Church members react to President Nelson’s announcement of 15 temples
Latter-day Saints who speak a variety of languages and hail from many nations rejoiced at the news at the end of April 2023 general conference
Church members react to President Nelson’s announcement of 15 temples
Latter-day Saints who speak a variety of languages and hail from many nations rejoiced at the news at the end of April 2023 general conference
Eduardo Alexandre Sousa e Silva, a member of the Natal Brazil Ponta Negra Stake, was sitting near the back of the Parnamirim Ward chapel with his phone recording when President Russell M. Nelson began listing new temple locations Sunday.
When Natal, Brazil, was announced, his recording captured the reaction of members scattered throughout the pews. The congregation erupted with reverent cheers, fist pumps and quiet applause.
“I’m very happy,” he said in a Portuguese message to Church News. “Here the people go by bus to Recife [about 175 miles] to attend the temple. It’s difficult for the poor. Now with the arrival of a new temple, it will be a wonderful blessing for everyone.”
President Rhett Hintze of the Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake admitted his eyes were still wet with grateful tears following Sunday’s announcement.
“We have prayed for this moment and see the Lord’s hand working again near the banks of the Susquehanna as He gathers His people to His holy house,” the stake president wrote in an email to the Church News. “Those who live in this area are family-focused, community-minded and participatory in their worship, which provides a bedrock of faith upon which the blessing of the Lord can flourish.”
Latter-day Saints who speak a variety of languages and hail from many nations rejoiced Sunday afternoon as President Nelson announced 15 new temple locations at the end of April 2023 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 15 new temple locations announced Sunday, April 2, are:
- Retalhuleu, Guatemala
- Iquitos, Peru
- Teresina, Brazil
- Natal, Brazil
- Tuguegarao City, Philippines
- Iloilo, Philippines
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Hamburg, Germany
- Lethbridge, Alberta
- San Jose, California
- Bakersfield, California
- Springfield, Missouri
- Winchester, Virginia
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
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.
Silvia Perez and Isabel Torres, Latter-day Saints who live in Guatemala, celebrated the announcement of another temple coming to their country.
“I felt overjoyed when I heard the Prophet announcing a new temple in Guatemala,” Torres said. “The temple is a blessing for the country and the people who live there, and it’s a beacon of light.”
Mabi Laparra de Gálvez, a Guatemala native who now resides in Rock Cove Ward, Spanish Fork Utah Canyon Ridge Stake, in Spanish Fork, Utah, has several family members with ties to the Central American country, which has endeared it to their hearts.
“It means a lot to our family,” she said. “Our country is tiny but rich with tradition and beautiful culture; and our people are receiving the gospel with joy and willingness to be close to the Lord. Now we’re rewarded with another temple. Blessings are outpouring for our people, and we’re extremely happy.”
- Retalhuleu has a population of 90,000 residents and is near the Pacific coast in southwestern Guatemala.
- Retalhuleu currently is within the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple district; that temple is 58 kilometers (36 miles) away by car.
- This will be the sixth temple in the country. The Guatemala City Guatemala Temple, dedicated in 1984, was the first temple built in Central America and the fourth built in Latin America. The Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple was dedicated in 2011. The Cobán Guatemala Temple and Miraflores Guatemala City Guatemala Temple are under construction, with the Huehuetenango Guatemala Temple in planning and design.
- The first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Guatemala in 1947. There are 287,000 Latter-day Saints in nearly 440 congregations in Guatemala.
Martín Aspajo Arista, a 25-year-old Latter-day Saint in Tarapoto, Peru, lived in Iquitos until he was 15.
“Mom and I were like: ‘Oh look, there will be new temples. That’s great!’ But when we heard that one of them is from our city, our reaction was different.”
Aspajo never thought a temple would come to Iquitos, but after its announcement, he rejoiced with family members. “This new temple will help everyone a lot, be it economically or spiritually.” Members from Iquitos, he said, have had to take a plane to the nearest temple.
