House of the Lord

Virginia Governor Praises the ‘Magnificent’ Richmond Temple

“The work and love put into this building is strikingly apparent,” the state leader says

After touring the new house of the Lord in Virginia on Monday, March 20, 2023, the state’s governor Glenn Youngkin called the sacred structure “magnificent” and said “the work and love put into this building is strikingly apparent.”

The governor, speaking to journalists at a morning press conference, called attention to the fact that a house of the Lord is now in “the first state to forge religious freedom into the fabric of our nation.”

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“Thomas Jefferson wrote in the statute of religious freedom that God created the mind free, and that all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion,” Gov. Youngkin said. “Today, the past meets present. … It is amazing to see the interwoven nature of this in this magnificent temple. Jeffersonian principles. Jeffersonian architecture. Virginia elements inside the temple, from the carvings of dogwood blooms, intricate patterns on the floors, pillars inspired by Monticello. You will see this blending present itself all over. There’s even a painting of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, which we stopped for a moment and just absorbed.”

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“I’m humbled,” Gov. Youngkin continued, “by the clear expression of faith eternal by this extraordinary [Latter-day Saint] community. May this temple be a lasting symbol to all Virginians of our collective legacy of true religious freedom and give the Latter-day Saint community across Virginia and around the world a powerful central location to practice their faith.”

The exterior of the Richmond Virginia Temple on March 20, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“I encourage everyone to please avail yourself of the opportunity today or during the visitation period while this magnificent building is open,” the governor said.

Virginia State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant said she is honored that the Church of Jesus Christ built a house of God in Henrico County. She was especially moved by her time in the celestial room.

“I have never been in a more quiet room in my life,” Sen. Dunnavant said. “I couldn’t help but think that mothers of young children would value that moment to hear their own peaceful thoughts so much. It’s a beautiful sharing of your faith. And I was so glad that I got to see the manifestation of that in the tour of this magnificent temple you’ve built here.”

Invited guests are touring the temple through Friday, March 24. The public open house will then run from Saturday, March 25, to Saturday, April 15, 2023, except for Sundays and Saturday, April 1 (general conference).

Elders Kevin R. Duncan (center) and Jack N. Gerard (right) of the Seventy lead journalists through the Richmond Virginia Temple on March 20, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elders Jack N. Gerard and Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy, along with Sister Tracy Y. Browning of the Primary General Presidency, accompanied Gov. Youngkin on the morning temple tour and at the press conference.

“[Gov. Youngkin] is a man of faith,” Elder Gerard said. “We’re honored today that he would come be with us as part of our sacred expression of our faith. Our temple is where we perform our highest sacraments or our highest ordinances, as we say, and our worship to our Father in Heaven as we bind ourselves to God and we bind ourselves to each other in commitments we’ve made to each other to be what we would call forever families. We believe family life continues well beyond this life into the next.”

Elder Duncan, the executive director of the Temple Department, reiterated Gov. Youngkin’s invitation to tour the temple.

“This is a house of hope,” Elder Duncan said. “And we hope that those who are here will feel what we feel when we enter the temple. We feel closer to our Creator and [have increased] gratitude for the redeeming power of our Savior Jesus Christ. We invite everyone to come and enjoy and feel that spirit with us so that you can understand what we do [that’s] so important to us — and we can also understand you.”

Sister Browning spoke of the Church of Jesus Christ’s sacred commitment to care for those in need as a fruit of the faith forged in the hearts of Latter-day Saints through worship in temples.

Sister Tracy Y. Browning of the Primary General Presidency speaks at the Richmond Virginia Temple media day on March 20, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“Why do we think it’s important for us to continue to make collaborations, to continue to invite our members to serve and lift wherever they can?” Sister Browning asked. “It goes back to the commitments … that we make in the temple — to be better citizens, to be better for each other, to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those who need our comfort.”

Gov. Youngkin said “the foundational belief of caring for the less fortunate” is “at the heart of all of our faiths [and] will be a welcome addition to come forth from this community and across the Commonwealth. Whether it’s a food drive or answering the call of a local disaster, selfless service will make us all stronger.”

The Rev. Leonard Covington of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (Roanoke, Virginia) was among those of other faiths who walked through the temple on Monday. He said everything he saw had “God’s touch on it.”

“From the pictures to the lighting, everything was so celestial,” the Rev. said. “If you looked at the picture long enough, you can actually see God looking back at you if you focused on what you needed to focus on. And it wasn’t about a car passing by, it wasn’t about any outside distraction. It was you, by yourself, whether you were in a group or not, by yourself, communing with the Savior. And that was something that we all can take into our homes, on our jobs and also in our churches.”

Elder Vaiangina Sikahema, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visits with Richmond Virginia Temple media day attendees in Richmond, Virginia on March 20, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Also present at Monday’s press conference was Elder Vaiangina Sikahema of the Seventy. Himself a former television personality at NBC 10 Philadelphia, Elder Sikahema spoke of the critical role of the press.

“The media plays a unique and important role in American life,” Elder Sikahema said. “It’s so important that the Founders crafted the Constitution so that it would protect freedom of the press. So, we recognize that and we honor it.”

The invitation to the press to tour the temple is also an invitation to the public, Elder Sikahema said.

“We invite them to come and see, come and take a tour before the general public does,” he said. “And in that way, we also utilize the media’s outreach to their people, to the citizens of Richmond, to come and take a look for yourself.”

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