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Friday, February 3, 2017

First Temple Construction Progress Report Update for February

Hello, all! As I indicated in a recent previous post on the infographic released by the Church, the information contained therein is somewhat outdated in terms of the many developments now taking place for temples worldwide. This is clear to me when I compare the personal report I do to that infographic. I am grateful that the Church notes such updates as fast as they can, but I feel that information I find elsewhere is more up-to-date. And I love that I get to share these things with you all. Hope you enjoy this post, which will likely be the last post for today. If it is, more will be coming tomorrow.

Here's my newest report. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Temple Construction Progress Report (current as of 2/3/17)
Current Temple Status: 155 operating; scheduled for dedication; under construction; 1 groundbreaking scheduled; scheduled for rededication; 2 undergoing renovation; 9 announced. NOTE: With one groundbreaking announced already this year, two more have the potential to be announced and scheduled very soon, and there may be several more groundbreakings than that in the year ahead.

Dedication scheduled:
156. Paris France Temple: Interior artwork being shipped for hanging inside the temple; dedication scheduled for Sunday May 21, 2017.
157. Tucson Arizona Temple: Exterior lighting tests underway; installation of interior art glass and millwork nearing completion; president’s home undergoing renovation; dedication scheduled for Sunday August 13, 2017.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple: Interior painting and millwork underway; dedication scheduled for Sunday November 19, 2017.
159. Cedar City Utah Temple: Installing art glass windows; hanging drywall on interior; dedication scheduled for Sunday December 10, 2017.

Under Construction:
160. Rome Italy Temple: Interior work progressing; completion anticipated sometime between early and mid-2018.
161. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Applying waterproofing membrane to exterior walls; setting rebar; roughing in plumbing; completion anticipated sometime between early and mid-2018.
162. Concepcion Chile Temple: Exterior cladding going up on north wall; framing the interior walls; completion anticipated sometime during mid-2018.
163. Durban South Africa Temple: Applying waterproof mastic to temple foundation; pouring exterior walls for missionary housing building; completion anticipated sometime during mid-2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Concrete walls poured for steeple; attaching waterproofing membrane to exterior walls; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
165. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Groundbreaking held Saturday December 3, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between late 2018 and early 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Setting concrete forms for parapet walls; completion anticipated sometime during 2019.
167. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Excavation underway for temple; structural framing going up for meetinghouse; completion anticipated sometime during 2019.

Groundbreaking Scheduled:
168. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Preparing for groundbreaking; environmental license issued in November 2016; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday March 4, 2017.

Rededication Scheduled:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; finish work underway; rededication scheduled for Sunday June 4, 2017.

Undergoing Renovation:
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated sometime between early-and-mid 2018.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; some exterior stone removed; foundation exposed; old meetinghouse razed; rededication anticipated sometime between early-and mid-2018.

169. Arequipa Peru Temple: Erecting construction barrier; clearing and leveling site; awaiting groundbreaking announcement; groundbreaking anticipated in early 2017.
170. Harare Zimbabwe Temple: Approval and construction preparation phase; official site announcement anticipated in 2017, with the groundbreaking anticipated to take place shortly following the site announcement.
171. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement. NOTE: The LDS Church Temple website indicates that a potential site has been identified, though it has yet to be officially verified.
172. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement. NOTE: As the above-mentioned website indicates for this temple, while no official temple site has been announced, there may be a possibility that a Church office building may be repurposed to function as a temple, meetinghouse, and office building under one roof, in a similar fashion to those temples in Hong Kong China and Manhattan New York. This is most likely to be confirmed sooner rather than later.
173. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Stalled in planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
174. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
175. Quito Ecuador Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
176. Belem Brazil Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.
177. Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose numbers already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on the order in which future dedications and groundbreakings are scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose numbers may change based on progress towards planning, approval, and groundbreaking.
Red text denotes changes from the last posted temple progress report. 

First Presidency marks 9 years of service

This will be the first in a series of several blog posts I plan to do this weekend on various aspects of Church news and developments. First, this is a landmark day for the Church. It was on this day 9 years ago that the First Presidency was organized following the death of 15th Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. As was no surprise to anyone who knows anything about apostolic succession, President Thomas Spencer Monson was ordained and set apart as Church President by the second senior apostle, Boyd K. Packer. President Monson selected as his counselors Henry Bennion Eyring (who had served roughly three and a half months as President Hinckley's new second counselor following the death of James E. Faust), and Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf (who, with David A. Bednar, had been called to the apostleship about 3.25 years prior).

