25 october 2012

New Mormon Temple a landmark for Calgary, Alberta


The New Mormon Temple in Calgary, Alberta
Courtesy of LDS Church/Nick Basi

It’s a monumental structure, built on a ridge, overlooking Alberta’s largest city.  And for most of October, church members hosted an open house, welcoming people to visit and see the splendors inside.  Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Rick Melchin, one of those church members, to find out more about the history of the Latter Day Saints in Canada, and the effect of the spotlight on the religion, in this current American presidential campaign. 
The Mormon faith took hold in the foothills of Alberta in the late 19th century when a group of families emigrated north from Utah.  Today there are approximately 180,000 Mormons in Canada, 70,000 of them live in Alberta and 25,000 in Calgary.  Around the world, there are 20,000 Mormon chapels, but only 140 temples.  They could be described as the Cathedrals of the faith; Calgary’s latest has Swarovski crystal chandeliers, marble floors imported from Spain, brass banisters and fixtures. 

Rick Melchin said the new building is “for temple work.”  He went on to clarify that, “temple work is something that we do during the week, the temple’s actually closed on Sunday”.  On Sunday, services take place in the chapel which, in this northwest neighborhood of Calgary, is located right beside it.

According to Rick Melchin, the temple open-house was a huge success.  He said “we were able to explain its purposes and show the beauty of our temple to a large number of people coming from 22 countries, 27 states in the United States, and all of the provinces of Canada.”  He said over 100,000 people visited.  Following the dedication ceremony on October 28th, the temple will be open to practicing members only, but the surrounding landscaped grounds,  will remain accessible to all.

When asked about the effect of the American presidential campaign, which put the spotlight on the religion of the Republican candidate, Rick Melchin says “our church public affairs people say that we used to get a few enquiries, now we get hundreds of enquiries, many every day.  It’s been interesting for us to be highlighted by Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency, and quite frankly we rejoice in that.”

The cost of the building, clad in grey granite from China, remains a mystery, but visiting church elder, William Walker, executive director of the church’s temple department said, the 33,000 square-foot structure was funded by local, as well as international sources within the church, including Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States.  He said, “We want people to know that our temples are not secrets.  They are just very sacred to us.

Mormons are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, a Christian denomination founded in the United States in 1830.  It is based on the Book of Mormon which was revealed to Joseph Smith by the prophet Mormon.  The book is believed to be a second testament of Jesus Christ and the history of a people who lived in the Americas, descendants of an ancient tribe from Israel who travelled to the present United States.

Comment from Matthew Bates - Calgary:

There were some errors in what was being said about the religion, I being a member of the said church, that I would like to rectify. I do so here because the comment section of the page would not show the security code to type in at the bottom of the page. The church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Book of Mormon was revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith by the ancient prophet, now angel, Moroni. This is a common confusion as the title reads The Book of Mormon. Mormon is actually the father of Moroni.

Forgive me for any inconvenience on your part and I thank you for your time to hear me out. If it is not possible to correct the article I would ask that you make the corrections known in the comments section of the article. Thank you.


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