Skip to comments.Female Episcopal Priest Visits a Mormon Temple
Posted on 04/24/2012 1:28:27 PM PDT by Jeff Head
As I stood in front of the new Mormon Temple in Liberty, Mo., it struck me as ironic that close to 175 years ago, Mormons were forced out of this same state.
Whereas the Missouri public once urged their governor to force Joseph Smith and his followers out of the area surrounding Kansas City, Mormons began to return to the region in the 1900s, eventually gathering in such large numbers that the Church organization decided the region needed a temple.
Which is why I came to visit.
Latter Day Saints restrict temple access to members of their denomination who have proven themselves to be faithful and dedicated adherents. Because Mormons believe temples are the most sacred places on earth, one needs to be prepared to enter them by being an active member of the Church. (In contrast, chapels, where Mormons hold Sunday worship, are open to everyone. Temples are used only for certain rituals and are not open on Sunday so that Mormons can be at their chapel services.)
When a new temple is built, anyone may enter prior to its dedication. So, always curious to learn about the faith of others, I didn't want to miss an opportunity to see a site normally closed off to an Episcopal priest like myself.
My visit seemed all the more timely because Mormons have been in the news a lot lately, and so have their temples. Elizabeth Smart recently married her husband in a temple in Hawaii during a ceremony called a sealing, in which the couple and close Mormon friends and family gather together to witness God joining the couple together for time and all eternity. In less complimentary news, Elie Wiesel took Mitt Romney to task for his faith's practice of baptisms of the dead, which also take places within temple walls.
These headlines, in addition to my own curiosity, motivated my visit to the new temple in Kansas City, and with my curiosity came some questions:
What does a Mormon temple look like, and what happens inside it?
Would I feel God's presence in this space, even though it's not a space that's sacred for me?
Before I go any further -- and because I know it's the question at the front of your mind, dear reader -- no one tried to convert me. In fact, everyone was very welcoming. Members volunteered en masse, clad in pressed suits and dresses. They offered guided tours, bent down to put protective boots onto my feet so my shoes wouldn't dirty the carpeting, and offered me a chewy snickerdoodle at the end of the tour. They showed me every space from changing rooms to sealing rooms where marriages take place and answered every question I asked, no matter how challenging or controversial.
And in the end, yes, I did have a God moment.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Mormons go to temples to be close to God. Much like the ancient Jewish people believed God lived at the heart of the temple in Jerusalem, Mormons believe that followers can meet God most intimately in the temple. The reasons they visit temples vary: In addition to having their marriages sealed in the temple, Mormons also have sealing ceremonies that unite parents and children for time and all eternity. Others come to participate in baptisms of the dead, which are intended to be used only for deceased family members of active Mormons, though the Church acknowledged in the wake of Elie Wiesel's comments that others -- such as Anne Frank -- have had baptisms performed on their behalf. These baptisms are not intended to convert the deceased but rather to give them a choice in the afterlife to embrace the revelation of Mormonism: Assuming an afterlife exists, the baptized deceased are free to say yes or no as they please. Finally, Mormons come to the temple to receive their endowment, a ritual ceremony where followers make promises to God and receive knowledge about God.
Unlike a cathedral, which is primarily composed of one large worship space, a Mormon temple has a variety of smaller rooms that serve different purposes. There are sealing rooms and rooms for men and women to change into white clothes (every male or female Mormon who enters a dedicated temple wears the same white clothing) and instruction rooms where individuals learn about God in preparation for receiving their endowments.
It was in these rooms, and the final Celestial Room, where I caught a glimpse of God.
You see, as part of our final stop on the tour, our guide took us to a room with a mural of the Missouri countryside painted by a local artist. The room had earthy colors, browns and greens and rows of cushioned seats. This was the first instruction room. From there, we took a step up -- as if ascending closer to heaven -- and entered a second room, similar to the first in shape and size but all white. This was the second instruction room. When we left that room, we took another step up and entered the Celestial Room, a space designed to give those who sit in it a foretaste of heaven.
