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Monday, December 25, 2017

Temple Site Possibilities: South America South Area, Part Three--Temple History & Composition of Current Districts

Hello again, everyone! As we continue the discussion of the South America South Area, it is time now to turn our attention to the history of the six temples that serve the Saints in the 4 nations of which this area is comprised. We will approach that discussion in the same order in which we have discussed other aspects of this area in previous posts, so we will start with Argentina, move on to Chile, then discuss  Paraguay, and finish by covering Uruguay. Let's get right into all of that.

As mentioned in my previous posts, Argentina has two in operation. The first (built in the capital city of Buenos Aires) became the Church's 39th one dedicated in this dispensation. That dedication took place from January 17-19, 1986 with President Thomas S. Monson, who had been called just two months prior to that as the Second Counselor in the First Presidency to President Ezra Taft Benson.

Following a renovation process, President Monson, who had then become the President of the Church, assigned President Henry B. Eyring to represent him in rededicating the temple, and that occurred on September 9. 2012.

When the second Argentinian temple (built in the city of Cordoba) was dedicated, the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple district was left to serve 50 stakes and 14 districts from the regions of Eastern and Southern Argentina. There may or may not be a need to divide this district, and I will share my thoughts about if, when, and how that could occur in my next post about this area.

In the meantime, we move on to the Cordoba Argentina Temple, which was dedicated on May 17, 2015 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, thereby becoming the 145th operating temple built in this dispensation. Its district is comprised of 22 stakes and 8 districts that are headquartered in the northern and western areas of Argentina. There may or may not be a good reason for this district to split. I will explore that more in my next post.

That brings us to Chile. The first temple built in that nation is located in the capital city of Santiago. When the dedicatory sessions for this temple were held (from September 15-17, 1983, with President Hinckley, the only fully functioning member of the First Presidency at that time, presiding), it became the Church's 24th operating temple. Following its renovation, President Hinckley returned to rededicate that temple on March 12, 2006.

For the moment, the Santiago Temple serves 77 stakes and 16 districts in Chile. But when the Concepcion Chile Temple is dedicated (which, as previously noted, is anticipated to occur during the 4th quarter of next year), the stakes that are closer to Concepcion will fall within that city's temple district.

We now come to a discussion about the Asuncion Paraguay Temple. When President Hinckley  presided at the dedication of this temple, which occurred on May 19, 2002, it became the 112th in operation for the Church. Since it is now closed for renovation, it is currently anticipated that a rededication will take place during early-to-mid 2019. After the temple reopens, it will continue to serve 11 stakes and 8 districts in Paraguay, along with 4 stakes and 6 districts from Northeastern Argentina and the Ponta Pora stake from Brazil West Central area.

Concluding our discussion of the current temples within this area, we turn now to the Montevideo Uruguay Temple, which became the 103rd operating temple of the Church when it was dedicated on March 18, 2001. That temple district serves the Saints from 18 stakes and 3 districts in Uruguay.

Having shared all of this, that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post (which should be posted shortly and will focus on potential future temples that could soon be announced to help serve the Saints in this area), I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Temple Site Possibilities: South America South Area, Part Two--Church Presence (including the number of units) within this area

Hello again, everyone! While I had intended, as promised in the last post, to devote this one to an overview of the current temples within this area (which, when I do get to that, will include a history of those 6 temples and an exploration of the size and composition of each district), I remembered that I had wanted to give additional background information about this area, particularly in regards to the number of Church units within each nation that is part of this area. So I will defer the post about the temple overview for now and first talk some more about pertinent information for each of these nations.

As I have previously observed, the Church has been very prosperous in South America, and the nations which comprise this area of the Church (which, again, are Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) have seen a very significant amount of growth, particularly in recent years. So let's first take a look at where each of these nations is in terms of temples, missions, stakes, districts, and congregational totals (wards and branches).

Turning our attention first to Argentina, there are two temples in operation there (in Buenos Aires and Cordoba). I will be offering a look at the history and dedication of these temples in my next post. but for now, I wanted to note that 14 missions operate currently in Argentina. With the Church's announced intention to consolidate missions and utilize advances in technology to allow those serving in the missions that will remain after that to find religiously-minded people, I don't know how those changes might take effect in Argentina. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

In the meantime, I also wanted to note that the Church in Argentina has 76 stakes and 28 districts, which in turn are divided into 488 wards and 275 branches, for a total of 763 congregations in that nation. That total means that, between the two temples, each serves an average of 381-382 congregations, which is a lot for just two temples.

After addressing the history of temples in my next post, I will be talking specifics (likely in that same post) about the actual number of stakes and districts served by those two temples, and will move on in another post to discuss if, when, and in what city Argentina's third temple could potentially be built.

