Happy General Conference to you! We’re as excited as anyone for all the first weekend of October 2021 has in store, and we’re excited Conference will return to the Conference Center, even without a congregation and with a pared-down Tabernacle Choir.
As a people, we’ve now been groomed to expect new temple announcements every conference. President Monson was once on a roll with them, then told us we’d hold off on new temples as we worked on the backlog. President Nelson has no such backlog concerns. Indeed, he has announced 70 new temples since becoming Church president in 2018, second only to the 78 announced by President Hinckley, who spent 13 years making such announcements. This Conference alone, President Nelson could become the Most Temple Announcingest Prophet of All Time, a new award that we just made up.
And about those announcements. The incredible 20 temples announced in April was truly something, and even though we have a pretty solid track record predicting these things, all we could do was stand back, slow clap, and realize we’ve entered a new paradigm of temple predicting, where it’s totally feasible to announce a temple for an area with a single stake.
We have long used an old metric of President Monson to gauge temple coverage. He stated some years ago that, at the time, 85% of Church membership was within 200 miles of a temple. Our map below still reflects that 200-mile radius. Of course, 200 miles is just an arbitrary number. We have roads, rivers, rails, and skies to deal with when it comes to traveling to the nearest temple, and that can be a more or less complicated affair depending on where you live. In fact, it was President Nelson who said he wants every Latter-day Saint within two hours of a temple, which could absolutely mean less than 200 miles for many parts of the world.
So let’s check out that map!
Please bear in mind we fully understand we are not prophets. We also don’t speak for the Church. We also don’t think it is wrong to ponder where temples might go. We are just a few guys who look at statistics and demographics — just as the Brethren do — to gauge where temples might go. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes ones that make perfect sense remain unannounced (you know we have love for you, Mongolia). The one thing we are mostly sure of is there’s little chance the angel Moroni will top any of these buildings.
So read below to catch our predictions as This Week in Mormons’ editor-in-chief, Geoff Openshaw, temple prediction mastermind and dubious culinary expert, Joe “Angie” Peterson, and urban planning and data hound, Cory Ward, make it happen.
You can also watch us chat on YouTube below while you read and stream this episode from the podcast player above!
Santiago Chile #2
Joseph: It’s time. The first temple ever in a Spanish speaking country needs some support. At 20,000 square feet, the Santiago, Chile temple sits on a plot of land colloquially called “temple square” because it houses mission offices, patron housing, and a distribution center. But let’s not presume that this relatively small temple for a district with a whopping 50 stakes and seven districts is sufficient for the area simply because it’s been regionally elevated to “temple square” status. While it’s true the Antofogosta temple would cull some of those stakes away from that total, at most it would only take four if geographic proximity has any say.
And since it seems just too far-fetched a notion for the coastal region of the current Santiago temple district to deserve its own house of the Lord, those 11 stakes and two districts could join with other regional and metro-based stakes closer to Santiago to make a fairly even split of the current temple district. A new temple district anchored in the capital city’s southwest region near the city of Maipu would be closer access for most of the stakes farther afield from Santiago’s urban core, including the aforementioned coastal region, and still be advantageous enough for a handful of metro-area stakes. This is perhaps the stronger argument since it would result in a would-be district of approximately 20 stakes and three districts. Maybe this is the stepping stone before Valparaiso gets its own temple announced six months from now.
Cory: Yeah, I’ve been a proponent for Viña del Mar and Valparaiso for a while. But you may have convinced me on this. The executive director of the temple department has admitted that the church wants to build multiple temples in large cities that are hard to navigate. We’ve seen this in Lima, Manila, São Paulo, and Guatemala City. Santiago is certainly a contender. Sure, Viña del Mar is further away, but a temple on the south end of Santiago would make sense. The only concern I have is the recent hemorrhage of congregations in 2019 that resulted in the church selling or repurposing nearly two dozen chapels, mainly clustered on the southern portion of the city. Before those chapels disappeared from the meetinghouse locator, I mapped out the meetinghouses that had no congregation assigned. In addition, a number of empty lots that the church owns also appeared as empty meetinghouses. One of those empty lots located in the Villa los Robles neighborhood is very large. If you are right on this, my guess is that a temple would be built at this location.
