Updated: Aug 28
Oakland California Temple
Visiting a baptistery is most individuals' first temple experience. I have fond memories of my first experience in the very impressive Oakland California Temple baptistry, and years later in the very different Atlanta Georgia Temple baptistry, which at the time was not on the back of twelve oxen. In researching for this post I was interested to discover what is traditional and what is doctrinal.
Nauvoo Illinois Temple
The Nauvoo Illinois Temple has the largest baptismal font of any temple. Many early temple fronts have two entrances (or an entrance and an exit) but the Church made the original Nauvoo Temple’s font extra large and with two entrances so that two people could be baptized at once to accommodate the huge number of pioneers who wanted to be baptized for their ancestors before they had to leave Nauvoo. When the temple was rebuilt the Church built the new font with the same dimensions (Dialogue: "What Has Become of Our Fathers?"Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo pg. 92).
Atlanta Georgia Temple
It is not a requirement for temple fonts to be on the backs of twelve oxen. When the Church began building smaller temples starting with the Atlanta Georgia Temple the fonts were plain fonts like those in meeting houses. Some were on the backs of six oxen with mirrors to make it look like there were twelve. The Church has renovated most to follow tradition and be on the backs of twelve oxen (Could You Tell Me A Little About The History of Our Temple Baptismal Fonts?).
Hong Kong China Temple