In the opening moments of the Church's 179th Semiannual General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to build five new temples. With 130 temples currently operating and with another 16 in some phase of planning or construction, these five temples bring the worldwide total to 151.
The locations of the new temples will be Brigham City, Utah; Concepcion, Chile; Fortaleza, Brazil; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Sapporo, Japan, said President Monson. The exact temple sites will be made known at a later date.
"We continue to build temples," he said. "We desire that as many members as possible have an opportunity to attend the temple without having to travel inordinate distances. Worldwide, 88 percent of our members live within 200 miles of a temple. That percentage will continue to increase as we construct new temples around the world."
Brigham City will be home to Utah's 14th temple. Two Utah temples were dedicated earlier this year: the Draper Utah Temple, dedicated in March, and the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, dedicated in August.
President Ronald L. Frandsen of the Brigham City Utah Box Elder Stake, said he can't express his surprise at the announcement. "In fact I still have waves of emotion coming over me as I think about that, what it's going to mean to our community and stake," he said.
Currently, he said, Church members in Brigham City are divided between two temple districts. The northern stakes of Brigham City go to the Logan Utah Temple, and the southern stakes of Brigham City go to the Ogden Utah Temple.
"One of the first things is the convenience of it is instantly obvious," he said. "But the thing that impresses me as I'm thinking about it more and more as time goes by is how many people in our community are now going to have the opportunity to work in the temple, to serve in the temple, to have that blessing in their lives.
"It's just overwhelming to me, to have so many people who now have the opportunity to spend time in the temple and to carry the spirit of the temple in their homes and their daily walk of life is just going to be a marvelous, marvelous blessing to our stake."
The Concepcion Chile Temple will be the second temple in Chile. The first, the Santiago Chile Temple, was dedicated in September 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency. There are currently 14 temples operating in South America, with another three announced and in some phase of construction.
There are five operating temples in Brazil. In May 2007 the Church announced plans to build a temple in Manaus, Brazil, making a temple in Fortaleza, Brazil, the seventh in that country. There are now more than 1,060,000 members of the Church in Brazil.
The temple in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will serve members living throughout South Florida, as well as the Bahamas. There are currently eight temples in the southeastern part of the United States. Margaret Bartholomew of Fort Lauderdale Florida Stake, said Church members were so happy they started to cry when they heard the announcement.
"We're originally from California and have never been this far from a temple," she said. "It normally takes us three and a half hours to drive to the Orlando Florida Temple. It's just a blessing we've been praying for, that stakes have fasted for. It's wonderful — you should have seen all the text messaging and telephone calls that were going on."
The Sapporo temple will become the third in Japan and the sixth in Asia. Dedicated in October 1980, the Tokyo Japan Temple was the first temple in Asia. The Fukuoka Temple was dedicated in June 2000, and became the 88th temple worldwide.
"Millions of ordinances are performed in the temples each year in behalf of our deceased loved ones," President Monson said. "May we continue to be faithful in performing such ordinances for those who are unable to do so for themselves.
"I love the words of President Joseph F. Smith as he spoke of temple service and of the spirit world beyond mortality. Said he: 'Through our efforts in their behalf, their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them and they shall hear in the spirit world of the work that has been done for them by their people here, and will rejoice with you in your performance of these duties.'"