Geoff: Man, if we were to declare a victor from the period in the early 2000s when Elders Oaks and Holland were sent to preside over the Philippines and Chile areas, respectively, we have to give the win to Elder Oaks, right? Right??
I’m on board with this, but my non-betting money is on a smaller temple in Osorno or Puerto Montt.
Geoff: We don’t hear much about Hawaii, save assorted news from BYU-Hawaii or cute movies that were filmed there. There are two temples in the Aloha State. The Laie Hawaii Temple is the 5th post-Nauvoo temple built by the Church and the first outside of Utah. It is steeped in history and abuts the campus of BYU-Hawaii. The Kona Hawaii Temple, on the other hand, was part of President Hinckley’s beloved “mini” temple campaign. He dedicated the building in 2000.
Outside of Oahu, Hawaii isn’t exactly teeming with Church membership. But the other Hawaiian Islands also aren’t exactly teeming with as many people, so the relationship between overall population and the number of stakes is a bit more balanced. For example, Oahu County, which comprises the eponymous island, has roughly 92,410 per stake. The Big Island has 100,315 per stake. Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, has only two stakes, but that’s still 82,377 people per stake, lower than Oahu.
Additionally, until the last census, Maui was the fastest-growing county in Hawaii. That growth in overall population is also expressed in Church growth; Maui organized that second stake only in 2014, the first new stake in Hawaii since another student/YSA stake was created in Laie in 2004. Other than that, most Hawaiian stakes date back to before the 1990s.
The argument against, of course, is the Kona Hawaii Temple only has four stakes feeding into it, two on the Big Island and the two on Maui. But in this era of temples for a single stake, it’s not hard to imagine a world where the Lord tells the folks of Maui they no longer have to travel by boat or plane to another island to visit a tiny temple.
Cory: OK, I can go along with this. Sure, membership isn’t the most; flights to the big island are around $100. But yes, I’m sure a temple here will be appreciated. All those members from the mainland (like Chad and Lori) will visit when they come to stay at the Marriott Hotel that was recently purchased by the church’s property manager, Hawaii Reserves Inc.
Joe: Chad and Lori?! GASP! You darn near made me spit out my 24 oz. Razzbear, Cory! What’s a Razzbear? Why it’s my caffeine-free Diet Coke with vanilla, raspberry puree and cream from FiiZ, of course! FiiZ Drinks, A Serious Drink Experience (smiles at camera).
Cory: Although Austin is the capital of Texas, there are many larger metro cities in Texas that have received temples. Heck, even Lubbock and McAllen have gotten temples. Austin is relatively close to San Antonio, which received a temple in 2005. Back then, there were only four stakes in San Antonio, and three in the Austin area. But in the last 16 years, a number of New Stakes have been created. Now San Antonio boasts eight stakes and the Austin area has seven. Add the stake in Killeen and the New stake in Waco, and that’s nine stakes. The church has doubled in less than two decades. A mission in Austin was also created in 2020. Besides Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, it seems like everyone is moving to Austin, including a lot of church members.
The San Antonio Temple was built at the tail end of the Hinkley era expansion of temples. It had a slightly larger design than the 10,000 square foot mini-temples of the era. Despite featuring amazing stained glass, the ordinance capacity is the same as the mini-temples. Two sealing rooms and two ordinance rooms having each 40 seats, It is still one of the smallest temples in the church. A temple in Austin would definitely help ease the burden and accommodate inevitable future growth in this boomtown.
Geoff: Yeah, the San Antonio Temple follows that sort of “Mini 2.0” style we saw in the mid-2000s, similar to Lubbock, Accra, Newport Beach, Redlands, Sacramento, etc. Most of those temples bumped up the size from around 10,000 square feet to somewhere closer to 15,000-19,000 square feet, usually to make the ordinance rooms a bit larger and add a sealing room or two.
