Building of modern temples — the work doesn’t stop
Courtesy Intellectual Reserve
During the past 50 years, a surge of new temples for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has placed the iconic architecture on skylines around the world. Even during a global pandemic, the building of more temples is moving forward.
Each temple is another house of the Lord for members of the faith. “They are places where individuals can go to make sacred promises with God, feel His Spirit, and escape from the hectic demands of day-to-day life,” reads on the church’s website.
The Surge Begins
Since the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball — from Dec. 30, 1973, until Nov. 5, 1985 — 249 new temples have been built or announced. A staggering increase to the 21 temples built between the church’s inception. Many of these temples have been built in locations around the world where people longed to have one nearby. The announcements surely brought much excitement and happiness to the area church members.
The Tokyo Temple was the first to be built in Asia and the 18th in the world. In 1975, President Kimball announced the temple at area conferences held in Asia.
“And now we bring to you a matter of grave importance to all of the people of the Asian countries and the world. Yesterday, we held a meeting of the stake presidents and other leaders to consider this very serious matter. Brother Matthew Cowley, one of the Twelve Apostles, made a prediction that there would be temples in Asia and in Japan,” said President Kimball at the area conference in Japan. “And many of us have been almost holding our breath until the time could come when we could build a temple in this land. We, therefore, propose to you assembled here that we establish a temple in Tokyo, Japan, for all of Asia.”
Courtesy Intellectual Reserve
President Kimball’s time as prophet of the church was definitely a turning point for temple construction. In 1981, he announced even more temples around the world, specifically Stockholm, Sweden; Frankfurt, Germany; Johannesburg, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Manila, Philippines; Lima, Peru; and Guatemala City, Guatemala. Also announced were domestic temples in Dallas and Chicago.
“We hope that temple building may be continuous,” he said at the time, “and that there will be no let-up in the building of temples so that Latter-day Saints in every nation can have the blessings of temples for their families.”
Those nine temples brought the total to 37 temples worldwide. Since then, many more have been announced and built, almost universally to the delight of church members.
More Modern Temples
President Kimball ended up announcing 31 new temples during his tenure, followed by Ezra Taft Benson announcing nine. In the decades since, Howard W. Hunter announced three, Gordon B. Hinckley announced 78, Thomas S. Monson announced 45 and, so far, Russell M. Nelson has announced 83 new temples.
The building of so many modern temples has been a point of interest to many people across the globe. On June 13, 2004, President Hinckley dedicated the new Manhattan New York temple in four sessions that were broadcast to 16 meetinghouses in 10 languages.
Courtesy Intellectual Reserve
According to ChurchofJesusChrist.org, “The opening of the temple caused an international media stir, with a variety of media outlets in the United States and throughout the world, featuring not only the new temple, but also explaining some of the Church’s history, beliefs and reasons for the temple. More than 53,000 people of various faiths attended the open house of the temple, located across from the Lincoln Center and one block west of Central Park.”
In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said, “May this temple be a place of quiet refuge in the midst of this great and noisy metropolis. May all who enter its portals feel they have stepped from the world into a place of Thy divine presence.”
In fact, the most temple locations identified in a single year — 27 — were in 1998, under the direction of President Hinckley. Those locations spanned the globe from North Dakota and Spokane, Washington, to Australia, Ghana and Ukraine.
On two separate occasions, President Nelson has announced the most new temple locations in one setting. The first came during the October 2018 general conference, when 12 new temples were announced, including Mendoza, Argentina; Yuba City, California; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Washington County, Utah. His announcement of 20 locations in April 2021 General Conference was a 67% increase over the previous single-day total. Some of these locations are Oslo, Norway; Helena, Montana; Eugene, Oregon, Singapore, Republic of Singapore; Cape Town, South Africa; and Burley, Idaho.
Many people were surprised when, in April 2018, President Nelson announced that a temple would be built in Russia. During the same talk, he announced another will be built in India, a nation that is 79.8% Hindu according to Pew Research. On Dec. 2, 2020, ground broke for the Bengaluru India Temple.
More surprises came in April 2020, even while temples worldwide were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, President Nelson said, “Talk about the temple with your family and friends. Because Jesus Christ is at the center of everything we do in the temple, as you think more about the temple you will be thinking more about Him.”
He then went on to announce plans to build eight new temples, including in mainland China and the Middle East. “In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple — in the People’s Republic of China — for them and their ancestors,” he said.
The Dubai United Arab Emirates Temple, the first temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Middle East, will serve thousands of Latter-day Saints living in the Gulf States and a number of church members in the Middle East, northern Africa, eastern Europe and western Asia, according to a church media release.
“Temples have been around for a long time,” reads the release. “Moses had a tabernacle, Solomon built a beautiful temple, and Jesus taught at the temple in Jerusalem. Today, temples are built all over the world.”