OAKLAND — Many commuters are familiar with the Oakland Temple standing prominently in the East Bay hills, but few have seen inside the building. That's changing this month when the Mormon Church opens the temple's doors to the public for the first time after extensive renovations.
Before stepping inside the Oakland Temple, on Monday reporters were asked to leave their cameras at the door and slip into white shoe coverings. Church officials said it's only to keep things clean after over a year of extensive interior renovations.
"This building has a feeling of holiness about it. We consider it to be the ost sacred place on earth," said Larry Wilson, executive director of the church's temple department.
The most impressive room was the elevated baptismal font which rests on the backs of a dozen life-sized statues of oxen.
However, the temple is not a church used for Sunday services. Instead, ordinances are performed in the building.
"There are baptism that are done here, including on behalf of deceased persons," said Wilson. "There are also marriages that are performed here."
This is the first time the Temple has opened for tours since it was dedicated in 1964. To visit, get tickets at oaklandtemple.org. The building will once again be closed to non-Mormons in June after it is rededicated as a sacred site.