Austin’s time might be here. Joe once predicted another temple in the Dallas Metroplex, which I think is ridiculous, but hey, maybe? I believe that with the McAllen temple underway, a temple in Austin seems like a logical choice There’s even a property in northwest Austin on Park St. that contains a meetinghouse and some conspicuously empty other land. You could easily see the Church demolishing the meetinghouse to make way for a temple and maybe building a new meetinghouse south of the temple.
Of course, we’ve vacillated between Austin and El Paso for years in these announcements, so maybe this will finally be the year El Paso gets its due, and the Beto O’Rourke Texas Temple will be a thing. Joe: Well argued, Cory! I still say DFW will get another temple, but I’m willing to concede that Austin may get one first.
Punta Arenas Chile
Joseph: How do the kids say it? Don’t sleep on Chile? Longtime readers of these predictions may recall that I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for Viña del Mar and the coastal region west of Santiago for a while now. Well, I’m letting it rest this time because there’s a new bee in bonnet town, and that’s way down yonder at the end of the world. Come with me south of the 46th parallel to a landscape so incredibly remote and isolated that any further would be Antarctica, and I will show you thriving communities of Latter-day Saints who are ready and waiting for a temple to call their own.
On the Chilean side, Punta Arenas is the largest city of the two countries in this area and has a stake of its own along with the most branches and wards in its immediate vicinity. This, and likely transportation routes make it the obvious location for the temple. But on the Argentina side is Ushuaia, nicknamed the end of the world; the southernmost city in the world. In 2019 it got organized into a stake that draws from other towns and cities throughout Tierra del Fuego. So there is growth to speak of. Then by the time you consider that the next stake 12 hours north in Comodora Rivadavia is closer to Punta Arenas (by an hour) than it is to the soon-to-be built temple in Bahia Blanca, you could nab that city and a couple of districts in Patagonia on the way back down to the end of the world to round out a possible temple area of 2-3 stakes and 2 districts. Temples have been built for far less, frankly. In fact, there are currently six temples that have three stakes or less, and plenty more to come.
But it’s not only the growth and membership numbers that stand on the sure foundation of precedent. We know that remoteness plays a factor in considering temple accessibility. Indeed, the same logic one may assume went into deliberating Antofagasta’s temple on the north end of the incredibly long country of Chile is certainly just as cogent, if not more so, down in the Straits of Magellan.
Geoff: Longtime readers will also note that more than once you’ve forgotten the Concepcion Chile Temple exists. I laud you for having a blind spot for this temple of over 200 temples.
I could dig this. I wonder if the temple would go here or in Ushuaia. The latter is more truly in Tierra del Fuego, so if you’re aiming for as far south as possible, that’s tops. But how much love do we really need to give Argentina? I blame the gauchos—and definitely not mismanagement of club finances—for Messi’s departure from F.C. Barcelona.
Cory: I also like the idea of Ushuaia, but I’m more persuaded by the fact that Punta Arenas has seven wards while Ushuaia only has three. Maybe that’s not important, but Chile is lagging behind Argentina in temples right now. Go ahead and give them one more. My map also shows that the church may also own land in Punta Arenas on a hill overlooking the city and Strait of Magellan. Very picturesque.
Geoff: My love! My forever love! Longtime readers know that Mongolia is like the Tim Meadows of this list – always there, never leaving, severely underutilized.
There’s no new argument to make on this front. The country still has two stakes and one district, but those stakes are young and growing, and compared to other countries with temples, Mongolia has more stakes per capita, which implies a greater density of Latter-day Saints with respect to the overall population.
I’ve said it countless times. This temple has made sense based on geographic isolation alone for years. And now, in an era where temples are being built for one district, how much longer must the Mongolian saints await their temple?
This is where I insert some sort of joke a la Reagan at the Brandenberg Gate but subbing in the Great Wall of China. Mr. Nelson, tear down this wall!
I will now be banned from entry to China for encouraging the destruction of a national monument.
Cory: Yes Geoff, I believe! Long live the Mongolia temple prediction. If we say it enough times, it will happen… eventually. Say it with me: U-LAAN-BAA-TAR!
