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Temple Administration

palmyra templeThe administration and internal working of a temple are designed to reflect the faith of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that each temple is in every way "The House of the Lord." Only in dedicated temples can certain sacred ordinances be performed, certain covenants between man and God be made, and the promise of certain blessings be conveyed. Through them a person may more fully comprehend the purpose of earth life, the ultimate destinies of mankind, and the importance of developing Christlike attributes here in mortality.

ENTERING THE TEMPLE. All who enter the temple must come as worthy members duly certified by ecclesiastical leaders—the bishop and the stake president. The individual's temple recommend or certification to enter the temple is presented upon arrival to the recommend desk attendant. The signatures are verified and the expiration date is checked. A recommend is issued annually and is valid for one year.

Everyone in the temple, temple workers and patrons alike, is dressed in white clothing and is free of worldly ornamentation. All are encouraged to speak with soft voices and guard against extraneous thoughts and conversations, which detract from the spiritual tone of the sanctuary.

The temple is not used for Sunday worship but is rather a sacred edifice where ordinances may be performed and covenants may be made in quiet dignity, away from the cares and din of the outside world. The temple is closed on Sunday, the day in which members worship and learn in their ward meetinghouses. The temple is normally closed on Monday as well, for cleaning and maintenance work in preparation for the scheduled days of operation.

GENERAL SUPERVISION. All temples are administered under the direction of the First Presidency of the church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Temple Department under the direction of the First Presidency and with the guidance of the Priesthood Executive Council is the agency responsible for the supervision of all temples. Special attention is given to the following:

  • Proper performance of all ordinances of the temple following scriptural patterns as approved by the First Presidency
  • Upkeep, maintenance, and security of temples and grounds
  • Technical facilities of all temples, especially audiovisual equipment and computers
  • Personnel relationships in all temples
  • Budgetary matters
  • Monitoring temple clothing inventories
  • Operation of laundries and cafeterias in temples

TEMPLE PRESIDENCY AND WORKERS. The temple president is selected and called to his position by the First Presidency of the Church. This is a Church calling of usually two to three years. Normally the wife of a temple president serves as the matron of the temple. The president is assisted by two counselors, and the matron by two assistants. Each temple has a temple recorder.

THE TEMPLE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL. The temple president, his counselors, the temple matron, and the recorder constitute the temple executive council. They meet weekly to do all master planning. As needed, other key personnel are invited into this meeting.

VOLUNTEER WORKERS. Each temple relies heavily on volunteer workers to assist in administering the temple ordinances. A large temple may have as many as two thousand volunteer workers. These ordinance workers, usually assigned two six-hour shifts each week, assist the patrons as they participate in baptisms, confirmations, the Endowment, and temple sealings.

All of these workers are recommended by their local priesthood leaders. Each person recommended is cleared by the First Presidency of the Church, name by name. This procedure emphasizes the importance of those selected to assist in the temple. Each ordinance worker is finally interviewed carefully by the temple president or one of his counselors who, when satisfied as to personal worthiness, attitude, and ability, sets the person apart by the laying-on of hands, thus conveying the authority essential to officiate in temple ordinances.

TRAINING TEMPLE WORKERS. The temple president is anxious that all that transpires in the temple is in complete harmony with the desires and specifications outlined by scripture and the First Presidency of the Church. The temple is a "House of glory," "of order," "of God" (D&C 88:119). Each ordinance worker undergoes an initial training program wherein the actions and words of the ordinances and covenants to be administered are memorized and rehearsed. In addition to the initial instructions, there is a continuation training to make sure all is carried out in an acceptable manner each day. All training is performed in a quiet and gentle manner.

Each shift (forty to eighty workers) begins the day with a prayer meeting that sets a spiritual tone and permits instruction for the work to follow. Usually, a few minutes of each prayer meeting are given to follow-up training. All persons assigned to train others are carefully and prayerfully selected by the temple presidency and the matron.

TEMPLE SEALERS. A sealer in the temple has authority to seal families for time and for all eternity—husbands and wives to each other and children to parents. The process of sealing families together for time and for eternity is the very essence of temple work, and an important foundation stone of Latter-day Saint theology. Worthy male members of demonstrated faithfulness, ability, and integrity may be called to be sealers in the temple. All such calls and authorization come from the First Presidency of the Church.

THE BAPTISTRY. The temple baptistry is used for proxy baptisms, living persons being baptized for and in behalf of deceased individuals who have lived through mortality without the opportunity of receiving this sacred ordinance.

The fundamental program encouraged is for members of the Church to perform this work for their deceased ancestors; however, a proven kindred relationship is not essential for the work to be valid. Males are proxies for males; females for females.

Baptisms for the dead often involve young people, ages twelve to seventeen. By appointment, they will spend two to three hours in the temple baptistery area, each person being baptized typically, for a score or more deceased persons. They dress in all-white baptismal clothing, attend a brief worship service, and then participate in the proxy baptisms. Those performing the baptism often include the adult male supervisors traveling with the group.

It is understood that in the spirit world all persons for whom temple work by proxy is performed will have heard of the gospel and its ordinances (see Salvation of the Dead; Temples: Meanings and Functions of Temples).


Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple. Salt Lake City, 1980.

Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord. Salt Lake City, 1968.


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by Robert L. Simpson
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 4, Temples

Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company