Oakland Temple in the Bay Area
Written by Yenny Mo. originally written in Mandarin
The unexpected epidemic of COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented impact to every household. Countless people are still suffering from physical illness or the pain of losing their loved ones. Some are experiencing anxiety brought about by the sorrow and uncertainty of unemployment and economic difficulties. Whether you are facing great or small challenges, there is a well-known place in the California Bay Area that can bring hope, happiness, light, and guidance in life—the Oakland Temple.
The Oakland Temple occupies a total area of 18 acres, and its operation officially began on November 17, 1964. The Oakland Temple is highly rated on the world’s leading travel website, TripAdvisor, and ranks first in many categories, including historic sites, sacred and religious sites, gardens, churches and cathedrals, points of interest, landmarks, and travelers’ favorites. “Peace” and “beauty” are most often mentioned in the comments made. One reviewer wrote, “after understanding the meaning of the temple…you will feel peace.”
There are three major buildings on the Oakland Temple site: the temple, the church center, and the Visitors’ Center.
The temple stands at the southernmost part of the Temple Hill campus and is one of the most important buildings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints believe that the temple is the House of the Lord. Throughout history, the Lord commanded His people to build temples for sacred purposes, such as Moses’s tabernacle, or King Solomon’s temple. As in ancient times, the Lord continues to command His people to build temples in modern times. There are currently 167 temples operating around the world, with more under construction.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to build temples because it gives people all over the world the opportunity to enjoy temple blessings. Latter-day Saints believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, performing sacred temple ordinances, and making promises with God in the temple, they can enjoy many eternal blessings. Two of these great blessings are living with God, and being with family eternally.
The temple is a place of refuge for the saints. In this turbulent era and society, many challenges can cause a loss of hope, motivation, or confidence in life. For times like this, the temple is a place to heal hearts and to receive personal revelation, giving an individual the strength to bravely face challenges in the world. The temple is also a place of learning, where patrons are taught to better understand God’s plan of happiness for us.
Once dedicated, entrance inside a temple is reserved for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ and is ready to participate in further sacred ordinances. Any church member who obeys the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ can obtain a recommendation card from their local church leader certifying that they are prepared to enter the temple.
To the east of the Oakland Temple site is the church center, covering an area of 8,500 square feet, with a 1,639-seat auditorium, a standard-size basketball court, the main chapel with 4,000 pipe organ, a baptistry, 170 rooms of different sizes, and two kitchens. This is a place where people gather together for Sunday worship services. Due to the diversity of ethnic cultures in the Bay Area, Sunday church meetings are held in various languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, Tongan, and Cambodian (see church service time and locations). All members and non-members are welcome to attend. The church center also hosts service projects, musical performances, and events. With all these activities, the ultimate goal is to help devout church members and non-members alike grow closer to Jesus Christ and to prepare to enjoy the blessings of the temple.
The Visitors’ Center is located on the west of the temple site. The interior is equipped with an 11-foot statue of the resurrected Christ, portraits, movies, models, and other exhibits to help visitors better understand Jesus Christ, the temple, and the beliefs of the church. Those who serve inside the Visitors’ Center are friendly volunteers who provide free guided tours, and answer questions. During the pandemic, tours have been given interactively through Zoom. Due to the improvement of the pandemic situation, beginning May 1st, the Visitors’ Center is open to the public for in-person visits.
Downstairs, inside the Visitors’ Center, there is a Family Search Library. This library is used for researching genealogy and family history and is available to all visitors free of charge. The library has books, electronic materials, computers, and experts to provide free personal instruction. Visitors can do family history research, build pedigree charts, and preserve existing memories for future generations. Family is very important to Latter-day Saints. They believe that God’s love transcends every generation, therefore providing all those who have been born into the world the opportunity to receive the blessings of the temple. Through temple blessings, everyone can live with God and their families forever. Latter-day Saints work tirelessly to do family history work in order to perform saving ordinances in the temple on behalf of their ancestors who did not get the chance to hear about the Gospel and be baptized while they were living. Temple blessings can be available to these ancestors as they choose to accept and follow Jesus Christ. This is how generations can be connected and enjoy eternal blessings together. Free tours of the Family Search Library are available and can be scheduled at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Oakland_California_FamilySearch_Library or Call (510) 531-3905
Whichever building you are visiting, you will walk through the beautiful and charming temple grounds. Throughout the year, there are a variety of beautiful flowers. There are also tall palm trees lining both sides. Through the center of the garden are sparkling fountains and connecting water feature, symbolizing the living water given by Jesus Christ to the world. Many people like to stroll, walk their dogs, or relax on the quiet paths. Directly in front of the Temple is a calm reflection pool. The water in the pool comes from the grand waterfall on the front wall of the temple. On either side of the waterfall are stairs that lead up to the eye-opening roof garden, with a 360-degree view around the temple, and a panoramic view of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, the city of Oakland, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the coast. In the evening, the Temple grounds offers a magnificent view of the sunset overlooking the bay.