North Rexburg Idaho
Cory: This one might be controversial. First it was BYU-Idaho, now two temples? How much is Rexburg trying to become like Provo? Does the small town Rexburg really need two temples? Here is a quote from a recent piece I wrote on this site:
“Many of the YSA and student married stakes have 10 to 12 wards. Nearly all of them are considered “active members” based on their attendance at BYU-Idaho. The capacity of the temple is actually rather small in proportion to other temples in locations with a high concentration of members. A temple on the north side of the city would serve stakes in nearby small town communities as well as some Rexburg residents. Recently, the church officially acquired 40 acres of land just off of Highway 20 and across from the new Walmart Supercenter.”
There are 26 stakes in the Rexburg temple district. I am counting on that this is one of the most active geographical areas in the world. After all, to attend BYU-I, one must obey the Honor Code. Just as the Provo temples have plenty of students packing their corridors, the Rexburg temple is busy. The temple can have a session every 45 minutes with 50 people. There is one baptismal font and surprisingly meager (for the area, anyway) five sealing rooms. How can BYU-I-Do live up to its tradition with ONLY five sealing rooms?
Rexburg is not a massive metropolis and isn’t even the core city of its region. That honor goes to Idaho Falls. But it is growing northward, following the lead of Walmart. And wouldn’t you know it? And that piece of land the Church acquired last month makes plenty of sense for a temple. The stakes in Driggs, Ashton, St. Anthony, Sugar City, and Hibbard would find this temple location more convenient than the arduous trek into Rexburg proper! What’s next, making them drive in from the dunes?!
I know this seems far-fetched, but all the other temples in Idaho have had their districts split in the last few years (Boise/Meridian, Idaho Falls/Pocatello, Twin Falls/Burley) The Rexburg temple is comparatively small compared to what it serves, and even though it serves a smaller overall population center, I’d argue more templeage is needed to meet demand. Maybe this is a few years out, but I could see it in the future.
Geoff: Oh this is a fun one! I wonder if it would be a larger temple to match Rexburg or a smaller support temple a la the “compromise” temple in Ephraim that the Church announced in the spring after the Manti Temple mural debacle.
I also can’t help but think about nomenclature for a temple like this. When we predicted a temple in northern Cache Valley, we thought it might go in Smithfield, but weren’t sure if that’d be the name. Sure enough, it’s the Smithfield Utah Temple. (Man, to think we’re now in a world where places like Smithfield, Lindon, et al get temples named for them!) So in this case I think the temptation would be to call it the “Rexburg Idaho North Temple” or something along those lines, which I think is a bad idea. Doing so would always make this temple seem like an appendage to the “real” Rexburg temple, a product of necessity without its own identity.
I don’t know what else it’d be called. Maybe just name it after nearby Sugar City or Salem?
Either way it’d be cool to have two temples on 2nd Street! And that Panda Express is going to be OFF THE CHAIN.
Joe: Nah, Geoff it’ll be called the Teton River Temple or after some landmark or body of water. At least that’s the Utah Way. But wow, this is a left field guess for me. I just want to know, Cory, where do you get your information on all the land acquisitions by the church, because good heck! That’s a fun metric to bring into play in these prognostications.
I will say one thing that really fuels one of the two Provo temples perhaps more than BYU is the MTC. That’s, what, 2,000-3,000 missionaries going every week? Rexburg doesn’t have one of those. Upon closer inspection, however, it seems that just in that Sugar City to Ashton stretch north of Rexburg there’s about 32 wards! Shoot, just build one in Sugar City or St. Anthony and I think it’s likely to get plenty of business, as well as relieve some of the ostensible overcrowding of the existing Rexburg temple you mention, Cory.
Cory: My money’s on “Rexburg Idaho Henry’s Fork Temple.”
Queen Creek Arizona
Joseph: It’s been seven years since a temple was dedicated in Arizona and since that time, no additional temples for this area have been announced. Sure, Mesa’s temple is undergoing a temple-squarification of sorts, but the Valley of the Sun—much like south Salt Lake County—is a land of many suburbs. And as we know, in the American west, where there are suburbs there are Latter-day Saints. Lots of them. Single family homes or bust! So as Maricopa county continues its unmitigated sprawl, so too do the clusters of stakes, church buildings, and, for your consideration, temples!
