‘So grateful, so grateful’: How Latter-day Saints reacted to 20 temples announced at general conference
Members worldwide experienced joy and tender feelings following President Nelson’s temple announcement at the conclusion of the Sunday afternoon session
‘So grateful, so grateful’: How Latter-day Saints reacted to 20 temples announced at general conference
Members worldwide experienced joy and tender feelings following President Nelson’s temple announcement at the conclusion of the Sunday afternoon session
The incoming messages began lighting up Mitch Taylor’s phone moments after President Russell M. Nelson announced a new temple for Vancouver, Washington.
“My text messages just blew up,” said Taylor, a member of the Battle Ground 1st Ward in the Ridgefield Washington State. “One sister in the ward said, ‘So excited! I am dancing in excitement!!’ Another said, ‘WOW!! Conference. Temple! Oh, the joy!!’”
A third message read, “What even is happening?”
Taylor said the Portland Oregon Temple is close enough for a member to participate as a temple worker and patron, but a temple in Vancouver means the ability to attend more frequently.
“Truly a blessing,” he said. “This will help me become a temple worker again.”
Inside the Conference Center, Michael Law, a Latter-day Saint from Colorado Springs, Colorado, said members in that area have longed for a temple closer to home for a long time.
“Colorado Springs is such a wonderful place to live,” he said. “We have the beautiful mountains, and to have a temple there is just such a great blessing to the Saints, especially at this time. People have been waiting — as everyone does — for years and years. We are so grateful to hear that today and to know that the Savior is so mindful of the Saints everywhere around the world. Someday the Lord will bless all of us across the world to have that blessing close to us. We are so grateful, so grateful.”
At the close of the Sunday afternoon session of October 2023 general conference, President @NelsonRussellM announced plans to build 20 new temples in new locations, increasing The @Ch_JesusChrist's total temples — dedicated, under construction or in planning — to 335 worldwide. pic.twitter.com/xB0AlwhHCW— Church News (@the_churchnews) October 2, 2023
Still recovering from the wildfires in Maui, Arnold Wunder of the Kahului Hawaii Stake expressed his tender feelings this way: “This is an answer to the prayers of many faithful Saints on both sides of the veil. We are humbly overwhelmed.”
President Nadmid B. Namgur of the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission wrote that words cannot adequately describe how Mongolian Latter-day Saints feel at the moment. “Our hearts are filled with pure joy and love, said Presidnet Namgur, the first Mongolian to serve as a mission president. “How grateful we are for the President Nelson’s announcement of a temple in Mongolia at close of this general conference! This historic announcement came as the Mongolian pioneering Saints [are] celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Church in Mongolia this year. We feel the Lord’s love for His people.”
He offered heartfelt thanks to “all amazing missionaries and mission leaders who have served and are serving so faithfully in Mongolia” and to the Church’s members, leaders and friends for their faith and prayers.
“The long wait is over and now our focus is on preparing our hearts and minds to enter worthily the ‘House of the Lord’ in Mongolia.”
The joyful and tender feelings were among many expressed following President Nelson’s announcement of 20 new temple locations during his prerecorded remarks in the final session of the 193rd semiannual general conference on Sunday, Oct. 1.
“Spending more time in the temple builds faith. And your service and worship in the temple will help you to think celestial,” said the Prophet, who has announced 153 new temples since 2018. “The Lord is directing us to build these temples to help us think celestial.”
20 new temple locations
The temples will be built in the following locations:
- Savai’i, Samoa
- Kahului, Hawaii
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Vancouver, Washington
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Roanoke, Virginia
- Cancún, Mexico
- Piura, Peru
- Huancayo, Peru
- Viña del Mar, Chile
- Goiânia, Brazil
- João Pessoa, Brazil
- Cape Coast, Ghana
- Calabar, Nigeria
- Luanda, Angola
- Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Laoag, Philippines
- Osaka, Japan
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
President Nelson also announced 20 temples in April 2021. The Church of Jesus Christ currently has 182 temples dedicated, 59 under construction or renovation and 99 in planning and design — a total of 335 houses of the Lord.
Here is information on each new temple location, as reported by ChurchofJesusChrist.org, along with reaction from members who live near or have ties to these locations of future houses of the Lord.
Lia Ane Utai acknowledged the temple announcement with a social media post and photos inside the Conference Center.
Asi Farani also posted: “My faithful people of Savai’i, Samoa, is getting a new temple. How marvelous this gospel is growing through the isles of the sea.”
The Savaiʻi Samoa Temple will be the second house of the Lord built in Samoa.
