Part 1: A historic first for temple dedications and rededications — and the senior Church leaders who do them

Editor’s note: First in a two-part series on temple dedications and Church leaders. Today: In a pattern with a purpose making for a historic first, President Russell M. Nelson has assigned each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to preside at a temple dedication or rededication.

When Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicates the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple on Sunday, May 8, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will mark a historic first: The 12 sitting members of that quorum and the three of the First Presidency will have each either dedicated or rededicated at least one temple.

And each has dedicated or rededicated a temple in a relatively short time period — in the four years and four months of President Russell M. Nelson’s tenure leading the Church, beginning in January 2018.

It is by President Nelson’s direction that his First Presidency counselors — President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — and all 12 Apostles have each been assigned to preside and pray at at least one of the 14 temple dedications or 13 temple rededications that have occurred since January 2018 or are scheduled and announced through late 2022.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, arrive at the Mesa Arizona Temple a day ahead of the rededication ceremony in Mesa, Arizona, on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, arrive at the Mesa Arizona Temple a day ahead of the rededication ceremony in Mesa, Arizona, on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Temple dedications, dates and Church leaders offering dedicatory prayers

A low percentage personally done

President Nelson has so successfully spread out temple dedication and rededication assignments among the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that he personally has accounted for the lowest percentage of temple dedications done by any President of the Church in the latter days.

Of the 11 temples dedicated during his tenure and the three upcoming dedications scheduled over the next two months, President Nelson has taken the lead on only two of 14. The first was the Concepción Chile Temple, dedicated on Oct. 28, 2018, during a South America ministry and while visiting Santiago, Chile, and Concepción. The second was the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple, with all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve participating and briefly all together during the three-day dedication period of March 10-12, 2019.

Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dressed in white temple clothing, pose for an iconic photograph outside the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Front center are President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Also included are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.
Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dressed in white temple clothing, pose for an iconic photograph outside the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Front center are President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Also included are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

All other dedications since 2018 have been or will be done by a First Presidency counselor or Apostle. Such is also the case with recent and upcoming temple rededications as well — with the possible exception of the Washington D.C. Temple rededication, which is scheduled for Aug. 14 and is still today without an assigned presiding leader.

As it is, President Nelson’s dedicating two of the 14 temples accounts for 14.3% of available dedications. Of other past Church presidents and the dedications of the Church’s 170 currently operating temples, seven presided at 100% of the dedications during their tenures, while Brigham Young didn’t dedicate either of the two during his leadership time. Three others had no temples dedicated.

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, pose outside the Jordan River Utah Temple prior to rededication in South Jordan on Sunday, May 20, 2018.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, pose outside the Jordan River Utah Temple prior to rededication in South Jordan on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Over the past half-century, President Gordon B. Hinckley is credited for 81.8% of the temples dedications during his presidency, President Thomas S. Monson 40%, President Ezra Taft Benson 22.2%, and President Spencer W. Kimball 19%.

A pattern with a purpose

President Nelson’s assignments to involve his First Presidency counselors and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a pattern with a purpose — certainly not because the Church’s oldest president is slowing down because of age or health concerns. Far from it, since those he assigns often tell of how they try to keep up with the now-97-year-old President Nelson’s quick pace on the stairs or sharp attention to detail in meetings.

His sharing the global workload with the senior Brethren was seen during his 13 ministries covering more than 115,000 miles to 35 nations on six continents in 2018 and 2019 — each involving one of his two counselors or one of 11 Apostles. Beginning in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented senior Church leaders from traveling.

In a 2019 São Paulo, Brazil, interview during a ministry stop, President Nelson spoke of involving others in the ministries and temple events.

“These Brethren are so loyal,” he said. “I love them — like my own brothers, like my own sons.”

And watching them carry out the work of the Church across the globe brings him great joy, he added.

“Have you ever been a father and taken children on a fishing trip? Are you happy catching a fish? Are you happier watching your children catch a fish?”

Elder Ulisses Soares, left, and Bishop Dean M. Davies assist a little boy place mortar around the cornerstone of the Arequipa Peru Temple on Dec. 15, 2019.
Elder Ulisses Soares, left, and Bishop Dean M. Davies assist a little boy place mortar around the cornerstone of the Arequipa Peru Temple on Dec. 15, 2019. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

‘I enjoy watching it happen’

In the same São Paulo interview, President Nelson singled out Elder Ulisses Soares, the Apostle who had dedicated the Fortaleza Brazil Temple three months earlier. It marked the first time the Brazilian native and most junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had presided over a dedication.

Ironically, Elder Soares was the only Apostle not to accompany President Nelson on one of the pre-pandemic ministries — but who has represented him and the Church in dedicating the Fortaleza and Arequipa Peru temples.

