During the closing minutes of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson announced that several “pioneer-generation” temples, including the iconic Salt Lake Temple, would be closed for repairs and 12 new temples would be constructed.
As each new site was mentioned, a smattering of cheers could be heard in the cavernous Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
New temples will be built in:
• Mendoza, Argentina (two operating temples, two announced).
• Salvador, Brazil (six operating, two under construction and two announced).
• Yuba City, Calif. (will be state’s eighth).
• Phnom Penh, Cambodia (its first).
• Praia, Cape Verde (its first).
• Yigo, Guam (the territory’s first).
• Puebla, Mexico (the country’s 14th).
• Auckland, New Zealand (the one in nearby Hamilton is being renovated).
• Lagos, Nigeria (will be its second).
• Davao, Philippines (six temples announced or dedicated)
• San Juan, Puerto Rico (this island’s first).
• Washington County, Utah (the county’s second, bringing total in Utah to 20 with 17 existing and now three announced).
These 12 announced temples bring the total number of operating temples (159) and temples announced or under construction (42) to 201 worldwide.
Matt Martinich, an independent Mormon demographer in Colorado, said all the announced locations were fairly predictable — except Yuba City.
“There are so many active members moving out of California,” Martinich said. “It’s also surprising because it is so close to the temple in Sacramento.”
Many of the new sites outside of the Intermountain West, Martinich wrote in an email, are in places where “the church has grown quite rapidly in the last 20 years,”
For example, the Utah-based faith has experienced significant growth in Nigeria, he said, increasing from 23 to 53 stakes (groups of congregations in a region) in the past five years.
A temple in Guam would be the first temple in Micronesia, Martinich said. “The church isn’t big in Guam but is much bigger in nearby Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, places where the church has grown quite well in the last 10 to 20 years.”
The demographer was a little surprised by a temple in Cambodia, because of one announced in Bangkok, Thailand.
“But Phnom Penh is one of the cities in Mainland Asia that has the highest percentage of members of the church, he said. “ … And it would also serve Vietnam, where the church is growing rapidly right now.”
The point of announcing these temples is to “bring the church closer to members,” Martinich said, “and most of these temples are probably a lot smaller.”
Details about the renovation plans for the Salt Lake Temple and other pioneer-era temples will be released “as they are developed,” the church said in a news release.