While the dedication of two new temples in 2018 accounts for the fewest in a calendar year by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past half-decade, the announcement of 19 new temples means the Church has plenty more sacred edifices on the horizon.
The year 2018 saw another change in temple-related events, as Saturday night youth devotionals replaced the traditional youth cultural celebrations held in conjunction with dedications and rededications.
“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” said President Russell M. Nelson after announcing 12 new temples — the most ever announced at one setting — during the October 2018 general conference.
The theme of “temple construction may not change your life but temple worship will” was an echo of a similar message when he announced seven new temples in April 2018 general conference.
At the end of 2018, the Church has 201 temples on the books — 161 operating temples (including 11 closed for renovations), 10 listed “under construction” (including three with dedication dates in early 2019) and 30 more designated as “announced.”
The two temples dedicated in late 2018 came on opposite ends of the South American continent, with each the second temple in their respective country.
On Oct. 28, President Nelson dedicated the Concepcion Chile Temple as the final event of the Church president’s nine-day tour across Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. And on Dec. 9, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Barranquilla Colombia Temple.
The two dedications were the Church’s fewest in a single calendar year since the sole dedication of the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple in 2013. The last time no Church temples were dedicated in a calendar year happened in both 1991 and 1992.
Prior to both dedications, a youth devotional was held the previous evening. That was a change from the youth cultural celebrations — featuring dancing, singing, costumes and stage sets — held the evening before a temple dedication or rededication in years past.
Three dedications are already scheduled for the first half of 2019 — the Rome Italy Temple, with an open house beginning in January and its dedication scheduled for March 10-12; the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple, with its open house starting in March and an April 14 dedication; and the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple, with an open house in April and a May 19 dedication.
Several of the seven other temples under construction could be scheduled for dedication later in 2019.
Another pair of temples were rededicated and reopened in 2018.
On April 22, President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, rededicated the Houston Texas Temple in a single session, with no accompanying open house or cultural celebration. August 2017 floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had damaged the temple’s basement, forcing a closure.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the Jordan River Utah Temple on May 20 following its two-year renovation. With the temple originally dedicated in 1981, renovations included mechanical systems and seismic upgrades, considerable remodeling of interior rooms, roof replacement and the addition of a separate baptistery entrance.
Prior to that rededication, both a public open house and youth cultural celebration were held.
The Church has 11 temples currently closed for renovations. Of the 11, four closed in 2018 — the Oakland California Temple in February, the Washington D.C. Temple last March, the Mesa Arizona Temple in May and the Hamilton New Zealand Temple in July.
On Nov. 8, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over 2018’s sole temple groundbreaking — for the Abidjan Cote d’Ivorie Temple in western Africa.
Two groundbreakings and site dedications are scheduled for January 2019 — the Urdaneta Philippines Temple for Jan. 16 with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Bangkok Thailand Temple for Jan. 26 with Elder David F. Evans, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Asia Area.
Other groundbreakings could follow throughout 2019, given there are 28 additional "announced" temple sites in various stages of site selection, planning and approval.
Perhaps the most dramatic development of Church temples in 2018 came in President Nelson's announcement of 19 new temples — seven in April general conference and another 12 in the October conference.
The latter is the most temples ever announced at one time. In April 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced intentions to build an additional 30-plus temples so that the Church’s total could reach 100 by the end of the 20th century, but no specific cities were cited at the time.
Sites for the 19 announced temples span the globe, including 11 countries besides the United States, three states and two U.S. territories. Nine will be the first in their respective nations or territories — in Russia, India, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Cape Verde, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Also mentioned by President Nelson during the October 2018 general conference were noteworthy temple-renovation plans.
“With the passage of time, temples are inevitably in need of refreshing and renewal,” he said. “To that end, plans are now being made to renovate and update the Salt Lake Temple and other pioneer-generation temples. Details on these projects will be shared as they are developed.”