- The Apia Samoa Temple was first dedicated in 1983. The temple was rebuilt after a fire in 2003 and rededicated in 2005.
- More than 85,000 Latter-day Saints live in Samoa.
- The Pago Pago American Samoa Temple is currently under construction in neighboring American Samoa.
- The Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa, visited Salt Lake City and met with The First Presidency in late September 2023.
This will be the first temple on Maui’s shores.
Lory Aiwohi, who serves as the stake Relief Society president in the Kahului Hawaii Stake, felt God’s love for her people in the temple announcement.
“We are deeply humbled and filled with gratitude for this wonderful news of a temple on Maui! Talk about ‘beauty for ashes’ (Isaiah 61:3)!” she wrote in a text message. “Personally, I feel Heavenly Father’s love and awareness for us, the Saints on Maui, and our needs, especially at this time. For many years, the Maui Saints have shown unwavering faith by sacrificing and traveling to Oahu and Kona to attend the temple with their families. So grateful for a prophet who receives divine inspiration. We are all rejoicing on both sides of the veil as this long-awaited day and announcement has finally arrived.”
Kahului Hawaii West Stake President Benjamin J. Hanks wrote in an email that “We will never forget this special day and this announcement from a prophet of God.”
He said, “To say our hearts are full would be a major understatement. We rejoice with those who have gone before us for this long-prayed-for blessing of a house of the Lord on Maui. During this season of great difficulty on the island, we have felt a great deal of love for our Savior, and unity with one another. I believe this announcement is a reminder of the importance of putting Him first and loving one another as He loves us. The scripture comes to mind, ‘... weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).’”
- The Kona Hawaii Temple, which is currently undergoing a major renovation was dedicated in 2000, and the Laie Hawaii Temple was dedicated in 1919.
- Latter-day Saint missionaries first arrived in Hawaii in 1850. Today, nearly 75,000 Church members make up around 145 congregations with more than 4,500 on the island of Maui.
- Kahului is located about 25 miles east of Lahaina, where a devastating wildfire consumed communities and took dozens of lives in August. The Church has provided substantial aid in support of relief efforts.
This will be the second temple in Alaska after the Anchorage Alaska Temple. The east-central city of Fairbanks has the second-largest population in the state.
Sarah Buma posted on social media that she burst into “tears of joy” when a temple was announced for Fairbanks.
“My mind has landed somewhere between the waters of Bethesda and the great rivers of interior Alaska,” she wrote. “My emotions are as ‘the rushing of great waters’; giving thanks for Living Water, a living Prophet, a testimony of the living Christ that keeps me vital and deep gratitude that continually stirs, restores and heals me.”
- Alaska is home to approximately 35,000 Latter-day Saints across more than 80 congregations.
- In January, the Church’s First Presidency announced that the Anchorage Alaska Temple would be reconstructed beginning in early 2024. A significantly larger temple will be built on the same property where a meetinghouse is currently in use. The existing Anchorage Alaska Temple is staying open during construction.
This will be the sixth temple in Washington state and the second in the Portland metropolitan area.
- Temples in operation include the Columbia River Washington Temple, the Seattle Washington Temple, the Spokane Washington Temple, and the recently dedicated Moses Lake Washington Temple in September. The Tacoma Washington Temple was announced in October 2022.
- Washington is home to more than 280,000 Latter-day Saints across 489 congregations.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
This will be the fourth temple in Colorado. Colorado Springs has the second-largest population in the state.
Sarah Skelton, who lives in the area, said, “Having a temple in Colorado springs makes us feel so enthusiastic and blessed to have the house of the Lord coming closer to where we live.”
The temple announcement caught her and her family by surprise.
“We jumped for joy over the temple coming here.”
Colorado is home to nearly 150,000 Latter-day Saints in 310 congregations. The first congregation of the Church in Colorado was organized in January 1897, one year after a mission was established in the area.
The Tulsa Oklahoma Temple will be the state’s second temple.
Catherine Hickman of Tulsa, Oklahoma, said of a house of the Lord being built in her city, “I’m in shock. We work in the Oklahoma City Temple. I’m excited to work in Tulsa where I live.”
- The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple was dedicated in 2000 and rededicated in 2019.
- Oklahoma is home to more than 50,000 Latter-day Saints in about 90 congregations.
- The first meetinghouse in Oklahoma was constructed in 1892. Tulsa is in northeast Oklahoma and is the second-largest city in the state.
The Roanoke Virginia Temple will be the third temple in the state.
