Reaching toward heaven, reaching out to people
Mormon Church's Portland Oregon Temple observes its 25th anniversary in Lake Oswego
There are no ceremonies planned this month, no special celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the Morman Churchs Portland Oregon Temple. But that may be because every day is a celebration on the Lake Oswego campus, where six soaring spires topped by a gold-leaf angel serve as a beacon to church members and non-members alike.
Last Friday, 21 brides walked the grounds off Kruse Oaks Boulevard, accompanied by grooms, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, friends and lots of little kids. That alone accounted for a colorful, uplifting atmosphere. But there were many more people just walking in the sun and enjoying the shade of tall trees that provide a perfect backdrop for the churchs white marble walls.
It was in 1989 that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints opened the doors of its 42nd temple, the first to be built in Oregon. Since then, members say, it has deepened their faith and commitment.
There has been a great impact over the past 25 years, said Steve Pond, temple president. The sacred ordinances on the Earth bring us nearer to the heart of Jesus.
Weve created a place for worship, said Kerry Morgan, director of the visitors center. We believe God resides here.
While Mormons benefit greatly themselves, they have also used the temple to reach out to others in a remarkable way. More than 314,000 visitors toured the Portland Oregon Temple during its public open house in 1989, and crowds have continued to enjoy its gorgeous gardens, serene reflecting pool and a visitors center that includes films, displays and multimedia presentations.
We love having people come, Morgan said. We have 900 people visit here every day (and 2,000 volunteers come every week to work on the grounds). We hope they feel the love and encouragement from our Heavenly Father.
Young missionaries lead tours of the grounds every Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., Morgan said, although the visitors center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. We want to bring you the spirit of peace, Morgan said, whether you are a Mormon or not.
A spirit of inclusion
Church officials originally bought the Lake Oswego site in the mid-1960s and planned to build a junior college there. Later, when those plans changed, 7.3 acres were retained for the temple. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Sept. 20, 1986; Church President Ezra Taft Benson and First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley were on hand three years later for the official dedication.
Portland attorney Jim Bean, who is still active in church affairs, was there at the beginning, too. In fact, hes one of the six men holding shovels in a picture taken at the opening ceremonies that hangs in the visitors center today.
Hes collected a huge pile of articles from The Lake Oswego Review to record each step of the progress, and every challenge, along the way.
This site touched my heart, Bean said. But at first I did not anticipate it being used for a temple. It was beautiful, it was zoned, there was an overlay on the neighborhood. Lake Oswego is a highly favorable, well respected community. It is centrally located for many of our (members).
It took the church more than six years to get approval before construction could even begin. Many people in the neighborhoods around Kruse Oaks Boulevard were afraid that building an 80,500-square-foot church would upset their way of life, Bean said, but he and his building committee worked hard to answer every question and meet every city requirement.
Some people opposed it. There were appeals for many years, Bean said. We went to (the state Land Use Board of Appeals) three times. Every objection to the construction was reviewed. One of the concerns was overpowering lighting. But we found that all of our lights combined didnt make as much light as the lights on the freeway. There were also questions about whether our spires were too high. We found they were 27 feet lower than similar structures in Lake Oswego.
Today, those gracefully lit spires topped by the gold-leaf statue of the angel Moroni serve as a symbol of faith for the 90,000 members who live in the temple district and an iconic work of art for the thousands of motorists who pass by every day
People driving down the freeway stop and come in to tour the grounds, Morgan said. That is one of the ways we contribute to this community.
For more about the Portland Oregon Temple, go to lds.org/church/temples/portland-oregon.