Before bringing the 188th Annual General Conference to a close on Sunday afternoon, April 1, President Russell M. Nelson announced plans to build seven new temples.
With 159 operating temples around the world, these new temples, along with the those already under construction, will bring the number of temples dotting the world to 189.
The new temples were announced for the following locations:
The Salta Argentina Temple will be the third temple in the country.
Church membership in Argentina totals a little more than 445,100 with an overall population of 44 million. The country houses 14 missions, 109 family history centers, 769 congregations, and two current temples.
Missionary work began in Argentina in the late 1920s after Wilhelm Friedrichs made a special request to the First Presidency to send missionaries. Friedrichs and his family had moved to Argentina following the end of WWI to escape economic uncertainties in Europe. Following Friedrichs' request in 1924, South America was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Christmas Day 1925. One of Elder Ballard's grandsons, Elder M. Russell Ballard, is acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The first LDS chapel in the country was dedicated in the Liniers area of Buenos Aires in April 1938.
The Buenos Aires Temple was the first temple in Argentina and was first dedicated in 1986. The second was the Córdoba Argentina Temple, which was dedicated in 2015.
The Bengaluru India Temple will be the first LDS temple in India.
Church membership in India totals 13,141 with an overall population over 1 billion. There are two missions, 11 family history centers, and 43 congregations in the country.
Although ministering by LDS members had unofficially taken place in India as early as 1849, official missionary work began in June of 1851 by Joseph Richards who performed baptisms and organized a branch in Calcutta.
Elder David O. McKay was the first General Authority of the Church to visit the country in 1921, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the Church was able to really start to grow there. In 1982, the Church was incorporated as a legal entity in the country and the Book of Mormon was officially translated into Hindi. In 1986, the first Indian missionaries were called to serve in their own country.
The first stake in India was organized in May 2012 by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and now first counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, then of the Presidency of the Seventy.
The Managua Nicaragua Temple will be the first LDS temple in Nicaragua. Members from the country have travelled by bus on special occasions to attend the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple.
With an overall population of just over 6 million, Church membership totals 95,768 in the country with two missions, 12 family history centers, and 109 congregations.
With missionary work in Central America beginning in 1952, Nicaragua didn’t establish its first stake until 1981. The Managua Nicaragua Stake was organized in 1981, and then dissolved in 1989 before being reorganized in 1998. Church growth in the country has been slow over the years due to natural disasters and political unrest; however, Church membership has increased steadily since the early 2000s.
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines:
With two temples, the Manila Philippines Temple and the Cebu City Philippines Temple, already functioning, and plans announced in 2010 to build a temple in Urdaneta as well as plans for a second temple near Manila announced in 2017, the Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple will be the fifth LDS temple for the small island nation.
With over 800,000 members from an overall population of over 100 million, the Church has a strong presence with 21 missions, 174 family history centers and 101 stakes.
Soldiers who were Latter-day Saints from Utah during the Spanish-American war in 1889 were the first to preach the gospel to the people of the Philippines. However, it wasn’t until 1945 with the baptism of Aneleta Pabilona Fajardo that the first Filipino was baptized a member of the Church in the islands.
During the 1970s the Church in the Philippines grew rapidly with the first stake established in Manila. Shortly after, the area received both a missionary training center and a temple, which was dedicated in 1984. The second temple, the Cebu City Temple was dedicated in 2010.
With Church headquarters about 25 miles south and a membership of over 2 million people statewide, the Layton Utah Temple will be the 19th temple in Utah. The state houses 10 missions, more than 5,000 congregations and 169 family history centers.
Church history in the state of Utah dates back to 1847 when the area was still a federal territory. Pioneers entered the desert valley in the summer of 1847, when Brigham Young made the famous statement, “This is the right place,” which designated it as the new Zion of the West.
As the 19th temple in Utah, the Layton Utah Temple will serve thousands of members in Davis County.
The Richmond Virginia Temple will be the first for the state of Virginia. With Church membership over 95,000, the state is home to three missions, 200 congregations and 46 family history centers.
Missionaries were first sent to the Virginia area in 1832, but with Church members continually moving westward, Church membership in the area remained low until the early 1900s. With the establishment of new missions across the United States, numbers increased greatly in the area following World War II.
Church growth in the state of Virginia has continued to accelerate since the early 2000s.
A major city in Russia, which will be determined at a later date:
The city location for the first temple in Russia will be determined later.
With a population of just over 144 million, Church membership in Russia stands at around 24,000 with seven missions, 103 congregations and 64 family history centers.
Even from the earliest days of the Church, Russia was considered a potential mission field. In 1843 Joseph Smith instructed brethren of the Church to prepare for a mission in Russia. However, the Church was not officially recognized in Russia until September of 1990 when a branch was established in Leningrad. Prior to that, most baptisms of Russian members had been done out of country by missionaries serving in Finland.
President Nelson has had a long association with Russia, having been charged by President Ezra Taft Benson in 1995 with opening the doors of communist nations in Europe to the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping the Church become legally recognized in Russia. And in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first Church president to visit the country.
Reactions to the new temple announcements:
The new temple announcements, given during President Nelson’s closing remarks, were a pleasant surprise for many members who thought there would be no further announcements during the conference. Many members of the congregation expressed surprise, particularly when the Layton and Russia temples were announced.
Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, an Emeritus General Authority Seventy who has close ties to Russia, was in the Conference Center as President Nelson made the announcements. Elder Neuenschwander served from 1994 to 1995 in the Europe Area presidency; a position which allowed him to travel from area headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, to Russia several times. He and his wife, Joni, later served as missionaries in Moscow.
“President Nelson was naming where the new temples would be built," Elder Neuenschwander said of the announcements. "When I heard ‘Russia,’ it took a moment for me to realize what he said. Then I burst into tears. There were people around us who had served in Russia; we were all in tears.”
Elder Neuenschwander described the response to the announcement as “electric.”
“The announcement took us by surprise, although we always felt the time was coming for a temple to be constructed there,” he said.
Elder Neuenschwander explained that he has seen firsthand evidence of the love President Nelson has for the Russian people. “My wife (Joni) and I were in Moscow when President Nelson went there to organize the Moscow Russia Stake (June 5, 2011)," he said. "I think of all the Brethren, President Nelson has the closest affinity for Russia and Russian souls.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple would be the fourth temple in the Philippines and failed to state the announcement from 2017 for a second temple in the Manila area. The Cagayan de Oro temple is the fifth announced temple in the Philippines.
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