When the announcement was made, “A lot of tears came,” said Sybil Adams of the Buena Vista 1st Ward in the Buena Vista Virginia Stake. “It’s just such a wonderful thing to have a house of the Lord so close.”
Adams and her husband have been temple workers in the Richmond Virginia Temple, a two-hour drive from their home. Before that, they drove even further to the Washington D.C. Temple. The one-hour trip to Roanoke will be easier for her mother, Adams said, and for the youth.
Adams said her family has watched the Church grow from a small branch to having a large presence in the area and now a temple.
“We know the blessings that come from the temple,” she said. “We see it every day in our lives, and we are just so incredibly grateful that Heavenly Father has inspired our Prophet, President Nelson, to give us that direction and tell us that we are going to have a temple in Roanoke.”
- The Richmond Virginia Temple was dedicated on May 7 by President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
- Virginia, part of the East Coast of the United States, is home to more than 97,000 Latter-day Saints in over 210 congregations.
- Roanoke is a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia in the United States. The Winchester Virginia Temple was announced in April 2023.
This will be the first temple built in the state of Quintana Roo.
News of this new temple was posted on the La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días en México Facebook page, and more than 230 responded as of Monday morning.
“Que bendición (what a blessing),” many commented.
“Congratulations, Cancún, your faithfulness has been seen,” wrote Uriel Flores.
Oscar Pech — a Saint from Mexico City, Mexico, who was living in Cancún about eight years ago — told the Church News, “The influence of the world is very strong in Cancún. For that reason, I believe that it’s fundamental that the members have a temple.”
This new house of the Lord, said Pech, can be a refuge for the Saints, who currently travel around three and a half hours to visit the Mérida Mexico Temple.
“In Doctrine and Covenants,” Pech said, “in the most critical moments of the Church is when the Lord says, ‘OK, you need blessings. ... I’m going to ask that you make one effort that will bless you.’” For early Saints, he said, this effort was to build a temple in Kirtland and later in Nauvoo. “I believe that for the members in Cancún, having a temple will be an enormous blessing.”
Cancún is located on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and has a metro population of more than 1 million people.
- The Cancún Mexico Temple will be the 24th house of the Lord in the country. Dedicated temples in Mexico are found in Ciudad Juárez, Colonia Juárez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Mérida, Mexico City, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Tampico, Tijuana, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Veracruz and Villahermosa. There are also temples under construction or announced in Cuernavaca, Culiacán, Mexico City Benemérito, Pachuca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Toluca, Torreón and Tula.
- Mexico is home to nearly 1.5 million Latter-day Saints in more than 1,800 congregations. Missionary work began in Mexico in 1875.
Walter Peña, a 25-year-old born and currently living in Piura, said Latter-day Saints in the city are very active with family history, but they currently have to travel up to eight hours away to the Trujillo Peru Temple for temple work.
“My ward always has many names to do ordinances for, but it’s difficult with study and work to travel to the temple in Trujillo. So, sometimes when we go, we’re not able to do the ordinances for everyone.” Peña said.
Having a local temple, however, will allow many more cherished names to be brought to a house of the Lord.
“We are very happy when we go to the temple,” said Peña. “With the temple, we are going to feel closer to our Heavenly Father ... and quickly perform ordinances for our ancestors, and that will accelerate the work in Piura.”
Piura is the capital of the Piura Region in northwestern Peru. The Piura Peru Temple will be the first house of the Lord in that region.
- Peru is home to around 630,000 Latter-day Saints and more than 775 congregations.
- The Piura Peru Temple will be the eighth house of the Lord in Peru. Other temples announced, under construction or in operation in the country include the Arequipa Peru Temple, Chiclayo Peru Temple, Cusco Peru Temple, Iquitos Peru Temple, Lima Peru Temple, Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple and Trujillo Peru Temple.
The Huancayo Peru Temple will be the first house of the Lord in the region and the ninth in the country.
Mckay Ririe from Salt Lake City served a full-time mission in Huancayo, Peru, from 2017 to 2019. In his service, Ririe got to know some of the most spiritual and faithful people he had ever met.
“Thanks to my mission in Huancayo, I’ll have friends and family from there for eternity,” said Ririe. “This temple will bless them by bringing whole families together without the hassle of worrying about expenses or commute. I’m so happy for them.”
Latter-day Saints in Huancayo, said Ririe, currently ride a bus over a day’s time to the Lima Peru Temple.
“For so many years, they have been faithful in tithing and fasted for a miracle. They were a true example of living by faith and not by sight,” Ririe said. “Now, hearing a temple is going to be built there, I cannot even fathom how enthusiastic my beloved Peruvians are. Their faith is finally paying off.”
