ISSUES OF FAITH: What’s the difference between a church and a temple?

ONE OF THE distinctive faith traditions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are temples.

Many have asked me what the difference is between a temple and a church.

There are churches locally, like the one here in Port Angeles, where anyone is welcome to come Sundays and worship. It even says on the front of the building, “Visitors Welcome.” Services are at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

In these sacrament meetings, a priest blesses the sacrament and it is passed to the congregation. It’s what some faiths might call communion. On other days, churches are used for youth activities, service projects and other gatherings. But temples are different.

Temples are the holiest places of worship. Members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ consider temples to be houses of the Lord.

Temples are places where individuals can go to make sacred promises with God. One feels a special spirit at the temple.

Even the grounds outside the temple bring tranquility. As one enters the temple, phones are turned off.

As you set foot in the house of the Lord, you feel God’s peace and escape the noise from the outside world. There is reverence. It’s not secretive, but sacred. You are there to focus on Jesus Christ; the Lamb of God; the Son of the Eternal Father; the Savior of the world.

Sacred places like temples aren’t a new thing.

Moses was told to “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Solomon built a magnificent temple. Jesus taught in the temple in Jerusalem.

In Washington, there are three temples.

They are located in Seattle, Spokane and Richland. Additionally, there is one under construction in Moses Lake, and another just announced in October, which will be built somewhere near Tacoma. Members who live on the Olympic Peninsula were very excited by the news of having a temple a little closer.

After a temple is constructed or after a renovation, and before it is dedicated, there is an open house for the public. The Washington, D.C., temple recently had over 300,000 visitors to its open house before it was rededicated after extensive renovations.

The Seattle Temple was dedicated on Nov. 17, 1980, by Spencer W. Kimball, who was at that time president of the Church.

In the dedicatory prayer, he said, “Bless this temple that it may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory, a house of eternal marriage, a house of sealings, and Thy house, the House of God.”

Marriages in temples are not just for life. In temples and through the Priesthood, couples are sealed together for eternity.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus Christ tells the Apostle Peter: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The Church teaches that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. Families are forever and as children of our Heavenly Father, we are part of His family.

Recently, Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “I promise that increased time in the temple will bless your life in ways nothing else can.”

In a world of instant messages, emails, texts, constant breaking news and dozens of apps pinging and trying to get our every waking minute’s attention, I find it revitalizing to take a break and find a quiet place in the temple to ponder my purpose in life.

It keeps me grounded as I remember my blessings, and pray seeking direction in a world that can be troubling.

Temples are a blessing in my life and they are an immense part of my faith.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is jasonbring@gmail.com.

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