Open House of the Hong Kong China Temple Concludes with Little Fanfare

Hong Kong Temple Renovation Picture
Temple open houses are usually a big deal. In Beijing-controlled Hong Kong? Not so much.

In mid-May 2022, the announcement for the open house and rededication of the Hong Kong China Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was released on the Church’s Newsroom page for Hong Kong. The six-day public open house for the temple was held May 23 through May 29. The temple will be rededicated on June 19.

The Hong Kong China Temple closed on July 8, 2019, for an extensive renovation. As part of the renovation, the concrete structure was reinforced with steel and a new exterior of stone cladding was attached. The most notable change to the exterior was the removal of the steeple and the Angel Moroni statue. No photos of the interior of the temple were released as part of the open house, but the church provided renderings of the interior in 2019.

Check out this very detailed analysis of the changes from temple modeler Brian Olsen.

The announcement of the open house and rededication of came with little media attention. The church media channels did not publish details about the events. When an announcement such as a temple open house is made by a Church Newsroom page, it is nearly always picked up by church-subsidized publications such as Church News, Deseret News, KSL, and LDS Living. It appears that LDS Living initially published an article with information that there would be no public open house. The information in the headline was incorrect, and the article was taken down. A simple search on Facebook shows people attending the open house with pictures from the meetinghouse across the street from the temple. 

LDS Living Facebook Link

The announcement of the Open House was likely kept quiet for several reasons. Although nearly every nation of the world is relaxing its restrictions due to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, China remains committed to a “zero-COVID” policyHong Kong remains to be considered a hot spot for the virus, as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. Continued restrictions in response to the spread of the virus likely played a role in deciding on a week-long open house. Strict health protocols were required for attending the open house. Around 3,000 people were able to tour the temple.  

President Russell M. Nelsen spoke of the renovation of the Hong Kong Temple in the concluding remarks of the April 2020 general conference. He prefaced the announcement of the Shanghai People’s Republic of China Temple by commenting on the renovation of the temple in Hong Kong. The statement seemed to allude that a temple in Shanghai was necessitated by the closure of the temple in Hong Kong. 

"Context for the plan for Shanghai is very important. For more than two decades, temple-worthy members in the People’s Republic of China have attended the Hong Kong China Temple. But in July 2019, that temple was closed for long-planned and much-needed renovation. In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple—in the People’s Republic of China—for them and their ancestors."

President Russell M. Nelson

This statement may allude to the possibility that the “modest multipurpose meeting place” may have already been completed during the renovation of the temple in Hong Kong. This is speculation; however, the hush among church media sources around the temple open house in Hong Kong may indicate an even greater withholding of information about the temple in Shanghai. President Nelson also emphasized that the temple in Shanghai “will not be a destination place for tourists.”

After the announcement, several Chinese sources denied that the temple would be built. There is likely a variety of reasons why both the church and the Chinese government would like to keep the information about the church in China ambiguous.

Google interest in the Shanghai Temple

Not giving any attention to the open house in Hong Kong did not allow any notice for visitors to plan a trip to Hong Kong during the open house period. Likewise, international media outlets appear to have paid little to no attention to the event. This is likely the intent of the event organizers. The freedom of press in Hong Kong has been severely eroded since 2019.

In contrast, the Church Newsroom published an article on May 29, 2022, for the upcoming open house for the Tokyo Japan Temple and is intended for wide distribution. The rededication and open house of this temple was delayed many months due to similar restrictions for COVID-19. In contrast to Hong Kong, the temple in Tokyo will have full media coverage during the 14-day open house period.

In starker contrast, the 7-week open house of the Washington D.C. Temple had a great deal of media attention. The author of this article may or may not have also planned a vacation that coincided with the open house event.   

The Hong Kong Church Newsroom page has provided additional details about the renovation:

The original temple design was a multi-purpose building. The temple was contained in the 5th, 4th, 3rd floors with the baptistry being on the 1st floor and basement levels. A meetinghouse, family history center, mission office, and apartments were in the basement, 1st, and 2nd levels.     

Sketch from Gordan B. Hinkley
Initial Sketch from Gordan B. Hinkley

Since the dedication of the temple in 1996, a meetinghouse was built across the street from the temple and the church was able to built other high-rise meetinghouses in the city. The renovation of the temple replaced the non-temple spaces and reconfigured the floor plan to provide more space for temple functions, bring its size to 51,921 square feet.

The Hong Kong China Temple was the 48th operating temple of the church and the second temple built in mainland Asia. Several temples are under construction in the current temple district, including Bangkok ThailandBengaluru IndiaPhnom Penh Cambodia, and Singapore Republic of Singapore. With the possible exception of Mongolia (hopefully not much longer), the future temple district of the Hong Kong China Temple will only include church units in China.

Update: On Sunday, June 19, the Hong Kong China Temple was rededicated by Elder Garrett W. Gong. The ceremony was streamed on the internet to members in the temple district. The rededication received limited coverage from church media outlets. Two pictures of the interior of the temple were shared on the Newsroom press release.  Additional interior photos can be viewed on the official website of the church. 

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