But for now, we move on to Chile. The Church there also has two temples, with one operating in Santiago, and a second currently under construction in Concepcion (which is anticipated to be the very first new temple dedicated next year). For now, that nation is served by the 10 missions currently operating. In terms of congregations, the Chilean Saints fall under 77 stakes and 16 districts, which are further subdivided into 433 wards and 168 branches. That is a total of 601 congregations in this nation, which means that, following the dedication of the Concepcion Chile temple, the two temples will serve an average right between 300 and 301 congregations each.

And again, I will be providing more information on the history of those temples, including the composition of the Santiago district and what the Concepcion district might take away from Santiago, along with if, when, and where I feel an additional Chilean temple (or two) may be built in the near future, in subsequent posts.

In the meantime, let's turn our attention to the Church's presence in Paraguay. The Saints there are served by a single temple in Asuncion. And, as we know, that temple closed for extensive renovation in late October this year. While confirmation on the extent of that renovation process is still pending (since no updates have been provided by any of the sources I have available for temple-related information), I do know that other temples that were originally dedicated during the late 1990s and early 2000s under President Hinckley's inspired impetus & smaller designs have been (or, in the case of the Memphis Tennessee and Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temples, will be) given a similar new exterior appearance. Unless the Church at any point confirms that that will not be the case for the Asuncion Temple, it seems to be a safe assumption.

With that said, let's talk now about the Church's presence in Paraguay. The Church has two operating missions, both headquartered in Asuncion, that serve the missionary needs in that nation. With 11 stakes and 9 districts that are further subdivided into 61 wards and 74 branches, the congregational total comes to 135. I don't have any idea if or when a second temple may be needed to split that district, but I am sure that the Church could opt to do so if the growth trends for this nation continue.

Rounding out our discussion of the Church's presence in this area, I wanted to share some specific data about Uruguay. In addition to being the location of the one temple in that nation, the Church's two missions in this nation are both headquartered in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. With the Church in Uruguay having 18 stakes and 3 districts, the congregations in Uruguay include 104 wards and 35 branches, for a grand total of 139.

This concludes my overview of the Church's presence within the four nations comprising this area, so that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time.

Until my next post (which should come shortly and will focus on the history of the six temples within this area, along with the composition of each of those current districts), I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Temple Site Possibilities: South America South Area, Part One--Area Overview

Hello again, everyone! As noted in my last post, since my wife and I are stuck at home with illness today, and since I am past the point where my body, mind, and spirit will allow me to get additional rest and relaxation, I have opted to continue putting together and publishing my thoughts on potential future temples.

While my focus now turns to the South America South Area, which will involve an area overview in this post, and subsequent posts providing an overview of temples within it, the history of those temples, the number of stakes and districts currently served by the district of each of those temples, district, and, to conclude the area coverage, the final post will share the list I have compiled of other potential locations within this area that I have felt could get a temple soon.

So let's start with the area overview. The South America South Area boundaries take in the nations of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. I don't know how many of you noticed or would remember this, but for a long time, the nation of Chile, which has a high concentration of Latter-day Saints, was its own area of the Church.

In 2002, Elder Holland was asked by the First Presidency to preside over that area for two years, at the same time Elder Oaks was assigned to do so in the Philippines. And at the conclusion of those two years, the First Presidency called Elder Perry to preside for one year over the Church in the Europe Central Area. So 2002-2005 marked a rare time in the Church where these apostles were sent to fill assignments that had traditionally been handled by General Authority Seventies.

While I cannot say with any certainty that these assignments may have been necessary due to large-scale issues these areas were facing at the time, what I do know thanks to dear family friends who served in the area office of the Philippines under Elder Oaks during his time there, and which appears to be true of Chile and Europe as well, during and as a result after the fact of this ministry by the three, Church growth appeared to stabilize at take off.

Anyways, my reason for mentioning these unusual apostolic assignments was to note that while Chile  was its own area for several years, in 2011, the First Presidency announced that the Chile and South America South Areas would be consolidated into one area, and would be known as the South America South Area.

I apologize for being long-winded, but I figure that these details do, to a certain degree, set the background for my coverage of this area. The next post in this series will be published hopefully later today to cover the history of the six temples within this area, and also perhaps go into the specifics of the number of stakes and districts in each nation that are served by these six. And again, hopefully, I will be able to wrap up my coverage of this area before the end of this Christmas Day, which would ideally allow me to have my coverage of the three areas in Utah published on this blog within the remaining six days of 2017.

So for now, that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

A Brief Preliminary Word Regarding My Coverage of the Final Four Areas of the Church

Hello again, everyone! Hope your Christmas day has been enjoyable. Since my wife and I are stuck at home dealing with illness, and because my system is past the point where it will allow me to rest and relax (aside from regular sleep at night), I have decided it would be best to move on with my coverage of the final four areas of the Church (South America South, and Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City, and Utah South) I will post again in a few minutes to begin my coverage of the South America South Area, but I wanted to note a couple of important things first, which apply to these final four but are also true about those areas which I have already covered.

