Well, just as we predicted a mere week ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has elected to postpone the open house and rededication of the long-closed Washington D.C. Temple due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, the Church announced the rededication and open house dates for the Beltway icon, back when we were all looking forward to spring and concerns over some virus in China were mere whispers in our ears. Alas.
But unlike the reopening of some temples of late as well as weekly church meetings, there is no plan to go forward with the rededication, save to do so “when large public gatherings are deemed safe.” We’re not betting people because of our incredible piety, but it’s probably safe to say that puts us into at least spring of 2021, especially because the Church would prefer to avoid having the open house and dedication around the same time as the presidential inauguration.
Now for the cynical analysis. Basically, what we are reading here is that the temple could be rededicated so that members could, you know, get back to doing temple work, even in a restricted capacity, but the public relations and missionary work upside of a large-scale temple open house in the capital of the United States is too good to pass up. To put it even more cynically in an already cynical paragraph, redeeming the dead (which, again, is currently not even part of limited-scope temple work) is less important than public outreach. Let that one sink in.
Now for the local boy analysis, since this is my temple. This stinks, but it’s also completely understandable and expected. After the First Presidency announced that General Conference in October would once again be virtual only, postponing what will undoubtedly be the largest-scale temple open house until the Salt Lake Temple is rededicated was a logical choice.
You’d be forgiven if you thought at this rate the temple down the road in Richmond will be done before DC even comes back online. Hopefully that is not the case.
Until then, Latter-day Saints in the capital region may attend temples in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Raleigh, North Carolina.