After the completion of each temple, and before the official operation begins, church leaders will offer a prayer, dedicating the Temple grounds to the Lord. The dedicatory prayer for the Oakland Temple, offered by President David McKay in 1964. In his prayer, he stated; “The square where we dedicated the temple and the surrounding walls, flower beds, trees, potted plants, flowers and growing in the soil, the bushes; let them bloom, bloom, and become extremely beautiful and fragrant; let your spirit dwell in it, and let this land be a resting and peaceful place for people to meditate and be full of inspiration.”
Life is indeed unpredictable, sometimes full of happiness and joy, sometimes full of anger and sorrow, but God’s love for us remains unchanged forever. When we are happy, He is happy for us. When we encounter challenges, feelings of anger, fear, or pain, He does His best to support and comfort us. He brings us a sense of security, and helps us gain confidence. Any who come to the California Oakland Temple, including residents and tourists, will experience this feeling of peace. That is why it is often called the “Beacon to the Bay.” It is the light that shines at night, not only in the Bay Area, but also in the darkness of life, which indeed brings us hope and happiness, and light and guidance in life.
加州灣區的奧克蘭聖殿佔地總面積為18英畝，於1964年11月17日開始正式運營。奧克蘭聖殿在全球領先的旅遊網站，貓途鷹（TripAdvisor）上得高評，在各方面都排名第一，包括熱門景點、景點與地標、自然與公園和旅行者最愛。在所發表的評論中最常提到的是 “平安” 和 “美麗”。其中有一位旅客寫道 “特別是在了解聖殿的意義後… 會感到平安.”
無論進入哪一個建築，都會經過美麗迷人的聖殿廣場。這裡一年四季都種植著各種各樣、亭亭玉立的鮮花，經常散發出芬芳撲鼻的香味，兩旁矗立著高高的棕櫚樹。最使聖殿廣場變得壯觀活躍的是象徵著耶穌基督所賜給世人的活水，遊客可以在欣賞花草樹木的同時享受著映入眼簾的噴泉和宛如玉帶的涓涓細流。許多人喜歡在兩側寧靜的小徑上漫步、遛狗、散心。往聖殿方向前進，走上台階通過另一扇大門後就來到了水平如鏡的倒影池，池中的水來自聖殿城牆上長流不息的瀑布。除此之外，通過樓梯走上去還會看到眉開眼界的空中花園，可以看到聖殿周邊360度的景象以及灣區全景，包括舊金山，奧克蘭城市，著名的大橋和海岸。日落時分還可以欣賞美上加美的夕陽西下，令人讚嘆不已。這個地方不僅美麗壯觀，還瀰漫著和平與希望的氣息。這是有原因的，在每一座聖殿完工後，正式開始運營之前，都會由教會領袖做一個奉獻祈禱把此地奉獻給主。如今奧克蘭聖殿應驗了當年大衛麥凱會長所做的奉獻禱文中提及到的祝福 “ 我們奉獻聖殿所聳立在的廣場以及周圍的城牆、花壇、樹木、盆栽、鮮花和生長在土壤里的灌木叢；讓他們盛開、綻放並變得極其美麗、芬芳；讓您的靈居住在其中，讓這塊土地成為一個可休息的、平靜的地方，得以讓人冥想和充滿靈感。
人生確實是變化莫測，充滿著喜怒哀樂， 但神對我們的愛永遠不變。在我們開心的時候，祂與我們同樂。在我們遇到挑戰、生氣、害怕或痛苦時，祂想盡辦法來支持和安慰我們，緩解我們的怒氣與憂傷，給我們帶來安全感讓我們充滿自信，變得勇敢。許多來加州灣區奧克蘭聖殿的人，包括居民和遊客，都在此體驗到了這些，所以才稱之為 “灣區的燈塔”，它不僅是灣區黑夜里的燈塔，還是人生黑暗中的照明，確實給人們帶來希望、快樂、光芒和指引。