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Connecticut's First Mormon Temple Opens Its Doors

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Davis Dunavin
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WSHU
The exterior of the new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple in Farmington, Conn. It's the first Mormon temple in the state.

A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple in Farmington, Connecticut, opened this weekend. It’s the second Mormon temple in New England. The temple would normally be off limits to non-Mormons, but it’s offering public tours this month.

From the outside it looks a little like a New England country church – austere and white. In fact, it’s based on another church in Farmington that’s been around since colonial times. But inside it’s full of Italian marble, gold trim and lots of opulent touches. Neil McMurdy is with the church.

“You’ll see other materials used throughout the temple that are exquisite, beautiful and designed to be the finest we can have to show our reverence and love for our God.”

McMurdy takes me inside a room called the Celestial Room. A huge, ornate chandelier hangs over cream-colored couches and armchairs.

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Credit Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
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Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The Celestial Room inside the Farmington temple

“Oftentimes when we take tours in, there’s a slight gasp as they view the chandelier. It’s designed to represent what it might feel like if you were in heaven, in the presence of God.”

The temple isn’t used for church services. Instead, it’s a place where Mormons would get married and conduct baptisms of their dead ancestors. Or where they would come to a prayer room like the Celestial Room.

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Credit Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
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Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The Sealing Room is where couples are married and children are sealed to their parents.

“And they would sit and they would pray and they would meditate. They would seek God’s inspiration. And so this room is a very special room, a very sacred room.”

The Church says this temple will serve about 27,000 Mormons in Connecticut, Rhode Island, western Massachusetts and parts of New York State. Grant Bennett is an elder in the Church.

“Most think of the church as being centered in Utah, which it is, but those who belong to the church, we’re very New England.”

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Credit Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
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Courtesy of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The baptistry room

A lot of the earliest Mormons came from New England. Wilfred Woodruff, the fourth president of the church, was from Farmington.

“I think he’d be pleased that in his hometown, there’s a temple here.”

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Credit Davis Dunavin / WSHU
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WSHU
The temple's steeple, with the golden angel Moroni atop the spire.

The church opened a temple in Boston in 2000, and one in Manhattan in 2004. And the Farmington-based temple is one of six worldwide that the church is opening this year. Bennett says earlier this year, the church also formed a new administrative division to oversee the New London area.

“The church is indeed growing in New England.”

The church is offering tours until October 22. After that, the temple will dedicated, and then it’ll be restricted to Mormons only.

 

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.