The newly renovated Oakland Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be rededicated and opened to members in three services this Sunday, Father's Day, following a month of public tours.
The hilltop landmark with its five golden, spotlighted spires, was closed in February 2018 to upgrade its mechanical systems and refresh the temple's finishes and furnishings.
Following tradition, the church opened the 55-year-old temple to the public last month, attracting an estimated quarter-million visitors before closing its doors to non-members June 1. The last time the public was invited to tour the temple was for a similar brief period after it was built in 1964.
At that time, the Oakland Temple was only the second in California, following the first built in Los Angeles. There are now seven in the state, with an eighth planned in Yuba City. The church currently has 201 temples operating, announced or under construction throughout the world, including a new temple recently opened near the Vatican in Rome.
I had the opportunity to take three tours of the renovated temple last month: one on media day when local and Salt Lake City church leaders walked us through the 90,000-square-foot temple, another with Ken and Carolyn Mano and others associated with the Pleasanton LDS churches and then with my family, including my grandson Jordan Nally and his wife Brielle, both seniors at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Each tour offered a more comprehensive view of this most unique and interesting example of modern church architecture.
Before moving beyond the temple's check-in desk, church members go into locker rooms where, believing white symbolizes purity and equality before God, they change into white clothing. On the tour, non-members were allowed to pass through without changing, moving into the baptistry, an elevated pool of sacred water built on top of carved oxen. It's here where baptisms can be performed on behalf of those who have died, a practice that Latter-day Saints believe was followed in New Testament times but that later was lost.
From there, we took seats in one of many instruction rooms on the temple's second floor. These are theater-like assembly areas with the latest in audio-visual capabilities, where members attend presentations on various aspects of their faith. We also had an opportunity to spend a few minutes in the Celestial Room to contemplate in silence whatever we wanted, a welcome respite from the world outside.
Just as special as the various faith-focused rooms in the temple is its stunning interior decor. True to the modern era, the interior of the temple is restrained in its ornamentation. The original woods are not stained, only sealed, to show the original color and grain.
The exterior of the building is faced with Sierra white granite and is minimalistic with little ornamentation. The five-spire design of the building is reminiscent of buildings of far-eastern origins, such as the Taj Mahal in India and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and reflects the diversity of the residents in the area.
Our tour concluded outside with stunning views of San Francisco Bay. For years, I have viewed the temple from Interstate 580 always wondering what it looked like inside. Probably most surprising to me was to find that this soaring cathedral-like temple has no large sanctuary inside where members gather to worship on Sunday morning. Instead, as I learned on my tours, the temple offers dedicated rooms geared toward individual prayer, church instruction, marriage and families.
The temple is located at 4770 Lincoln Ave. in Oakland. For more information, sign on to www.oaklandtemple.org.