A year after completion, Manitoba’s only Mormon temple will open up briefly to Winnipeggers curious to see the inside of the grand, angel-topped building in southwest Winnipeg.
Over two weeks in October, local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plan to tour up to 4,200 people through their new temple at 15 Centre St., situated on the median between south and north bound lanes of Kenaston Blvd in the Bridgwater neighbourhood.
"The reason we open it up is because it is the only time the public will be able to see it," explains Allan Robison, co-chair of the temple open house committee.
"We want them to experience the beauty but also the spirit of the building."
The 13,000-sq.-ft. neo-classical brick and limestone building measures 13.6 metres at the peak of the A-frame roof and features a 32.6 metre tall spire topped with a golden statue of the Angel Moroni, a prophet in the Book of Mormon.
After the brick and limestone building is consecrated — an event scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 31 — only church members in good standing can enter the temple for baptisms, weddings, education and other church ceremonies and sacraments.
Before visiting the temple, church members must be interviewed by two leaders before qualifying for a recommend, the qualification needed for visiting the temple, explains Christine Baronins, communications officer for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
"Ultimately, you sign that recommend and you decide if you’re living God’s law and can enter worthily," she says.
People who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ can attend services at any of the denomination’s chapels but cannot enter the temple after dedication because the denomination views it as their most sacred space.
"We welcome anyone at any time in our meetings," says Robison.
"But the temple is different. You have to be spiritually mature to enjoy the experience."
People signing up for tours are encouraged to watch a short video at https://thewinnipegtemple.org/ before visiting. Volunteers will show visitors through four main spaces on a one-way tour, including the instruction room, the baptism room, the sealing room, where couples make their spiritual vows to be married for eternity, and the celestial room. That final space, used for meditation and prayer, is one of the most beautiful areas in the temple, says Baronins.
"That’s where you sit and reflect," she says of the room furnished with soft seating and a chandelier featuring 1,000 crystals.
"That room is to make you feel like you walked into our Heavenly Father’s presence."
In addition to the public tours, the temple officials plan to hold private open houses for the contractors and tradespeople and people who live in the surrounding Bridgwater neighbourhood. Media will tour the building in early October and the Free Press was not allowed inside for this story.
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Baronins hopes people from many faith traditions visit the temple in October to understand more of the beliefs and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a member of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, she has visited the sacred spaces of other traditions and would like to return the favour.
"When visiting with my friends in their places of worship I have felt a strong sense of solidarity as we come together in the spirit of unity and mutual respect," says Baronins, who was raised Roman Catholic but joined the Church of Jesus Christ in her late teens.
"Doctrine may differ but when people of faith come together there is great power in the desire to work for the common good."
Church leaders broke ground on the Winnipeg temple nearly five years ago with an anticipated opening of 2018. Construction delays and then the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the opening to this year.
Previously, Manitoba church members travelled to the temple in Regina for study and sacred ceremonies. The new temple—the ninth in Canada — will serve Manitoba as well as Northwestern Ontario and the northern parts of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.
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