“Are the activities that go on in the temples similar to religious services in Mormon chapels?” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 84
Edward E. Drury, Jr., President, Washington Temple: Temples are reserved for special ordinance work in contrast to the regular chapels of the Church that are used for public worship.
In the temple rooms sacred ordinances are performed, including the ceremony of eternal marriage. Here, over the altar in God’s holy house, a man and a woman pledge their love and loyalty to one another, and under the authority of the holy priesthood they are united in marriage not only for this life but for eternity as well.
Those who come to the temple following its dedication will receive an explanation of man’s eternal journey from his preexistent state through the creation of the earth, his activities in the Garden of Eden, and his banishment into the world of mortality. Here man is shown the way which, if followed, will lead him to eternal exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Father.
In the temple there is a baptismal font where the earthly ordinance of baptism by immersion is performed by living proxies acting in behalf of the dead who have passed on without a knowledge of the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All of the ordinance work done in a temple for the living is also available, through the work of proxies, to those who died without hearing the gospel. Those who have died without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ while on earth are taught the gospel in the world of spirits, and all ordinances for the dead are conditioned upon the dead receiving these ordinances (1 Pet. 3:18–20; 1 Pet. 4:6) by their own faith in the Lord and their own repentance.
Those two conditions, the eternal nature of the ordinances performed and the work done by proxies for the dead, are unique and sacred to the temple.
In contrast to the work performed in the temples, meetings held in Mormon chapels provide opportunities for both members and nonmembers to receive instruction and to worship the Lord.