Three years in the making, Idaho's newest temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon open its doors to the public. Free tours begin Saturday, Oct. 21, before the temple's dedication on Nov. 19.
The Meridian temple is the church's fifth in the Gem State, and church leaders say they expect up to 300,000 visitors will set foot inside over the next three weeks.
Beginning Saturday, community members will get a rare opportunity to step inside the Meridian temple before it's open only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It's a tradition for the church to offer public tours of its sacred temples when they first open, or undergo a major renovation.
"We love our neighbors and in this particular area, there's a great relationship between the various faiths and we would hope that would continue and we'd love to have them come and visit us, and we would be honored if they would," said Quentin Cook, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Church leaders say with 125,000 members in the Treasure Valley alone, the Meridian temple will accommodate the area's growing population.
"With the creation of this temple now, we have divided those 32 stakes that currently cover the temple in Boise in half," said Craig Rowe, Meridian temple open house coordinator. "So, there'll be 16 stakes in the Boise temple and 16 stakes in the Meridian temple."
Church members living in areas like Nampa, Eagle, Emmett and even Ontario, Oregon, would fall under the Meridian temple's district.
From the crystal chandeliers to stain-glass windows and marble flooring, details don't escape this 67,000-square-foot building, but church leaders say there's more behind the aesthetics of Idaho's second-largest temple.
"It's spacious and beautiful," Rowe said. "But as much as we love all of the adornment of the temple and the beautiful construction, the real beauty of the temple is the spirit of the temple."
This is the church's fifth temple in Idaho, with others located in Boise, Rexburg, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls. A sixth temple, in Pocatello, has also been announced.
Tours will take place Oct. 21-Nov. 11, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.