I enjoyed hearing the reaction of these men to what had happened. President Monson, who had prayed extensively for the extension of President Hinckley's life; I have never met any apostle who had any aspirations of any kind to ascend to the presidency), had a deep soul search and sent up even more prayers following President Hinckley's passing, including for guidance on how he should lead the Church forward, and inspiration regarding whom he should select as his counselor.

Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf were among the most junior apostles (only Elders Bednar and Cook were more so), but, as President Monson was wryly quoted as saying in his biography, he felt that he had enough apostolic seniority to provide a good balance to the junior status of his counselors, chosen by the Lord.

That being said, it seemed none of the other apostles were surprised by the calls of Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf, except the two of them themselves. As I said, no one in the Church aspires to those positions if they are sensible. President Eyring reported that he had initially felt relieved at the death of President Hinckley, knowing he could resume his service among the rest of his quorum. And who can forget President Uchtdorf's expression of being "joyfully overwhelmed"? But both expressed their determination to serve to the best of their ability.

As for President Monson, it was not long before the mantle of prophet was visible on him. It could be clearly seen during the press conference introducing the First Presidency the next day. And for the first time in just over 76 years, we had a First Presidency member serving who was born outside of the United States. (President Uchtdorf joined an elite group with that distinction; we have had only six others.

The next most recent is Charles W. Nibley (born in Scotland). He served as second counselor to President Heber J. Grant from May 1925 until his death in December 1931. Before that, we had Charles W. Penrose (born in England). He was second counselor to President Grant from November 1918 to March 2021 and subsequently was first counselor from that month to his death in May 1925.

Prior to that was the service of Anthon H. Lund (born in Denmark). He served as Second Counselor to President Joseph F. Smith from October 1901 to April 1910 and subsequently as First Counselor to President Smith from that month until President Smith's death in November 1918. He only had four days in which he was back in his position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which coincidentally, as a side note, is the shortest time period in Church history between the death of one Church president and the setting apart of the next); after that, he served simultaneously as First Counselor to President Grant and also President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until his death in March of 1921.

Reaching even further back into Church history, we note the service of John R. Winder, another from England. He served as the first First Counselor of President Smith from October 1901 until his death in March of 1910. He was not only an international member of the First Presidency. He is also one of only a few First Presidency members who were never ordained as apostles. I know there have been a few of those, but only a few. As another sidenote (boy, I have many of those), I don't count J. Reuben Clark in that category of First Presidency members who were not apostles. President Clark was ordained an apostle for purposes of establishing his apostolic seniority, putting him in the line of succession.

Anyways, getting back to the subject of international members of the First Presidency, the one before President Winder was George Q. Cannon (from England). He served for many years as a First Presidency member, under 4 Church Presidents (Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow). His service included being a counselor in the First Presidency under Brigham Young from June 1873 to President Young's death in late August 1877 (President Cannon's official title changed in May of 1874 to assistant counselor). He then went on to serve as the First Counselor to the next three Church Presidents until his death in April of 1901.

Coincidentally, another sidenote. The gap in the First Presidency that was caused by the death of George Q. Cannon was not filled until the next General Conference, where Joseph F. Smith became President Snow's new First Counselor, and Rudger Clawson was sustained to succeed President Smith. The two (Presidents Smith and Clawson) were sustained but not set apart due to the death of President Snow seven days after the announced changes. And President Smith was inspired to not retain President Clawson in the new First Presidency, giving President Clawson the distinction of having the shortest tenure as a counselor in the First Presidency.

Those who have been keeping track (if you haven't gotten lost in the trivia) know that all that remains is to discuss the first international member of the First Presidency. William Law had that distinction. Born in Ireland, he was called to serve in the First Presidency with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, when Brother Joseph determined to have his brother Hyrum, his previous Second Counselor, continue serving in the First Presidency in a more minor role, allowing Hyrum to devote his full duties to his appointment as the rightful heir to the position as the Patriarch to the Church, having received that right-by-lineage at the hands of his father, Joseph Sr., who had died the previous year. Unfortunately, President Law's service only lasted until two months before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. President Law had fallen prey to the widespread belief that the Prophet's teachings regarding plural marriage had caused him (the Prophet) to fall out of God's graces. Disillusioned, he left the Church and became an establishing member of one of the other Latter Day Saint splinter groups, and was appointed that group's first prophet.

