A major church with a reach across the Oceania Pacific region is opening one of its most significant temples for public viewing from August 26, after 64 years.
The Hamilton New Zealand Temple has been the spiritual home for tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints across Aotearoa-New Zealand, Australia, and the islands of the South Pacific since 1958, and for three of the last four years has been undergoing a major renovation.
Former member of the Church’s Pacific Area Presidency and mission leader in the Fiji Suva Mission, Ian Ardern, said the temple, which he described as “an anchor in the community for decades”, will be re-dedicated and resume its sacred service on October 16.
Describing the reopening as “a wonderful occasion”, he said all are welcome. “Our role is to bring the community together.”
“I extend a personal and sincere invitation to all to come and see the temple that means so much to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to others in this community,” he said.
He believes some may recall the last time the doors of the Hamilton Temple were opened to the public, when more than 100,000 people walked through in the early months of 1958.
The renovations were needed to meet new earthquake standards, and due to the pandemic, the Church had to wait a fourth year before the temple could be re-dedicated and “faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can once again worship in this sacred place.”
The temple is located in the suburb (as the name suggests) of Temple View, Hamilton, a growing area with a new housing development. The Church College of New Zealand stood there for over fifty years, and has been replaced by a Church History Museum.
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“People can take a trip down memory lane and explore the history of the Church in the Pacific,” Elder Ardern explained.
The predominantly Latter-day Saint community has two churches, a community meeting place, and a beautiful park for children to enjoy. The temple, however, as was the case when the school was operating, remains the centre of the community.
From August 26 to September 17 Elder Ardern said, “members of our faith, as well as our friends, relatives, and neighbours of other faiths, or of no faith affiliation, will have the chance to tour inside the Hamilton landmark during a special public open house.”
The interior tour, which will take about 25 minutes, will showcase the inspiring architecture, furnishings and artwork which, “align our thoughts with heavenly things and magnifies our capacity to be followers of Christ.”
The renovation has kept the exterior of the temple almost exactly as it was, with the major changes to the inside.
Explaining the significance of the temple to the Church, he said temples are dedicated as “Houses of the Lord” to allow members of the Church to receive sacred religious instruction, seek answers for their lives, and enter into eternal family relationships.
“For the communities where temples are built, they are a place of peace and a beacon of unity, and this is no less so for Temple View and the wider community.”
The Hamilton Temple and school were built by Church members who made personal sacrifices in their day.
“We remain grateful for their service. I invite you to come and see the temple that was built by local labour missionaries—volunteers who put on hold education and careers to consecrate their time and talents to the building project,” Elder Ardern said.
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He said his current service in the Church includes teaching of the goodness of God and of His plan for us, and that, “nowhere are these eternal truths better taught than in our temples.”
“The magnificent beauty of the temple is surpassed only by the loving work performed there; work members of the Church believe is essential to unite families for eternity.”
Many have already made plans to attend the open house, including leaders from Māori, Pasifika, and other communities, as well as civic, government, community, and interfaith leaders, all of whom come together in a shared feeling of mutual respect.
Elder Ardern said he believes those who visit will enjoy the feelings of peace and reverence experienced in the temple.
He said sacred structures increase our connectedness to one another, to spiritual matters and to God. They provide visual reminders that there is more than the here and now. They are a reminder of those who have come before and pioneered the communities we live in today.
“May this temple prompt all to love and serve one another, and to be more devoted to God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ,” Elder Ardern said.
To visit the temple between August 26 and 17 September, free tickets can be reserved HERE.
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