SALT LAKE CITY — With the announcement of two new temples, groundbreakings for two others and a number of interesting developments at still others, the establishment and reach of sacred temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued to grow and expand around the world during the past six months.
In early April, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson opened the 183rd Annual General Conference of the church by announcing the construction of new temples in Cedar City, Utah, and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"Brothers and sisters," President Monson said, "temple building continues unabated."
The Cedar City Utah Temple will be the 17th such structure in the state of Utah. The Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple will be Brazil's seventh temple.
The two new temples bring to 170 the total number of LDS temples in operation, under construction or in planning stages around the world.
Four months after announcing the two new temples, President Monson traveled to Connecticut to preside over groundbreaking ceremonies for the Hartford Connecticut Temple, the state's first LDS temple and the second — after the Boston Massachusetts Temple — in New England.
"Today is a special and sacred day as we bring to fruition the hopes and dreams of the church members here," said President Monson, who added that each LDS temple "is an expression of our testimony that life beyond the grave is as real and as certain as is our life here on earth."
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, members of the event congregation sang "Happy Birthday" to their prophet, who turned 86 four days later.
The next weekend ground was broken for another new temple, this one in Fort Collins, Colo. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy presided over the event and reminded those in attendance at the ceremony that "in the dedication of Solomon's temple, King Solomon asked, 'Will God dwell on the earth?' The Lord answered, 'My name shall be there.'
"That sounds familiar to what we're starting here in Fort Collins."
The new temple will be Colorado's second, after the Denver Colorado Temple, which was dedicated in 1986.
In August, many church members went to English-language sessions in temples and saw the debut of a new temple endowment instruction film.
"The new temple film is the first update in more than 20 years," said LDS Church spokeswoman Ruth Todd at the time the new film was put into service in several of the church's temples. "There have been no changes to the script."
Since that time, the English-language version of the film has been sent to additional temples. Translations of the film into other languages are forthcoming.
Prerecorded media, including film, has been part of LDS temple instruction since the 1970s.
Also during the past six months:
- Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome toured the construction site of the new Rome Italy Temple, calling it "the biggest investment of private capital in Italy right now" and indicating that "a work this big and grand testifies that this community has great faith that we greatly respect."
- Members of the Utah media were given a behind-the-scenes view of the cutting-edge technology that is being employed to reconstruct the old Provo Tabernacle shell and turn it into the new Provo City Center Temple. A new structure has been created to support three rows of original brickwork from the Tabernacle, which was mostly destroyed by fire in late 2010. The entire structure has been placed on stilts while enough ground was removed so the two below-ground levels of the new temple could be constructed underneath it. The temple is expected to be completed sometime in 2015.
- Reconstruction of the Ogden Utah Temple reached a significant milestone in May when a 14-foot, 800-pound gold leaf-covered fiberglass version of the church's iconic Angel Moroni statue was placed atop the temple's new spire. Dozens of people watched as construction crews employed two tall cranes to lift the statue and fasten it in place. The temple has been closed for reconstruction since April 2011 and is expected to be re-dedicated in late 2014.
- LDS officials released the artistic rendering for the Meridian Idaho Temple, Idaho's fifth temple. Dates have not yet been established for the temple groundbreaking, but the rendering and site plan have been submitted to local government officials for approval.
LDS temples are different from the faith's meetinghouses, where members meet for weekly worship services and activities. To Latter-day Saints, the temple is "the house of the Lord." Temples are used by active, faithful church members who have been recommended by their local church leaders to participate in the highest sacraments and ordinances of the faith, including proxy baptisms for deceased ancestors and marriages for eternity.