Geoff: We haven’t busted out Mongolia’s capital in a few seasons, but with a temples now coming to Thailand and India, and the Philippines continuing to do its thing, Mongolia seems poised to become the next Asian country to receive a temple.
Also, I read an interesting biography on Genghis Khan this year, so I’m all in on that Golden Horde.
Ulaanbaatar is not an enormous city, but it has two stakes and 11 wards in the city proper. That gives it a ratio of 1 ward per every 114,000 people, more or less. Is that ratio impressive in a North American context? Not exactly, but that’s a better ratio than metropolitan Perth, Australia, which is likewise surrounded by a very sparsely populated area, and Perth has a temple.
In addition, there are untold numbers of Latter-day Saints in China as well as a smattering of Church units in neighboring Russia (although the contraction of the Vladivostok Mission does make one take pause). It’s unlikely Russia’s presently homeless temple will be built anywhere east of the Ural Mountains, so a temple in Mongolia could be a great fit for a huge region.
Mongolia has grown fast in the decades since it abandoned communism and embraced capitalism and democracy, but it is heavily reliant on foreign companies focused on mining. A downturn in that economy could hurt the growth of the Church and prohibit normally nomadic Mongolians from settling in the city.
Joe: It’s certainly in line, but next? What, and forget Singapore?
I do like the outpost philosophy for members who live in places where the Church doesn’t officially have a presence or much in the way of infrastructure or membership, as I’ve alluded to in some of my predictions above. So the China argument is compelling, if a little far fetched. Most of China’s members would likely be too far away to make a trip to Mongolia more appealing and practical than, say, Paris or Disneyland.
Should it happen, however, I imagine the temple design committee will be utterly overwhelmed with the striking beauty and available symbolism in the cultural traditions of Mongolia’s eagle hunters. It would be a sight to behold.