House of Worship sets new hours to welcome visitors
The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, will welcome visitors to its Auditorium for prayer and meditation from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. each day, under a new schedule in effect Jan. 1, 2020.
For several years the Temple has been open until 10 p.m. daily. The National Spiritual Assembly, governing council for the U.S. Baha’i community, has approved reduced Temple hours in part to coordinate with the schedule for its Welcome Center, according to Christopher Vodden, activities director.
Since its opening in 2015, the Welcome Center has closed for the day at 8 p.m. in warm-weather months and at 5 p.m. during colder seasons.
“We are not able to provide restroom facilities to visitors who come to the Temple when the Welcome Center is closed,” Vodden notes. One hope is that closing the Temple Auditorium at the same time as the Welcome Center in summer can reduce confusion, he says. The difference in schedules is less troublesome in winter, when the Temple has relatively few visitors after 6 p.m.
The ultimate aim is to have the Welcome Center stay open as late as the Temple year-round, but the current number of staff members and volunteers won’t support that, he adds.
Winter can pose special challenges in keeping the House of Worship open at whatever hours. On snowy or icy days, Properties staff members make “heroic efforts to keep the sidewalks and stairways clear,” Vodden says. But people planning visits — especially coming from out of town — should be aware that severe conditions can cause closure of the stairs, or even of the entire House of Worship.
The new hours will be posted on the House of Worship’s web page (bahai.us/bahai-temple) and social media pages. “We hope to make each visit welcoming and stress-free,” Vodden says.