40,000 VISITORS EXPECTED AT MORMON TEMPLE OPEN HOUSE

by Don Thomas,  Edmonton Journal Staff Writer

Edmonton Journal  www.edmontonjournal.com
Saturday, November 27, 1999


Angel tops spire of building on Whitemud Drive
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Up to 40,000 visitors are expected when Edmontonís new Mormon temple briefly opens to the public next week, giving non-members their only chances to see inside.

The grey granite building has become something of a landmark on Whitemud Drive near 53 Street. Itís spire is topped with a gold-leaf statue of the angel Moroni facing east, where Mormons believe Christ will reappear.

While regular worship services take place in local chapels and regional churches, the most sacred rites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are held in a temple.

Only their do men and women become full members. Marriages are "sealed" there for eternity. There, members wearing white garments initiate their ancestors into the faith by standing in for them in full-immersion baptisms.

After the dedication Dec. 11 and 12, non-Mormons will not be allowed inside. Members can only enter by obtaining an annual permit after being interviewed about their personal lives and adherence to Mormon teachings. So many people are expected for open house Dec. 4 to Dec. 7 that a park-and-ride service will run from Fort Edmonton Park, said church spokesperson Eileen Bell.

Thereíll also be special tours for media, government and clergy on Dec. 2. Use of cameras is not allowed inside.

The interior is richly appointed with crystal chandeliers, marble flooring and gold-leaf stenciling around the sealing.

Rooms include a baptistry, "ordinance rooms" where members receive the teachings of the church and the "celestial room," representing Mormon heaven.

The temple is only the second in Alberta since the historic Cardston temple in southern Alberta was built in 1923. Canadaís second temple opened in the Toronto area in 1990.

Edmontonís is among dozens of relatively inexpensive "mini-temples" built or planned after church leader Gordon B. Hinckley, 89, of Salt Lake City, Utah, decreed in 1997 temples must be more accessible.

Almost identical temples were dedicated two weeks ago in Regina and Halifax and a third will open in Montreal in February. Edmontonís will be the 66th operating in the world.

Hinckley usually presides at temple dedications and may be present Dec. 11 and 12, if his health permits, said Bell.

TOUR THE TEMPLE

The temple is located on the southeast corner of 53rd Street and Whitemud Drive.

Public open house will be held Dec. 3 and 4 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Dec. 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Temples are closed on Sundays.

On-site parking is only available for the handicapped and elderly. A park-and-ride service will operate from Fort Edmonton Park with tours and bus rides taking about an hour.
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