The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has embarked on an unprecedented era of more international temples. Of the Church’s 161 currently operating temples, 81 are located within the United States and 80 are located in other countries. Of the 40 future temples announced or under construction, 34 will be located outside the United States.
Temples “Dotting the Land”
President Joseph F. Smith first used the phrase of temples “dotting the land”—referencing Europe during several conferences with members there in the early 1900s. At the April 2000 general conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson echoed the “dotting” phrase: “Families are to be sealed together for all eternity. A welding link is to be forged between the fathers and the children. …For these sacred purposes, holy temples now dot the earth” (“The Creation,” Ensign, May 2000).
At the April 2018 general conference (“Let Us All Press On,” Ensign, May 2018), President Nelson announced seven new temples and another 12 at the October 2018 general conference (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 2018). A total of 19 temples—four in the United States; and 15 others to be located in Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Guam, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Russia.
Going More Global
While 40 future temples might seem like a lot, it’s well shy of the push in 1998 to dedicate 49 new temples before the end of the year 2000 so that the Church could meet President Gordon B. Hinckley’s goal of 100 operating temples by the end of the 20th century. Rather, the current increase is more international in nature.
Of those 40 temples under construction or planned, 15 will be the first in their respective nation or U.S. territory, including the expansive Russia, the populous India, and the remote islands of Cape Verde and Guam. The 10 temples designated as “under construction” are all outside of the United States, with three—the Rome Italy, Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Port-au-Prince Haiti Temples—already with dedication dates for the first half of 2019.
The seven other temples underway include a pair in Brazil and one each in Portugal, South Africa, Peru, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Canadian province of Manitoba. [The Winnipeg Manitoba Temple was announced in April 2011, and as of October 2018, work has started on running plumbing lines and preparing for the foundation.]
Two of the 30 “announced” temples have ground breaking dates set for January 2019—the Urdaneta Philippines and the Bangkok Thailand Temples, again both international sites.
A Historical Look Back
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in the state of New York in 1830 with its headquarters moving across the Midwest and reaching Salt Lake City in 1847. International missionary efforts started in the Church’s first decade—within three years to Canada and seven years to Great Britain.
The first temples were in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois. With the move out West came what President Nelson has referred to as “pioneer temples” in Utah—St. George, Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake City.
Dedicated in 1923, the Alberta Temple (later renamed the Cardston Alberta Temple) was the first outside of the United States and its territories.
The Swiss Temple (Bern Switzerland) was the first in Europe in 1955 (with a temple in London, England, three years later). The first temple in the Southern Hemisphere came with the New Zealand Temple (now Hamilton New Zealand) in 1958, while the São Paulo Brazil Temple was the first in South America in 1978.
The 1980s saw the Church’s first concentrated effort of extensive international temple building, with 17 of that decade’s 26 temples located outside of the United States—five in Latin America, Asia’s first four temples, four in the Oceania area (Australia and the South Pacific), three more in Europe, and the first on the African continent.
With the July 1985 dedication of the temple in Stockholm, Sweden, the Church had for the first time as many temples outside of the United States as it did within—17 and 17. Five of the next six temples were built in international locations—South Africa, South Korea, Peru, Argentina, and Germany. [Canada became the second country to have more than one temple with the dedication of the Toronto Ontario Temple in August 1990.] Only eight temples were built in the first seven years of the 1990s.
Ending the 20th Century
At the time of the April 1998 general conference, the Church had 51 operating temples—with another 17 temples either announced or under construction for a total of 68 temples. During his concluding remarks (“New Temples to Provide ‘Crowning Blessings’ of the Gospel,”Ensign, May 1998), President Hinckley announced plans for 30 additional temples—many of them a smaller size. No locations were announced at the conference—just the number “30,” until the late Church President upped the number: “I think we had better add two more to make it an even 100 by the end of the century, being 2,000 years ‘since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh’ (Doctrine and Covenants 20:1).”
Actually 34 temples were built between that conference and the end of 2000. Dedicated on October 1, the Boston Massachusetts Temple became the Church’s 100th.
[Temples in Regina, Halifax, and Edmonton were dedicated in November and December 1999.] Brazil’s Recife and Porto Alegre temples were dedicated in 2000’s final month, making 102 total operating temples with a 51-51 split between the United States and international locations.
Temples in the 21st Century
The Church has averaged a little more than three temple dedications a year—59 in the last 18 years. The longest string of international temple dedications came during the big push of 2000, when eight temples outside the United States were dedicated in succession in less than two months. From May 21 through July 16, temples were dedicated in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia; Mérida and Veracruz, Mexico; Montreal, Canada;
San Jose, Costa Rica; Fukuoka, Japan; and Suva, Fiji.
As for the time between announcement to dedication, the average is 5.5 years for the 18 temples announced since 2009 that have either been dedicated or are scheduled for dedication. The extremes are the Brigham City Utah Temple, dedicated just under three years after it was announced, to the dedication of the Concepción Temple in October 2017, a little more than nine years after it was announced.
With the Church’s bicentennial anniversary a little more than 11 years away and 40 future temples already on the books, reaching the 200-temple benchmark shouldn’t be a problem.
By then, even more temples—both in the United States and across the globe—will likely have been announced.
“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” said President Nelson in the October 2018 general conference (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints”).
At the conclusion of his inaugural April 2018 ministry and devotional travels that took him to England, Israel, Kenya, Zimbabwe, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Hawaii, President Nelson offered a succinct summary: “Everything we’ve done in these last few days together circling the globe could be summed up in two words—‘the temple’” (Church News, Apr. 25, 2018, italics added).