It was a simple room yet ornate at the same time, all white with sparkling crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, and plump sofas and chairs reminiscent of those that must have existed in Joseph Smith's day. Our guide asked us to be silent and said we were welcome to sit wherever we liked and take a moment to pray. So I sat down on a sofa that seemed to envelop me, folded my hands on my lap and closed my eyes.
Like Dante, who saw God face to face but had no words to describe the encounter, I have few words to describe what I felt in that moment. But I can say this: While it did not convert me, nor did it make me want to be a Mormon, the silence and peace I felt reminded me of the many other times I've felt close to God, whether in an Episcopal cathedral, in a clear, warm ocean or in my ratty old car. And because of that, I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.
And along the lines of Mormons being across the world: As I wrote earlier, Mormons were ironically driven out of Liberty, Missouri and the surrounding region nearly 175 years ago. It cannot be lost on those who visit the new temple that almost two centuries later, Mormons are often still held in suspicion by society, but they are far from being as vulnerable as they were in their early years. They are building stronger foundations every day, and striving, as they do so, to catch a glimpse of heaven.
Interesting, nice artcicle by this Episopal woman about a new LDS Temple in Missouri.
Very fair and even handed artcile about her experience.
Glad to see this, it is a representation of how so many others view the LDS faith that we rarely get to see here.
Hope it can stand here on nits own merit without being absolutely assaulted as if though it is sime kind of infectious disease.
PR at its best, as always thanks Jeff.
Isn’t there a statistic like only 15% of practicing LDS can actually enter the temples after they are dedicated? I know someone who was not allowed to attend his son’s wedding, because it was in a temple. This does not seem to be a very kind act to exclude someoneâs parents from attending the weddings of their children.
a woman episcopal priest walks into a mormon temple...
I also know someone who ran into that problem - parents couldn’t attend their daughter’s wedding; ironic considering the effort Mormons put into ensuring all relatives are “sealed” to each other.
2 Cor. 11:14-15
Ya notice she had to cover her apostate feet ???
Yes, the figure is only about 15% that can enter the inner temple.
Very fair and even handed artcile about her experience.
Yes she did seemed to be truthful about the wrongs of Mormonism...
“In less complimentary news, Elie Wiesel took Mitt Romney to task for his faith’s practice of baptisms of the dead, which also take places within temple walls.”
But don’t the tithes of all LDS go to pay for these temples? So I give my 10% of my income, but have only a 15% chance of seeing the inside of the temple? And can’t have my parents at my wedding?
To enter a mormon temple in order to take part in the arcane rituals, the member must satisfactorily answer THESE questions:
No one cares what the relationship is you have with the wedding couple if you have not passed their "worthiness" test...and you must wait outside of the "sacred" areas so that you can then take part in the wedding pictures.
Ann and Mitt Romney were NOT held to the usual rule of not being "sealed" in the Temple unless you had been civily married for one year...they made their vows within a few days. Rank hath its privilege.
It’s not PR.
You actually think the LDS church got the woman to go there and write this article? She did it on her own.
I just referenced it as a counter balance to a lot of the other things we read here on FR.
But thanks for visiting the thread and and bumnping it for others to read.
Wouldn’t it be great if that Episcopal Priest was allowed inside during actual Temple ordinances - just to see how special they are?
Mormons go to temples to be close to God. Much like the ancient Jewish people believed God lived at the heart of the temple in Jerusalem, Mormons believe that followers can meet God most intimately in the temple.
Since you are a Mormon, an LDS trained 'high priset' perhsaps you couldn't catch the error. We'll see. I'll be back later to reveal it if you can't figure it out ... and it is not a Mormon put down, I'll expose the lack of aliveness in the writer.
There are many requirements for the temple recommendation certificate, tithe is just one of them.
