News Release

The Temple Emphasizes Different Parts of the ‘Depth of Your Relationship With Christ’

Thousands of invited guests continue to walk through the Washington D.C. Temple

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While leading tours of the Washington D.C. Temple this week for invited guests, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spontaneously called upon Latter-day Saint youth and others to share their love of Christ.

One of those he called on was Batchlor Johnson IV, a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who has some 95,000 followers on TikTok.

On Monday, in one of the temple instruction rooms, Elder Gong asked Johnson to share his feelings about his faith.

“[He] put me on the spot,” said Johnson, a native of Katy, Texas. “[But] it just felt like home. I felt like that’s where I needed to be.”

And during a tour the next day that included Johnson’s parents, Elder Gong invited the Johnson family to look into the mirrors of a marriage sealing room that illustrate the eternal nature of life.

It was a moment, Johnson said, “when everything just came together.”

“When you go into the temple, you leave away the worldly things. And we say that all the time [in the Church],” he said. “But when you sit there and you look [in the mirrors] and you’re like, ‘This is really what it’s all about,’ you want to get to a point where the only thing on your mind is loving and serving others and living your life in a way where you consecrate everything you can to helping people be able to find this peace and joy. And as different as we all are as humans, I think the common fact is that everybody’s looking for that peace and that joy and that contentment with life and just being happy with what you created.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong with his wife, Susan, visit with the Johnson family while touring the renovated Washington D. C. Temple in Kensington, Maryland on April 19, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Gong called Batchlor “a remarkable young man” of “great excitement and spiritual depth.”

The Johnsons were a few of thousands of invited guests touring the refurbished temple this week. Some 4,300 such guests are expected to walk through the temple before the open house expands on April 28 to the general public.

“It’s a remarkable privilege to invite all to come and see the house of the Lord,” Elder Gong said. “What a remarkable thing to have so many people from so many different walks of life — famous journalist, neighbors, our youth, people we have known for many years, people we have never met before — who have come from all over the world to see the house of the Lord.”

Sister Susan Gong said she has been humbled by the curiosity shown by so many.

“It’s an example to me of the way we need to be as we interact with one another — to learn from one another and look for commonalities instead of nitpick against things that make differences,” she said.

On Tuesday, other special guests included Keary Kincannon, a former United Methodist minister, and his wife, Judy Borsher.

Both were struck by the temple’s focus on family

“I thought the sealing room was very, very significant,” Kincannon said. “Looking in the mirrors and seeing our images go on to infinity and realizing that marriage [solemnized here] is for eternity — that was very meaningful to me.”

“It just it adds depth to the whole meaning of marriage,” Judy added.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares the “Muslims and Latter-day Saints: Beliefs, Values, and Lifestyles” pamphlet while leading tours of the Washington D.C. Temple for invited guests on April 20, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Judy said she hopes more people will visit the Washington D.C. Temple because “the different parts of the building accent different parts of the depth of your relationship with Christ.”

Reverend James Boney, a local Baptist minister, walked through the house of the Lord on Wednesday with his wife, Barbara. Both were moved by the temple’s heaven-saturated symbolism.

Reverent James Boney, a local Baptist minister, walked through the house of the Lord on Wednesday with his wife, Barbara, in Kensington, Maryland on April 20, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Barbara said she was struck to learn that temple patrons change into white clothing during worship.

“For me, that [idea] was like the cleansing of me, removing things that are not of God, but focusing me back on the Lord,” she said. “And I think if we keep repeating that over and over again, it points us back to the Lord.”

Rev. Boney said the symbolic white clothing reminded him of the scripture (Revelation 6:11) that speaks of white robes being given to the righteous. And he said the temple’s baptism font, patterned after the “sea” mentioned in the temple Solomon built (see 1 Kings 7:23–26), was a pleasant surprise. “That was really moving to see that was there,” he said. “I’m going to go back and pull that scripture out because I want to look at it again.”

Wilton Cardinal Gregory of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington also toured the temple on Wednesday.

“I’m deeply impressed with the hospitality and the warmth of the people who are here,” the Cardinal said. “If I heard the word ‘welcome’ once, I heard it a thousand times today.”

The Catholic leader said the temple “exudes a warmth and a calm” that “people need and seek in today’s world.”

Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Gaithersburg, Maryland, first toured the Washington D.C. Temple in the 1970s when he was 4 years old. His parents cultivated an interfaith ethic in their home. After touring the temple again nearly 50 years later, Rabbi Blumenthal said he was impressed to learn that this house of the Lord exists to strengthen one’s relationship to God and family.

“We share that sensibility in the Jewish tradition,” he said.

Mohamed Magid, executive imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Virginia, was another faith leader who walked through the temple on Wednesday. Imam Magid said he has wondered what this big white building on the Capital Beltway was all about since he came to the United States in 1987.

The Muslim leader noticed many values he shares, including strong families, submission to God, purity and education. He also resonated with the temple’s peace and quiet — especially in the celestial room.

“You know, life has a lot of noise. We have difficulty sitting quiet. Even when you get to your car you have to turn on the radio,” Imam Magid said. “But really having a moment for yourself, just hearing the inner voice, is very crucial, very important. You know, there’s an inward and an outward. And we live in the outward, all of the material world and so forth. But you need to have a moment of inward — reflecting, thinking and having this deep understanding of oneself. Therefore, that moment [in the celestial room] was a very important moment.”

Local residents Troy and Gania Howard were invited to tour this house of the Lord by Latter-day Saint friends.

“I felt a deep respect for this Church in this temple, and how the members of it honor it so much,” Gania said. She added that for her, the tour “brought enlightenment because I had no clue — I thought sermons were given here. And I learned it’s all about ordinances — the baptistery, the sealing room, it was very beautiful, very ceremonial.”

Both Troy and Gania came away basking in the welcoming warmth of the experience.

“We’ve talked to so many people of different backgrounds,” Troy said. “But even with the amount of different religious backgrounds, everybody felt welcomed. Everybody felt like we’re here for one reason — and that’s to serve God. And that’s how I feel leaving here.”

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