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Presentation of the Endowment: Progression

Updated: Nov 21


Bern Switzerland Temple


How did presenting the endowment ceremony on video change the way newer temples were built? How did it affect the way older temples operated? In my post Presentation of the Endowment: Live or Video I discussed the change from the live to the video presentation of the endowment. In that post I stated that all but two of the early temples were converted from live to video and now those last two are also converting to video. This post will discuss how temples built after the change differed from earlier temples and how those built before were changed to accommodate endowments on video. I will also talk about a new system of progression used in most of the Church’s recent temples.



Cardston Alberta Temple


When the Church renovated the early temples to present the endowment on video they made it so that instead of progressing through the four rooms patrons participate in most of the ceremony in a single instruction room then progress to the terrestrial room for the veil portion of the ceremony before passing into the celestial room. They had to do it this way because the terrestrial room is the only room with access to the celestial room. The Church did not do this for the Cardston Alberta and Idaho Falls Idaho temples, which present the endowment on video while retaining progression through the four rooms (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment, specifically endnotes 34 and 41).



Laie Hawaii Temple


Recently the Church has renovated the Laie Hawaii, Mesa Arizona and Los Angeles California temples to again have progression through the four rooms as originally designed (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment).


Mesa Arizona Temple


In the Mesa Arizona Temple between 1975 and 2021, patrons participated in most of the ceremony in one of four renovated instruction rooms which include pieces of the original murals. Then they moved to the terrestrial room for the veil portion of the ceremony before passing into the celestial room. During the 1975 renovation the Church added a completely new instruction room to the temple and added parts of the Temple’s world room mural to this new room, effectively giving Mesa two world rooms (LDS Pioneer Architecture: Mesa Temple Interior). With its most recent renovation the Church has restored the original four instruction rooms, including restoring their murals and has restored four stage progression (The Renovated Mesa Arizona Temple Opens to the Public This Week).



Idaho Falls Idaho Temple


Today, there are seven temples where patrons progress through the traditional four instruction rooms before passing into the celestial room (four stage progression). They are Manti Utah, Laie Hawaii, Cardston Alberta, Mesa Arizona, Idaho Falls Idaho, Los Angeles California, and Nauvoo Illinois (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment).


Two, soon to be three, early temples present the endowment without progression:

St. George Utah Temple


Logan Utah Temple



Salt Lake Temple during renovation

  • It is not yet completely clear to me how the Salt Lake Temple will operate when its current renovation is complete, the following is my understanding at this time: It appears that the Salt Lake Temple will present the endowment in one of five instruction rooms. Three of these will be renovated versions of the old creation, garden and world rooms with their murals removed. Two will be new rooms built in the space formerly occupied by the baptistry, which means that four of the five rooms will be downstairs from the celestial room. Then patrons will move to a renovated terrestrial room for the veil portion of the ceremony before passing into the celestial room (A First Presidency Update on Historic Temple Renovations).


Nauvoo Illinois Temple


Nauvoo Illinois is the only temple the Church dedicated after Los Angeles California with the traditional four instruction rooms. It is also the only temple with four stage progression that has never presented the endowment live (Murals grace temple walls).



Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple


All the temples (except Los Angeles California) that the Church dedicated from Bern Switzerland to Mount Timpanogos Utah (40 temples) present the entire endowment in a single room before patrons pass into the celestial room (single-room or stationary) (BYU: The Pivotal Swiss Temple and BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment). The Church has renovated two of the temples dedicated during this time (Atlanta Georgia and Apia Samoa) to present the endowment as below (Church President Thomas S. Monson Rededicates Atlanta Georgia Temple After Renovation photo 9, photos of the renovated rooms in the Apia Samoa Temple used to be available on newsroom.churchofJesusChrist.org showing the renovated instruction room and I have a saved copy).


St. Louis Missouri Temple


Starting with the St. Louis Missouri Temple, 101 of the last 126 (as of 175 dedicated temples) of the recent temples present the video portion of the endowment in one room then have patrons progress to the terrestrial room before passing into the celestial room (two stage progression). The Church conceived this layout to accommodate the shape of the Vernal Utah Temple but also used it in St. Louis which was dedicated first (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment).



Vernal Utah Temple


The new two stage progression is similar to how the Church adapted the early temples for the single-room video presentation of the endowment, which are stationary until the veil. The difference is that in two stage progression the second room represents the terrestrial world and more of the ceremony is performed there (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment). In the renderings the Church released for the renovations of the St. George Utah temple and in the newly renovated Mesa Arizona temple there is no altar depicted in the final instruction room of St. George (the old terrestrial room) but there is one in the same room in Mesa. An altar is not necessary in a veil room but is in a terrestrial room (Church Shares Renovation Plans for the St. George Utah Temple photo 12/21 and “Refresh” of Mesa Temple and Grounds to Include Replacement of Visitors’ Center).



Fortaleza Brazil Temple


Of the 125 temples the Church has dedicated since St. Louis, 24 of them (as of 175 dedicated temples) present the endowment in a single-room.


If you do the math you will notice that 101 (two stage progression)+24 (single-room)=125, not 126. That is because as mentioned above, Nauvoo Illinois uses four stage progression (BYU: The Evolution of Sacred Space: The Changing Environment of the Endowment).


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