SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Four temples will enter phase 3 reopenings inciting a happy Christmas for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While 168 temples have reopened for Phase 1 (husband–sealings or marriages by appointment) and most towards Phase 2 (open for sealings and all other living ordinances), the First Presidency will now implement phase 3.
“Phase 3 includes everything allowed in Phases 1 and 2, with the addition of temple work on behalf of deceased individuals,” reads the church’s statement.
The Church believes in doing work for people who have passed who did not get the chance to do the spiritual work while they were living. It is proxy work on behalf of the deceased.
“These four temples are in areas where the incidence of COVID-19 is low and the Church can meet local public health guidelines for gathering and worship,” they add.
The four temples that are slated to begin phase 3 are:
- Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple
- Apia Samoa Temple
- Brisbane Australia Temple
- Taipei Taiwan Temple
“As we anticipate performing more proxy ordinances in the temples, we do for others what they cannot do for themselves. Without these blessings, these deceased individuals are profoundly disadvantaged,” says Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The Savior taught that the second great commandment, after loving God, was ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ 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.”
The new reopening will happen as soon as Dec 21, 2020.
The Church says “A return to performing sacred and essential ordinances for one’s ancestors — especially during a pandemic that affects the most vulnerable among us — is a reminder of the common concern we should have for each other.”
Temples are considered the Church’s most sacred spaces. Church members work to keep the faith’s fundamental belief they are here to help gather people to God–both the living and the dead.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says “returning to the temples is something we have prayed for and looked forward to with great anticipation. We rejoice in the opportunity to again serve and worship in holy temples, even if our experience will be different because of constraining circumstances and additional sacrifices we are asked to make.”
In the press release, Elder Bednar wishes to remind Church members of the church that worship in temples is, “is a sacred privilege, not an entitlement, or simply part of our established routine. We do not come to the temple to hide from or escape the evils of the world. Rather, we come to the temple to receive the power of godliness through priesthood ordinances that enables us to confront and conquer the world of evil.”
If any Church members are visiting a Phase 3 temple they are asked:
- Symptom screening: You will be asked three times about possible COVID-19 symptoms. These screenings will occur when you schedule the appointment, in an email before you attend the temple and when you arrive at the temple.
- Face masks: Unless you are participating in baptisms, you must wear a face mask throughout your temple visit.
- Other safety precautions: Regular cleaning and sanitizing within the temple will occur throughout each day. Hand sanitizer stations will be found in many locations.
- Temple clothing: If possible, patrons should bring their own white and ceremonial clothing.
- Baptistry: Groups cannot be larger than 16 persons. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own officiators to the baptistry.
- Endowment: Seating in endowment sessions will be capped at 30% of room capacity. Seating will be physically distanced, and members of the same household will be seated together.
- Sealing: A small number of patrons will be allowed in sealings. Witnesses will be physically distanced from the sealing officiator.
- Family name cards: Temples will no longer print name cards for temple patrons. This must be done by a member before they come to the temple. Following the completion of an ordinance, the temple will record this information in FamilySearch. Name cards will not be returned to patrons.
- Housing and cafeteria: These services will likely remain closed. Patrons are invited to check with the temple in their district for more information.