First, I wanted to reiterate what I have previously stated: I hope it is clearly understood that when I have opted to move on to my coverage of the next area of the Church, that is not intended in any way to signal the end of the discussion about the areas which I have already covered. I would hope that all of you know that you are more than welcome at any time to post additional feedback of any kind on any post I have done up to this point, or any or all others that I will do going forward. I appreciate any and all such comments at any time they are added.

Second, as some of you may have noticed, in my introductory posts for each of the Church's areas which I have covered up to this point, I have mentioned a specific number of posts which I have anticipated to do in focusing on each area. It is almost inevitably the case that the original number of posts I thought I would do winds up being corrected or altered as the amount of content I am covering necessitates. So for each of the final four areas I will be covering (which I hope to wrap up before the end of this year) I will not be giving any estimates about the number of posts which I will do for each of those four. The amount of content I need to post will be the determining factor in that regard.

With those two things said, I will be back later today to start discussing the first of those areas, covering the southern part of South America. And, as I indicated earlier, my hope is to have those final four covered before midnight MST when 2017 concludes and 2018 officially is rung in.

Therefore, that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best 7 and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Temple Site Possibilities: South America Northwest Area, Part Seven--Exploring the Likelihood of a Second Venezuelan Temple and Area Wrap-Up

Hello again, everyone, and Merry Christmas to you all. In the early morning hours on a day when we exchange gifts with family (and, for some of you, friends) as we remember that without Christ, there would be no Christmas, I am pleased to be able to bring you my final post covering South America. In this post (as mentioned in the previous one), we will examine the likelihood of a potential second temple in the near future for Venezuela, and then I will have a few additional remarks to wrap up my coverage of the South America Northwest Area. Let's get right into all of that.

With what I noted about the number of Church units in Venezuela, including the fact that the one temple in that nation (which was built in Caracas) serves Venezuela's 34 stakes and 6 districts, many have said that there is a strong reason to believe that a second temple in that nation may be needed to help serve those congregations. As I have considered that possibility, a few thoughts have come to mind.

The first of those thoughts is that, in August 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley was visiting the Saints in Maracaibo, and during that visit, he publicly proposed a temple for that city. With over 18 years having come and gone since that time, and keeping in mind that many of the temples that have been announced during President Monson's presidency are those that were publicly proposed at one point or another by his predecessor. So I do fully believe that a temple in Maracaibo may just be a matter of time.

In addition to the size of the Caracas Temple district and to President Hinckley's public proposal of a temple for Maracaibo, the Saints in Maracaibo currently travel 439.1 miles to get to the temple in Caracas, which is more than double the mileage distance of 200 within which President Monson has set a goal to have between every Church member and the nearest temple.

So there are three very solid reasons to believe that Maracaibo could (and probably will) be the next Venezuelan city to get its own temple. Saints in the surrounding regions would likewise be spared from travelling an inordinate distance to get to the Caracas temple.

That said, I did want to observe that, unlike most potential sites which I have considered for my list of potential temples, the idea of a second temple for the Venezuelan Saints does have one very real roadblock: some of the politicians and law enforcement officers in Venezuela seem to be somewhat, if not entirely, corrupt.

Some of you may have heard the news that a citizen of Utah by the name of Josh Holt who went to Venezuela to get married was taken into custody on ridiculous charges (unlawful possession of dangerous firearms) that cannot be true, and he has remained in the Venezuelan prison system where he has been severely mistreated and where he will likely not have a chance at a fair trial if and when he is granted one.

The senior Utah senator Orrin Hatch has promised the Holt family that he will do everything he can to get their son released and able to go home, but the chances of that occurring don't look very good at this point. If governmental and law enforcement officials in Venezuela are that corrupt at this point, until the political climate clears and more reasonable leaders are appointed to those positions, the Church may not have much of a chance to get a second temple built to serve the Venezuelan Saints. With the Lord, nothing is impossible or out of the question, but at the moment, it's very hard to know how likely it might be that a temple could be announced in Maracaibo anytime soon.

But those are just my thoughts. Let me know yours in the comments below. I would be particularly interested to know your answers to the following questions: Could Venezuela get a temple in the near future? If so, would Maracaibo be the most likely place for it because of President Hinckley's proposal for one in that city? If the government and law enforcement officers are as corrupt as they certainly seem to be, could that potentially delay a second temple in Venezuela until more reasonable leadership is in power? I look forward to your thoughts.

