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Friday, August 16, 2019

Additional Thoughts and Observations on the Temple Construction Program of the Church: Part Two—Nelsonian Temple Announcements and Groundbreakings Thus Far

Hello again, everyone! I am back with the second post in this mini-series. This post will address President Nelson's triple focus on announcing new temples, clearing the queue of temples announced during the presidency of his prophetic predecessor, President Thomas S. Monson, and on getting quick approval for a few of the temples he (President Nelson) has announced within the last 19 months since he has become Church President.

First of all, I would be remiss if I failed to note that President Nelson has already set a record of sorts in that respect: he has announced a total of 27 temples in his first 3 General Conferences of the Church, which works out to an average of 9 temples each conference, an average that will go up if I am correct about the number of temples he may announce in October. For a prophet to announce almost 30 new temples before he has been President of the Church for 18 months is unheard of, as far as I know.

And, if he continues the trend of increasing the number of temples he announces each April and October in the same increments he has done so far, I could easily see him having announced a minimum total of 60 new temples before he has served for a total of 3 years (which will occcur in January 2021). With that said, let's take a look at what he has announced every six months in General Conferences thus far, which will be interspersed with thoughts on what he has done thus far to clear the queue.

In April 2018, he announced 7 temples in the following geographical areas (with more specific locations listed as well):

Asia—Bengaluru India
Central America—Managua Nicaragua
Europe East—Russia (exact location TBD)
North America Northeast—Richmond Virginia
Philippines—Cagayan de Oro Philippines
South America South—Salta Argentina
Utah—Layton Utah

As he would go on to explain when he visited Bengaluru India, “Our plans were to announce six new temples at conference time. The Lord told me on the eve of conference: 'Announce a temple in India.'"  He then re-emphasized: "That was the Lord's doing." Some additional observations about this first set of announcements: Prior to April 2018, Nicaragua and Russia had ranked as first and fourth respectively on the April 2017 list of the top ten nations with the strongest Church presence that did not have a temple in any phase. And although none of them have yet had a groundbreaking ceremony, I anticipate that, at minimum, the Bengaluru India, Richmond Virginia, and Layton Utah Temples could all have a groundbreaking within the next year, if not sooner than that.

With those important notes about the significance behind temples announced in April 2018, we can move on to those temple announced in October 2018. The breakdown for those by area is as follows:

Africa West—Lagos Nigeria
Asia—Phnom Penh Cambodia
Asia North—Yigo Guam
Brazil—Salvador Brazil
Caribbean—San Juan Puerto Rico
Europe—Praia Cape Verde
Mexico—Puebla Mexico
North America West—Yuba City California
Pacific—Auckland New Zealand
Philippines—Davao Philippines
North America West—Yuba City California
South America South—Mendoza Argentina
Utah—Washington County Utah

Some important notes on these temples: Per the April 2018 list of the top ten nations with the strongest Church presence that did not have a temple in any phase, Puerto Rico, Cambodia, and Cape Verde ranked as second, seventh, and eighth on that list. And also significant about this set of announced temples (as I will detail more fully later on in this post), 3 of them (Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde, and San Juan Puerto Rico) had a groundbreaking occur within less than a year of the time in which they were announced.

Roughly one month after General Conference, the Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire Temple became both the only temple to have a groundbreaking in 2018, and the second of the 3 temples announced in April 2015 by President Monson to have a groundbreaking. Less than two weeks later, the First Presidency announced the scheduled groundbreaking for the Urdaneta Philippines Temple (that temple had originally been announced in October 2010 by President Monson). And just 8 days later, groundbreaking arrangements were also announced for the Bangkok Thailand Temple, making it the final temple originally announced in April 2015 to have a groundbreaking set.

The two temples would go on to have their groundbreakings 10 days apart, with the Urdaneta Philippines Temple having a groundbreaking on January 16 of this year, and the groundbreaking for the Bangkok Thailand Temple following 10 days later on January 26.  The day after the Urdaneta Philippines Temple groundbreaking, the Church announced the groundbreaking for the San Juan Puerto Rico Temple. Then, on February 1, the Church announced the groundbreakings for the Pocatello Idaho and Yigo Guam Temples. Exactly one week later, the Church also announced the groundbreaking for the Praia Cabo Verde Temple. Then, on March 7, groundbreakings were announced for both the Quito Ecuador and Lima Peru Los Olivos Temples.

