It’s been a long winter for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Washington, DC area. Closed since March 2018 for what was supposed to be about a two-year renovation, then being forced to postpone its announced late 2020 rededication because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington DC Temple will finally hold its open house and rededication. But it won’t be happening anytime soon.
The church announced today that the open house for the temple will be held from April 28, 2022 through June 4, 2022, with a dedication on June 19. For those of you doing the math at home, yes, that is only a few days shy of 48 more weeks from the time of publication until the temple is reopened for work. It will have been closed for over four years by the time its doors open once more.
This is certainly a much longer period than most expected for the temple to reopen. Local public affairs committees have been told for months to be at the ready for a potentially quick pivot to open house and dedication, implying an event in late summer or early fall 2021. No reason was given for such a drawn out timetable to the open house, but we can surmise that the church is being cautious with what will be the most important temple open house from a public affairs standpoint until the rededication of the Salt Lake Temple. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not over, and although the Washington, DC region is faring reasonably well in terms of vaccination rates, organizers recognize the unique nature of the Washington DC Temple and its large presence in regional culture. Coupled with a desire to include a sizable domestic and international VIP contingent in the open house with concern about the threat of the looming Delta variant, it is understandable why Salt Lake might not be rushing to reopen the building, hoping we can put COVID firmly to bed and not squander a major public relations and missionary opportunity.
Open house ticket information is available at dctemple.org. This will mark the first time since the temple’s original dedication that the general public will be allowed (and encouraged) to tour the interior of the temple.
The Washington DC Temple is the Church’s 16th temple in operation, and was the only temple in the United States east of the Rockies upon its dedication in 1974. (Indeed, were it not for the London England and Bern Switzerland temples, at the time the DC temple would have been the only temple east of Utah until one reached New Zealand.) It is also the tallest temple in the Church, at 288 feet to the top spire. It is also the third-largest temple in the church, following only the Salt Lake and Los Angeles temples. A final fun fact: it is one of five temples with a statue of the angel Moroni holding the gold plates.
At this rate, the Richmond Virginia Temple will not be far behind for its own open house and dedication, potentially in later 2022.
Church members in the Washington DC Temple’s district can continue to attend temples in Philadelphia and Raleigh for the next… 48 weeks.