Members React to Conference Announcement about 12 New Temples

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News associate editor

  • 8 October 2018

President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement Sunday of the Church’s plans to build 12 new temples prompted cheers and tears inside the Conference Center and in living rooms and meetinghouses across the globe.

“To those who have long been absent from the temple, I encourage you to prepare and return as soon as possible.” —President Russell M. Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement Sunday of the Church’s plans to build 12 new temples prompted cheers and tears inside the Conference Center and in living rooms and meetinghouses across the globe.

Those temples will be built in Mendoza, Argentina; Salvador, Brazil; Yuba City, California; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Praia, Cape Verde; Yigo, Guam; Puebla, Mexico; Auckland, New Zealand; Lagos, Nigeria; Davao, Philippines; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Washington County, Utah.

The Church News contacted several people overjoyed by President Nelson’s announcements. Here are a few responses:

• “We are all crying here,” reported San Juan Puerto Rico Stake President Wilfred Rosa. “We have been working hard for many years, and this will bless our island in so many ways.”

President Rosa and his fellow Puerto Rican members are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Many went months without electrical power—enduring both physical and emotional hardships.

They were uplifted by President Nelson’s visit last month. His announcement Sunday now signals another chapter of hope.

“This is the beginning of great days to come. … Words cannot express our feelings,” said President Rosa.

• Puebla Mexico Valsequillo Stake President Jose Rivera can relate to President Rosa’s joyful response.

“A temple in Puebla will be a new source of light,” he said. “For many years, we have wanted a temple for our members and our community.

“We feel so humbled and blessed by the Lord.”

Erik Ramsay and Amy Ramsay react to the announcement of 12 new temples during the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

• Meanwhile, Latter-day Saints in Mendoza, Argentina, reacted to the temple news “like we had just scored a goal in the World Cup.”

“We have held out hope for a temple for a long time,” said Mendoza Argentina Stake President Juan Naccarato.

A new temple, he added, is both a great blessing and a blessed responsibility. “We have a lot of work to do, but we will see so much growth—especially among our youth.

• When Yuba City California Stake President Stephen Hammarstrom considers the opportunities that will be offered by a temple in his northern California community, his thoughts turn to his fellow members.

“They serve so faithfully in the Sacramento Temple, so I know they will step up for the future temple.”

The greater-Yuba City community is defined by cultural and religious diversity. Having a dedicated temple in their midst will prompt unity and cooperation.

“I just feel an amazing sense of gratitude,” he said Sunday.

Yuba City Mayor Preet Didbal issued a statement pledging support for the future temple.

“I’m excited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chose Yuba City to located their next temple. I know the members of the Church in our city, region and Northern California will benefit from this important religious facility. Yuba City is the ideal location for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days to build a temple. Known for our diversity, our city embraces all cultures and religious beliefs. I look forward to working with the Church to ensure a smooth and efficient processing of this project.”

Mark Richey reacts to the announcement of 12 new temples during the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

• For the past several years, Jonny Linehan has sat tall in his seat whenever the President of the Church announced plans to build new temple, hoping to hear his hometown of Auckland.

On Sunday, it finally happened.

“Having a temple in Auckland will be a great religious symbol” for the community, he said. The Utah resident has great memories of traveling with his family to the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. He knows blessings now await his Auckland family, friends, and neighbors. “Wherever there is a temple, there is a great sense of peace.”

• Former Micronesia Guam Mission President Michael Dowdle and his wife, Sister Gayla Dowdle, know well the deep love the members in the Micronesian island have for the temple. Most have had to travel to Hawaii or the Philippines to claim their temple blessings. A future dedicated edifice will offer unprecedented spiritual blessings.

“This has been a dream,” he said.

The Dowdles, who live in Utah, delight in imagining their friends on the islands waking up to the happy news that a temple will be built in Guam.

“They are going to be so overjoyed,” said Sister Dowdle. “The temple will be such a blessing.”

Conference-goers react to the announcement of 12 new temples during the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

• Pheak Leng woke up before dawn Monday in Cambodia. Despite the early hour, there was a message waiting on his phone.

“My sister texted me and told me about the new temple in Cambodia,” he wrote. “I almost jumped off the ground and hit my room ceiling. I then texted my bishop and other bishops in my stake and my friends, as many as I could. I know some of them were still in bed sleeping, but I hoped the first thing they saw when they woke up was my text.”

The Cambodian members have to make the costly trip to Hong Kong to worship in the temple and be sealed to their families.

“In the future, the Cambodian members will not have to travel far from [home] to go to the temple,” he added.

• Carlos Pires was greeted at his office at the United States Embassy in Cape Verde by a fellow member who works as a security guard.

President Nelson, he said, had just announced a temple would be built in his African nation.

Pires could not believe what he was hearing—but it was true.

“When I came home, everyone was crying and happy,” he wrote in an email. “They told me that they all started crying in the church when they heard the news and saw the temple on the map.”

Pires said he feels blessed to visit five temples during his life, but for most members in Cape Verde, getting to the temple is difficult and demands great financial sacrifice. “I just feel so blessed; and now we have to work harder here to deserve these blessings of the temple. … Our country will be blessed with more peace once a temple is here.”

• Kelechi Ugoh was listening to the Sunday afternoon session of general conference on the radio while driving when he heard President Nelson announce the 12 temples to be built in the coming years. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, living in Orem, Utah, he nearly stopped in the middle of the road while driving when he heard his city’s name announced.

“When I heard Lagos, Nigeria, I gasped in surprise and then was really, really excited,” he told the Church News. “I’ve heard friends and family talk about where the next temple will be built in Nigeria, and Lagos was usually top on the list, but I think no one was expecting it to happen.”

He thought about his family’s reaction to this news and how it is spreading to all he knows back in Nigeria. While living in Nigeria, he and his family and friends attended the Aba Nigeria Temple.

“That was about 10 hours of driving on not-the-best of roads infrastructure-wise, so there were lots of accidents. Cases of robbery on the road are not uncommon. Also, it’s an expensive trip for most people.”

Members in Nigeria will relish the temple news, Ugoh said. “This will boost temple attendance, missionary work, and general spirituality of members in Nigeria.”

Lagos is the most populous state in Nigeria, so a temple “would create more awareness and increase people’s interest in the Church in Nigeria. And I can see increased growth in the Church in Nigeria with a temple in Lagos.”

Joyce Owens listens to new temple announcements during the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

• Although the new temple in Washington County, Utah, will reside in the same county as the oldest operating temple of the Church (the beloved St. George Utah Temple), residents are “inspired and thrilled” to welcome another holy edifice.

“Many people are moving here,” said President Daniel K. Frei, Santa Clara Utah Stake president. “We do have a temple, but only so much work can be done, and a lot of temple work is being done. We are already at capacity.”

President Frei was in the Conference Center for the announcement, and although he was initially “very surprised” when he heard a temple would be built in Washington County, he isn’t shocked because St. George is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., with many retirees.

“This will provide an opportunity for more Church members to serve in the temple,” President Frei said. “It is also an indication of the Lord’s confidence in the people who live in the area. We will need to staff the new temple and do the work—it creates more opportunity for us to serve.”