[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nce more we gather in the valleys of the everlasting hills upon the periphery of the arid scrublands wherewith all who choose may be blessed with both salvation and fry sauce. Once more, we play our dangerous game!
We’ve been predicting temples at This Week in Mormons (still working on that name change – maybe) for many years, and the fun thing is how many of them we get right. Because General Conference is clearly about TWiM’s glory and ego and not remotely about improving ourselves and the way we associate with our friends, family, and loved ones.
Normally, we proudly show off our 200-mile radius map. What’s that about? A few years ago, President Thomas S. Monson boasted that 85% of the Church was within 200 miles of a temple. That was a cool, if imperfect, metric to work with, and it allowed us to develop some great geospatial analysis of temple reach.
While we’ll still use our trusty map to provide some visual analysis and flair, the old playbook has gone out the window under President Nelson, who seems to be a bit more bullish in taking temple ideas to the Lord. Since he assumed the presidency in early 2018, we’ve seen dozens of temples announced, with many of them quickly going into the construction phase. We have no reason to think this trend won’t continue. Even the last General Conference, which was a bit more by the numbers compared to the whirlwind that was 2018, still brought with it a bunch of temple announcements. Besides, President Nelson admitted that we should expect to hear about more temples in October.
But how many? And where? That’s where things get fun. This is definitely an era of splitting more hairs since most of the obvious temple gaps have been filled. It makes guessing more challenging and looking beyond pure demographics and into gut feelings, rumors and inside sources.
For our picks, we want to take the spirit of this new era, where temples are going into otherwise not “obvious” locations to serve smaller populations of Latter-day Saints, and investigate some more out-of-the-box ideas that perhaps we’ve never guessed before. Indeed, anecdotal evidence has suggested that the Church is going to continue to be ambitious on temples and less so on meetinghouses, especially as two-hour Church has reduced the need to build new Sunday facilities. That said, we’ll still revist a few standbys whose time have (hopefully) come, but we’ll do our best to bring some freshness to the mix.
First a quick word. We’d like to make a special mention of Rogers, Arkansas. Few locales have made this list so many times. Perhaps Layton, Utah was one of the only others to do so, but then it got a temple, so…
We love northwest Arkansas, but we are tired of feeling burned by our extremely thoughtful and logical prediction for a temple there – an area actually outside the 200-mile radius with stakes and growth! Therefore, consider Rogers not predicted this time around, and in saying that, we fully expect that it will actually be announced the one time we finally leave it off the list.
Please remember that while we do this from what we hope is an informed perspective, we also do it for fun, and we also do not claim to have any revelatory insight into the process.
So check out the map below and hit up the next page as Geoff Openshaw, editor-in-chief, and Joseph Peterson, sometimes social media and huge TWiM cheerleader, get to the goods. Then share this with everyone you love on this earth.