Of all these groundbreakings, only that for Pocatello Idaho Temple would take place before the April 2019 General Conference, and that temple had its' groundbreaking on March 16. When the April 2019 General Conference rolled around, many (myself included) were anticipating, due to all that had been said about President Nelson's plans to expand the number of temples tenfold, that he would both outline the details and timing of how such a massive increase would be achieved, explain the timing within which those plans would come to fruition, and announce a significant number of new temples to kick that process off.

As a result of only 8 temples being announced in April of 2019, there were many who were disappointed thereby. I also felt that way initially before realizing that the tenfold increase was an ultimate goal rather than an immediate destination towards which the Church was heading. And if, as his apostolic colleagues have repeatedly suggested, President Nelson is going to be leading the Church for the next decade or two, that will be plenty of time to achieve such an overall increase, so it will likely "be done in wisdom and order", since the Lord does not require a man to "run faster or labor harder than he has the strength" to do so.

That aside, the temples announced in April 2019 were for the following geographical areas (and more specific locations):
Asia North—Okinawa Japan
Central America—San Pedro Sula Honduras
Europe—Budapest Hungary
North America Northwest (Merged with the North America West Area on August 1)—Moses Lake Washington
Pacific—Pago Pago American Samoa; Neiafu Tonga
South America South—Antofagasta Chile
Utah—Tooele Valley Utah

Based on the October 2018 list of the top ten nations with the strongest Church presence that do not have a temple in any phase, only American Samoa was on the list, and it ranked fourth thereon. The other significant thing about the announcement of a temple for American Samoa is that such a temple had been originally announced in mid-October 1977. In April 1980, 7 new temples were announced, two of which wound up being built in Papeete Tahiti and Nuku'alofa Tonga. As a result of the announcement of these two temples, the intended American Samoa Temple was relocated to Apia Samoa.

The announcement of a temple to be built in American Samoa (which was made for the second time last April) also marked the second temple a previously-suspended temple announcement was subsequently renewed (the other is the Hartford Connecticut Temple). With that noted, following the April 2019 General Conference, the groundbreakings for the Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde, and San Juan Puerto Rico Temples all took place on Saturday May 4. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Quito Ecuador Temple followed exactly one week later (on May 11), and four weeks after that (on June 8), the groundbreaking for the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple was also held.

Roughly 1.5 weeks later, on Monday June 17, we learned about a letter sent out to the Brazilian Saints, which set the groundbreaking for the Belém Brazil Temple, scheduled for exactly two months later (on August 17). It was not until two weeks ago today that an official confirmation of those arrangements, along with an artist's rendering, were provided. And that groundbreaking will have occurred by this time tomorrow. So what does that mean for temple announcements that may occur during the October 2019 General Conference? More on that will be provided in my next post.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. 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.

Additional Thoughts and Observations on the Temple Construction Program of the Church: Part One—Current Temple Construction and Upcoming Scheduled Events

Hello again, everyone! The lengthy title of this post comprises a summary of what this post will cover. There will be some additional thoughts and observations about the temple construction program of the Church as it currently stands, some commentary on Nelsonian temple annouoncements, and a look ahead at what I anticipate may occur in the future. Given the volume of the information I intend to present here, I will split these thoughts and observations into two or three separate posts.

This first one will cover the known current and future temple construction plans, and will be followed by a second part exploring Nelsonian temple announcements thus far, and, if needed, a third part outlining more specifics on what I anticipate in terms of temple announcements during the October 2019 General Conference. There is a lot to get to, so let's dive right in. First, some preliminary observations:

I am getting this post in before tomorrow, when I will provide coverage in some form on the conclusion of the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple open house, the beginning of the open house for the Lisbon Portugal Temple, and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Belém Brazil Temple. I use the term "coverage of some form" because I don't yet know what kind of coverage will be available. What I have right now is the preliminary releases provided for the Port-au-Prince HaitiLisbon Portugal, and Belém Brazil Temples, and I have seen nothing further in relation to any of these temples at this time.

Insofar as I am aware, there has not even been a widely-mentioned releaxe of the specific time of the groundbreaking ceremony for the newest Brazilian temple. I would assume it might be held anytime between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM Belém time, which would be anytime between 7:00 AM and 1:00 PM here in Utah. During that temple's groundbreaking, whenever it occurs, I assume we may find out how long construction is anticipated to take on that temple. I am estimating the construction thereof may take around 2-3 years to complete.

Given the progress (and the lack thereof) on other temples under construction (more on that in a moment), I have tentatively set a general estimate for the Belém temple for early-to-mid 2022. After tomorrow, the next temple milestone will be marked two weeks later, on August 31, at which time the open house for the Lisbon Portugal will end, and that date will coincide with the scheduled date for the youth devotional for the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple, which will be followed the next day by its' dedication.

As I also previously mentioned, I anticipate that one of our 3 apostles who are fluent in French will be assiged to dedicate that temple. Of those three (President Henry B. Eyring and Elders Neil L. Andersen and Dale G. Renlund), President Eyring presided over the one-session rededication for the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple in May, and the month before that, Elder Renlund presided at the dedication of the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple, so my best guess is that Elder Andersen will be the one sent to dedicate the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple, perhaps with Elder Renlund accopanying him.

The next currently-scheduled temple event will occur less than two weeks later, when the open house for the Frankfurt Germany Temple begins on September 13. The following day will mark the youth devotional for the Lisbon Portugal Temple, in advance of its' dedication the following day. At this point, I have no idea who might be assigned to preside at that event. We will have to see. The Saturday following that temple dedication, the Raleigh North Carolina Temple open house will begin. And the very next Saturday will mark the end of both the Raleigh and Frankfurt open houses.

The next known event impacting temples (of which we are aware so far) is the October General Conference, which will convene the first weekend in October, and at which I anticipate between 14-16 new temples will be announced. I will have additional thoughts specifically on the likely breakdown of those announcements in a subsequent post in this mini-series. The Saturday following General Conference, the open house for the Asuncion Paraguay Temple will begin, ending the following Saturday. After the first day of open house tours for the Asuncion Paraguay Temple, the Raleigh North Carolina Temple will be privately rededicated in one session by President M. Russell Ballard. The rededication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple will be held the following Sunday, and I will be shocked if Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf does not preside thereat.

The Saturday following the conclusion of the open house for the Asuncion Paraguay Temple, the one-week open house will begin for the Baton Rougue Louisiana Temple. That open house will end the day prior to the private rededication for the Asuncion Paraguay Temple, over which any of the more senior apostles (from President Nelson to Elder Christofferson) may preside. On Friday November 15, the open house for the Arequipa Peru Temple will begin. Two days later (on Sunday November 17), Elder Quentin L. Cook will preside over the one-session private rededication for the Baton Rougue Louisiana Temple. On the last day of November, the open house for the Arequipa Peru Temple will come to its' conclusion. The youth devotional for that temple will then be held on Saturday December 14, with the dedication thereof following in 3 sessions the very next day.

I want to interject here that, prior to the end of this year, I fully anticipate that the following temples the following temples could have a groundbreaking before the end of this year: Brasilia Brazil, Richmond Virginia, Saratoga Springs Utah, Harare Zimbabwe, Bengaluru India, and Auckland New Zealand. Other potential temples which could have a groundbreaking before the end of this year, if all goes well, include: Greater Manila Philippines, Layton Utah, Nairobi Kenya, Puebla Mexico, Salta Argentina, and Mendoza Argentina. And I am not ruling out the prospect of any surprise announcements during the remainder of 2019, in a similar vein as the unexpected announcements about the Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde, and San Juan Puerto Rico Temple groundbreakings.

Looking ahead to next year, in addition to the open house (scheduled to take place between January 22 and February 1), and the youth devotional and dedication (set for Saturday and Sunday February 15 and16 respectively) for the Durban South Africa Temple, we are also anticipating the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple, the rededication of the Tokyo Japan Temple (likely to occur sometime before the 2020 Summer Olympics), the dedication of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, and the rededication for the Washington DC Temple (and possibly the rededication of the Mesa Arizona Temple as well), which are anticipated to occur in that order.

2021 is likely to see the rededication of the Mesa Arizona Temple (if it doesn't happen before the end of the previous year), the dedication of the Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire Temple, the rededication of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, and, in any order, the dedications for the Praia Cabo Verde, Yigo Guam, San Juan Puerto Rico, Quito Ecuador, and Pocatello Idaho Temples, along with the possible dedications for the Urdaneta Philippines and Belem Brazil Temples. The other known temple events which will occur in the 1-3 years following are the rededications of the Hong Kong China, St. George Utah, and Salt Lake Temples, along with the dedications of any temples which may have a groundbreaking within the next 18-24 months.

So that is an overview of what is known in terms of future temple events. And based on however many temples are announced in October and the General Conferences within the next year or two following, the temple construction program as it will exist by the time the Salt Lake Temple is rededicated may look entirely different. Having provided that overview of known temple construction milestones in the immediate and near fture, my next post will discuss Nelsonian temple announcements thus far, and what I specifically anticipate occurring with the temples that will be announced in October 2019, unless I have to split my thoughts about the upcoming announcements into a third post in this mini-series.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. 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.