So, having covered the current temples in various phases and the potential future temples I could see being announced in the near future, this post concludes my coverage of the South America Northwest Area. If I missed or have potentially overlooked anything in these last seven posts I have done, please let me know.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post(s) in this series, which should be put up later this week and focus on current and potential future temples in the South America South Areas, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do. And from the very depths of my soul, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Temple Site Possibilities: South America Northwest Area, Part Six--Potential New Temples for Peru

Hello again, everyone! While I had said at one point in an earlier post that six posts for the South America Northwest Area would cover everything, it turns out I will need one more as well. Therefore, this post will be the second-to-last one for this area and will focus on the potential likelihood of two Peruvian cities that could get a temple of their own. After I get this post published, I will conclude my coverage of this area with a seventh post that will focus on Venezuela's likelihood of getting a temple, and that post will also serve as the wrap-up of the content covering this area.

I wanted to first note that the difficult thing in trying to determine if the Church would announce one or more temples for Peru while Arequipa is still under construction and while progress is pending for the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple. But as we saw with Brazil, the Church did not wait until the temples in Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro were completed, nor did the fact that the Belem temple has not progressed since its April 2016 announcement prevent the Church from announcing a temple for Brasilia. In fact, the odds are more likely than not that the temple in Brasilia, which already had its site confirmed by local leaders and inspected by Church engineers, will have a groundbreaking ceremony and begin its construction process perhaps before anything is done additionally on the Belem temple.

So because there are those four Brazilian temples in varying stages, it seems likely and even perhaps highly probable that the Church could easily announce other Peruvian temples while work continues on the temple in Arequipa and while the construction process is started for the temple that will be built in Lima's Los Olivos district.

And while we don't yet have an idea of how the stakes in Peru might be redistributed following the dedication of the temple now under construction in Arequipa (which is currently anticipated to occur in late 2019 or early 2020), or how they might be further redistributed following the construction and dedication of the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, it is apparent that the Peruvian Saints are keeping their temples busy.

So which locations in Peru are likely to get a temple of their own in the near future? I have felt that there is a strong argument in favor of Peru's fifth and sixth temples being built in the cities of Cusco and Iquitos. As with other candidates about which I have written in this series, there is also a very good chance that both temples could either be announced at the same time or have some degree of overlap in their processes. Digging into things a little more deeply, let's examine the merits of these potential locations.

First, we look at Cusco's potential for its own temple. With two stakes based in that city, a temple there would serve, at a very minimum, the 12 wards and 2 branches within those two stakes. As mentioned, I am not by any means or stretch of the imagination a geography expert, so I am sure many stakes in the surrounding region could also be served by a temple in Cusco.

A temple in Cusco makes sense as well in terms of the mileage metric. Saints in Cusco currently travel 680.8 miles to do their ordinance work, and since the temple in Los Olivos would be even further from them than that (the distance being 691.6 miles), the Saints in Cusco are far more likely to remain with the Lima district..

When the Arequipa Peru temple is dedicated (which, as already noted, is anticipated to occur during either late 2019 or early 2020). the distance for the Saints in Cusco will be cut by more than half, to 303.8 miles. Even so, that is still over 100 miles more than President Monson's set goal to have every member within 200 miles of their nearest temple.

Before moving on to discuss specific reasons for my feeling that Iquitos could get a temple, I wanted to note that, with Cusco being a distance of 682 miles, it would not be out of the question for one or the other to be announced first, nor would it surprise me to either see them announced at the same time or to have one under construction at the time the other is announced. So I can't rule out that possibility.

Let us now turn our attention to the potential merits of a temple in Iquitos. In addition to having its own mission, the city of Iquitos is home to two stakes of the Church. A temple in that city would, at minimum, serve the Saints in the 14 stakes and 1 branch within that city. While I am, as noted, not great with geography, if and when Iquitos does get its own temple, the Saints in surrounding areas would also be spared the journey of an inordinate distance to get to their assigned temple.

Regarding the distance involved, the Saints in the Iquitos region  currently have a 629 mile journey to get to the Lima temple. As with the city of Cusco, since the Iquitos Saints are over 200 miles further than that from Arequipa (the exact distance being 882 miles), the Saints within the Iquitos region would also likely stay in the district of the Lima temple until they have a closer one either in that city or the surrounding regions.

And whenever the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple is dedicated, there is a possibility that the Saints in Iquitos could fall within that new temple district. But I can't be sure of that at the moment, since it would only cut their journey by a mere 4 miles (as the Los Olivos region is 625 miles from the Saint in Iquitos.

So there are my thoughts about these two potential candidates for Peru's next temples. I have felt that both will get their own temples at some point, but I look forward to hearing from you, my readers, on the following questions: Which temple might be announced first? Could both be announced simultaneously? What are the odds that while one of them is in the construction process, the other one might be announced? I look forward to the feedback.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. I will be back very shortly with my final post, which will contain my analysis of the prospects for a temple in Venezuela, and which will wrap up my coverage of the South America Northwest Area. Until that time, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.