This has to be a record. Announced mere weeks ago at the end of the April 2021 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by President Russell M. Nelson, the Helena Montana Temple already has a look and a home.
The temple will be located on a 4.8-acre site at 1260 Otter Road, adjacent to a new meetinghouse.
This places the temple on the northern periphery of the greater Helena area, which is home to just under 80,000 people and has one Latter-day Saint stake. Presumably other stakes in western Montana will support the temple, such as the two in Great Falls, three near Missoula, one in Butte, and one in Bozeman.
Helena is Montana’s capital and the seat of its state government. Montana is home to approximately 50,000 Latter-day Saints.
Now onto the design. The temple has a clean, angular look that, uh, befits the jagged peaks of western Montana? It looks like a mix of freshly announced temples in Tallahassee, Florida and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (perhaps hewing closer to Pittsburgh), but there’s one key difference.
That’s right, although the Helena temple seems to be using the same general floorplan template of the other two temples, it is only 10,000 square feet, or roughly a third the size of the other two buildings.
Most of the Hinckley-era “mini” temples were roughly 10,700 square feet, although the smallest, the Colonia Juarez Mexico Temple, is only 6,800 square feet. (It’s also the smallest temple in the entire Church.) The most recent temple to be anywhere close to this small is the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple at about 12,000 square feet.
To read the Word of Wisdom-compliant tea leaves, we wonder if the Helena temple, which will serve an area of comparatively few stakes, will serve as a template for the other temples recently announced, many of which are second or third temples in a larger existing temple district and will presumably serve only a handful of stakes. One could easily see temples in Cape Town, South Africa; Burley, Idaho; Yorba Linda, California; Grand Junction, Colorado; Farmington, New Mexico, Elko, Nevada; and others following suit. (Color us shocked if the temple in Smithfield, Utah is anything less than 75,000 square feet.)
No groundbreaking date has been announced, but at this rate, we fully expect the entire temple to be up and running before Labor Day.