Said President Nelson: “I get more joy out of the fact that Elder Ulisses Soares dedicated the Fortaleza temple than if I had done it — I really do. I’m so happy that he’s had that experience. It has made a new man out of him. I mean, he was perfect before, but now he’s even more spiritual, more like the Lord than he ever has been, because of that experience.

“And I enjoy watching it happen.”

A short time, despite the pandemic

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gives a tour of the Durban South Africa Temple to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, king of the Zulu nation, in Umhlanga, South Africa, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gives a tour of the Durban South Africa Temple to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, king of the Zulu nation, in Umhlanga, South Africa, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

What makes President Nelson’s sharing of the temple dedications and rededications with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles even more impressive is that it comes in four and a half years’ time — and nearly two years went by without any of those key temple events because of the pandemic and its many restrictions

From when Elder Ronald A. Rasband dedicated the Durban South Africa Temple on Feb. 16, 2020, to Elder Gerrit W. Gong dedicating the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple on Oct. 31, 2021, 20 months passed without a temple dedication or rededication.

Having each member of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicate or rededicate at least one temple would have happened much sooner if not for the pandemic. Both the Rio de Janeiro and Winnipeg temples were originally scheduled for dedications in 2020 — the former in May, the latter in November. But those dates were pushed back because of pandemic restrictions on travel and large gatherings.

More temple milestone events

Something the pandemic didn’t completely interrupt was temple groundbreakings, which continued throughout the pandemic.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, pictured with his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, left, presided at the Red Cliffs Utah Temple groundbreaking in St. George, Utah, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Elder David A. Bednar, right, presided remotely at the Bentonville Arkansas Temple groundbreaking the same day.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, pictured with his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, left, presided at the Red Cliffs Utah Temple groundbreaking in St. George, Utah, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Elder David A. Bednar, right, presided remotely at the Bentonville Arkansas Temple groundbreaking the same day. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Deseret News; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Although limited travel kept the senior Church leaders from presiding more often at the nearly 40 groundbreakings held since early 2020, three Apostles presided at as many groundbreakings in 2020 — Elder Gong at the Taylorsville Utah Temple groundbreaking on Oct. 31, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder David A. Bednar at the Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremonies for the Red Cliffs Utah and Bentonville Arkansas temples. Elder Bednar’s was done remotely via livestream from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Including Elder Quentin L. Cook’s presiding at the upcoming Smithfield Utah Temple groundbreaking on June 18, Apostles have led six such ceremonies in President Nelson’s tenure.

Additionally, Apostles have been involved in nonpresiding roles these key temple milestones. Three examples are Elder Cook accompanying President Eyring at the Jordan River Utah Temple rededication in May 2018, Elder Soares accompanying President Oaks at the Barranquilla Colombia Temple dedication in December 2018, and Elder Stevenson assigned to accompany Elder Cook for the June 2022 Smithfield Utah Temple groundbreaking.

Next: Part 2 looks back at past dedications of 170 operating temples and the Church leaders who presided.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gather at the Rome Italy Temple grounds.
Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gather at the Rome Italy Temple grounds. Credit: Screenshot

Temple dedications, dates and Church leaders offering dedicatory prayers

Temple dedications, rededications during President Nelson’s tenure, 2018 to present

The following lists members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and which temples they have dedicated or rededicated since January 2018. Upcoming scheduled dedications and rededications with assigned leaders are noted by an asterisk (*).

First Presidency

President Russell M. Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, during the dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple in Concepcion, Chile, on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.
President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, during the dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple in Concepcion, Chile, on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
  • Concepción Chile Temple dedication, Oct. 28, 2018
  • Rome Italy Temple dedication, March 10, 2019

President Dallin H. Oaks

  • Barranquilla Colombia Temple dedication, Dec. 9, 2018
  • Oakland California Temple rededication, June 16, 2019
  • Mesa Arizona Temple rededication, Dec. 12, 2021

President Henry B. Eyring

  • Jordan River Utah Temple rededication, May 20, 2018
  • Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple rededication, May 19, 2019
  • Tokyo Japan Temple rededication, July 3, 2022 *

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

President M. Russell Ballard

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, waves to the crowd while participating in the dedication of the Pocatello Idaho Temple.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, waves to the crowd while participating in the dedication of the Pocatello Idaho Temple. Credit: Drew Nash, for the Deseret News
  • Houston Texas Temple rededication, April 22, 2018
  • Raleigh North Carolina Temple rededication, Oct. 13, 2019
  • Pocatello Idaho Temple dedication, Nov. 7, 2021

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

  • Memphis Tennessee Temple rededication, May 5, 2019

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

  • Frankfurt Germany Temple rededication, Oct. 20, 2019
  • Hamilton New Zealand Temple rededication, Oct. 16, 2022 *