Carol Almeida, who also lives in Peru, shared similar feelings.
“I feel so happy and blessed for the opportunity to have the covenants of the Lord closer to home,” she said.
“The members have worked hard for this,” said Aspajo, “and the reward has come. The blessing has come to the beautiful island Iquitos.”
- Iquitos, one of the most populous cities in the country, is located in northeast Peru along the Amazon River.
- In northeastern Peru, Iquitos is assigned to the Lima Peru Temple district and is nearly 1,045 kilometers (650 miles) as the crow flies.
- This will be the seventh temple in Peru. Other temples announced, in operation, or under construction include the Arequipa Peru Temple, the Chiclayo Peru Temple, the Cusco Peru Temple, the Lima Peru Temple, the Trujillo Peru Temple, and the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple.
- The first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in the country in 1956. The country is home to 630,000 Latter-day Saints who attend 780 congregations.
Bruna Verçoza Fernandes, who is from Teresina and moved to Natal with her family a month ago, described the Prophet’s announcement as “a double dose of joy.”
“For a long time we’ve waited to hear the temple of our beloved Teresina being announced, and it finally happened,” she said. “We were so excited. I was shaking with so much emotion. I feel so much gratitude for this blessing of having these temples announced.”
Her husband, Rhuan Pablo de Sousa Fernandes, expressed similar excitement. He was 12 or 13 years old when he first went to the temple — there were only four temples in Brazil at the time, in São Paulo, Recife, Porto Alegre and Campinas. The closest temple to Teresina was in Recife, and the bus trip took about 20 hours.
“I stayed for four unforgettable days working in the temple,” he recalled. “This experience helped me to develop a great love for the temple. I returned from that trip with a strong desire to return to the temple as soon as possible. And since then I have dreamed of the day when we would have a temple in Teresina. … Today, this dream becomes a reality.”
- Teresina is the capital city of the Brazilian state of Piauí. Teresina and the surrounding area have a population of nearly 1 million residents.
- Teresina, in northeastern of Brazil, currently pertains to the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, which is a drive of 600 kilometers (nearly 375 miles) to the east from Teresina.
- The Teresina temple is the ninth additional temple in planning for Brazil. Dedicated and operating temples are in Belém, Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo; the Brasilia Brazil Temple will be dedicated on Sept. 17 by Elder Neil L. Andersen. A temple is under construction in Salvador; and others announced for Belo Horizonte, São Paulo East, Londrina, Maceió, Natal (see below), Ribeirão Preto, Santos and Vitória.
- The first known 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. Nearly 1.5 million Latter-day Saints are in Brazil, attending 2,175 congregations.
Bishop Paraguassu Pereira, from the Cidade Verde Ward, Natal Ponta Negra Stake, described the announcement as “a dream of so many people coming true.” In an email with Church News, he shared: “We shouted joyfully as if our national soccer team had scored at a World Cup!”
As in many places worldwide, members of that part of Brazil first had to travel about 50 hours by bus to the São Paulo temple until the Recife temple was dedicated, reducing the traveling time to four hours.
“The city and state members feel the Lord’s tender mercies bestowed upon them. It is hard to hold back the emotion and the tears when a blessing anticipated for decades is finally coming true”, described Bishop Pereira.
And he added: “I remember with gratitude all the missionaries who put their lives on hold, from 18 to 24 months, to share the message of the Restored Gospel with the people of this region. Each of them will have a spiritual brick in this holy place.”
- Known for its extensive coastal sand dunes, Natal is the capital and largest city in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on Brazil’s northeastern coastal tip.
- Natal is part of the Recife Brazil Temple district, with the temple a drive of 287 kilometers (nearly 175 miles) to the south.
- The temple in Natal is the 20th announced temple for Brazil.
Tuguegarao City, Philippines
When Jared Smith was serving in the city of Tuguegarao in the Philippines Cauayan Mission, he and his companion sometimes walked by a plot of Church-owned land and joked that a temple would be built on it someday.
