By Ian Ong, Co-Student Life Editor
Standing upright at the corner of Vine Street and 18th Street, the temple’s well-trimmed lawn and immaculate slate walls shine for all Philadelphians to see. The Angel Moroni, the heavenly messenger of the gospel, stands manifested in gold on the temple’s highest peak, watching over the holy congregation.
Dedicated on Sept. 18, the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple became the first Mormon Temple built in Pennsylvania after four years of construction. The open house, where non-Mormons were able to tour the temple, took place from Aug. 10 to Sept. 9 and attracted about 140,000 people, according to the church. Since its dedication, the temple has broken new ground in terms of religious unity and historical construction, with Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron calling it “the real classical deal.”
Senior McCall Rogers was one of many Mormon volunteers who attended the open house in order to support their faith and perform religious service.
“I was able to put on foot coverings for people so we wouldn’t ruin the beautiful new carpet in the temple,” Rogers said. “That was really awesome.”
The temple offers sacramental rituals that are not offered during services at standard Mormon meetinghouses, such as eternal marriage and proxy baptism. Entrance into the temple is restricted to a select group of Mormons, namely those who are baptized and then are deemed worthy during an interview with the bishop, the holder of the highest priesthood office. To Senior and Mormon Evan Kwan, the temple is a serious place for prayer, reflection and connection with the Holy Father.
“For us, the temple is more than just a beautiful building,” Kwan said. “It is the most sacred place of worship on Earth.”
Junior Thomas Jenson feels that the temple serves as a strong symbol of faith and enjoys the grace it gives him.
“To me, being a Mormon means having the joy that our gospel brings and also the love that we feel from God as well,” Jenson said. “It gives you that security that you can feel throughout your lifetime.”
The accessibility of the new temple has also made religious services and youth trips much easier for adherents of Mormonism.
“The past couple of years, we’ve had to go to the Washington D.C. Temple, because that was the closest one, and that’s like a two-and-a-half hour drive,” Rogers said. “Now we’re really lucky to have one only 30 minutes away from where I live.”
“We have much more access to the peace that the temple brings and the covenants we make in the temple are much easier to make,” Jenson said. “I think it’s a symbol that our church is growing.”
So far, the temple has proved to be a beacon of faith and religious service within the community, and not just for Latter-Day Saints.
“Having the temple in our community is symbolic of our personality as a church,” Kwan said. “Not only do we love the community, we’re here to serve you.”
“To be a Mormon is to try to do service to those who need it and to be kind in all of your dealings,” Rogers said. “I think this temple is symbolic of what we do because when we’re going to the temple and we’re doing these sacred ordinances, it’s not really about us. It’s about everyone altogether.”
Ian Ong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.