
Whiting said about 40 percent of the Laie church members have Temple Recommend cards that certify they are "living the commands and teachings of the church" to the best of their ability,
"We encourage all members of the church to become qualified to receive the card. ... But we're under no illusion that we (card holders) are perfect. Perfection is not the standard to be inside the temple," Whiting said.
Those who enter the temple are required to don white clothes that symbolize purity, and must wear covers over their shoes. Even those who clean the temple must be card-carrying members, he said. Visitors during the open house won't have to wear white, but it is hoped their apparel respects the sacredness of the site, Whiting added.
Chapels are open to all members for Sunday worship services and other activities, but temples are used mainly for marriages, baptisms, ordinations and performing "ordinances" or sacraments on behalf of the dead, as mandated by Jesus Christ, he said.
"We believe the ordinances performed are essential for us to be with our family throughout eternity," Whiting said. "Our message is that there can be more than just a hope to be with our ancestors again," as the temple rites provide a "physical level of sanctity" to the posthumous baptism of generations of ancestors, he said.
The Laie Hawaii Temple was the first to be built outside the mainland, in 1919, and the fifth to be built of the 134 Mormon temples worldwide. Hoag said the temple serves about 50,000 members living on Oahu and Kauai; the Kona Hawaii Temple serves those on the Big Island and Maui.
Last renovated in 1978, the building covers 42,100 square feet on 11 acres. The temple will be rededicated Nov. 21. The cost of renovations by Jacobsen Construction Co. will remain undisclosed, Hoag said.