Why would 10,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around here be thrilled that the Oakland Temple is about to reopen after 15 months of renovation? Don’t they have chapels across Modesto, Turlock and many other cities right here in the Valley?
Yes, but neighborhood churches don’t serve the same function. They’re fine for Sunday services and other activities throughout the week, but some special events — like ordinances uniting families for eternity — can only be done at a temple. Members here have been heading to temples in Sacramento or Fresno for more than a year, so they look forward to returning to their familiar “beacon on the hill,” its spires — one rising 170 feet — soaring above I-580 in Oakland.
Although only devout believers attend dedicated temples, church leaders invite all comers to rare open-house tours for three weeks (except for May 12, 19 and 26) starting Saturday and running through June 1, before the temple is rededicated June 16. It’s the first time in 55 years — since the Oakland Temple opened in 1964 — that everyone else can see what’s inside.
“We love the saints (or church members) in Modesto,” said Quentin Cook, who belongs to the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, the highest governing body under the First Presidency, at a media briefing this week. “But this is the closest temple for them.”
The church has some 30,000 neighborhood chapels around the world, and 164 temples, with about 50 more planned or under construction. The one coming to Yuba City will be California’s eighth.
While closed, crews braced walls and reinforced towers to better withstand earthquakes. They also made numerous interior upgrades, including adding bas-relief sculptures of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and of Adam and Eve, and reconfigured the entrance by a restored outdoor reflecting pool.
“God spared no expense to give us a beautiful world. We’re giving him our very best also,” said Kevin Duncan, a ranking elder with the position of General Authority Seventy.
Free reservations and other details are available at templeopenhouse.lds.org. Walk-ins also are welcome. The address is 4770 Lincoln Ave., Oakland.