Today I went on the open house tour of the new Manhattan New York temple. It was, as expected, a great experience. The temple is in the old stake center building. The first and second floors and the fifth and sixth floors are the temple; the third and fourth will remain a chapel (that split layout seems decidedly odd to me).
The anti-Mormons were outside, as expected: A half-dozen well-dressed professional-looking folks, one hippie-looking yeller, and a cute-as-a-button little girl, perhaps seven years old, who was cheerfully handing out pamphlets about why polygamy is bad. (If I have a moment, I’ll try to go get pictures one of these days).
The temple had some very pretty stained-glass windows, including one at the entrance. It also had the usual Mormon artwork, e.g., Jesus baptized. The baptistry looked a little cramped, but that was not unexpected, since space is at a premium in midtown.
From there we took a weird detour into the chapel area to watch a video. The reason for the detour (space, I think) and the distinction of leaving the temple and entering the non-temple floor was not well explained at all (and seems all but guaranteed to confuse the dickens out of non-members). The video had some nice touches, including some of the most extensive use of non-white testimonials I’ve seen in a church video. The message that we are a diverse church was certainly at the forefront. However, I did think that the video could have used a few better segues — it jumped straight from Israelite temples to Joseph Smith’s love of New York City, without really letting the concepts sink in, or tying together the two distinct themes.
We put on plastic slippers, over the strenuous protests of my two-year-old daughter (she had to be kept constantly distracted to keep from removing hers), and it was off to the temple rooms. The rooms we saw were small but pretty, with a nice unobtrusive mural across the telestial room. The celestial room was quiet — I don’t know how they did it, but I didn’t hear any of the Manhattan traffic that runs nearby. And then we were off to the sealing room, which was also pretty, and also small. (My six-year-old wanted to know why there was no “Spirit World Room.”). We ended the tour eating cookies in the cultural hall of the chapel. (And the chapel looks great, better than it ever has. It looks like it got a serious cleaning up and sprucing up as part of this process).
I’m glad that we’re going to have a temple in New York. It’s going to be just sixteen blocks from my work, just two stops on the 1/9 line. I expect that I’ll attend from work, before or after work days, on as regular of a basis as I can. That sure beats packing the kids up for a four-hour drive to Boston.
I really enjoyed the tour, and I would encourage members and non-members who are in or around New York to go take the tour if they have a chance, and if they’re interested. It’s a calm, tranquil place — even with the kids — and sometimes that’s just what I need. And, for members, it’s even more important. It’s the House of the Lord.
UPDATE: A few pictures from the church site:
More pictures are available at the Church website.