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This article was published 8/5/2020 (211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBA members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are excitedly looking forward to the dedication of their new temple in November.
"We have anxiously been awaiting this day since the construction of the (Winnipeg) temple was first announced in 2011," said Josh Gruninger, president of the Manitoba district of the church.
"Now that we have a date (Nov. 8), it seems so much more real."
The date for the dedication was announced last week by the international headquarters; elder Gerrit W. Gong, one of the church’s top officials, will preside.
Prior to the dedication, the church will host open houses of the Winnipeg temple from Oct. 22-31 for the wider community.
The opening of the temple is good news for the province’s 4,500 church members, Gruninger said: it means they won’t have to travel to Regina, currently the site of the closest temple, for ceremonial rites such as weddings and baptisms for the dead.
At the same time, it will provide a "sacred space apart from the world" where members can grow in their faith and deepen their spiritual commitments, he added.
Although non-members are not permitted inside the temple after it is dedicated, they are welcome to visit the site, located on Kenaston Boulevard, near Bridgwater Forest, and enjoy its park-like setting, he noted.
While looking forward to the dedication, local church officials are keeping tabs on the possible implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It’s on the top of our minds," said Christine Baronins, who directs public affairs for the church in Manitoba.
She added the issue has not slowed construction, noting workers have been observing strict pandemic protocols.
While she hopes the novel coronavirus won’t cause the opening to be delayed, officials will "adjust accordingly" if it happens.
"We’ll just have to adapt," she said, acknowledging such a move would be disappointing for church members who are "super excited" to see it open.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.