At the conclusion of a general conference already rich with historic moments, President Russell M. Nelson delivered happy news: eight new temples would be built in nations across the globe.
New temples will be built in:
- Bahía Blanca, Argentina
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Benin City, Nigeria
- Syracuse, Utah
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
“The plan for a temple in Dubai comes in response to their gracious invitation, which we gratefully acknowledge,” President Nelson said. “Context for the plan for Shanghai is very important. For more than two decades, temple worthy members in the People’s Republic of China have attended the Hong Kong China Temple.
“But in July 2019, that temple was closed for long planned and much needed renovation. In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple — in the People’s Republic of China — for them and their ancestors.
“In every country, this Church teaches its members to honor, obey and sustain the law. We teach the importance of the family, of being good parents, and exemplary citizens. Because we respect the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, the Church does not send proselyting missionaries there; nor will we do so now.
“Expatriate and Chinese congregations will continue to meet separately. The Church’s legal status there remains unchanged. In an initial phase of facility use, entry will be by appointment only. The Shanghai Temple will not be a temple for tourists from other countries.”
The temple in Dubai will serve thousands of Latter-day Saints living in two stakes in the Gulf states and a number of member districts in the Middle East, northern Africa, eastern Europe, and western Asia.
The first self-standing Church meetinghouse in the Middle East was dedicated by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in 2013, according to Newsroom. The new temple will be built in District 2020, the future legacy site of Expo 2020 Dubai, after that worldwide event concludes. The site will include both a meetinghouse and a temple.
“We are grateful to the government officials of the United Arab Emirates who have welcomed us so warmly into their country,” said Elder David A. Bednar, who oversees the work in the Middle East Africa North Area, in the Church’s release. “Only the Spirit of the Lord could have brought about such a mighty miracle. The presence of a temple in Dubai will be a great blessing in the lives of our Church members.”
President Nelson acknowledged “it may seem odd to announce new temples when all our temples are closed for a while.”
But more than a century ago, one of President Nelson’s predecessors, President Wilford Woodruff, “foresaw conditions such as ours” in his dedicatory prayer of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893:
“When Thy people shall not have the opportunity of entering this holy house … and they are oppressed and in trouble, surrounded by difficulties … and shall turn their faces towards this Thy holy house and ask Thee for deliverance, for help, for Thy power to be extended in their behalf, we beseech Thee, to look down from Thy holy habitation in mercy … and listen to their cries.
“Or when the children of Thy people … shall be separated, through any cause, from this place, … and they shall cry unto Thee from the depths of their affliction and sorrow to extend relief and deliverance to them, we humbly entreat Thee to … hearken to their cries, and grant unto them the blessings for which they ask.”
President Nelson reminded his vast audience Sunday afternoon that even during times “of our distress when temples are closed,” Latter-day Saints can still draw upon the power of their temple covenants and endowment.
Continue to live a temple-worthy life — or become temple worthy.
“Talk about the temple with your family and friends,” he said. “Because Jesus Christ is at the center of everything we do in the temple, as you think more about the temple you will be thinking more about Him. Study and pray to learn more about the power and knowledge with which you have been endowed — or with which you will yet be endowed.”
The Church president declared that the eight newly announced temples will bless the lives of many people on both sides of the veil of death.
“Temples are a crowning part of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “In God’s goodness and generosity, He is bringing the blessings of the temple closer to His children everywhere.
“As the Restoration continues, I know that God will continue to reveal many great and important things pertaining to His kingdom here on earth. That kingdom is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
President Nelson’s new temple announcements Sunday surely come as joyful news to temple-lovers across the globe who are, temporarily, unable to worship in such sacred edifices.
On March 25, the First Presidency announced the closure of all the Church’s temples during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“After careful and prayerful consideration, and with a desire to be responsible global citizens, we have decided to suspend all temple activity Churchwide at the end of the day on March 25, 2020,” wrote the Church leaders in a letter with the same date. “This is a temporary adjustment, and we look forward to the day when the temples will reopen.”
At the time of the March 25 announcement, the Church had already closed 111 temples. The remainder of the 168 operating Latter-day Saint temples — located mostly in North America — were open limited hours to provide living sealing, initiatory and endowment ordinances.
The First Presidency announced on May 6, 2019, that the Church had discontinued a policy requiring couples who marry civilly to wait one year before being married or sealed in the temple. The change means Latter-day Saint couples whose temple-marriage plans will now be disrupted by temple closures could marry civilly and then have a temple marriage as soon as temples reopen.
In a letter dated Friday, March 13, announcing temporary adjustments to temple work, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote that they “look forward with great anticipation to the time when temples can again operate at full capacity and extend the blessings of temple work to members and their ancestors.”