I’ll see if I can find the entire list.
All of my family that still are lds are TM lds, it’s hard to get and keep that TRC.
It is purely a free choice decision known well in advance.
It is true that others who do not belong to the church, or who do not live by those tennants cannot be a part of that ceremony.
My brother, for example, who is a wonderful Christian man and an Evangelical associate Pastor down in the Denton, TX area was unable to attend my wedding vows in the temple, or that of my son and daughter who were married there.
It did not bother him. He came to the receptions and dinners and offered his congratulations and indicated that he was thankful they were taking their vows so seriously.
People who get married there know all this going in, as do their families if they talk about their weddings with them at all...and then it is their decision to make.
I know members who elected to have civil ceremonies for just this reason, so they could include everyone in them...who were otherwise worthy to attend. Then, afterwards they have a "sealing" ceremony in the temple.
In such cicumstances, where they are considered fully worthy, they do not have to wait a full year to then be sealed in the temple. Perhaps that is what the Romney's did...I do not know, I just know that in such circumstances, where the couple is worthy and able to attend the temple, that the one year wait usually does not apply. The one year wait is usually only for new members of the church, for those who have long been away from and inactive in the church, or for couples who have lived together before being wed, or something of that nature. Anyhow, I just felt this woman's article was even handed and fair and I appreciated it.
I think that she is an expert on more than one kind of spinning.
“”Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is a priest, theologian, a certified life coach and spinning instructor, and the author of ‘God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom’...””
Requirements are listed in post #12, thanks greyfoxx39.
FYI. A good article about the LDS faith and the new LDS Liberty, Missouri Temple by a woman Episcopal Priest who went through the open house there.
I do not know anything about her background other than what was mentioned, that she is an Episcopal Priest.
I do know she wrote a fair and even handed article...which is true and stands on its own even if there are other areas that we do not agree on...as I am sure there are.
I’ve never read a glowing article about a Mormon priest visiting an Episcopal church, have you? ;)
You actually think the LDS church got the woman to go there and write this article?
WOW I hadnt been thinking that
But come to think of it now since you asked
I’m not here to answer your “tests,” MHG. LDS do go to the temple to make convenats with God, and they do so to try and come closer to God the Father and particularly to Jesus Christ as they learn more about their Plan of Salvation.
I believe she was simply trying to phrase those types of sentiments an dfeelings and I will not judge her as to her spiritual “aliveness.”
No odubt there are theological issues wherein we would disagree. But if she believes in Jesus Christ and sincerely seeks to follow Him and has given her heart to Him, relying on His atonement and compassion and love for salvation, I believe that God in Heaven and His Son will ultimately lead her to the full truth through the Holy Ghost.
I’ll let them be the judge of that.
got the woman to go there ? ...She did it on her own.
Yes well theres no doubt she drove herself there
The poor sod couldnt put her shoes on the dumb carpet in the building...
I cant see her being allowed to ride in one of the temple limosines...
Her breathing the air in the temple was causing enough contamination...
And I've never read a glowing article about a female Mormon priest.
Women in Mormonism don't grow up to be Gods. They grow up to be the wives of Gods. (But only if their husbands call them through the veil and they know all the secret handshakes).
So that #4 item about the President of the church being the only authority, etc., what kind of powers does that give him (assuming it cannot be a “her”)? And a “good Mormon” has to accept that without question? I am not sure I understand what “...do you sustain...” means, in referring to “authorities”. Thank you.
Wouldnt it be great if that Episcopal Priest was allowed inside during actual Temple ordinances - just to see how special they are?
Ya know thats what I thought she was going to tell us
Well, I wrote a glowing report about a Lutheran Church, the Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, TX. that took me and my wife in through their outreach program, the Faith House, to which we were miraculously admitted when I was in Houston fighting for my life at MD Anderson with malignant bone cancer.
