A resilient, far-reaching moment of Latter-day Saint history was made on Easter Sunday with President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement of 20 future temples — the most locations ever announced in a single day.
At the conclusion of Sunday afternoon’s session of the 191st Annual General Conference, the Church president set forth plans to build temples in:
- Oslo, Norway
- Brussels, Belgium
- Vienna, Austria
- Kumasi, Ghana
- Beira, Mozambique
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Singapore, Republic of Singapore
- Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- Cali, Colombia
- Querétaro, México
- Torreón, México
- Helena, Montana
- Casper, Wyoming
- Grand Junction, Colorado
- Farmington, New Mexico
- Burley, Idaho
- Eugene, Oregon
- Elko, Nevada
- Yorba Linda, California
- Smithfield, Utah
Prior to Sunday, the largest number of temple locations announced in general conference was 12 — by President Nelson, in the October 2018 general conference.
In April 1998 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to construct as many 32 new temples, though he did not list specific locations. Throughout that year, the First Presidency announced the locations of 27 of those temples.
The reason for such a heavy volume of new temples today, said President Nelson, is simple:
“We are building now for the future. … We want to bring the house of the Lord even closer to our members, that they may have the sacred privilege of attending the temple as often as their circumstances allow.”
Temples, President Nelson added in his closing remarks, are a “vital part” of the Restoration.
“Ordinances of the temple fill our lives with power and strength — available in no other way. We thank God for those blessings.”
The past year has been one like no other for the Church, particular in areas of temple work.
In March of 2020, President Nelson and his fellow leaders made the heart wrenching decision to close the temples as COVID-19 continued its global spread.
Latter-day Saints love President Nelson — and they know of his solemn commitment to helping people around the world walk the covenant path via temple work. Members surely felt pangs of sadness watching the Church president, in a July video, recalling last year’s decision to close all temples as COVID-19 continued its global spread.
“The purpose of the Church is to bring the blessings of God to His children on both sides of the veil,” he said in a video with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, sitting at his side. “So, only in our temples do we receive the highest blessings that God has in store for His faithful children. So, how difficult was it to make the decision to close the temples? That was painful; it was wracked with worry.
“I found myself asking, ‘What would I say to the Prophet Joseph Smith? What would I say to Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff and the other presidents, on up to President Thomas S. Monson? I’m going to meet them soon.’ To close the temples would deny all for which all those Brethren gave everything, but we really had no other alternative.”
Still, the pandemic would not have the last word. The temples, he promised, would open again. Over the past several months, temples around the world have reopened in phases, as local circumstances and government regulations allow.
The work of family history has not been affected by the virus.
“Even though temples have been closed, family history research and work has taken a huge leap forward; more names are being added,” said President Nelson. “And remarkably, through all of this, the voluntary fast offerings of our members have increased.
“I’ve learned that even through clouds of sorrow, there can be silver linings found.”
Easter 2021 will forever be regarded as a “silver lining day” — particularly for the legions of Latter-day Saints whose lives will be blessed in the years and decades to come by the temples announced on Sunday.
Even during the pandemic, when temples have been closed at various times to patrons, temple building has continued “boldly, nobly and independent.”
In 2020, the Church broke ground for 21 temples.
“Obviously, there were construction disruptions because of the pandemic, but relatively few of those temples are behind schedule,” said Elder David A Bednar, who chairs the Church’s Temple and Family History Executive Council, in a February Church News video. “I find that to be just absolutely miraculous.”
Elder Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, referenced the early Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, who flocked to the still-under-construction temple there to receive temple endowments and ordinances before the forced exodus in February 1846.
They had to wait decades before being able to return to a temple.
“Many of those people only went to the temple one time. I am not sure we remember that,” Elder Bednar said.
Amid these times, when members can’t be in the temple, the question is: “Is the temple in us? Are the ordinances and the covenants in us?”
Reactions to the announcement
Not surprisingly, President Nelson’s announcement Sunday afternoon brought joy, anticipation and plenty of tears to Latter-day Saints living in areas where the future temples will be built.
“When I heard the prophet say ‘Elko, Nevada’ I got chills up and down my arms,” said Carol Tolhurst, a longtime resident of Elko County. “There are so many good people here.”
