Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trip to Vancouver BC to tour a Mormon Temple?

Bicyclism isn't the only faith to have Temples for worship. Portland has a smattering of various temples. One of the larger ones is the Mormon Temple in Lake Oswego.

Mormons are a secretive bunch about what they do in their temples. And the public is only invited in a short window of time between construction and when the temple opens for business. The Portland, OR Mormon temple was open for tours in the summer of 1989. Miss it? Now you have your chance to see another one.

The Mormon church has just completed its Vancouver BC temple, and it is open to the public from April 9th - 24th. At the Bike Temple's "Last Supper" gathering, some folks expressed interest in taking the tour. It's kinda late notice to put a trip together, but it would be a lot of fun.

Temple tours are usually not terribly informative about what happens during the services. You arrive at the temple, and there's lots of nice neighbourly Mormon volunteers to shoosh you into your parking space, smile at you and ask you to take off your shoes, then lead you through the building. There's no questions until the end, and then they'll dodge most questions of actual interest, and smile as you go back outside.

Fortunately, as part of the Bike Temple contingent, you'll have a former Mormon(tht's me, Pasture Ted) along to happily answer any questions that anyone has, and talk extensively about all the different things that happen in the temple. We can go out for beers, sit in a park, or any forum that folks like, and wander though the ideosyncratic, secretive, but fascinating world of Mormonism.

And maybe as a follow-up we can do a ride to the Portland temple in Lake Oswego, and after an exterior inspection retreat to another location and do another discussion on Mormonism.

So, anyone interested? Tight timing, but potentially a lot of fun.

2 possible travel options:

Plan A: Go By Train

* Amtrak departs Portland at 2:50pm daily, through train to Vancouver BC, arriving at 10:50pm. Return train leaves Vancouver at about 6:40am, arrives Portland at 2:55pm. Cost, if booked in advance, is $50, + $5 per bike, each way. Unfortunately, it looks like the train is more popular than I'd heard, and with 2 weeks advance purchase it will be $60 to go north and $88 to come back on a Sunday.

* We can leave Portland on a Thursday at 2:30, return on Sunday at 2:30, have 2 full days and 3 nights in Vancouver BC.

* I have friends that can put up at least 5 people, some in beds. An easy 3 mile ride from the train station.

* It's a 15 mile light ride, then a 10 mile bike ride to get from downtown Vancouver to the temple.

Plan B -- Go By Carpool

* It's a 6 hour drive from Portland to Vancouver, with 1-2 hours of possible delays.

* We could set our own schedule -- leave on Friday at 6pm, arrive Vancouver at midnight. Depart Sunday at 6pm, arrive Portland at midnight. 1.5 full days without missing work. Or miss just Friday and have 2.5 fill days.

* We could visit the temple on Saturday, and still have half of Saturday and half of Sunday to bicycle around Vancouver.


Yes, no, maybe? Drive or Train?

Which weekend -- April 16-18? 23-25? (I'm free to lead the trip either weekend)

post here, email us, or post on the Facebook page.

Yours in The Faith,

Pasture Ted


More info:

* Vancouver Sun story on touring the Mormon temple

* Vancouver BC Mormon Temple

* Mormon temples on Wikipedia

* Vancouver BC temple on google maps

A bit more on Mormon Temples:

Mormons are a Christian faith, with a few unique "Made in America" twists on their beliefs and ordinances. Founded in 1830 near Roshester, NY, they worked their way west via Cleveland, OH, Kansas City MO, an isolated city in western IL, then to what is now Salt Lake City, UT. Along the way they built "temples."

The first temple had a large sanctuary with a few offices, but by 1930 temple form had changed from large sanctuaries to having small meeting rooms and "ordinance rooms" and no sanctuary at all. Regular meetings in sanctuaries were phased out in the 1950s, and now temples are only attended for individual worship, no group worship.

There's a couple different things that happen inside:

* "Endowment Ceremonies" -- Mormons believe that to get to the highest level of heaven you need to go through an "endowment" ceremony. What you're endowed with isn't real clear, but it's a 2-hour interactive film presentation where you are taken through the first couple books of Genesis, and stand up at periodic intervals to pledge to keep different lifestyle and belief requirements.

* Weddings -- Mormons believe that families are "eternal" -- that you'll all be together after you're dead, but only if you are married in the temple (or later have your marriage "sealed" in the temple). So it's a big deal for the bride and groom to be good Mormons and live up to all the belief and lifestyle codes, then you and any of your fellow good Mormon friends and family all go to the temple where you go through a short service (20 mins) and are free to go on your way as man and wife. It's pretty straightforward, except for the delicate issue of gracefully excluding family members and any other nonbelievers from this important life event.

* "Proxy Ordinances for the Deceased" -- Mormon's believe that their church is the only valid restoration of the church that Jesus established on the earth 2000 years ago. In response to the obvious question of justice -- "why would God keep anyone who lived between 200 AD and 1830 AD the pleasures of the highest level of heaven?" Mormons perform rituals for folks that have died, essentially having a living Mormon represent tham in a proxy in essential Mormon rituals, baptising them into Mormonism (which they as deceased spirits are free to accept or decline), and performing an "endownment ceremony" for them. This is a bit more controversial, since until about 2000 the policy was to baptise anyone that had ever died. Now the stated policy is only direct relatives, but the church still finds itself in hot water whenever it comes out that the don't have any vetting system to keep folks from turning people like Barak Obama's mother or Hillary Clinton's father into posthumous Mormons.

Mormons now have over 100 temples around the world, and have built about 5 per year through the 2000s.

Entrance is limited to practicing Mormons who are stringent in meeting a wide range of lifetyle and belief requirements. They need to assert their belief that the current Mormon prophet is God's one and only spokesperson, that they will live lives of sexual purity (no relations with anyone but spouse), and, pay 10% of their income to the Mormon church. If you are unable to meet any of these and other requirements, you are barred from entry for any purpose, including the weddings of family members.

Mormons consider the temple experience to be the epitome of the spiritual experience. If they have important life decisions, have a need for closeness to God, or serve the deceased by receiving ordinances by proxy, they go to the temple.

Questions, comments?


  1. I'm in. Let's take the train and bring our bikes!

  2. I once read a forum thread of women who were raised Mormon and married in the temple who had since left Mormonism...so many them describe their weddings as extremely disappointing, after the huge build-up they were given about how "holy" and "beautiful" the temple was--one pointed out that she felt rushed, and that the temple felt like a suburban office inside.

    Another woman pointed out that she's kinda sad that you no longer have to mime all the various ways you'll supposedly die if you tell the temple secrets. LOL!

  3. Amos -- which weekend, the 23rd?

    I tried pricing Fri the 23rd - Monday the 26th, It's $60 and $50, $28 cheaper than the Thurs - Mon.

    And there's a 10% discount if you're a senior or an AAA member (that's "AAA," not "AA").


  4. april --

    yes, the weddings are short. also small. usually only 20 guests will fit in the room. and women wear all sorts of layers on top of their dresses.

    alas, miming bloody suicide procedures is no longer part of the ritual. hey, things change.

    Pasture Ted

  5. Pasture, this weekend would probably work best for me, I may be able to swing the weekend of the 23rd, but it's not as likely as this coming weekend (all subject to approval by my boss, but she owes me one).

  6. Well... just checked this weekend out and it's $80 $70... maybe it's just best to shoot for the weekend of the 23rd and I'll do my best to get that time off. Probably better for everyone else who may be considering it to have that extra time, too.

  7. Okay, train up Fri the 23rd, back Monday the 26th?

    I'm in. Anyone else?

    BTW, I know all about bicycling in Vancouver BC, too (lived there 1996 - 2001) so we'll see all sorts of cool bikey stuff, too. And probably get some of my Vancouver peeps to come on the Mormon temple tour, too.

    Pasture Ted