- The city of Huancayo’s name means “place of the rock” in the Quechua language.
- Huancayo is located in the Peruvian highlands about 190 miles east of Lima and is the capital of the Junín Region. The first missionaries arrived in the country in 1956.
Viña del Mar, Chile
Viña del Mar is the fourth-largest city in Chile, with around 300,000 residents. The Viña del Mar Chile Temple will be the first in the region of Valparaíso, a metropolitan area on the central coast of Chile.
Shera Crossley returned home from her mission there just in time to hear the announcement, she wrote on Facebook.
“I feel so blessed and words cannot express the joy I felt and continue to feel,” Crossley wrote.
- The temple in Viña del Mar will be the fifth house of the Lord in the country. The first temple in Spanish-speaking South America was dedicated in Santiago in 1983. The other three temples in operation, under construction or announced in Chile are found in Antofagasta, Concepción and Santiago West.
- Since one of the Church’s earliest leaders served a mission there in 1851, Chile has become home to more than 600,000 Latter-day Saints in around 575 congregations.
- Since the 1960 earthquakes in Concepción and Valdivia, Church members have provided humanitarian assistance to help the country recover from these natural disasters. In 2004, the Chilean government recognized the Church for its role in fighting poverty.
Goiânia, which has a population of around 2.9 million people, is the capital and largest city of Goiás, a state in the central-west region of Brazil. This will be the 21st temple in the country.
- Prior to today’s announcement, eight temples have been announced in Brazil, including Londrina, Maceió, Natal, Ribeirão Preto, Santos, São Paulo East and Vitória temples.
- The 10 temples in operation include: Belém, Brasília, Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo Brazil temples. Two temples under construction are the Belo Horizonte Temple and the Salvador Brazil Temple.
João Pessoa, Brazil
The João Pessoa Brazil Temple will be the 22nd temple in Brazil.
Ruy Ramalho Rodrigues, of João Pessoa, Brazil, said his family traveled four days to be sealed in the São Paulo temple. They later attended the temple in Recife.
“For our family, having a temple here in João Pessoa is certainly a great blessing,” he said. “Now, the announcement of the temple in our city, where we could see the Church’s growth, is indescribable. Our family and others will be incredibly blessed. Our children will become closer to the Lord, and we will have a growing desire to be together forever.”
- João Pessoa is a port city in northeastern Brazil and the largest city in Paraíba state.
- The first known members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to live in Brazil immigrated from Germany in 1913.
- In 1988, Brazil became just the third country outside the United States to have 50 organized stakes.
- Today, there are nearly 1.5 million Latter-day Saints in Brazil in approximately 2,175 congregations.
Cape Coast, Ghana
The Cape Coast Ghana Temple will be the third temple in the country. Cape Coast is in the south-central region of Ghana and is one of the country’s most historic sites.
- The Accra Ghana Temple, dedicated in 2004, was the first temple built in West Africa and the second built on the continent. The Kumasi Ghana Temple was announced in April 2021.
- There are more than 100,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 350 congregations in the country.
- Calabar, a port city in southern Nigeria, located in West Africa, is home to more than 657,000 residents.
- There are around 225,000 Latter-day Saints in approximately 770 congregations in Nigeria, which organized its first stake in 1988, 10 years after the Church’s presence was established in the country.
- The first temple in Nigeria, the Aba Nigeria Temple, was dedicated in 2005.
The Luanda Angola Temple will be the first in this Portuguese-speaking nation located in southwestern Africa.
- The port city of Luanda is the nation’s capital and largest metropolitan area, with an estimated 9.3 million residents.
- Currently, the nearest temple for most Angolan Latter-day Saints is the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple. Latter-day Saints have been present in Angola since 1985. The first congregation was organized in 1996 in Luanda.
- Today, Angola is home to nearly 5,000 Latter-day Saints in approximately 20 congregations.
Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Mubuji-Mayi Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple will be the fourth temple in the country.
Alfonsine Jilbert and Julienne Mwenge are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now live in Twin Falls, Idaho. They attended the Sunday afternoon session of general conference in the Conference Center with their friends, who are members of the Twin Falls 20th Branch (Swahili).
Speaking through an interpreter, the two women said they were excited to hear of a new temple for their home country and look forward to seeing it when they are able to go back and visit.
- Mbuji-Mayi, the second largest city in the country, is the capital city of Kasai-Oriental Province, which is in the south-central area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The temple in Kinshasa was dedicated in 2019, and the temple in Lubumbashi is currently under construction. The Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple was announced in October 2021.
- The country, dedicated for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1987, is home to more than 100,000 Latter-day Saints in around 270 congregations.
- The first Congolese people to join the Church of Jesus Christ did so in Europe in the 1960s. Many of them met in small groups upon returning home.
The Laoag Philippines Temple will be the 13th in the country.
Laoag City is nearly 500 kilometers, or about 310 miles, from the Manilla Philippines Temple, which can take eight hours or more to drive there. It’s about 300 kilometers or 185 miles from Urdaneta, where a temple is under construction. It still takes about about five hours to drive down the northwestern coast to get there.
“Manila is a bit far from our home and we can only travel once or twice a year. Now that Urdaneta is nearing completion, it will be a little bit nearer but the travel time will still be a challenge for some,” Laoag 1st Ward Bishop Jachin Morales said. He and his family and friends are grateful and excited for the temple.
When he heard the announcement, Bishop Morales said, “I couldn’t hold back my tears, this is a historic event and made all of our hearts full of gratefulness and joy. Truly, the Lord is mindful of the prayers of the faithful and are blessed.”
Now, they need to be ready for the temple.
“We are excited and looking forward to the future. Focusing our sights on the temple can help us become closer to God and Jesus Christ every day,” Bishop Morales said.
Laoag Philippines Stake President Dennis L. Catubay said he was thrilled and excited when he heard President Nelson announce a temple for Laoag, Philippines.
“The challenge for us now is to guide, inspire and prepare ourselves to be worthy of having a temple in our midst,” he wrote in an email to the Church News. There is “much work ahead, but it will all be worth it. I am excited for the many wonderful blessings that will come to our members as they continue to be worthy in the sight of the Lord.”
- Laoag City is in the north western part of the nation with a population of more than 110,000 residents.
- There are more than 850,000 Latter-day Saints in approximately 1,275 congregations in the Philippines.
- The other 12 temples that are announced, under construction or in operation in the country are in Alabang, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu City, Davao, Iloilo, Manila, Naga, Santiago, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Urdaneta.
- Since the country officially opened for missionary work in 1961, Church growth has been among the fastest in the world.
With a metro area population of 19 million people, the Osaka Japan Temple will be the fifth temple in Japan. Osaka, Japan, is between two cities with temples. Tokyo is about 500 kilometers, or 310 miles, to the east; and Fukuoka, which is about about 615 kilometers, or more than 380 miles, to the west.
Osaka Japan Stake President Daisuke Miyazak said he sees the announcement as an invitation “to join His battalion to help gather Israel in the land.”
He’s grateful for the dedication, service and example of the pioneering members in the area and those who are serving now.
“I am grateful to have received the baton of zeal and faith from those who came before us and to have this announcement,” he said.
- Osaka is a large port city in the heart of the main island of Honshu.
- More than 130,000 Latter-day Saints reside in Japan in about 230 congregations.
- Other temples in Japan include the Fukuoka Japan Temple, Sapporo Japan Temple and Tokyo Japan Temple.
- The Okinawa Japan Temple will be dedicated by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
Ulaanbaatar, in a county landlocked between China and Russia in East Asia, has a population of 1.7 million people and is known as the coldest capital city in the world.
Uurtsaikh Nyamdeleg — a 28-year-old born in western Mongolia and raised in Ulaanbaatar — said members in Mongolia currently travel thousands of miles to faraway temples in Hong Kong or Korea to perform temple work.
“There’s so many members ... that are willing to give up everything to just serve and do all the ordinances in the temple.” And with the new house of the Lord, she said, “now we don’t have to worry about the financing. We can just go there; it’s right there, in our own country.”
Nyamdeleg, who was converted with her family to the Church in 2003, said that the temple in Ulaanbaatar will bless the entire country, not just Latter-day Saints. The country’s first will also bless Saints in neighboring countries, like Russia and China.
While she and other members wait for further news on temple construction, spiritual preparation will also take place. “During this announcement, I was like, ‘What should I do now? How can I prepare myself for when the temple is ready?’”
- The Church of Jesus Christ has seen rapid growth in Mongolia since missionaries arrived in 1992. The first mission of the Church was established in 1995.
- The country has more than 12,000 Latter-day Saints in approximately 25 congregations. This will be the first temple in the country. Presently, the closest temple is Hong Kong, more than 1,800 miles away.
— Nadia Gavarret, Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Jon Ryan Jensen, Will Matheson, Joel Randall, Christine Rappleye, Mary Richards, Sarah Jane Weaver contributed to this article.