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California to Get 3 New Mormon Temples

Religion: Newport Beach, Redlands and Sacramento buildings will bring state's total to seven.


Three new Mormon temples, holy sanctuaries where only church members in good standing can set foot and even then only in ceremonial white clothing, will be built in California, including one in Newport Beach and one in Redlands, church officials said Friday.

The third Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple will be built in Sacramento, bringing California's total to seven, the most in any state outside of Utah.

The new buildings will be part of a new generation of smaller Mormon temples intended to serve targeted communities. Today, an estimated 44,000 Mormons in Orange County and more than 100,000 in the Inland Empire must drive to West Los Angeles or San Diego for the most sacred religious ceremonies.

"Not only will the temple generate excitement, but it's a great opportunity for many people who find it difficult to get into Los Angeles," said Doug Glauser, head of the church in the Redlands area. "I think it will have a unifying effect."

Joseph Bentley, a leader in the Orange County Mormon community, called the plans for a Newport Beach temple "the most important thing that's happened in our lifetime in Orange County. The temple is the most holy spot on the face of the Earth."

Costs, sites and designs for the new temples have not been finalized. But church officials say the buildings will be more modest than the 59,000-square-foot San Diego temple. The striking building of white stone aggregate and opaque glass off Interstate 5 cost $24 million when it was completed in 1994.

For Mormons, the temple serves as a bridge between heaven and Earth, a place where family relationships are "sealed" for eternity. Inside, Mormons wear simple white temple clothes as a sign of purity and reverence.

Temple rites include weddings and "vicarious baptisms for the dead," ceremonies designed to unite deceased relatives who were not originally church members with their family through eternity.

Temples have a variety of rooms, big and small, and many have an altar where sacred ceremonies are performed and religious instruction is given.

Once built, temples are opened to the public for a short open-house period.

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