“I do not know if that plot of land is going to be used for the temple, but I am excited to hear that a temple is going to be placed in Tuguegarao,” said Smith, from Grace, Idaho. “It will be great for the members, because the closest temple at the moment is a 10-hour drive.”
Ardeth Quiro Donato-Nimenzo said her family were among the Latter-day Saint pioneers of the Church in Tuguegarao City.
“We feel blessed to be here for the announcement of the new temple. We will no longer have to travel for almost 300 miles, 10- to 12-hours bus ride, to get to the Manila temple,” she said. “We will continue to be faithful and do our temple and family history work.”
- Tuguegarao is the capital of Cagayan province on the northern part of the island of Luzon, which is nearly 300 miles north of Manila. There are nearly 114 million people living in the Philippines.
- Tuguegarao City is within the Manila Philippines Temple district. That temple is a drive of 480 kilometers (just under 300 miles) to the south.
- This will be the 11th temple in the Philippines. The other 10 temples that are announced, under construction or in operation in the country are in Alabang, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu City, Davao, Manila, Naga, Santiago, Tacloban City and Urdaneta.
Rodrigo Navarro served in the Philippines Cebu/Bacolod Mission in the late 1980s. He never imagined there would be so many temples in that country.
“These are manifestations of faithful Latter-day Saints in that part of the world,” said Navarro, originally from Legaspi, Philippines, but now residing in Sandy, Utah. “The Savior loves the Filipino brothers and sisters.”
- Iloilo, on the island of Panay, is only 152 kilometers (95 miles) from the Cebu City Philippines Temple. However, the temple is several islands away, requiring the crossing of the Guimaras and Tañon straits, resulting in a drive of more than eight hours, 283 kilometers (175 miles) and several ferry rides
- This will be the 12th temple in the Philippines, where there are more than 850,000 Latter-day Saints attending 1,275 congregations. The country officially opened for missionary work in 1961.
Stuart Lyon said, “We are thrilled with the blessings that a temple in Indonesia will bring to those wonderful people and that beautiful country.”
In 1985, he became an Army foreign area officer with a focus on Southeast Asia. During his orientation in Indonesia, he attended Church meetings in Jakarta for three weeks and met with the mission president.
“Indonesia is a land of wonderful families who are religious and full of faith,” said Lyon. “They are hardworking and cherish high moral values. We rejoice at the added influence for good that the temple will bring.”
- Jakarta is the country’s capital and largest city. It is on the northwest coast of Java, the most populous island in the world, with over 13 million people.
- Jakarta is in the Hong Kong China Temple district, which requires a flight covering 3,243 kilometers (2,015 miles) each way.
- This will be the first Latter-day Saint temple in Indonesia. The first missionaries arrived in Indonesia in 1970 and the first congregation was organized one month later. There are more than 7,500 Latter-day Saints attending 25 congregations in Indonesia.
Despite the late hour in Germany, the happy news of a new temple in Hamburg was noised abroad through messages flying back and forth, said Hamburg Germany Stake President Niels Ole Jensen.
“This has been a strong hope of many members in the north of Germany,” he wrote in an email to the Church News. “A lot of young men and women as well as families have been fasting for a temple close by for years. We feel truly blessed and happy.”
- Hamburg is about 175 miles northwest of Berlin.
- Hamburg is in the Frankfurt Germany Temple district, a drive of nearly five hours covering 472 kilometers (nearly 300 miles) to the temple’s location in the Frankfurt suburb of Friedrichsdorf.
- This will be the third Latter-day Saint temple in Germany, after the Frankfurt Germany Temple and the Freiberg Germany Temple.
- The country is home to 40,000 Latter-day Saints attending 150 congregations.
Although Sister Caroline Downey grew up on the eastern side of Canada, she was still thrilled to learn that Lethbridge, Alberta — located in one of Canada’s western provinces — is getting a temple.