Residents in the Elko region have traditionally had to drive to the Salt Lake Temple to perform temple work.
Miryam Luz Muñoz Sanclemente battled tears responding to news that Colombia’s third temple would be built in her hometown of Cali.
“My voice is still breaking because I am so excited,” she told the Church News. “We have waited and prayed for this for a long time. I have a testimony that the Lord answers our faithful prayers, if we obey His commandments.
“Having a temple in Cali will be a great opportunity — and a great challenge.”
When Afua Akuffo witnessed President Nelson’s announcement of a future temple in her hometown of Kumasi, Ghana, her thoughts turned to her late grandmother.
“I know she is smiling today,” said Akuffo.
The drive from the interior city of Kumasi to the Accra Ghana Temple takes several hours — a hardship for many Latter-day Saints living in the Kumasi region. Soon more of Akuffo’s fellow Ghanaians will have easier access to a dedicated temple.
“I’m very happy knowing there will be two temples in Ghana,” she added.
Madie Siddoway Gates said Sunday’s temple announcement is evidence that Christ’s “miraculous work” is moving forward.
“I was born and raised in Smithfield, Utah — so I’m so excited about the announcement of a new temple to be built in my hometown,” she added. “I know it will be a wonderful blessing to my family and friends who currently live there, and to all the people in northern Utah and the surrounding areas.”
• Oslo, Norway: This will be the first temple for Norway, which is home to about 5,000 Latter-day Saints. Oslo, Norway’s capital, sits on the country’s southern coast. The Book of Mormon was translated into Danish in 1850 — the first language other than English. Because the Norwegian and Danish languages share similarities, the Danish version of the Book of Mormon was used in early missionary efforts in Norway, according to the Church’s Newsroom. The first missionaries arrived in Norway in 1851 and the first two congregations were organized in July 1852. In Scandinavia, the Church also has temples in Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden.
• Brussels, Belgium: About 7,000 Latter-day Saints in a dozen congregations reside in Belgium. The Brussels Belgium Temple will be the Church’s first temple in Belgium. The first Belgian converts to the Church were in baptized the 1880s. The first chapels built for French-speaking members in Europe were in Belgium and completed in the 1930s.
• Vienna, Austria: Vienna is the capital and most populous city in Austria and home to about 5,000 Latter-day Saints. This will be the Church’s first temple in Austria. Elder Orson Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and William W. Ritter arrived in Austria to begin missionary work in 1865, but until after World War I, Church growth was sporadic because of legal restrictions and conflicts. Austria granted official government recognition to the Church in September 1955.
• Kumasi, Ghana: There are nearly 90,000 Latter-day Saints spread throughout 300 congregations in Ghana. Kumasi is in the southern interior rainforest region of Ghana. The Kumasi Ghana Temple will be the second temple in the country; the first is the Accra Ghana Temple, dedicated in 2004. The Kumasi Ghana Stake was organized in 1998; the city now has four stakes.
• Beira, Mozambique: This will be the first temple in Mozambique. The country has more than 15,000 Latter-day Saints and more than 40 congregations. Beira, a city of more than a half-million people, is a central Mozambique coastal city adjacent to the Indian Ocean. Missionary work began in the country in early 1999. The country has five stakes.
• Cape Town, South Africa: About 69,000 Latter-day Saints worship in around 195 congregations in South Africa. Cape Town is located on the shore of Table Bay of the South Atlantic Ocean. This will be the third temple in the country, after Johannesburg and Durban, each about a thousand miles from Cape Town, and will be the first in the western half of the country. There are two stakes in the Cape Town area. The first missionaries arrived in South Africa in 1853, and the first meetinghouse was built in Mowbray in 1916.
• Singapore, Republic of Singapore: This will be the first temple in Singapore, which is home to 3,000 Latter-day Saints and seven congregations. The Republic of Singapore is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. Missionary work began in Singapore in 1968.
• Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Brazil is home to over 1.4 million Latter-day Saints spread throughout more than 2,100 congregations. Belo Horizonte, the sixth-largest city in Brazil, is considered an economic hub. The first known member of the Church to live in Brazil emigrated from Germany in 1913. In 1986, Brazil became the third country outside the United States to have 50 organized stakes. The temple in Belo Horizonte will be the 13th announced temple for Brazil, with dedicated temples located in Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife and São Paulo. There is also a temple completed and prepared to be dedicated in Rio de Janeiro, temples under construction in Belem and Brasilia, and temples announced for Salvador and East São Paulo.
• Cali, Colombia: The Cali Colombia Temple will be the country’s third temple. Colombia is home to around 210,000 Latter-day Saints in nearly 250 congregations. The Bogotá Colombia Temple was dedicated in 1999; the Barranquilla Colombia Temple was dedicated in 2018. Missionary work began in Colombia in 1966. The first members of the Church lived in Cali and Bogotá. Cali is the second-largest city in Colombia.
• Querétaro, Mexico, and Torreón, Mexico: These will be Mexico‘s 15th and 16th temples. Querétaro is a city about 135 miles northwest of Mexico City in central Mexico. Querétaro has a population of about 1 million. Torreón is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, with a population of about 635,000 people, about 400 miles south of the Texas border.
The other temples in Mexico are in Ciudad Juárez, Colonia Juárez Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Hermosillo Sonora, Mérida, Mexico City, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tampico, Tijuana, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Veracruz and Villahermosa. The country is home to approximately 1.5 million Latter-day Saints, more than any other country outside the United States, and 1,800 congregations.
• Helena, Montana: Montana is home to more than 50,000 Latter-day Saints and around 125 congregations. The Helena Montana Temple will be the second temple for the state. The first is the Billings Montana Temple, which was dedicated in November 1999.
• Casper, Wyoming: One in every nine residents of Wyoming, or approximately 68,000 people, claim Church membership. This will be the state’s second temple. The Star Valley Wyoming Temple was dedicated in 2016.
• Grand Junction, Colorado: The state is home to over 150,000 Latter-day Saints and around 310 congregations. There are four stakes in the west-central Colorado area around Grand Junction. The Grand Junction Colorado Temple will be the third for the state, after the Denver and the Fort Collins temples.
• Farmington, New Mexico: New Mexico is home to 70,000 members in some 138 congregations. The Farmington New Mexico Temple will be the state’s second temple — the first, in Albuquerque, was dedicated in 2000 — and the second in the Four Corners area — after the Monticello Utah Temple, dedicated in 1998. The Four Corners are where the Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona state lines meet, and includes the Navajo Nation.
• Burley, Idaho: The Burley Idaho Temple will be the seventh temple in Idaho. Idaho is home to over 460,000 members of the Church in around 1,200 congregations. Other temples in the state are in nearby Twin Falls, Boise Idaho, Idaho Falls, Meridian, Pocatello (under construction) and Rexburg.
• Eugene, Oregon: Oregon is home to nearly 154,000 members. Latter-day Saint settlement largely began with the arrival of Latter-day Saint businessmen in 1887. They built a lumber mill on North Powder River and persuaded Latter-day Saint families to migrate to Oregon. Today, there are approximately 300 congregations across the state. The Eugene Oregon Temple will be the third in the state, with other temples in Portland and Medford.
• Elko, Nevada: The state is home to more than 184,000 Latter-day Saints. Although Nevada was part of Utah Territory until the 1860s, it was not until 1942 that the Church organized a stake based in Elko County. Today there are three stakes in northeastern Nevada. The Elko Nevada Temple will be the state’s third, after Las Vegas and Reno.
• Yorba Linda, California: Yorba Linda is a suburban city about 35 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. This will be the fourth temple in the metropolitan area — joining Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Redlands — and the ninth in California.
• Smithfield, Utah: The Smithfield Utah Temple will be the second temple in Cache County and the 26th in Utah. There are 15 operating temples in the state, the Salt Lake and St. George temples currently under renovation, and eight other new temples announced or under construction. Cache Valley, which comprises the Logan area of Utah and Preston area of southern Idaho, has 38 stakes.
Correction: A previous version of this report failed to include the Lindon Utah Temple and incorrectly stated the Smithfield Utah Temple would be the state’s 25th. Orson Pratt was also misidentified in one reference as Orson Hyde.