Temple worship continues to evolve, sometimes in more dramatic ways for youth, and sometimes in more dramatic ways for adults, in particular women. Despite these recent changes, the ceremonial clothing associated with temple work has remain largely unchained in recent years. That, however, is changing, per a letter from the First Presidency. Ceremonial robes and clothing will be standardized and simplified a bit, reducing costs up front as well as those associated with long-term maintenance.
The First Presidency is quick to stress that “These clothing adjustments do not change temple doctrine or symbolism but are designed to enhance members’ experience in the temple and make the ceremonial clothing easier to put on, care for, and afford.”
At the outset, let’s stress that the clothing associated with temple work is, yes, just clothing, but it is also a sacred part of worship that we do not treat lightly, just as we would expect one from another faith to treat their own ceremonial clothing with respect.
So what’s changing? The letter from the First Presidency has some useful FAQs.
“The adjustments include a simpler design for the veil and robe, removing the plastic insert from the cap and the tie from the cap and veil, and using a more durable fabric for the robe, cap, and sash so that they last longer and are easier to care for. The robe, cap, sash, and envelope will be made of the same material. The apron will not be changed.”
Nothing too wild here. The video embedded below appears to show off the new clothing; we were unable to access the web link today to view for ourselves. You can see a cap that seems shorter, more elastic, and clearly lacks a plastic insert or a tie. The women’s veil is definitely simplified. The robe also seems to lack that defined elastic waistband component that spelled trouble (or at least mild discomfort) for anyone whose body didn’t quite fit the dimensions of the clothing in question.
Interestingly, you can continue to use your existing clothing until something needs replacement. However, you may not make adjustments to your existing clothing to reflect the new textiles except for men to remove the string from the cap (but not remove the plastic, apparently).
Recognizing that temple clothing is not exactly cheap (add up the costs for garments compared to “worldly” underwear), the Church has stated that if you just purchased new clothing between December 1, 2019 and March 2020, you can exchange that clothing for the new clothing until June 30, 2020. While “it is preferred” that you present a receipt, you can make the exchange even without one. The FAQs make no mention of whether the exchanged clothing can be used. You can even make the exchange online by visiting store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org/contact.
To buy the clothing new, visit the online distribution center at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org/ceremonialclothing.
And on a final note, the letter states that you can destroy old clothing by cutting it up until it’s unrecognizable (not quite what one does to decommission a temple itself). You can also donate temple clothing, but only among family and friends. You may not donate used temple clothing to a charity or back to the Church.
These changes, while minor, aim to make temple clothing easier to obtain, care for, and wear when worshiping in the temple. Such subtle changes could even shave off a few minutes of time that it takes to get through an endowment session. Such time has already been reduced in recent years due to programming changes.
Temples are sacred houses of worship for Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church perform ordinances on behalf of themselves as well as the deceased, giving the dead an opportunity to accept or reject those saving ordinances in the afterlife.