Ground broken for Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple

Elder Zeballos offers prayer dedicating site and construction process, with Santa Cruz mayor among those attending June 8 groundbreaking

Ground has been broken for the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple, the second house of the Lord of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the central South American country of Bolivia.

Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s South America Northwest Area, presided at the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday afternoon, June 8, offering a prayer dedicating the temple site and construction process.

“It is difficult to quantify the value and importance that this sacred building will have in this beautiful city,” Elder Zeballos said in his remarks at the groundbreaking services in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the capital city of the department (the country’s primary subdivision) of the same name and the constitutional capital and commercial center of Bolivia.

He was joined at the service by his wife, Sister Carmen Zeballos, and some 500 other attendees who are Latter-day Saints or friends of the Church, including Santa Cruz Mayor Jhonny Fernández, city councilor Juan Carlos Medrano, and other civil, police and religious leaders from the city and surrounding areas.

A mayor and a church leader speak to the meida.
Jhonny Fernández, the mayor of Santa Cruz, center left, joins Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, president of the Church's South America Northwest Area, center right, in speaking to the media after the June 8, 2024, groundbreaking ceremony of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“I am sure that many families, many homes will be blessed,” said Fernández, adding, “Thank you for thinking about a temple here in Santa Cruz and to the missionaries for their work and love for others.”

‘What are these holy places?’

Elder Zeballos cited Doctrine and Covenants 45:32 about disciples of Christ standing in holy places. “And what are these holy places?” he asked, underscoring the temple over chapels and meetinghouses and emphasizing the importance of the house of the Lord.

The temple then is a place of caring, an environment and atmosphere of respect and love for one another, Elder Zeballos said. “Today we are going to dedicate this sacred ground,” he said of the temple site. “From now on, this will be a consecrated land for the Lord, a place where His house will be built.”

The groundbreaking was first reported on

A groundbreaking ceremony is done before a large crowd.
Attendees crowd around Elder Jorge F. Zeballos and his wife, Sister Carmen Zeballos, back center, as they are joined by others in breaking ground for the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple on Saturday, June 8, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In his prayer, Elder Zeballos entreated: “I dedicate and consecrate this site for the construction of a house of the Lord, the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple. We ask Thee that this land may be blessed and sanctified, may it be protected and cared for from all malicious action. We ask that Thy hand be present in all processes related to planning, permitting and construction so that the completion of the temple is achieved according to Thy will and Thy time. …

“We also understand it is necessary for each of us to reinforce our dedication and devotion to Thee and to Thy Son, Jesus Christ, especially through our fidelity and obedience to the covenants we have made with Thee.”

Giorgina Michelle Vaca, one of the ceremony’s speakers, is a third-generation Latter-day Saint who spoke about the joy of being just minutes away from the temple site. While her grandparents had to travel days to other countries to attend the temple and participate in sacred ordinances and covenants, and her parents traveled for hours to do the same, she will be very close to the house of the Lord.

Alcides Sabath spoke of how attending the temple strengthens one’s faith and testimony of Jesus Christ, which blesses both individuals and families. “It is a great event to have the temple nearby,” he said.

A groundbreaking ceremony draws a large crowd of attendees.
Attendees listen to Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, at the pulpit, as he speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple on Saturday, June 8, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church makes every effort to construct temples in an expeditious manner. At times, various reasons may delay a temple’s completion and dedication.

History of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple

President Russell M. Nelson announced a temple for Santa Cruz during the October 2020 general conference. The site location was announced two years later, on Nov. 28, 2022.

With plans calling for a single-story building of approximately 29,000 square feet, the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple is being built at Avenida Quinto Anilla y Santa Rosa (Av. Radial 27), Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. The temple district will cover the departments of Santa Cruz, Montero, Trinidad, Tarija and Yacuiba, among others.

Exterior rendering of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple.
Exterior rendering of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The groundbreaking date was announced last month, on May 6, with the temple’s exterior rendering released the same day.

Bolivia will have two other houses of the Lord — the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple, dedicated in April 2000, and the planned La Paz Bolivia Temple, which was announced in October 2021; its site was made public in August 2023 and the rendering released in January 2024.

Site map of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple.
Site map location of the Santa Cruz Bolivia Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Missionaries of the Andes Mission began teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in Santa Cruz in November 1964; the first branch was established in 1966. Today, Bolivia is home to more than 225,000 Latter-day Saints in over 270 congregations.

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