The LDS Temple Foyer and Recommend Desk
Speaking about the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lawrence H. Schiffmann, Professor at New York University and Director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, said:
When it comes to the temple, I think one of the ideas is that a person who comes into the structure is supposed to be overcome spiritually; to feel that he or she is literally in the presence of God. And a lot of that is done through a combination of two things: aesthetics—the beauty of the place— and symbolism. All of these symbols is designed to evoke in the person this spirituality, really, and the feeling that a human being can attain closeness to God. (From the documentary video "Between Heaven and Earth")
Setting the spiritual tone for temple attendees through aesthetic beauty and symbolism begins with the entry foyers of the temple. The light, the art work and the decorative patterns throughout the walls and floor are intended to impress upon the temple attendee that they are entering a special place and a holy place.
The recommend desk is a large reception desk located in back of the foyer. This is where temple attendees present their temple recommend, which is a card that allows them entrance into the temple. To obtain a temple recommend a church member must meet with their Bishop and their Stake President, and answer a series of questions to determine their faithfulness to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and their worthiness to enter the House of The Lord. To be able to enter the temple a church member must have faith in God The Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in The Holy Ghost, and must have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ. They also have to be striving to live the gospel by keeping the commandments, by being morally clean, by paying a full tithing, by obeying the church's Word of Wisdom (which means abstaining from consuming coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products), by keeping the Sabbath day holy, by treating their families properly, by striving to be honest with people, and by sustaining the leadership of the church.
Members don't have to be perfect to enter the temple, otherwise it would be a very empty building. We just have to keep trying to do our best, and to repent when we fall short. The temple acts as a type of guide post for us to measure how we're doing in life in regard to our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus. So long as we can enter the temple, we're doing just fine. If we're unable to enter the temple then we know we've got some stuff to work on, and it becomes an attainable goal.
Foyer in the Phoenix, Arizona Temple
Foyer in the San Salvador, El Salvador Temple
This temple entry has a tender painting of Jesus Christ with two children. Most of the temples have a painting of Christ or some ornamentation that represents Jesus Christ behind the recommend desk to help set the tone for the temple patrons and to act as a vision reminder that it is His house they're entering.
Foyer in the Kansas City, Missouri Temple
I love the stained-glass window behind the recommend desk. It's a depiction of The Tree of Life, which is a symbol of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and the fruit on the tree is a symbol of Eternal Life.
Foyer in the Gilbert, Arizona Temple
Foyer in the Boise, Idaho Temple
I like this foyer for several reasons. The look of the arched entry ways is striking, it features both stained-glass and paintings of Jesus Christ, and I like the stairs right behind the recommend desk. The stairs gives the impression of leaving the world and ascending to the presence of God.