President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated Pennsylvania’s first temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 152nd on Sunday, September 18, 2016."It has a feeling in it unlike any temple I've ever been in terms of its beauty and the spaciousness, and just the feeling of the house of the Lord. It's really quite remarkable," said President Erying.
Accompanying President Eyring to the dedicatory services were Elder D. Todd Christofferson ofQuorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elders Gerrit W. Gong, Anthony D. Perkins and Larry Y. Wilson of the Seventy.President Eyring directed the completion of the temple construction with the traditional cornerstone ceremony. He placed mortar around the cornerstone and invited others to do the same."It's a wonderful moment in the dedication of this temple," he said. "There is a stone prepared for us now to seal ... it's symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Chief Cornerstone of the Church."
The 61,000-square-foot temple will serve more than 40,000 Church members in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and all of Delaware.
President Eyring told those gathered at the brief ceremony that he was born in New Jersey and was baptized in Philadelphia. "So to me, this is especially significant," said President Eyring, "that the Lord would have granted this wonderful house to you wonderful people in this part of Zion."
Plans were announced for the Philadelphia Temple on October 4, 2008, and the Church broke ground September 17, 2011.
Temple construction features classic Georgian architecture designed to blend with the historic Philadelphia architecture. The exterior is clad in granite from Maine, and the interior features stone from Egypt and Italy. The building includes original art glass and an oil-painting wall mural of landscapes important in both American and Church history, including the Susquehanna River and the Delaware River. The temple stands 208 feet tall and is crowned with a gilded statue of Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet who is significant to Latter-day Saints for his role in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One hundred forty-thousand people attended the nearly month-long open house including 4,000 civic, religious and government leaders.
One day before the temple was dedicated several hundred Latter-day Saint youth participated in a cultural celebration marking the completion of the temple with song and dance honoring the state’s heritage and the history of the Church in Pennsylvania. The performance was held at the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
President Eyring told the performers, "This day is historic in your lives. You will always remember the feeling of celebration and faith as you prepared for this performance tonight. You will tell your children and perhaps your grandchildren that you were here and how you felt," he said.
Latter-day Saint temples differ from the meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord,” where the teachings of Jesus Christ are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity.