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Church earns award for spreading word at temple open house

Efforts during the San Diego California Temple open house to increase public awareness of the temple and the Church has earned the top award given by the Public Relations Society of America.

The society has given the Church its prestigious Silver Anvil Award in the category of special events and observances by non-profit organizations."This is only the seventh Silver Anvil ever won in Utah in the 50 years since the society has been giving the award," said Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of the Public Affairs Department. "It is recognition that the type of public affairs work done through cooperation of the various departments of the Church is well respected."

The Silver Anvil is the second prestigious award given to the Church for its open house activities. Previously, the International Public Relations Association gave the Church its Golden World Award.

The Church's Temple and Missionary departments joined the Public Affairs Department in planning and staging the open house activities in early 1993, in cooperation with the San Diego Temple Open House Committee. Brother Olsen said the local temple committee in San Diego deserved a lot of credit because it implemented the presentation at the open house.

The open house at the San Diego temple was Feb. 20-April 3, and the temple was dedicated April 25-30.

The six-week open house was planned as a prototype event to raise favorable impressions of the temple and the Church, according to Brother Olsen.

Derek F. Metcalfe, managing director of the Temple Department, said research showed that the open house materials - an exhibit, a video presentation and a brochure - cleared up a lot of information about the Church that had been confusing to non-member visitors. He explained that the same presentation will be used at other temple open houses in the future including the Orlando Florida Temple and Bountiful Utah Temple.

One objective of the open house was to provide a meaningful experience to those attending. That was done by providing specific messages about the Savior, Jesus Christ, and about the sacred nature of temples and family relationships in the lives of faithful Latter-day Saints.

"You have to present those messages before the visitors go into the temple, because the temple is a silent tour," Brother Olsen said.

The original attendance goal of 650,000 guests was exceeded by nearly 11 percent, Brother Olsen said. Surveys following the open house indicated that more than 90 percent of the respondents who were of other faiths had a positive experience, he added, and message awareness was increased by more than 125 percent for three of four specific messages conveyed.