Let’s zoom in to the east valley where LDS pockets tend to congregate. The Gilbert temple, also dedicated in 2014, is a staggering 85,000 square feet so let’s not shirk at its capacity to accommodate a sizable temple district. And yet! Though it was but a podunk cowtown when I was a mere lad and lived nearby, Queen Creek has truly exploded, and it has the confetti ribbons of strip malls amid half-moon bursts of master planned subdivisions to prove it. There are a whopping 36 stakes in the Gilbert temple district (yes, that’s considered “whopping” now), making it the largest temple district in the Church that doesn’t have an announced temple waiting to siphon off a few of those congregations to call its own.
Dividing the Gilbert district is tricky business, however, since the edifice itself is so darn accessible via the region’s highways and freeways. But might I suggest this giant dirt-devil hazard of a field next to a chapel in the Cloud Creek Ranch area of Queen Creek?
True, it would be comically close to the Gilbert temple. It may even give Provo a run for its money. But this is the land not of the double chapels you see in Utah, but of two separate church buildings sharing a parking lot. Seriously, there are quite a few of those here, so it makes a certain kind of sense.. Besides, 12 stakes from the heart of Queen Creek stretching all the way to the San Tan Valley, Coolidge and Florence (with its several prison branches) could be a viable and thriving district for a new House of the Lord. Let’s face it, those Saints in Arizona who flipped the state for Biden deserve it, don’t they? Hey-o!
Geoff: I’m not on board with this only because Apache Junction deserves everything. OK, but if there was another temple in the area, I think it’d go a bit farther away, maybe San Tan Valley, just to give it a tad more distance between it and the Gilbert Temple.
And that Gilbert Temple truly is lovely. It’s a beast, too. Also, no one should live in the Phoenix area. Ever.
Cory: I don’t doubt that the urban sprawl of Queen Creek and San Tan valley is the promised land for church members trying to fulfill their suburban dream now that Gilbert has reached its zenith. But I think Israel needs to wander in the wilderness a little longer until a temple can come to this ugly part of God’s desert that is Maricopa County. My money is on Flagstaff for the next AZ temple.
Joseph: Fair enough to the both of you. Let’s just say my predictions aren’t always my druthers.
Geoff: This is a fascinating pick to me. I’ve flirted with pressing for a Madagascar temple for many years, but in this new era of temples, temples, temples for all, let the Malgasy people cease traveling to South Africa for temple work. Give them their own building.
There are two stakes in Madagascar, organized in 2000 and 2011, as well as three districts. For a nation of nearly 30 million, that’s not too bad.
Mozambique, located across the channel of the same name, will receive its own temple in the next few years. The former Portuguese colony has just a hair more people than Madagascar but far more stakes. Still, again, we now see temples for less – much less. And a temple on the island could also cover the members in Reunion and Mauritius, thus uniting these francophone countries. Also, Mauritius was the home of the dodo bird. I have no follow on to that, just want to let everyone know.
Joseph: “Mada-who-ha?!” Yeah, it’s gonna happen at this conference. I’m feeling it. Wait, 30 million people live there?? Also, Geoff, you’re wrong about one thing: everyone knows the Dodo is a fine dining establishment in Utah where you go for dessert after General Conference. Get the banana cream cheese pie, Geoff, it’s to die for. To DIE FOR!
Cory: Madagascar is definitely on par with Mongolia for the remoteness factor. I was pretty surprised to see Mozambique get a temple before Madagascar. Can’t wait for those penguins of Madagascar memes.
Cory: If we go back to the 200 mile radius of temples. There is a cluster of five or six stakes in northern Peru that sit reasonably isolated from any nearby temple. Peru has 112 stakes and four temples. That’s the same number of temples as other countries with far fewer stakes, such as Guatemala, with 51 stakes, and Japan with a mere 25. Argentina has 5 temples supplied by 78 stakes. Peru is clearly a central piece of the church membership and more temples are coming.
