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Latter-day Saints meet weekly in chapels dotting the world. All are welcome to join us in these regular weekly meetings.

Chapels generally have a sanctuary where worship services are held. We call our worship service “sacrament meeting” because each week we participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, also known as communion in some churches.

Our chapels have classrooms for Sunday School classes and other meetings. We have a large fellowship hall that is used for social activities, indoor sports such as basketball and volleyball, and special programs. For Latter-day Saints, the chapel is a place of activities as well as worship.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has another type of building: temples. Currently there are 265 temples across the world either in operation, under construction, in renovation or announced. These are not used for weekly Sunday worship.

As Moses led the Israelites in the wilderness, the Lord commanded them to build a tabernacle, which was a portable temple. It was a sacred place to them. The tabernacle was divided into different areas and only certain people were allowed in the different areas.

The tabernacle was used by Israel as their temple for hundreds of years. During his reign, David desired to build a permanent temple, but he was not allowed to do so. His son Solomon built the temple, which was later called Solomon’s temple. It was built with fine woods, beautiful gems and precious metals. It stood for hundreds of years.

When Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC, the temple was destroyed and many of the people were carried away. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, one of the first things they did was to rebuild the temple. The people were poor and the rebuilt temple did not have so many precious things as Solomon’s temple. But it was a temple for them.

Through the years the rebuilt temple was expanded. It was this temple that Mary and Joseph visited with the baby Jesus (See Luke 2:27). Jesus visited this temple again when he was 12 years old (See Luke 2:46). As an adult, Jesus taught in the temple on multiple occasions.

Two events indicate Christ’s reverence for the temple: each time He drove out the merchants and moneychangers. Once is recorded early in His ministry (John 2:13-17). He said, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” The second time is recorded late in Jesus’ ministry, after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:12-13). Then He quoted, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Jesus recognized the temple as the Lord’s House, a sacred place and wanted it treated as such. He taught this by word and by deed.

The Romans destroyed this temple about 70 AD, and many of the Jews were carried away from Jerusalem. What is believed to be a remaining wall of this temple is today called the “Wailing Wall”.

As part of the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21), the Lord has commanded that temples be built. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in April 1830. Three years later, members of the church started building a temple in Kirtland, Ohio. It was dedicated in 1836. The building still stands, although it is not an operating temple and is no longer owned by the church. Due to persecution, the members of the church left the area.

Latter-day Saints began building another temple in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1841. Despite the killing of Joseph Smith in 1844, work on the temple continued until it was dedicated in 1846. Only months later the Saints would again be driven out, this time to the Salt Lake Valley.

Since then, many temples have been built. There is a temple in Philadelphia, and one is planned for the Pittsburgh area. In 1974, a temple was dedicated outside Washington, D.C. After many years of service, this temple has undergone a multi-year renovation project. Before it is rededicated next June, there will be a time set aside as an open house for the public. This open house will run from April 28 to June 4 except Sundays. See www.dctemple.org for more information.

Temples are sacred places. Each has inscribed on it, “Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord”. Each is built to the highest standards as a gift to the Lord. During the open house, all are welcome, whether members of the church or not. There is no age restriction. This is a great opportunity to visit a house of the Lord prior to its dedication. Come and see.

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Dennis Rehm is a member of the Carlisle Ward congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Find more information at ComeUntoChrist.org.

This article originally ran on cumberlink.com.

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