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‘Come & See’ Behind the Scenes at the D.C. Temple Open House

BYU School of Communications Alumni Kurt Hanson and Rebecca Lane Share Their Experiences Working on the Media Relations Team for the Recent Open House at the Washington D.C. Temple

When her stake began asking for volunteers to assist with the Washington D.C. Temple Open House, BYU graduate Rebecca Lane (‘13) wanted to use her journalism degree to help out. Unsure of how to begin or who to contact to get started, Lane turned to prayer.

In January of 2022, Lane’s prayers were answered when she received an email from Kurt Hanson, who she had worked with while writing for the student-run Daily Universe a decade ago.

Hanson, who graduated from BYU in 2014, first heard about the opportunity to help with the open house in November 2019 when he moved from Orem, Utah, to northern Virginia. He had connections to the area’s previous media relations manager, who referred him to the area representative. Hanson was called to volunteer as the Regional Media Relations Chair for the duration of the temple renovation and reopening.

Hanson invited Lane to join the Washington D.C. Temple Media Relations Team, presenting the opportunity to serve that she had been looking for. As a member of the team of volunteers, Lane ensured that as many people as possible got the message that the temple was available for anyone to “Come & See.”

Gerrit W. Gong Interview
Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks with an interviewer at the Washington D.C. Temple Open House. (Rebecca Lane)

Detailing some of her duties throughout the campaign, Lane said, “On Media Day, my job was to serve as a liaison for Elder David A. Bednar's group on the three separate tours given to journalists.” She continued, “I went along on the tours and was present in case anyone needed extra support. Then I helped connect journalists to Church spokespeople following the tours.”

Lane strongly believes that the skills one learns in their education are not simply for career advancement. She said, "the most fulfilling work is when our skills can help others.” Hanson also said he felt like this calling was a great fit for him given his experience with media. Hanson emphasized that working with media means working with many different personalities with different demands. He said, “You can't approach media relations or PR with a one-size-fits-all mentality.”

Hanson said it wasn’t easy, but “the experience has been enlightening, uplifting and exhausting all at the same time.” Lane agreed that it was “a lot of work, but highly rewarding.”

Washington D.C. Temple
The recently-renovated Washington D.C. Temple. (Rebecca Lane)

This was the first time in 50 years that the D.C. Temple was open to the public, so each of the volunteers worked hard and sacrificed their time to ensure that this was a positive and memorable experience for everyone. Lane said, “It was powerful to see a group of media professionals experience the temple for the first time … it was clear that they felt the peace of the temple.”

The open house ran from April 28 until June 11 and the visitors’ center reopened on June 17. The temple will be rededicated on August 14 and reopen for regular services on August 30.