John Genho, who runs Eldon Farms just west of Culpeper in Woodville, traveled to Richmond Wednesday to learn more about the new temple soon to be built there.

“It’s going to be a great blessing to me and my family, and all church members,” Genho said in a phone interview Thursday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Prophet Russell M. Nelson announced in April 2018 that a temple would be built near Richmond, the first in Virginia. Currently, the nearest temple for church members to attend is located just north of Washington, D.C., in Kensington.

Genho is president of the Fredericksburg Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ—a region with about 3,000 members that covers all of Culpeper, part of Orange and Spotsylvania counties, and the city of Fredericksburg. Wednesday Genho traveled to a meetinghouse in Glen Allen, where representatives from church headquarters in Salt Lake City briefed him and other leaders on temple construction details.

“It will be a beautiful building,” Genho said. “It will be a place that will create jobs and support the community. There are blessings attached to a place where people go to worship God and are trying to do what’s right.”

Also known as Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ has 161 operating temples throughout the world and another 50 announced, under construction, or being renovated. The Richmond Temple, to be located on Staples Mill Road in Glen Allen, will serve a membership in the state of about 100,000.

Meetinghouses such as the one located near the Culpeper Medical Center on Willow Lawn Drive are where members attend Sunday worship services and gather for youth and other classes and instruction on most weekdays.

A temple is reserved for more solemn and sacred worship services and requires members to adhere to certain standards before being admitted.

After a temple is built—funded by global church tithes and offerings—it is opened for several weeks of public tours, during which anyone may visit and see what it looks like inside. After the new temple is dedicated, it is closed to the general public, and closed even to some members of the church.

“A temple is a symbol of our faith,” Genho said. “Those who enter are expected to be living higher standards—to be honest, chaste, serving others, following God’s commandments.”

After the meeting Wednesday attended by Genho and about 200 other Virginia church leaders, an open house was held for local church members and others to view the site plan for the temple, as well as interior and exterior renderings.

“Temple patrons and visitors will notice simple yet beautiful ornamentation, hearkening back to the humble beginnings of the United States,” said Bill Williams at the event, in his role as director of temple design. He explained that buildings such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello provided inspiration for the temple’s design.

“Interlocking diamond chains and accents of the flowering dogwood—Virginia’s state tree and flower—will be found inside and outside of the temple,” Williams said. “The landscaping design is inspired by historic Williamsburg and will help contribute to a reverent, peaceful atmosphere for all who come here.”

Though it will be at least six months before the groundbreaking, and about two years of construction work after that before the temple will be ready for visitors, Genho said there is a high level of excitement in the region’s membership in anticipation of the new house of worship.

“It’s a thrilling thing to be involved with, to watch a new temple built, and participate in the open house and dedication,” Genho said. “There is a certain spirit with a new temple—it’s truly a joyful time.”

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