Getting into their aprtment wa a literal and direct answer to prayer for me and my wife and so many others praying for us at the time...all in the name of Christ, Jesus.
They were very Christlike and I attended seveal of their meetings and took communion from the Priest there and thanked him personally for his attention, his outreach, and his Christ-like attitude which clearly extended to his parishners.
I joked with him and indicated that I bet he had never given communion to a High Priset in the Mormon Church before, but that I knew we worshiped the same Savior and was happy to rejoice together with him in those sentiments.
He thanked me, and agreed, and it was a great experience for us both.
Thanks for posting. I look forward to the Brigham City temple open house in August.
You’re welcome. Brigham City will be a special and a beautiful building in a very beautiful setting.
Everyone wears the booties when viewing the temple in an open house. It saves wear and tear on the carpet.
There is no "their" plan of Salvation,
there is only the Plan of Salvation of Jesus Christ.
Jeff, Why did you leave the Southern Baptist Church?
How very interesting.
I have been to dozens and dozens of houses of worship of various kinds and not once was I asked to take off my shoes or cover them with “booties”.
So one has to wonder why lds, have such reverence for their carpet.
So it's all about money?
My pastor many years ago got a complaint from the church board that the hippie types who were going to that church were not wearing shoes and they were afraid they might soil the carpets.
He ordered the carpets removed.
If the LDS church is so concerned about the carpet, then why don't they just use tile?
Why dont the Mormons start kneeling in reverence to God and repenting of their sins ???
Crying out to God for forgiveness with shoes and feet off the dumb carpet would save even more wear and tear...
Since the building is more important than God or people...
who were otherwise worthy to attend.
Do explain this “worthy” stuff
For the lurkers ...
add some kneelers for old knees...
Yawn...It’s almost cocktail hour. Plus had some true believers from Colorado City spray about five acres for weeds on both properties. Didn’t bring their wives though.
The Southern Baptists Convention at the time was changing...indicating that Baptism was no longer required...at least it was filtering down to us at that time.
My parents began looking around for another Baptist Church that conformed more to their feelings about the gospel.
We had a rancher who had land abutting ours and one summer (1970) there was a large fire that burned on both of our lands through a large stand of timber and fields we shared.
While fighting the fire, he invited his wife and self over to meet us. He was a large scale rancher in the area and was very well respected by the local people.
He got to talking religion with my parents. A few days later they attended an LDS Cottage Meeting and invited missonaries who were also there to come by and talk to us.
I walked in during their presentation of the Jospeh Smith story and listened to all the discussions over time.
I talked with our paster oand others and ultimately prayed to God in Heaven in the name of Christ if the message, the Book of Moromon and other issues were true.
I had been given all sorts of anti-mormon literature, quotes, and sentiments by others I knew in the mean time.
I attended LDS meetings and found that the people there were committed to Christ and not at all like they were represented to be by most of the literature.
Ultimately, I received an answer to my prayers through the power of the Holy Ghost in the affirmative. It was a very pwoerful and personal experience in the late summer of 1970. One I have never fogotten and to which I have been true to this day.
That’s why...and I have talked of Christ, taught Christ, lived for my Savior, taught my children and now grand children the same ever since.
That’s my story.
My parents and brothers also joined. The oldest, who is the Evangelical Assoiciate Pastor now, left the church after his marriage to his high school sweetheart and returned to the Baptist Church. He was not happy there and ultimately found his home and his calling in an Evangelical Church in Denton, TX where he has done much good.
He is a professional Engineer by trade, but works hard to bring others to Christ...and I love and respect him for it.
It is that feeling, that love, that sentiment of knowing that any ground we can make, any progress we can make with our brothers and sisters in bringing them to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Savior is a good thing. My brother and I both understand this and accept each other as we go about doing so.
He knows I am a Chrsitian from a life-time of observation and living...and I know the same about him.
In the end, Christ will lead us to the complete truth...and you know how I feel about that, and I am content to let it occur in Christ’s way and in His time...and of course, hehehe, my brother feels ecxcatly the same about me.