In light of studying the history of that time, and in the interests of sharing as much First Presidency trivia as I can within this post, I can tell you that this was a somewhat lonely period for Joseph Smith in terms of being able to rely on his counselors. In addition to President Law's disaffection, President Sidney Rigdon had disregarded instructions from a direct revelation from the Lord and left the Church to relocate to Philadelphia. Brother Joseph had asked the Church members to refuse to sustain President Rigdon, but the Church members were adamant about keeping him in the First Presidency. Joseph voiced his concern over this, saying he was doing his best to rid the Church of the pettiness shown by President Rigdon in relocating due to his opposition to plural marriage. Borther Joseph made it clear that he was not happy about having to retain him because of the common consent principle of the Church. Brother Joseph made his disapproval clear: "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. You may carry him; I will not."

That said, I know some who claim that President Rigdon's wanting to move was at the express wish of the Prophet, who was attempting to launch a campaign to be President of the United States. The prevalent story goes that President Rigdon had moved to Philadelphia to qualify him to be the Prophet's vice presidential candidate, as there is a long-standing rule that the candidates for President and Vice President of the United States cannot reside in the same state. But this thoery has been debunked, and the truth has been made know.

As we are all aware, the Prophet's inspiration to try and get the Church beyond the influence of President Rigdon was inspired. Though Brother Joseph had indicated that where he was not, there was no First Presidency over the Twelve, after his martyrdom, President Rigdon tried to convince the Church that he (as President Smith's First Counselor) was the rightful successor to Joseph. There followed the miraculous transfiguration of the appearance and voice of Brigham Young into that of Joseph Smith, which was observed by many, setting the precedent still followed today of succession in the presidency.

After all that trivia about former members of the First Presidency, it is time to get back to the main point of this post. I remember where I was when I heard of the announced reorganization of the current First Presidency when it was made public on Monday February 4, 2008. I was at my physical therapy appointment. I had waited over one of the longest weekends of my life to hear the news. Since my physical therapist is LDS as well, he had the radio tuned in to the press conference as he tried to work on me. I didn't make it very easy for him. I craned my neck, straining to hear the news.

When they were introduced, I didn't quite hear who the counselors were. I asked my mom, who was there waiting for me, to repeat that information. As she did, and as I listened to the rest of the press conference (I was officially able to watch it later on that day), I gained a sure witness that these were the men who needed to serve in the First Presidency at this time. There entered deep into my heart the absolute conviction that their calls came from the Lord. And they fielded questions about how they had been called and what they hoped to accomplish with their service together, however long it would last. President Monson expressed his love, support, and admiration for his counselors and the other apostles. Presidents Eyring and Ucthdorf each expressed the same for President Monson, each other, and their apostolic colleagues.

And so, their service commenced. I don't know what I could say of the last nine years of that service that would be an adequate summary. There have been numerous developments on all fronts of the Church. President Monson has continued the legacy set by President Hinckley of bringing the temples to the people. He has called more apostles in these last 9 years than President Hinckley did in his almost 13 year tenure (only one more; he has added 5 compared to President Hinckley's 4, and there is a possibility that we could have a few more pass before President Monson does; as Elder Hales has not been in very good health for years, despite being just under five years younger than President Monson; it is also possible that Elder Ballard might pass before President Monson does, being just over a year younger than out prophet; and it is anyone's guess whether or not President Nelson will outlive President Monson as well. Right now, it looks that way, but President Nelson is just over three years older than our prophet). There have been policy announcements, worldwide travel, reaching out to the one, many missions created, the adjustment in missionary age, geographical areas realigned, visits with dignitaries at home and abroad, and many changes in Church leadership, just to name a few things. And I could go on.

But as noted before in my post about apostolic age and tenure milestones, President Monson has become the 9th of our 16 prophets to have served for at least 9 years. And his First Presidency is historically significant not only for what they have accomplished, but also because they now rank as the fifth longest serving First Presidency without a change. They will observe more tenure milestones soon if no one passes away before then. They will jump to the fourth such spot on Wednesday June 28 of this year. About 34 days later, they will take the third longest serving slot (Monday July 31). Next year will see them take the second longest serving spot. That will happen on Wednesday September 12. And if they are still all alive on Friday July 3, 2020, they will have become the longest serving unchanged First Presidency.

That said, my thanks to those who have waded through this lengthy post full of Church trivia. I also would like to thank those who amended a statement I had made in an earlier post that claimed that our current First Presidency was on track to become the longest serving First Presidency very soon. In an act of true contrition, I have now done the research to set the record straight. That said, any comments on this milestone in general or the contents of this post in particular are welcome. Thanks to you all for your continued readership.