In 1833, Joseph Smith — the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — announced the building of the Church’s first temple in Kirtland, Ohio. Today there are just 124 worldwide, compared with thousands of regular church buildings where members meet for Sunday services.
To Mormons, temples are the most sacred places on earth and are used for the highest sacraments of the faith — including the special marriages that in Mormon belief unite a couple and their children for eternity.
Because of the sacred nature of temples, only members who are actively engaged in the Church may enter. Members must be observing the basic principles of the faith, such as attending weekly church meetings, caring for their families and living an honest and moral life.
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said of temples: “These unique and wonderful buildings … represent the ultimate in our worship.”
Creating sanctified sacred houses of worship where people separate themselves from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to approach God is a time-honored tradition talked about extensively in the Old and New Testaments.
Moses and the children of Israel were commanded to build and carry the Tabernacle — a large, portable temple, a sacred space — with them as they wandered in the wilderness. King Solomon was directed to build and dedicate the great temple in Jerusalem as a place set apart from the rest of the world. Referring to the temple as his “Father’s house,” Jesus Christ himself visited the temple and protected its sanctity when it was violated by money changers.
Temples are closed on Sundays, when Church members attend their regular services at a chapel. The standard Church worship service at a chapel lasts just over an hour, and is followed by Sunday school and other classes.