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For week ended October 10, 1999 Posted 17 Oct 1999

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Mormons open house

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Mormons open house
Detroit MI Free Press 7Oct99 D1
By David Crumm: Free Press Religion Writer


New temple in Bloomfield Hills gives Mormons less travel time
Flint MI Journal 7Oct99 D1
By Betty Brenner: Journal Religion Editor

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN -- This past Friday began the only public tours that will ever be permitted for the general public into the Bloomfield Hills, Detroit Mormon temple. This new 10,700 square-foot building is the 63rd temple of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Approximately 33,000 Mormons live in Michigan with about 1,200 living in the Flint area. Latter-day Saints now number 10 million worldwide and make up the seventh-largest church in the United States. The Detroit Temple District has grown 7 to 8 percent in the past year.

The tours which end October 16, will allow thousands of local visitors and residents to tour the building. The tours begin with a seven-minute video about Mormon beliefs. Wednesday, small groups of community leaders, including clergy from other religions were ushered through the temple by Mormon leaders.

Victor Begg, president of the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfields Hills expressed his fascination with the tour. "I was impressed," said Begg. "They talked a lot about family, and that's a common thread between us. Islam build its whole superstructure around families."

"And they talk a lot about our life on Earth being part of eternity. That's one of the most important things for us as Muslims, too, the belief that this life is just a temporary place for us."

Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Congregation Beth Abraham Hillel Moses in West Bloomfield said, "It was fascinating. Their version of heaven is that we get reunited with our families, and I think that fits into Judaism, too, although I think they have a stricter entrance requirement for heaven than we do." "It was really a moving experience to see their temple. I thought it was wonderful of them to open this up to us."

Thomas Bithell, spokesman for the church in Oakland County, dismissed any notion of trying to push the Mormon faith on visitors. "No one needs to worry about that," he said. "We certainly do plenty of missionary work at other times, but these tours have a totally different focus."

Fifty-four more temples are under construction worldwide. "The temple is where we put families together forever. It is our link to heaven," said Elder Jay E. Jensen, president of the northeast district of the church.

The free public tours run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There are no tours on Sunday. On Monday, tours run 9-6. They continue Tuesday through Saturday, 9-9 p.m.

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