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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1937

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1937.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1937.

1937:  Endowment rooms added to St. George temple.

“During 1937 and 1938 the St. George Temple was remodeled to provide these endowment lecture rooms in the space formerly occupied by the lower assembly hall.”  (Richard O. Cowan, “Temple Building Ancient and Modern,” BYU Press, 1971, p. 13.  Quotes Deseret News 3 Aug., 1938) 

“Temple Ordinances,” from A Rational Theology.

“The endowment given to members of the Church in the temples falls into several divisions.  First, there is a course of instruction relative to man’s eternal journey from the dim beginning towards his possible glorious destiny.  Then, conditions are set up by which that endless journey may be upward in direction.  Those who receive this information covenant to obey the laws of eternal progress, and thereby give life to the knowledge received.  Finally, it is made clear that a man must sometimes give an account of his deeds, and prove the possession of divine knowledge and religious works.  It is a very beautiful, logical and inspiring series of ceremonies.

To make the vast elements of the endowment clear and impressive to all who partake of it, every educational device is employed.  Appeal is made to every faculty of man, to eye and ear, so that the meaning of the Gospel may be clear from beginning to end.

The essence of fundamental truth is not known to man, nor indeed can be.  Things are known only so far as our senses permit.  All knowledge is in reality known through symbols.  Letters on a printed page are but symbols of mighty thoughts, easily transferred from mind to mind by these symbols.  Clearly, the eternal truths encompassing all that man is or may be, cannot be expressed literally, nor does the temple ritual do this.  On the contrary, the beautiful temple service is one of mighty symbolism.  By the use of symbols of speech, action, color and form, the great truths connected with the story of man are made evident to the mind.

The doctrine of the origin, present condition and destiny of man, should be well understood, for without this knowledge, it is difficult to comply fully and intelligently with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  The temple endowment provides therefore information concerning the story of man, the creation of earth, our first earthly parents, the various dispensations of the Gospel, the meaning of the various dispensations of the Gospel, the purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the means and methods whereby joy on earth and exaltation in heaven may be obtained. 

In the temples such and other information is given in an organized and correct form, so that it may not depart from among the members of the Church.  That is, the temples are the conservators of the great truths of the Gospel.  to the temples, men and women go to be refreshed in memory concerning the doctrine relative to man and his lofty place in nature.

The temple endowment also gives special information relative to the required conduct of man if he is to enjoy the fruits of progression and reach his possible destiny.  Men and women are taught to keep themselves free from sin.  They must be chaste, virtuous, truthful, unselfish.  Moreover, they are taught that they must devote themselves and all that they have or may have to the great cause of truth, to the teaching of the everlasting Gospel to their fellowmen, so that the Great Plan may be worked out according to the mind and will of God.

Those who take their endowments, and receive this high knowledge, make covenants with God that they will observe the instructions given, and carry them out in their daily lives.  Thus the knowledge becomes active and vital.  Knowledge blossoms into life when man covenants to use it.  Unused knowledge is valueless.  Only by the use of knowledge will more knowledge be obtained.

In logical sequence, the temple endowment makes clear that man must account for the deeds done in the flesh.  Symbolically, but clearly, the nature of these tests that will be divinely applied are set forth.  The existence of a higher intelligence is acknowledged in the setting up of tests that at sometime in the hereafter man will be required to meet.

It is also explained that the failure to carry out the promises made in the temples will be punished of God.  This is in accordance with the law that provides a penalty for disobedience, as already explained.  It is emphasized that blessings will follow those who accept the truth, practice it and live God-like lives.  The essence of the temple endowment is a blessing.

Perhaps the most glorious ordinances of the temple are those that seal husband and wife and children to one another for time and eternity.  According to the Gospel, the marriage relation does not necessarily cease with death.  On the contrary, it may continue to the end of time.  Such a union or sealing for time and eternity may be performed only by the special authority possessed alone by the President of the Church.”  (John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, pp. 125-128, 1937 edition.)   

Jan.:  3 responsibilities of Church members.

“The Lord has placed three responsibilities upon the Church:  1.  To help the membership of the Church remain firm in the faith; 2.  To spread the knowledge of the Gospel over the earth that all may share in its joys; 3.  To open the doors of salvation for the dead by doing work for them in the temples.”  (John A. Widtsoe, “The Urgency of Temple Service,” UGHM 28:5, Jan., 1937)

Mar.:  How to mark garments in the temples.

“During March 1937 Elder George F. Richards and wife, Supervisors of Temples visited officially at the Temple. His suggestions and instructions consisted of the following: * * * When marking the garments place the garment on the person unmarked, place pins in the marked space, take the garments off and proceed to cut the marks. * * *”  (Manti Temple Historical Record, p. 37; CHD/CR/348/11/#1, 1934-1974; March 1937. {Restricted document}; Bergera Collection)

21 Jun.:  No more baptisms for living in temples.

“It was determined during the summer of 1937 that baptisms for the living should be discontinued in the Church’s temples and each of the temple presidents was so notified.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 214; also George F. Richards diary, 21 Jun., 1937)

29 Jul.:  Salary for temple presidents.

“Elder [George F.] Richards believed that temple presidents should be compensated for their service and recommended that salaries be paid to them.  In July 1937 the pay was set at $250.00 per month.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 215; also George F. Richards diary, 29 Jul., 1937)  

Oct.:  6 sessions/day, 5 days/week.

“The growth of the work in the temples has been much more rapid of recent years than formerly.  For many years after the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated, but one session of endowments was held each day, and but three days each week.  At present six sessions are held each day on five days of each week.  There has been a corresponding increase in numbers of other ordinances performed.”  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 40(10):637, Oct., 1937)

5 Oct.:  No more calling of people on temple missions.

“The practice of calling Church members on missions to perform temple work was ended by Elder [George F.] Richards.  He felt that the responsibility to perform the ordinance work belonged to every Latter-day Saint rather than a selected few.  Those who could spend more time in the temple were welcome to do so, but thereafter they would not be given formal calls to so labor.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 214; also George F. Richards diary, 5 Oct., 1937)