President Russell M. Nelson's announcement Sunday of the Church's plans to build 12 new temples prompted cheers and tears inside the Conference Center and in living rooms and meetinghouses across the globe.
"Currently, we have 159 dedicated temples," he said. "Today we are pleased to announce plans to construct more temples. Those temples will be built in the following locations:
- Mendoza, Argentina
- Salvador, Brazil
- Yuba City, California
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Praia, Cape Verde
- Yigo, Guam
- Puebla, Mexico
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Davao, Philippines
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Washington County, Utah.
Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, "but spending time in the temple surely will," said President Nelson.
"To those who have long been absent from the temple, I encourage you to prepare and return as soon as possible."
Plans were also announced to renovate the Salt Lake Temple and other pioneer-era temples. Details on the renovations will be provided later.
The Church News contacted several people overjoyed by President Nelson's announcements. Here are a few responses:
Latter-day Saints in Mendoza, Argentina, reacted to the temple news “like we had just scored a goal in the World Cup.”
“We have held out hope for a temple for a long time,” said Mendoza Argentina Stake President Juan Naccarato.
A new temple, he added, is both a great blessing and a blessed responsibility. “We have a lot of work to do, but we will see so much growth — especially among our youth.
A temple on the western edge of central Argentina will be the country's fourth temple, with operating temples in Buenos Aires and Cordoba and a previously announced temple for Salta. Argentina is home to 452,309 members in 763 congregations as well as 14 missions.
The announced temple for the eastern coastal city will be the 11th in the country of 1.38 million members in 2,089 congregations and 34 missions. Operating temples in Brazil include the Campinas, Curitiba, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife and Sao Paulo temples. Two more are under construction in Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro with another two having been announced for Belem and Brasilia.
Yuba City, California
Northern California will have its first temple in this city 40-plus miles north of Sacramento. With 767,252 members in 1,278 congregations and 20 millions, California has seven temples — the Fresno, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Redlands, Sacramento, San Diego and Oakland temples, the latter currently closed for renovations.
When Yuba City California Stake President Stephen Hammarstrom considers the opportunities that will be offered by a temple in his northern California community, his thoughts turn to his fellow members.
“They serve so faithfully in the Sacramento Temple, so I know they will step up for the future temple.”
The greater-Yuba City community is defined by cultural and religious diversity. Having a dedicated temple in their midst will prompt unity and cooperation.
“I just feel an amazing sense of gratitude” he said Sunday.
Yuba City Mayor Preet Didbal issued a statement pledging support for the future temple.
“I’m excited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chose Yuba City to located their next temple. I know the members of the Church in our city, region and Northern California will benefit from this important religious facility. Yuba City is the ideal location for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days to build a temple. Known for our diversity, our city embraces all cultures and religious beliefs. I look forward to working with the Church to ensure a smooth and efficient processing of this project.”
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The Church will have its first temple in this Southeast Asia nation of 16 million residents. There are 14,256 members in 29 congregations and a mission headquartered in the capital city of Phnom Penh.
Pheak Leng woke up before dawn Monday in Cambodia. Despite the early hour, there was a message waiting on his phone.
“My sister texted me and told me about the new temple in Cambodia,” he wrote. “I almost jumped off the ground and hit my room ceiling. I then texted my bishop and other bishops in my stake and my friends, as many as I could. I know some of them were still in bed sleeping, but I hoped the first thing they saw when they woke up was my text.”
The Cambodian members have to make the costly trip to Hong Kong to worship in the temple and be sealed to their families.“In the future, the Cambodian members will not have to travel far from (home) to go to the temple,” he added.
Praia, Cape Verde
Carlos Pires was greeted at his office at the United States Embassy in Cape Verde by a fellow member who works as a security guard. President Nelson, he said, had just announced a temple would be built in his African nation.
Pires could not believe what he was hearing — but it was true.“When I came home, everyone was crying and happy,” he wrote in an email. “They told me that they all started crying in the Church when they heard the news and saw the temple on the map.”
Pires said he feels blessed to visit five temples during his life, but for most members in Cape Verde, getting to the temple is difficult and demands great financial sacrifice.
“I just feel so blessed; and now we have to work harder here to deserve these blessings of the temple. … Our country will be blessed with more peace once a temple is here.”
The island of 539,000 people is located 350 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa. The Church has 14,205 members there in 42 congregations along with one mission.
Yigo is the northernmost village of the U.S. territory island in Micronesia in the Western Pacific. With 166,000 residents of Guam, the Church has 2,516 members in 4 congregations on the island as well as headquarters of the Micronesia Guam Mission. Another 6,217 members in 22 congregations accounted to Micronesia.
Former Micronesia Guam Mission President Michael Dowdle and his wife, Sister Gayla Dowdle, know well the deep love the members in the Micronesia Island have for the temple. Most have had to travel to Hawaii or the Philippines to claim their temple blessings. A future dedicated edifice will offer unprecedented spiritual blessings.
“This has been a dream,” he said.
The Dowdles, who live in Utah, delight in imagining their friends on the islands waking up to the happy news that a temple will be built in Guam.“They are going to be so overjoyed,” said Sister Dowdle. “The temple will be such a blessing.”
Puebla Mexico Valsequillo Stake President Jose Rivera can relate to President Rosa’s joyful response.
