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It was 1974 when the DC Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened, serving congregations in Northern Virginia and other parts of the region. That was also the only time non-church members got to look inside the temple.

While the DC Temple can be seen on the Capital Beltway in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, it’s not something the public can go inside to visit. Because the temple is restricted to church members once it’s dedicated, the public got to see inside before it was dedicated in 1974. But since the temple has been undergoing renovations, it will be rededicated again later this year. Before that rededication happens, an open house will be held to offer the public tours.

For church members who weren’t around in 1974, this upcoming open house may be the first time they can share the temple with their neighbors.

“Once the temple is dedicated, only members of the church are allowed to go into it, so it’s very exciting for us to be able to share the inside of the temple,” said Jim Stansel, president of the McLean stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The DC Temple in Kensington, Maryland was the first Latter-day Saints temple on the East Coast and is the 16th overall. At the time it was built, it served members east of the Mississippi River in the U.S. and even some in Canada and South America. Today, the church has built over 200 temples throughout the world, so members come from DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey.

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In Northern Virginia, there are nine “stakes” of Latter-day Saints made up of multiple congregations. For example, the McLean stake is made up of congregations in McLean, Great Falls, Falls Church and Arlington, some of whom share worship houses. Congregations use worship houses for regular Sunday worship but would use the DC Temple for the highest sacraments, including marriage and the uniting of families. Stansel says the temple serves an estimated 75,000 members in the DC-Baltimore metro area.

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