New Mormon temple welcomes visitors

July 29, 2005|By: TONY DODERO

It was an invite too big to pass up -- a tour of the new Newport

Beach California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day


The personal invitation to tour this temple, the first in Orange

County and only the 122nd in the world, came from local church

members Kathleen Peterson, Ann Owens and Joe Bentley.

I was flattered to be on the invite list, and I must say, the tour


didn't disappoint.

Perched at the edge of Bonita Canyon in Newport Coast, the

completed temple is 17,800 square feet, 90-feet tall and made of

Salisbury pink granite imported from North Carolina.

Atop the steeple, which was a source of neighborhood controversy

before its construction, is a golden statue of the Angel Moroni. The

Angel Moroni, I learned, always faces to the east with his golden


My tour included half a dozen other invitees and was led by church

member Roy Christensen and his wife, Carol.

Peterson, who accompanied me on the tour, noted that the church

has received requests for tickets from people in 47 states and 18

countries, including Mongolia, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Cambodia

and Germany.

We started the tour on the grounds of the temple, which are

punctuated with a pair of sparkling fountains and some 54,000 .

Peterson explained during the tour, and later in an e-mail, some

of the terminology used in the temple and the Mormon church that

those of us who aren't members may not understand.

In fact, even some published reports didn't get things quite


"For example, no Mormon would recognize the term 'the three-part

ascent toward the holy spirit,' or 'services' in regard to a temple,"

she explained. "We might say that our faithful members receive

instruction about where we came from, why we are here, and what

happens after we pass away. We are taught symbolically.

"We believe that through priesthood authority, we can be sealed

together as a family throughout all eternity," she continued. "Our

members can always enter the temple if they are faithful members.

That includes being honest with your fellow men or women, being

faithful to one's spouse, paying tithing, and keeping our 'word of

wisdom' that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meat

sparingly, avoiding alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, tobacco, etc."

As we entered the front of the temple for the tour, inscriptions

of two phrases that characterize all temples stand out for all to

see: "Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord."

Before we entered the building, we all had to cover our feet with

cloth slippers.

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