1 of 6

Latter-day Saints and community members of other faiths are anticipating the open house of the Gilbert Arizona Temple, beginning this month.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building, the largest temple to open in 17 years, will be hosting an open house Jan. 18 through Feb. 15, excluding Sundays. The open house will allow Latter-day Saints as well as those who are not members of the LDS Church a free tour of the sacred place before its dedication.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, a Catholic freelance writer of the Momania blog for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shared her experience of getting tickets for the Gilbert Temple open house.

Despite reserving tickets the first day, Walsh Giarrusso was assigned tickets for a weekday at 12:30 p.m., leaving her with the choice between having her children miss a cultural experience or school.

She posed the question for her readers: “Would you pull kids from school for a learning experience about another religion?”

Most of the comments were supportive of an outing to explore another faith, saying experiences in the world sometimes offer more than a few hours in a classroom.

Commenter Sarah said, “Definitely, yes. … You are not trying to indoctrinate your children; you’re trying to open their eyes to the many paths this world offers. Teaching them about other faiths and cultures gives them more confidence and helps them understand the differences that so many people wrongly fear. ...”

Another commenter, DB, wrote, “Oh, please take them — what a rare and special opportunity to get a peek behind a very strict screen! I think it’s important to understand the tenets of different faiths, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. It’s so helpful to understand what kind of faith reference people that you meet may have. One of my favorite college classes was comparative religions. ...”

ABC15, a local station in Arizona, will also be doing a 30 minute broadcast titled "Gilbert Mormon temple: ABC15 gives you rare look inside." It will air at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, the night before the open house.

The special will address some frequently asked questions about LDS temples such as the rooms inside a temple and their purpose, why not everyone in a wedding party may attend a ceremony and the process required for admission into a dedicated temple.

ABC News did a similar, shorter feature in 2012 titled “Mormonism: A Peek Inside Temple, Rituals and Family Life.” It explored rooms such as the celestial room and baptistery and illustrated that the sealing room is a pivotal space.

“Mormons say the real center of their faith, though, is family. In the sealing room, Mormons don't just get married; they are sealed for eternity,” ABC News said.

The Gilbert Temple open house comes after the recent announcement of the Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple open house and dedication dates. The open house is planned for March 29 through April 19, and the dedication is planned for May 4.

Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying communications and editing at Brigham Young University. EMAIL: amoore@deseretdigital.com