SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson did not announce any new temples on Saturday morning during the opening session of the 184th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Monson said the church will focus on completing 28 temples around the world already under construction or that had been announced at earlier conferences.
"Although we are currently concentrating our efforts on completing the previously announced temples and will not be announcing any new temples in the immediate future, we will continue the process of determining needs and of finding locations for temples yet to come," he said. "Announcements will then be made in future general conferences. We are a temple-building and a temple-attending people."
This is the second consecutive conference without an announcement of a new temple. Such announcements had been a common part of the Saturday morning sessions of conferences during a temple building surge that saw the church go from 50 to 142 temples in 17 years.
Already, 85 percent of church members live within 200 miles of a temple, both Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during talks on Saturday.
President Monson dedicated the church's 142nd operating temple on March 2 in Gilbert, Ariz. President Monson or another church leader will dedicate the Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple on May 4.
"Other temples are scheduled to be completed and dedicated later this year," President Monson said. "In 2015 we anticipate completing and dedicating new temples in many parts of the world. This process will continue."
The church has not yet announced dates for any other temple dedications.
"When all the previously announced temples are completed," President Monson added, "we will have 170 operating temples throughout the world."
Elder Cook said that when President Monson became an apostle in 1963, the church had 12 temples.
"During the period President Monson has served in the senior councils of the church, 130 or our 142 operating temples have had their initial dedication," Elder Cook said. "It is nothing short of miraculous to see the hastening of the work of salvation in our day."
Elder Andersen remembered his teenage years, when the church had 13 temples.
"The Lord has given your generation greater access to His holy temples than any other generation in the history of the world," he said.
Elder Cook called on church members to do more temple work.
"Hastening family history and temple work in our day is essential for the salvation and exaltation of families," he said. "The eternally significant blessing of uniting our own famlies is almost beyond comprehension."
There is plenty of work to do, even for church members on the church's own genealogy website.
"In the worldwide membership of the church, 70 percent do not have their parents in the FamilyTree section of teh church's FamilySearch Internet site," Elder Cook said. "Sixty-five percent of adults do not have all four grandparents listed. Remember, we without our roots and branches cannot be saved. Church members need to obtain and input this vital information."
He suggested families could use Sunday, the Sabbath day, to work on family history.
"We finally have the doctrine, the temples and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation," Elder Cook said. "I suggest one way this might be done. Families could hold a 'FamilyTree gathering.' This should be a recurring effort. Everyone would bring existing family histories, stories and photos, including cherished possessions of grandparents and parents."
In addition to Fort Lauderdale, 13 temples are under construction in seven countries — Rome, Italy; Tijuana, Mexico; Fortaleza, Brazil; Sapporo, Japan; Philadelphia, Penn.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Hartford, Conn.; Córdoba, Argentina; Trujillo, Peru; Phoenix; Payson, Utah; and Provo City Center, Utah.
Another 14 temples have been announced but are not yet under construction in 11 countries — Paris; Meridian, Idaho; Urdaneta, Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal; Cóncepcion, Chile; Cedar City, Utah; Durban, South Africa; Barranquilla, Colombia; Tucson, Ariz.; Star Valley, Wyo.; Rio de Janeiro; Arequipa, Peru; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The church has invited the public to visit the Fort Lauderdale Temple during an open house that began Saturday and continues through April 19, excluding Sundays. Free reservations for the open house can be made through the Fort Lauderdale Temple website, mormontemples.org/fortlauderdale.
President Monson announced plans for the Fort Lauderdale Temple during the October 2009 general conference.
The LDS Church has more than 15 million members who gather for Sunday services in more than 17,000 meetinghouses around the world.
Temples are not used for Sunday worship. Church members consider temples to be sacred houses of God in which they make covenants, or formal promises and commitments to God.
"There is a tangible feeling of holiness in the temple," Elder Andersen said Saturday. "The peace of the Savior subdues the swirling whirlwinds of the world."