The Savior’s arms are open wide for a new temple in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil have anxiously been waiting for the opening of the country’s eighth temple.

Then-President Thomas S. Monson announced a temple in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and the groundbreaking was on March 4, 2017. But just one month prior to the beginning of the temple’s scheduled public open house in April 2020, COVID-19 caused the postponement of both the open house and planned dedication.

The temple has been built — but not open — for nearly two years since that time.

Finally, this Sunday, May 8, Church members will participate in dedicatory services throughout the temple district.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will dedicate the temple in three sessions.

Read more: Elder Stevenson dedicates Rio de Janeiro temple — 8th dedicated in Brazil

He and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, are in Rio de Janeiro and visited the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue — which overlooks the city, welcomes its visitors and serves as a reminder of the Christian roots of the nation.

“It’s really quite amazing, isn’t it?” Elder Stevenson asked as he looked at the statue and the hundreds of people surrounding it Friday, May 6.

“This is really nice to see people celebrating Jesus Christ,” he said. “And the appropriate name, Christ the Redeemer, is pretty remarkable.”  

Elder Stevenson said it impressed him to see people coming from different parts of the world all to see this representation of the Savior. Many stood in front of the statue emulating the Savior’s pose — arms opened wide as both a welcoming and peaceful gesture.

He posted on his social media channels about the experience.

The Stevensons were accompanied to see the statue by Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Mônica Godoy, who are both from Brazil. Elder Joni L. Koch represented the Brazil Area presidency and attended with his wife, Sister Michele Koch.

Elder Koch pointed out the significance of the statue’s location on top of one of the tallest hills in the surrounding area. It can be seen by both those in the city and those approaching from the sea.

“And the forest on the hill around the Christ the Redeemer statue has all been preserved,” he said.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center, Elder Joni L. Koch and Elder Carlos A. Godoy tour Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday, May 6, 2022.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center, Elder Joni L. Koch and Elder Carlos A. Godoy tour Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday, May 6, 2022. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Because of this, the Savior stands atop a forested hilltop that emerges from the middle of one of the nation’s most populated cities.

And now that city, with a statue of the Savior standing with its arms stretched wide, will welcome a dedicated House of the Lord where residents will be able to worship Him and learn of His plan for them.

On Saturday, May 7, youth from the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple district will participate in a devotional with Elder Stevenson and other Church leaders. Youth will have the opportunity to ask questions, receive instruction and hear testimonies of the Church leaders who participate.

As of this Sunday, the eight dedicated temples in the country with nearly 1.5 million Church members are in Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Temples are under construction in Bélem, Brasília and Salvador, with others announced and in planning stages for Belo Horizonte, East São Paulo, Vitória, Maceió and Santos.

Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, May 6, 2022.
Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, May 6, 2022. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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