The city of Piura lies just outside of the 200 mile radius of nearby temples, with the nearest being located in Trujillo. There are three stakes in the area and two nearby. Piura might be a respectable prediction. But my analysis shows that a temple in Chiclayo would help divide the Trujillo temple district more cleanly in half. Chilayo has seven stakes and a district. This puts it at one of the cities with the most stakes without a temple, just after La Paz, Bolivia (9) and Viña del Mar, Chile (8). Piura will probably get a temple in due time, but a temple in Chiclayo would cut down the saints’ trip to Trujillo by half and makes for a good compromise for now.
Geoff: I find it interesting you called for another temple in Peru but didn’t make the obvious choice of Iquitos. I’ll get to that in a minute.
In looking at the map, I think Chiclayo could absolutely work, but I struggle to see why Piura wouldn’t just get the nod. There are three stakes in the city proper and a handful more in the periphery. No, it’s not as LDS-dense as Chiclayo, but a temple there would provide greater overall benefit to that part of the Trujillo district. Of course, the Trujillo temple isn’t particularly old, but that hasn’t stopped us from hacking up districts of nascent temples. Heck, the Orem temple already ceded territory to the Lindon temple, and it’s still under construction.
As for Iquitos, the saints comprising the two stakes way out in Amazonian Peru are assigned to the Lima Peru Temple. We don’t know if that will change when the Lima Los Olivos temple is completed, but that’s still just another temple in Lima. Trujillo, Lima, Arequipa – none are convenient for the saints of Iquitos.
Joe: I’ll put my finger on the scale of this debate and tip it to Chiclayo.I think a temple there puts more members in closer proximity to a temple than one in Piura would, and isn’t that the ultimate goal? I think there is an eventuality that Piura would get one as well, but it seems Chiclayo is the stronger contender to be next. Well done, Cory. This area did not pop up on my radar, however. I feel like that was a major blind spot for me this time around. Never as bad as Concepcion though, right, Geoff?
Cauayan City Philippines
Joseph: I know there are other, more popular guesses for where the next Philippine temple will be announced but hear me out, there are some unique geographical limitations that make the northern part of this island nation still a bridge too far for so many Saints to journey to their long-awaited temple in Urdaneta. Zoom in on the northeastern region of the island of Luzon and you’ll find a third class component city (not sure what that means) that goes by the name of Cauayan. The city is one of the transportation pivotal points in the Cagayan valley. That’s key when considering the stretch of stakes and districts to the north and south. Eight stakes, in fact, and three or four districts from the northeast coast of Luzon to the southern stretches of the Cagayan Valley represent a region of saints that could ostensibly travel with relative ease inside that region but that are significantly isolated from other regions where temples are.
Cauayan City is hardly the biggest city in the valley, but it is more centrally located both in the spread of stakes and in the area generally. And I know, Manila’s juggernaut of a temple district—still one of the church’s largest—is destined to be dissected by the forthcoming Urdaneta, Muntinlupa, and Guam temples, but for the Cagayan Valley it’s a question of access and isolation. Factors like transportation infrastructure and sheer distance mean a temple centrally located in N.E. Luzon would put literally thousands of Saints within a reasonable or at least vastly improved proximity. Not for nothing, there was also a new stake organized in Cauayan in 2021, signifying substantial church growth in the region.
Cory: I would normally be inclined to think of a more isolated place for the Philippines like Tacloban or Naga for Philippine’s next temple. The temple under construction in Urdaneta will significantly help the saints of the valley be closer to a temple. That being said, the temple was announced way back in 2010 and since then, the area has blossomed with additional stakes, including the one in Cauayan City. There is even a mission headquartered in the city. So I would have to give this prediction a pretty good rating.
Geoff: This valley needs the love. You can see how the Urdaneta temple will cover members on the west side of Luzon, but let’s balkanize this sucker. I say give them all temples. I often say it as a joke, but in some seriousness I do mean it when I say just throw a dart at a map of the Philippines and you can probably justify a temple there.
Joseph: The truth is the Philippines probably needs about 5 more temples to put it on par with other parts of the world with similar membership numbers. I think Cauayan, Tacloban, and Naga are all great predictions, but Urdeneta’s district-in-waiting is already massive, so I think it’s ripe for dividing before it’s even dedicated a la Nigeria.
