The most iconic building and the most iconic spot in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City will be undergoing a major makeover.
President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced Sunday that plans will be formally unveiled April 19 to renovate the faith’s Salt Lake Temple, Temple Square and the Church Office Building plaza.
Renovation also awaits other Utah pioneer-era temples in Logan and Manti. Details for the St. George Temple, the state’s first, already have been released.
Nelson said last October that such projects would be coming to these historic edifices.
“Ours is a sacred responsibility to care for them,” Nelson said. “Therefore, these pioneer temples will soon undergo a period of renewal and refreshing, and, for some, a major restoration.”
Nelson’s remarks came at the close of the faith’s two-day General Conference. He also announced that eight new temples will be built — including a 21st in Utah — bringing the total number of Latter-day Saint temples operating, announced or under construction to 209 worldwide.
“As we speak of our temples old and new, may each of us signify by our actions that we are true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Nelson said. “May we renovate our lives through faith and trust in him. May we access the power of his atonement by our repentance each day.”
The new temples will be built in:
• Tooele Valley (Tooele County’s first, bringing the state’s total to 21, with 17 operating and others planned in Saratoga Springs, Layton and Washington County).
• Pago Pago, American Samoa (the first in this U.S. territory, according to a news release, where roughly 30 percent of residents are Latter-day Saints).
• Okinawa, Japan (the country’s fourth temple).
• Neiafu, Tonga (the second for this Pacific Island kingdom, where roughly 60 percent of residents are church members).
• Moses Lake, Wash. (the state’s fourth temple).
• San Pedro Sula, Honduras (the country’s second temple).
• Antofagasta, Chile (the nation’s third temple).
• Budapest, Hungary (the country’s first temple).
Before Nelson named the new temples, he urged audience members to remain silent. In past conferences, audible gasps could be heard throughout the Conference Center when some locations — ranging from Layton, Utah, to Moscow, Russia — were mentioned.
“Now, please listen carefully and reverently,” he said Sunday. “If I announce a temple in a place that is special to you, may I suggest that you simply bow your head with a silent prayer of gratitude in your heart. We do not want any verbal outbursts to detract from the sacred nature of this conference and the Lord’s holy temples.”
Latter-day Saints consider temples houses of God, places where devout members participate in their faith’s most sacred ordinances, including eternal marriage.