MERIDIAN, Idaho — With the opening of its new Meridian Idaho Temple this week, the LDS Church will have six temples set in the state of Idaho, two in the Boise metropolitan area and two of the closest-in-proximity such edifices among all of its nearly 160 temples worldwide.
The distance between the Meridian and Boise temples is 8.8 geodesic miles — or the straight-line-on-a-map distance, similar to the phrase “as the crow flies.” If you’re walking from one temple to the other, it’s 11.4 miles; if driving between the two, it’s 11.8 miles.
The Meridian Idaho Temple — opened to the media and special guests beginning Monday, available to the public later this weekend and scheduled for dedication on Sunday, Nov. 19 — will become the 158th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church has its Cedar City Utah Temple set for unveiling next week as well as another 10 temples under construction and 13 more announced and in the planning stages.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is in Meridian this week leading special-guest tours of the Meridian Temple, noted that the Boise Idaho Temple previously had 32 stakes — a collection of wards or congregations and similar to a diocese in the Catholic Church — assigned to it in its temple district. Now, the Boise and Meridian temples will have 16 assigned stakes each.
But the blessings of close-proximity temples is not just to provide opportunities to attend, but also to serve. "There’s something very special about having faithful people to have callings in temples, and it takes a large number of people to operate temples," he added. "This is a place that I can see why the Lord would want a temple here, and I can see why the prophet determined that one should be here."
The 8.8 miles between metropolitan Boise’s two LDS temples may prompt some geographical questions like: What is the shortest distance between two LDS temples? Between two temples located outside of Utah? And between two outside of the United States?
And while we’re talking distances, which are the most remote LDS temples? And the greatest possible distances between two temples?
(NOTE: LDS temples cited are those as of October 2017 that are operating, under construction or announced with an official site determined, unless noted. Click here for a similar listing in kilometers.)
A brief history
After building just 21 temples in its first 150 years, the LDS Church followed with 115 temples worldwide in the three decades from 1980 to 2010.
By the end of 1980, the closest LDS temples were the four in Utah’s most populous areas — the 35.8 miles between the Logan Temple and the Ogden Temple (as they were known then, with the church revising its naming convention of temples in 1999), the 31.9 miles between the Ogden and Salt Lake temples, and the 37.4 miles between the Salt Lake and Provo temples.
The closest of the 19 temples at the time outside of Utah? That would be the 334.1 miles between the Los Angeles and Oakland temples, the 382.5 miles between the Los Angeles and Arizona (now Mesa) temples, and the 398.3 miles between the Idaho Falls and Alberta (now Cardston) temples, the latter in the Canadian province of Alberta. And that was not much closer than the 444.7 miles between the London and Swiss temples.
Fast-forward to the April 2011 general conference, ironically the same conference where the Meridian Idaho Temple was one of three to be announced, along with temples in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Winnipeg, Canada.
When making the announcement, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson noted that 85 percent of the LDS Church membership — at that time, it was 14.1 million; it has grown to 15.9 million in the half-dozen years since — resided within 200 miles of a temple. Many members lived much closer than that, he added.
With the addition of 141 temples in the past four decades, not only have the distances for members to travel to a temple diminished, but so have the distances between temples.
Proximity in Utah
Temple-to-temple distances are the shortest in Utah, given the abundance of temples along the Wasatch Front. The current count is 18 temples in the Beehive State, including the soon-to-be-opened temple in Cedar City and the one announced earlier this year for Saratoga Springs.
Whether you call it Salt Lake Valley or the Salt Lake City metropolitan statistical area (as does the government), metro Salt Lake is home to four temples — Salt Lake, Jordan River, Draper and Oquirrh Mountain.
Utah Valley (or the Provo-Orem metro area, according to census designation) is home to another four operating temples — Provo, Provo City Center, Mount Timpanogos and Payson — with its fifth being the one planned for Saratoga Springs.
One could say that the Bountiful Utah Temple could all but be considered among the Salt Lake area temples, but Bountiful is part of the Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan statistical area, which claims the Bountiful, Ogden and Brigham City temples.
The two shortest temple-to-temple distances are also the two pairs of temples located within the same city boundaries in Utah. The first city to host two LDS temples was South Jordan, Utah, with the Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain temples located just 3.1 miles apart and a driving distance of 4.1 miles.
Provo became the second city with two temples — the Provo and Provo City Center temples. The distance between the two is the shortest currently among LDS temples — 2.4 straight-line miles and 2.9 driving miles.
Four other within-Utah temple distances are closer than the Boise-Meridian distance of 8.8 miles, and two of them involve the Draper Utah Temple in Sandy, which is 6.8 miles from the Jordan River Temple and 8.0 miles from the Mount Timpanogos Temple if you go over — rather than around — the Point of the Mountain.