Canada has only nine completed temples, so Sister Downey, a missionary serving on Temple Square, said she is “super excited” any time the country gets a temple.
“It’ll just be such a great resource,” she said. “There are so many members out in Alberta, and there are three temples [in Alberta], but they’re kind of spaced out. So it [will] just be so great for them to have such a close place.”
- Lethbridge, home to 100,000, is found near the southern border of the western Canadian province of Alberta.
- Lethbridge is in the Cardston Alberta Temple district, with the temple located 80 kilometers (nearly 50 miles) to the south.
- This will be Canada’s 10th temple. Other temples in Canada are the Calgary Alberta, Cardston Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, Halifax Nova Scotia, Montreal Quebec, Regina Saskatchewan, Toronto Ontario, Vancouver British Columbia and Winnipeg Manitoba temple.
- There are 200,000 Latter-day Saints attending 500 congregations in Canada.
San Jose, California
Elder Keahi Tu’itavuki, a missionary from Northern California, said the newly announced San Jose California Temple will be built about two hours from where he grew up, making it the closest temple to his home.
Elder Tu’itavuki said he was excited and grateful to hear the announcement. The new temple will help members in that area do small and simple things like daily repentance, prayer and scripture study, he said.
“I think that ... a light will be burned brightly” because of the new temple, Elder Tu’itavuki said.
- San Jose, a major technology hub connected to the Silicon Valley, is the third-largest city in California.
- San Jose, on the south end of San Francisco Bay, is assigned to the Oakland California Temple, which is on the east side of the bay and a drive of about 45 miles.
- This will be the 11th temple built in the state. Other temples in the state are the Feather River, Fresno, Los Angeles, Modesto, Newport Beach, Oakland, Redlands, Sacramento, San Diego and Yorba Linda temples.
- The state has 730,000 Latter-day Saints attending 1,150 congregations.
As a missionary in the California Bakersfield Mission, Jessica Banks-McDowell “grew to love the city and the people that lived there so much” from October 2017 to April 2019.
“It is such amazing news,” Banks-McDowell said, “that those people who are so special to me will have a temple so close to them. I am definitely excited to go visit Bakersfield again once the temple is built.”
Bakersfield California Stake President Merrill Dibble said the Church in Bakersfield is growing and its three stakes there continue to expand.
Members throughout the area have been faithfully attending the Los Angeles temple for decades. “Bakersfield is a very religious area, and the Bakersfield temple will be a beacon to this community and a blessing to all those who enter,” President Dibble said.
- Bakersfield, 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, has a population of 400,000 residents.
- Bakersfield, in the state’s south-central interior, is in the Los Angeles California Temple district.
- This will be the 12th temple built in the state.
Keith and Barbara Bird, Latter-day Saints living in the Springfield area, said the announcement left them speechless.
“We had tears of gratitude. We came to Missouri in 1961. For years we traveled seven hours to the temple in Dallas, then to St. Louis and Kansas City,” the couple wrote in an email. “We have worked in four temples, including Nauvoo, and we have longed for a temple close by. The Saints in southwest Missouri love the temple. We recognize the power received therein for ourselves and those who have passed on.”
Elder David J. Harris, an Area Seventy serving Southwest Missouri in the North America Southeast Area, said the new temple coming to Springfield, Missouri, will bless the lives of Latter-day Saints in many ways.
“First, it will reduce travel time to a temple where people are able to make sacred covenants with the Lord and participate in ordinances that can enable family relationships to continue on beyond this mortal life,” he said.
“Second, temples are beautiful buildings that inspire those who enter them to become more devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Third, having a temple in Springfield will make it more convenient for those living in the southwest Missouri area with physical limitations, that make long-distance travel difficult, to also be able to enjoy the covenants, ordinances and blessings of the temple.”
Other Church members living in Missouri also reacted on Facebook.
Holly Chappell Oberhansly wrote that she has always wanted to live close to a temple with the option to attend regularly.