We are fine with that and it enables us both to work together doing good and helping our communities and others around us.
There...that’s the tale and the sentiments.
1 wife 49 mistresses 80 children
Hardly an example of virtue and “worthiness”
Would he be allowed in his own temple ???
If the people [of Missouri] come on us to molest us, we will establish our religion by the sword. We will trample down our enemies and make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was the Quran or the Sword. So shall it eventually be with us Joseph Smith or the Sword History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 167.
From the article: As I stood in front of the new Mormon Temple in Liberty, Mo., it struck me as ironic that close to 175 years ago, Mormons were forced out of this same state.
Considering that, according to their indictment, Smith, Rigdon and other Mormon leaders committed "treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny, and perjury" and were ordered held without bail until they escaped from custody by bribing the sheriff with $850 and a keg of whiskey, it is not especially ironic that many believe that the Mormons forced themselves out of Missouri.
Considering that Joseph laid the cornerstone of his temple in Independence, Missouri, and prophesied that it would be the site of the Second Coming of Christ, it is indeed ironic that the Latter-Day Saints would give up and build the new Mormon Temple in Liberty, Missouri ... especially considering that vacant building sites are available in nearby Far West, Missouri and Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri ... both of which are also sites where Joseph prophesied that Mormon temples would be built within his lifetime and would be scenes of the Second Coming ... sometime before 1891.
I am content to let it occur in Christs way
If thats true then Christ has already told you and the time is now...
Here ya go...
The LORD Jesus Christ said to Jeff, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man or woman comes to the Father except by Me.” John 14.6
Interesting my lds family dropped my siblings and myself when we refused to convert to lds.
After decades of being shunned by them, they consented to reconnect on a very limited bases.
When my son-in-law preached for the first time, I invited them to attend the service, they refused because lds does not accept any other message but mormonism.
Interesting that these lds helped your family out.
When one of my lds aunts was in the hospital with a suspected brain tumor for more than ten weeks, not even their own ward helped out my uncle and his four teenagers.
With one exception someone brought a pizza for Thanksgiving.
Oh, yea and that uncle was the bishop of his ward.
Your experiences are so very different than what most people experience and they sure are different than mine.
The LDS church has been "changing" since the first day that Joseph Smith claimed to have had a vision. In fact his story about that Vision changed several times before his death. The LDS Church of today is not the same LDS Church that I left back in 1969. They didn't pretend to be just another Christian church and those who left the LDS Church to join Christian Churches, like your brother, were shunned and called "sons of perdition" and when people told the truth about Mormon History (like the Tanners) they were shunned and slandered.
Jerold and Sandra Tanner left the Mormon Church and then started a ministry which not only told the truth about Mormonism, but also sought to lead people to Christ.
Has their ministry lead people to the same Christ you worship? If so, then why should they be so condemned by the LDS Church and why should anyone join the LDS Church?
If it is just another Christian Church as YOU claim, then why don't you go to another Church on occasion and consider membership in some other church?
Why did you have to get baptized again after you joined the LDS Church? Wasn't the Southern Baptist baptism that you received (before you claim they "changed") good enough? My baptism by a long haired hippie preacher in the ocean was good enough for every other "Christian" Church that I've ever attended, but it's not good enough for the LDS Church, is it?
If you decided the leave the Southern Baptist Church because it "changed" then why haven't you left the LDS Church after all their changes?
Pretty much stopped reading there, the kymbaya all paths are equal bit was sure to follow....
lds jesus - created
Biblical Jesus - eternal
lds jesus - not sufficient for salvation
Biblical Jesus - sufficient for Salvation
lds temples - secretive
Biblical temples - open to all, after the Cross Jesus/God tore the temple veil from top to bottom, so all may enter.
lds jesus - must work for salvation
Biblical Jesus - Grace is offered