Elder David A. Bednar

  • Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple dedication, Sept. 1, 2019
  • Yigo Guam Temple dedication, May 22, 2022 *

Elder Quentin L. Cook

  • Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple rededication, Nov. 17, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

From left, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, Sister Evelia De Hoyos, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Sister Nancy Duncan and Elder Kevin R. Duncan following the Nov. 3, 2019, rededication of the Asuncion Paraguay Temple.
From left, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, Sister Evelia De Hoyos, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Sister Nancy Duncan and Elder Kevin R. Duncan following the Nov. 3, 2019, rededication of the Asuncion Paraguay Temple. Credit: Jason Swensen, Church News
  • Asunción Paraguay Temple rededication, Nov. 3, 2019

Elder Neil L. Andersen

  • Lisbon Portugal Temple dedication, Sept. 15, 2019
  • Praia Cape Verde Temple dedication, June 19, 2022 *

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

  • Durban South Africa Temple dedication, Feb. 16, 2020

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

  • Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple dedication, May 8, 2022 *

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Elder Dale G. Renlund of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets a young Latter-day Saint during the cornerstone ceremony of the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple on Sunday, April 14, 2019.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets a young Latter-day Saint during the cornerstone ceremony of the Kinshasa DR Congo Temple on Sunday, April 14, 2019. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple dedication, April 14, 2019

Elder Gerrit W. Gong

  • Winnipeg Manitoba Temple dedication, Oct. 31, 2021

Elder Ulisses Soares

  • Fortaleza Brazil Temple dedication, June 2, 2019
  • Arequipa Peru Temple dedication, Dec. 15, 2019

Temple groundbreakings presided by current Apostles since 2018

Since the January 2018 start of President Russell M. Nelson’s tenure of leading the Church and through June 2022, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have been assigned to preside at six temple groundbreakings.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, second from the right, and others turn the soil during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, second from the right, and others turn the soil during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
  • Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple, Nov. 8, 2018 — Elder Neil L. Andersen
  • Urdaneta Philippines Temple, Jan. 16, 2019 – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
  • Taylorsville Utah Temple, Oct. 31, 2020 — Elder Gerrit W. Gong
  • Red Cliffs Utah Temple, Nov. 7, 2020 — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
  • Bentonville Arkansas Temple, Nov. 7, 2020 — Elder David A. Bednar (remotely)
  • Smithfield Utah Temple, June 18, 2022 — Elder Quentin L. Cook *

* — Scheduled


Pre-2018 temple dedications by current members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Following is a list of temples dedicated prior to 2018 by the current members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during their time as Church leaders. All were done during President Thomas S. Monson’s tenure of leading the Church, from February 2008 to January 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson

As president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

President Russell M. Nelson hands tools to Elder Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, during the Sapporo Japan Temple cornerstone ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016.
President Russell M. Nelson hands tools to Elder Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, during the Sapporo Japan Temple cornerstone ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News
  • Sapporo Japan Temple dedication, Aug. 21, 2016

President Dallin H. Oaks

As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  • Provo City Center Temple dedication, March 20, 2016

President Henry B. Eyring

As a counselor in the First Presidency

  • San Salvador El Salvador Temple dedication, Aug. 21, 2011
  • Payson Utah Temple dedication, June 7, 2015
  • Indianapolis Indiana Temple dedication, Aug. 23, 2015
  • Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple dedication, Sept. 18, 2016
  • Hartford Connecticut Temple dedication, Nov. 20, 2016
  • Paris France Temple dedication, May 21, 2017
  • Cedar City Utah Temple dedication, Dec. 10, 2017

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

As a counselor in the First Presidency

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf walks along a pathway among members outside the Frankfurt Germany Temple between rededication sessions on Oct. 20, 2019.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf walks along a pathway among members outside the Frankfurt Germany Temple between rededication sessions on Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: Scott Taylor, Church News
  • Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple dedication, Dec. 11, 2011
  • Manaus Brazil Temple dedication, June 10, 2012
  • Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple dedication, March 17, 2013
  • Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple dedication, May 4, 2014
  • Córdoba Argentina Temple dedication, May 17, 2015
  • Trujillo Peru Temple dedication, June 21, 2015
  • Tijuana Mexico Temple dedication, Dec. 13, 2015
  • Fort Collins Colorado Temple dedication, Oct. 16, 2016
  • Tucson Arizona Temple dedication, Aug. 13, 2017
  • Meridian Idaho Temple dedication, Nov. 19, 2017

Elder David A. Bednar

As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  • Star Valley Wyoming Temple dedication, Oct. 30, 2016

Part 2: A historical look at temple dedications and the Church leaders who did them