SALT LAKE CITY — As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the 1980s, it would have been fairly easy for members to list or even memorize the names of 17 temples around the world.
Within five years, as the pace of temple building began to increase, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then second counselor in the First Presidency, told members they were living in "the greatest era of temple building ever witnessed."
Fast forward 36 years, and memorizing the names of 150 temples, with 23 more announced or under construction, is no easy feat. Now church members talk about temples in the hundreds as evidence of a greater work taking place.
"The building of temples is a very clear indication of the growth of the church," President Thomas S. Monson said in April 2015. "The process of determining needs and finding locations for additional temples is ongoing, for we desire that as many members as possible have an opportunity to attend the temple without great sacrifices of time and resources."
After initially building four temples in Utah following arrival of the Mormon pioneers, the church sought to establish temples upon each continent of the world except Antarctica. The use of multimedia technology in various languages has enabled temples to operate in diverse locations. Progress increased with the concept of building smaller temples in remote areas. In recent years, the church has built additional temples in cities and countries where membership is growing rapidly, making the crowning blessings of the gospel more accessible than ever before, President Monson has said.
"Today, most of us do not have to suffer great hardships in order to attend the temple," President Monson said in April 2011. "Eighty-five percent of the membership of the church now lives within 200 miles (320 km) of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter."
Did you know that by 1900 there were strong Mormon settlements in areas far from Utah? This fact was addressed by President Joseph F. Smith in the April 1901 general conference, according to "Temples of the New Millennium," by Chad S. Hawkins.
"I foresee the necessity arising for other temples or places consecrated to the Lord for the performance of ordinances of God's house, so that the people may have the benefits of the house of the Lord without having to travel hundreds of miles for that purpose," President Smith said on that occasion.
In 1919, the Laie Hawaii Temple was the first to be built outside of Utah (not counting Kirtland or Nauvoo).
In 1923, the Cardston Alberta Temple was the first temple constructed outside the United States.
In 1955, the Bern Switzerland Temple became the church's ninth operating temple and the first in Europe. Switzerland was an ideal location geographically. It guaranteed religious freedom and held neutrality during World Wars I and II, and it represented a number of languages and ethnic backgrounds, according to a 2015 Deseret News article. These factors led the church to incorporate multimedia technology that served multiple languages in a temple for the first time.
The Sao Paulo Brazil Temple was first in South America, in 1978; the Tokyo Japan Temple was the first in Asia, in 1980; and the Johannesburg South Africa Temple was the first in Africa, in 1985.
From the 1830s to the 1970s, the LDS Church averaged about one temple per decade, with the most productive decades being the 1950s (Switzerland, Los Angeles, New Zealand and London) the 1970s (Ogden, Provo, Washington, D.C., and Brazil).
Temple construction boomed over the next three decades as 25 temples were completed in the 1980s; 26 in the 1990s; and 62 in the 2000s.
The majority of the temples erected in the late 1990s and 2000s are referred to as "small temples," designed to accommodate smaller numbers of church members in remote locations. They were cost-effective and easily built in a matter of months, President Hinckley said in October 1997.
In April 1998, President Hinckley announced the church's goal to build 30 small temples in addition to 17 traditional temples under construction at that time.
"This will make a total of 47 new temples in addition to the 51 now in operation. I think we had better add two more to make it an even 100 by the end of this century," President Hinckley said. "In this program we are moving on a scale the like of which we have never seen before."
While the church prepares to build temples for the first time in countries such as Haiti and Thailand, one recent trend has been building additional temples in countries and cities with growing membership.
South America is a prime example. There are six operating temples in Brazil, with one under construction and one other that has been announced. Argentina gained a second temple in Cordoba last year, while its neighbor to the west, Chile, has a second temple under construction in Concepcion; Colombia also has a second temple on the way, with ground broken recently in Barranquilla.
The Lima Peru Temple was dedicated in 1986. Since then, growth has caused church leaders to add the Trujillo Peru Temple (2015) to the north and plan for a third in Arequipa, in the south. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently visited Latter-day Saints in Peru and came away impressed, according to an LDS Church News article.
"I left Peru happy and satisfied with the growth of the church — not only numerically, but also with the growing maturity of the leaders and the strength I saw in the youth," Elder Holland said.
Mexico has 13 temples, with the most recent coming in Tijuana last December.
There are eight operating temples in Canada with one yet to be built.
The state of Idaho has temples in Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Twin Falls and Boise. Twelve miles from the Boise Temple, a second temple is under construction in Meridian, according to the LDS Church News.
"The decision to build a temple in a particular location is about the hearts of the people," Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said at the Meridian Temple groundbreaking. "The Lord has inspired his servants to construct a temple here as a reflection of devotion and dedication and faithfulness and for that, on behalf of all the brethren, I love you and express gratitude."
Almost 20 years after the Johannesburg South Africa Temple was dedicated, the first temple in West Africa was dedicated in Accra, Ghana, by President Hinckley.
In his book, "Safe Journey: An African Adventure," Elder Glenn L. Pace, an emeritus general authority, described the positive difference this new temple would have on West Africa, a region historically torn by poverty, civil war, disease, famine, illiteracy and hardships.
"Like an atomic bomb has been dropped right in the middle of Satan's stronghold in West Africa," Elder Pace wrote in his book. "It will be the most significant thing that has affected West Africa since the Atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It will be the beginning of the end of Satan's hold on these countries."
The next 23 temples
Temples in Sapporo, Japan; Philadelphia; Fort Collins, Colorado; Star Valley, Wyoming; and Hartford, Connecticut, all will be dedicated this fall.
Another 10 temples are under various stages of construction in the following locations: Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Meridian, Idaho; Cedar City, Utah; Tucson, Arizona; Concepcion, Chile; Lisbon, Portugal; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Barranquilla, Colombia; and Fortaleza, Brazil.
The church has announced the groundbreaking for the Durban South Africa Temple will take place April 9.
President Monson has announced seven additional temples in recent years at general conference: Urdaneta, Philippines; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Arequipa, Peru; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Bangkok, Thailand.
'Wherever they are'
While speaking of the Rome Italy Temple in April 2011, President Monson expressed his gratitude to the Lord for every temple around the globe, "wherever they are."
"Each one stands as a beacon to the world, an expression of our testimony that God, our Eternal Father, lives, that he desires to bless us and, indeed, to bless his sons and daughters of all generations. Each of our temples is an expression of our testimony that life beyond the grave is as real and as certain as is our life here on earth. I so testify," President Monson said.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, may we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes."