Our chapels are for our regular Sunday worship and used for a variety of activities including Scouts, seminary (a scripture study class for youth), meetings, parties, and the gymnasiums contain stages for entertainment and basketball courts. Those buildings’ purpose is for our weekly sacrament meeting services and fellowshipping.
Temples are houses of the Lord, where we go to make sacred covenants after a lot of preparation. Those new to the church must wait a year before they can enter the temple. The youth in our church can go to the part that contains the baptismal font, but wait until they are adults before they “receive their endowments” (”endow” means “to clothe”). Before entering, we have an interview to determine our worthiness (and this is renewed every other year). One must be keeping the Law of Chastity (no sexual relations outside of marriage, pornography, etc.), the Word of Wisdom (this contains teachings on abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and other things bad for your health), and there are other requirements too. Your bishop will help you if there is anything in your life not in harmony with the Gospel.
The majority of Mormons receive their endowments when they are either going on a mission or about to get married. The promises we make are very important and taken very seriously. It is a quiet place of beauty and a wonderful atmosphere for reflection. After one’s initial visit, they do temple work for those who have passed on, which is done by proxy and it is up to that individual to decide if they want to accept those ordinances. These include baptism and confirmation, receiving one’s endowment, and being married and sealed to our families.
The temple is full of symbolism from the clothes we wear to the structure itself and the things surrounding it. We frequently hear questions about that “gold man” on top of our temples. This is the angel Moroni written about in The Book of Mormon, he who was instrumental in Joseph Smith translating the gold plates, and this statue represents the angel in Revelation 14:6:
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
Temples are a very sacred place to Latter-day Saints, but not as numerous. Some members wait their whole lives to finally go and receive the blessings awaiting them there. Those who live close can go anytime they want excluding Sundays, Mondays (this is our night for Family Home Evening), some holidays, and during times they are closed for maintenance. Open from very early in the morning until evening, members of the church can go there to do temple work for their loved ones and be blessed themselves with the wonderful experiences there.
Some of our temples have visitors centers if you are interested in learning more and others have beautiful light displays at Christmas time. If you find yourself near one of these, please know you are more than welcome to come and ask questions as you visit the grounds.