SALT LAKE CITY — The announcement of three new LDS Church temples in North America — in Colorado, Idaho and Canada — highlighted President Thomas S. Monson's opening address in the Saturday morning session of the church's 181st annual general conference.
The three — announced for Fort Collins, Colo.; Meridian, Idaho; and Winnipeg, Canada — means that in addition to the 134 temples operating worldwide, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now counts another 26 temples as announced or under construction.
"This will certainly be a blessing for the members in those areas," President Monson said.
Fort Collins is located in northern Colorado, 57 miles north of Denver. The church's first congregation in the state was organized in 1897; nearly 140,000 Latter-day Saints now reside in Colorado
The new Fort Collins temple will be the second in the state; the Denver Colorado Temple was completed in 1986.
Located 11 miles west of Boise, Meridian is Idaho's third-largest city. With a presence in the state since 1855, the LDS Church has more than 410,000 members in Idaho.
The new Meridian temple will be Idaho's fifth, with Mormon temples already in Boise, Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Twin Falls.
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city in the Canadian province of Manitoba, located north of the North Dakota/Minnesota border. LDS members in the Winnipeg area current travel more than six hours and some 400 miles to the nearest temple in Regina, Saskatchewan.
The new Winnipeg temple will be Canada's ninth, in addition to Regina, Cardston, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver, with the Calgary temple under construction.
In his brief remarks Saturday morning, President Monson also detailed the church's up-to-date involvement in the wake of Japan's triple-disaster of earthquake, ensuing tsunami and subsequent nuclear-radiation threats last month.
He listed recent relief aid as 70 tons of supplies distributed, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel; young single adults volunteering to locate missing members using the Internet, social media and other communication means; scooters provided to members to help deliver aid to areas difficult to reach by car; and service projects in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka to assemble hygiene kits and cleaning kits.
He also provided the latest missionary tallies — 52,225 missionaries serving in 340 missions as of the end of the 2010 — and suggested members to consider a contribution to the church's general missionary fund.
He also referred to his involvement in the rededication of the Laie Hawaii Temple in November as one of his highlights since the October general conference.
President Monson also expressed appreciation for faithfulness, service, devotions and donations of the Latter-day Saints as he opened the two-day conference in the LDS Conference Center.
"We are anxious to listen to the messages which will be presented to us today and tomorrow," he said. "Those who will address us have sought heaven's help and direction as they have prepared their messages. That we may be filled with the Spirit of the Lord and be uplifted and inspired as we listen and learn is my prayer."