“Extended Hours at the Washington D.C. Temple,” Ensign, Jan. 2000, 80
The Washington D.C. Temple district includes 68 stakes from Maine to Virginia. To accommodate members from such a wide area, the temple presidency has kept the temple open continuously from Friday morning until Saturday evening for the past three years.
“It was a decision that we felt impressed to make so more members could attend,” said recently released temple president Earl J. Roueche.
New temples in Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio will reduce the Washington D.C. Temple district, but the overnight schedule is expected to continue. Of the temple’s approximate 3,000 weekly endowments, an average of about 275 are performed between the hours of 9:30 P.M. Friday and 5:30 A.M. Saturday.
“It’s hard, it’s very hard,” said President Roueche. “But there have been many personal answers to prayer and revelation, as well as a blessing of unity within the stakes.”
One of a large temple’s challenges is staffing all sessions, especially when the temple is open for extended hours. The Washington D.C. Temple has about 820 scheduled ordinance workers who work at least three shifts a month. The more distant stakes in the temple district make one or two temple trips a year, usually on weekends but sometimes for a week at a time. Often, visiting stakes will bring their own temple workers to assist stake members in performing ordinances.
The challenge of staffing overnight Friday-to-Saturday temple sessions has been met primarily by members of local wards, including singles wards, with help from members of visiting stakes. Saturday daytime shifts are staffed largely from local stakes.
Another challenge is to train temple workers in their duties. Training of new temple workers is normally performed by experienced workers from Washington D.C.–area stakes. President Roueche said that if volunteers are motivated, they can learn the duties of temple workers very well.
“Temple work is a spiritual opportunity that makes friendships,” said President Roueche. “Much personal spiritual growth comes from giving of one’s time to serve in the temple.”