“My prayers have been answered. I knew they would, but I thought I would have be patient a few more years,” she wrote. “I am so excited and feel so blessed.”
Tara Starling shared similar feelings.
“We are weeping tears of joy and gratitude,” she wrote. “We will have a temple now less than an hour away. Thank you, God, for hearing our prayers and bestowing this precious blessing.”
- Springfield is in southern Missouri, near the Ozark Mountains.
- Springfield is in the Kansas City Missouri Temple district, with the temple a drive of 175 miles to the northwest. The Bentonville Arkansas Temple — which will be dedicated this fall — is to the southwest, less than 100 miles away.
- This will be the third temple in the state. The St. Louis Missouri Temple was dedicated in June 1997. The Kansas City Missouri Temple was dedicated in May 2012.
- In the 1830s, Independence, Missouri, and its surrounding counties were an important gathering place for Latter-day Saints in the early days of the Church. Missouri is home to more than 75,000 Latter-day Saints attending 160 congregations.
Martha Sparkman posted her reaction to news of the Winchester, Virginia, temple on Twitter.
“Winchester, Virginia, will get a temple,” she wrote. “Come and see it. I will watch the groundbreaking, the construction and be at the dedication. Ask me anything about the gospel and I’ll share it. God bless us all!”
Winchester, Virginia, will get a TEMPLE!!! Come and see it. I will watch the groundbreaking, the construction, and be at the dedication. Ask me anything abt the Gospel, and I'll share it.— Martha Sparkman (@momsaid59) April 2, 2023
God bless us all!
- Winchester, in the Washington D.C. Temple district, is a 76-mile drive to the west from the temple in Kensington, Maryland, a suburb of Washington.
- This will be the second temple in the state. The Richmond Virginia Temple will be dedicated on May 7, 2023, by President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency.
- Virginia is home to more than 97,000 Latter-day Saints attending 215 congregations.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Latter-day Saints in the area have been hoping and praying for a temple to come to Charlotte for years, said Elise Rusk, a member of the Piper Glen Ward in the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake.
They have been “happily” sending and receiving “joyful” texts with ward members since President Nelson’s announcement.
“We’re so grateful that our 3-year-old daughter will grow up with a temple near home,” she said. ‘“I Love to See the Temple’ is one of her favorite Primary songs, and we can’t wait to be able to attend often and visit with her, too.”
Matthew S. Harding, an Area Seventy serving North Carolina in the North America Southeast Area, expressed similar joy.
“What a wonderful blessing. This new temple will enable Church members to joyfully bind themselves to the Savior through ordinances and covenants, and it will bring light to the entire Charlotte community,” he said in an email to the Church News. “The Saints in the Charlotte area have been praying and preparing for a temple for many years.”
- Charlotte, with a population of 900,000, is in the Columbia South Carolina Temple district, with that temple less than a 100-mile drive to the south.
- This will be North Carolina’s second temple. The Raleigh North Carolina Temple stands in the Raleigh suburb of Apex and was dedicated in 1999.
- North Carolina, located on the east coast of the United States, is home to more than 94,000 Latter-day Saints attending 180 congregations. The first missionary to preach in North Carolina arrived in 1838.
- Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, is found in the Susquehanna Valley in south-central Pennsylvania.
- Harrisburg is in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple district, with that temple a 107-mile drive to the east.
- This will be the third temple in the state. The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple was dedicated in September 2016 by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. The Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Temple is under construction.
- Pennsylvania is home to more than 52,000 Latter-day Saints attending more than 100 congregations. The state was host to many significant events in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much of the Book of Mormon was translated in the town of Harmony, and the first members of the Church were baptized in the Susquehanna River in May 1829.
— Vanessa Fitzgibbon, Nadia Gavarret, Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Joel Randall, Mary Richards, Scott Taylor and Valerie Walton contributed to this article.
Editor’s note: This was updated on April 19, 2023.