I have been inside of 15 LDS temples on three continents. I cannot remember being as uplifted by the interior of a temple as I was of the Philadelphia temple. While the pictures may be beautiful, it does not nearly capture the true grandeur of the place. Here you see many pictures and may think it covers most of what there is to see, but this temple is one of the largest of the 150+ in existence. Inside it there is fine art decorating every wall, corridor, and stairway of all levels. The carpets have the most intricate designs. On every banister, door frame, door knob, chandelier, and light fixture there is rich decoration and symbolism.
I do not think I have seen a temple design so closely associated with the heritage of the area where it was built. Going to Independence Hall prior to the temple tour helped me see the consistency with colonial American architecture and interior design. Not only are the design patterns consistent, but this is the only temple containing artistic references to the foundation of this country’s governance that allowed for the restoration of the church to occur. It is a temple of its own in the worldwide church, which makes it one of my new favorites.
Founding Fathers (foyer of the temple):
Our tour felt to me a bit like I was experiencing the Philadelphia Art Museum in a flip book. My senses were stimulated beyond what I could fully appreciate with the pace of the tour. The tours must stay limited to one hour, though, because during the one month timeframe of the open house there will have been almost a quarter-million visitors.
If you are in the area and can find an hour to swing by, this is too much of an opportunity to miss. The LDS church is sometimes thought of as being ‘secretive’ because their temples throughout the world are reserved only for members who are found worthy to enter. The reality is that the members of the church make every effort they can to prepare people to enter. Every church calling and every church meeting is for the purpose in one way or another to prepare people to worthily enter the temple. It is sacred - not secret. For those who are not members, though, the church does invite the public to tour during at least one month prior to the temple dedication ceremony. So this is it. If you are in the Philadelphia area, this is your only chance to visit one of the most beautiful buildings on earth, learn of its purpose, and get a good idea for what is different about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from other Christian faiths. The Philadelphia temple is open to the public until September 9th, a couple of weeks from now.
Located in downtown Philadelphia (where you cannot miss it):
I hope you can make it!