“A temple in Puebla will be a new source of light,” he said. “For many years, we have wanted a temple for our members and our community.“We feel so humbled and blessed by the Lord.”
The east-central city located southeast of Mexico City will be home to the country’s 14th temple, joining the Mexico City, Colonia Juarez Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Hermosillo Sonora, Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Tampico, Villahermosa, Merida, Veracruz, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana temples. Mexico has 1.435 million members in 1,987 congregations and 34 missions.
Auckland, New Zealand
The country’s North Island will have its second temple, with the Hamilton New Zealand Temple having closed earlier this summer for renovations. New Zealand counts 113,436 members in 224 congregations and 3 missions. The two missions will be about 70 miles apart.
For the past several years, Jonny Linehan has sat tall in his seat whenever the president of Church announced plans to build new temple, hoping to hear his hometown of Auckland.
On Sunday, it finally happened.
"Having a temple in Auckland will be a great religious symbol" for the community, he said. The Utah resident has great memories of traveling with his family to Hamilton New Zealand Temple. He knows blessings now await his Auckland family, friends and neighbors. "Wherever there is a temple, there is a great sense of peace."
The country of Nigeria will have its second temple — after the Aba Nigeria Temple — and the African continent its ninth. In Nigeria, the Church has 163,745 members in 601 congregations and 6 missions.
Kelechi Ugoh was listening to the Sunday afternoon session of general conference on the radio while driving when he heard President Nelson announce the 12 temples to be built in the coming years. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, living in Orem, Utah, he nearly stopped in the middle of the road while driving when he heard his city's name announced.
"When I heard Lagos, Nigeria, I gasped in surprise and then was really, really excited," he told the Church News. "I’ve heard friends and family talk about where the next temple will be built in Nigeria and Lagos was usually top on the list, but I think no one was expecting it to happen."
He thought about his family's reaction to this news and how it is spreading to all he knows back in Nigeria. While living in Nigeria, he and his family and friends attended the Aba Nigeria Temple.
"That was about 10 hours of driving on not-the-best of roads infrastructure-wise, so there were lots of accidents. Cases of robbery on the road are not uncommon. Also, it's an expensive trip for most people."
Members in Nigeria will relish the temple news, Ugoh said, "This will boost temple attendance, missionary work and general spirituality of members in Nigeria."
Lagos is the most populous state in Nigeria, so a temple "would create more awareness and increase people's interest in the Church in Nigeria. And I can see increased growth in the Church in Nigeria with a temple in Lagos."
The Philippines now has six temples — three in operation, in Manila, Cebu City and Urdaneta, with Davao joining Cagayan de Oro and the Greater Manila Area as sites for future temples. In the country, the Church has 765,393 members in 1,218 congregations and 21 missions.
President Nelson conducted a devotional meeting in Puerto Rico last month in the capital city of the U.S. territory in the Caribbean. With an island population of more than 3 million, Puerto Rico is home to 23,234 members in 41 congregations as well as 1 mission.
“We are all crying here,” reported San Juan Puerto Rico Stake President Wilfred Rosa. “We have been working hard for many years and this will bless our island in so many ways.”
President Rosa and his fellow Puerto Rican members are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Many went months without electrical power — enduring both physical and emotional hardships.
They were uplifted by President Nelson’s visit last month. His announcement Sunday now signals another chapter of hope.
“This is the beginning of great days to come. …Words cannot express our feelings,” said President Rosa.
Washington County, Utah
With a county announced for a future temple rather than a specific city, Washington County is home to one of the state's 17 operating temples — the St. George Utah Temple. It joins two other announced temples for Saratoga Springs and Layton. The Church has 2.09 million members in 5,110 congregations in Utah as well as 11 missions. It also has 17 operating temples.
Although the new temple in Washington County, Utah, will reside in the same county as the oldest operating temple of the Church (the beloved St. George Utah Temple), residents are “inspired and thrilled” to welcome another holy edifice.
“Many people are moving here,” said President Daniel K. Frei, Santa Clara Utah Stake president. “We do have a temple, but only so much work can be done, and a lot of temple work is being done. We are already at capacity.”
President Frei was in the Conference Center for the announcement and although he was initially “very surprised” when he heard a temple would be built in Washington County, he isn’t shocked because St. George is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., with many retirees.
“This will provide an opportunity for more Church members to serve in the temple,” President Frei said. “It is also an indication of the Lord’s confidence in the people who live in the area. We will need to staff the new temple and do the work — it creates more opportunity for us to serve.”
There are 159 operating temple and, following the Oct. 7 announcement, 42 announced or under construction, making 201 worldwide. Two temples are scheduled to be dedicated later this year — the Concepcion Chile Temple (Oct. 28) and the Barranquilla Colombia Temple (Dec. 9).
Meanwhile, 11 temples are under renovation, including Asunción Paraguay; Baton Rouge Louisiana; Frankfurt Germany; Hamilton New Zealand; Memphis Tennessee; Mesa Arizona; Oakland California; Oklahoma City Oklahoma; Raleigh North Carolina; Tokyo Japan; and Washington D.C. Temple.
Temples under renovation are considered operating temples.
President Nelson has announced 19 temples this year — seven in April general conference and 12 on Sunday. The Oct. 7 announcement was the most temples announced at a single time. The previous largest number was on April 1, 1981, when nine temples were announced.