Also, the Bountiful Temple is 8.1 miles from the Salt Lake Temple — as the crow flies over Ensign Peak rather than by car via Interstate 15 — while the Draper Temple is 8.6 geodesic miles across the valley's south end from the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.
Four other temple distances along Utah’s Wasatch Front are between 11 and 15 miles — Mount Timpanogos to the Provo, Provo City Center and Jordan River temples, and the Salt Lake Temple to the Jordan River temple.
Outside of Utah
Of the states with the most LDS temples, California is second with seven, followed by Arizona and Idaho both at six (Idahos includes the pending-groundbreaking temple in Pocatello). Of the 50 states, 38 have at least one LDS temple, with 15 of those having at least two.
Temples outside of Utah that are less than 10 miles apart include the Boise and Meridian temples (at 8.8 miles), and the Gilbert and Mesa temples (at 9.6 miles).
As such, temples in California, Idaho and Arizona are among those with the shortest temple-to-temple distances outside of Utah.
As previously mentioned, the 8.8 miles between the Boise and Meridian temples is the shortest distance outside of Utah between two LDS temples. It narrowly edges the 9.6 miles between two of the three temples in metro Phoenix, the Mesa Arizona and Gilbert Arizona temples.
Within a distance of fewer than 50 miles, the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple is 25.2 miles from the Rexburg Idaho Temple and 44.4 miles from the announced site of the Pocatello Idaho Temple.
The Phoenix Arizona Temple is located in north Glendale in the northwestern quadrant of the Valley of the Sun, with the Mesa and Gilbert temples in the southeast quadrant. As such, the Phoenix temple is 28.3 miles from the Mesa Temple and 37.7 miles from the Gilbert Temple.
And the Newport Beach California Temple is less than 50 miles from two other counterparts in Southern California — 44.5 miles and 49.9 miles from the Los Angeles and Redlands temples, respectively.
Besides the 83 operating, under construction or announced temples in the United States, Mexico is the country with the second most with 13 temples, followed by Brazil’s 10, Canada’s nine and Australia’s five.
Peru and the Philippines claim four temples apiece and Japan three, with two each in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, England, Germany, Guatemala and South Africa.
Two international metro areas are set to be the first outside of the United States to be home to a pair of LDS temples. The Lima Peru Temple will have a neighbor in the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, announced in April 2016, while the Manila Philippines Temple will be joined by the Greater Manila Philippines Temple, announced earlier this year.
Both temples are in the planning stages, with no site or groundbreaking dates announced for either. The Los Olivos District is in the northern area of metro Lima, while the Greater Manila Temple is projected for the city of Alabang in southern metro Manila.
In simple, pre-site projections using Google Maps, the Lima Peru Temple is located about 12 miles from the center of the Los Olivos District, while the Manila Philippines Temple sits about 13 miles from the center of Alabang.
Pairs of temples in Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico share the shortest distances between temples outside of the United States — all under 90 miles. The Sao Paulo Brazil Temple is located 50.8 miles from the Campinas Brazil Temple, the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple is 72.9 miles from the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple, and the Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico Temple is 85.4 miles from the Villahermosa Mexico Temple.
Seven temple-to-temple distances crossing international borders (excluding U.S. temples) are within 200 miles — with more than half in Central America. The San Salvador El Salvador Temple is 103.7 miles from the Guatemala City Temple, 137.1 miles from the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple and 173.5 miles from the temple in Quetzaltenango. And the distance between the Quetzaltenango and Tuxtla Gutiérrez temples is 170.6 miles.
In South America, the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple is 139.1 miles from the Montevideo Uruguay Temple. On the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple is 154.1 miles from the site of the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple, which has a groundbreaking scheduled later this month. And in Europe, the new Paris France Temple is just 188.6 miles across the English Channel from the London England Temple.
So far away
On the other side of the distance spectrum is remoteness. And five LDS temples are located more than 1,000 miles away from a nearest temple neighbor — the greatest distance being the 1,449.4 miles between the Papeete Tahiti Temple and the Apia Samoa Temple.
Other long distances include the 1,338.0 miles between the Anchorage Alaska and Vancouver British Columbia temples, the 1,326.2 miles between the Australian temples in Perth and Adelaide, the 1,283.5 miles between the Hamilton New Zealand and Nuku’alofa Tonga temples and the 1,044.6 miles between the Manaus Brazil and Caracas Venezuela temples.
And the most distance between temples — or in other words, temples literally located on opposite sides of the world? That would be the 12,379.0 miles that separate the Asuncion Paraguay Temple and the Taipei Taiwan Temple. Considering the earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles, that is almost halfway around the globe.
The remaining of the top five longest distances involve the Hamilton Temple (12,248.1 miles to the Madrid Spain Temple and 12,192.7 miles to the Lisbon Portugal Temple), the Seoul Korea Temple (12,187.0 miles to the Montevideo Temple) and the Fukuoka Japan Temple (12,175.3 miles to the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple).