After nine months of closures for proxy work, a handful of Latter-day Saint temples are entering the mythical “Phase 3” status.
The four temples moving to Phase 3 are the Apia Samoa Temple, Brisbane Australia Temple, Nuku’aolfa Tonga Temple and Tapaei Taiwan Temple.
When the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the closure of temples in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it laid out four phases that would denote the operating status of each temple:
- Phase 1: Living husband-and-wife sealings by appointment
- Phase 2: Open for all living ordinances only with restrictions
- Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions
- Phase 4: Open for full operations
No temple is in Phase 4.
The announcement to move four temples into Phase 3 is a significant move for the Church, especially considering just last week the Church announced the need to downgrade operating status in a number of temples for the first time from either Phase 2 to Phase 1, or even temporarily closing the buildings altogether. At the time of writing, 11 temples have “paused” operations entirely. This does not include the eight temples closed for renovations nor the single temple that had yet to reopen at all—Panama City Panama—but will do so in Phase 1 starting December 14.
President Russell M. Nelson shared his delight about the limited reopening on Facebook.
As this marks the first time in nearly a year that temples will be open for proxy work, the Church has adjusted procedures. Elders David A. Bednar, Gary E. Stenveson, and Dale G. Renlund have led the effort.
Indeed, we have prerecorded videos made in anticipation of the eventual Phase 3 announcement!
Here’s Elder Renlund!
A notable quote:
“The Savior taught that the second great commandment, after loving God, was ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Matthew 22:39). As it relates to this pandemic, especially in temples, that means social distancing, wearing a mask, and not gathering in large groups. These steps demonstrate our love for others and provide us a measure of protection. Wearing a face covering is a sign of Christlike love for our brothers and sisters.”
And Elder Bednar!
And Elder Stevenson!
Remember, this does not mean the temple is fully reopened. Space is limited and patrons need to schedule an appointment online using a new portal at temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Bear in mind the announcement stipulates “Those who live within the district boundaries of a temple” can make reservations. So if you are living in Sydney hoping to swing up to the Gold Coast to do some work for the dead, tough beat for now.
The guidelines also note that there will be symptom screening upon temple entry, a face mask requirement, an encouragement to bring one’s own temple clothing, endowment sessions capped at 30% capacity, a 16-person cap in the baptistry, and no printing of name cards at the temple.
It has been difficult for millions of Latter-day Saints to be unable to perform work for their ancestors, one of COVID’s many dirty tricks. While the move to Phase 3 affects only a small portion of the global Church community, it is a welcome one that portends good things to come.