Geoff: I’ve gone back and forth on making this an actual pick. The Boston Massachusetts Temple was the lone temple in New England for many years until the Hartford Connecticut Temple came online a few years ago. The saints of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine must trek a decent amount to Boston for temple work.
However, the Boston temple takes in only five stakes in Massachusetts, and a new temple in Maine would cleave off a substantial chunk of feeder stakes. That leaves one stake in Vermont, three in New Hampshire, and two in Maine.
I’m not even saying Augusta is the ideal location here. It’d place a temple in the eastern region of its own district, providing minimal advantage for the saints in Vermont, for example. Augusta can be farther away from New Hampshire’s concentration of Latter-day Saints than Boston, as well. The only reason I didn’t go with somewhere in New Hampshire is that a temple in the Granite State would place the temple unreasonably close to Boston.
Also a possibility is a celebratory “Restoration” temple in Sharon Vermont, the birthplace of Joseph Smith, which would be equidistant between the stakes in Vermont and New Hampshire. But, probably not?
As you can tell, this is not a slam dunk. Maybe the temple should go all the way up in Bangor. Or Bah Hahbah.
Cory: I would be more bold than you Geoff, If a temple were announced in Maine, Augusta would be the Ideal location. It’s right there in between the cluster of congregations in Bangor and Portland. Plus, it would be a good distance away from a temple down the road for Sharon. Right now, there is only an obelisk to see there in Sharon, kind of boring.
Joseph: Listen the both of you. Have you been to Sharon? It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. It’s a very well done church history site! There’s even a nice little “mountain” to climb with a spectacular view! Is it the best spot for a third New England temple? Well…maybe you’re right, Cory, it does seem like Augusta is more ideal. Farmington, Maine might be easier to get to from northern Vermont, however. Maybe it could be one of those temples they build in a more obscure town simply because it’s more centrally located to the region for which it’s intended. Remember your old argument for the Scottish temple, Geoff?
Geoff: This is absolutely a Scotland situation. Geography vs people vs cultural cache.
Cory: Continuing with the trend of nations in South America getting second temples, Uruguay is one of the nations still left with one temple. Granted, it is smaller than most South American nations. However, a number of stakes in the north fall outside the 200 mile radius. There are also a number of stakes in southern Brazil in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Something important to keep in mind is that the border of Uruguay and Brazil is relatively porous among border cities. The largest of these is the twin cities of Rivera, Uruguay and Santana do Livramento, Brazil. For residents, these cities might as well be the same city. A single street filled with stores and homes separate the two nations. Citizens of each nation can pass freely through the two cities a la Schengen area in Europe. They don’t need to pass through a customs check point unless they travel further into the interior of either nation.
Functionally, Rivera and Stantana do Livramento are a single city with two stakes, more than any other city in the region. I chose Rivera over Livramento because there are seven wards in Rivera and five in Livramento. Plus Brazil already has 13, Uruguay can get another. A temple in either of these cities could serve six stakes in Uruguay and six stakes and two districts in Brazil. The stakes are sparsely spaced but 12 stakes is a good sized temple district. Both the temples in Montevideo and Porto Alegre are Hinckley mini-temples and appear well utilized. I’m not an expert on the geopolitics of the area, but the cities appear to be a good example of building “bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”
Joe: Now this is a big-time surprise pick for me. You really pulled this one out of a hat, Cory. I like the thinking, particularly in bringing in those several stakes on the Brazil side, but I’m wondering if those stakes outside Livramento are too far inland for it to be as porous a border as it would be for the twin cities, based on your readout of the logistics there. Considering that President Nelson has proven eager to announce an abundance of temples, it could be that two smaller temples in Santa Maria, Brazil, and Tacuarembo, Uruguay are a more compelling option than the one in Rivera. They are certainly more centrally located points to the scattering of stakes in those respective regions. But goodness, you’ve brought your A-game to these arguments. Impressive.
Geoff: Is this where I tell the Uruguayos that they are basically just Argentina? I would never say that because I know the history is far more complex than that, dating back to all sorts of complicated relations between Spain, its colonial possessions, and Portugal. Anyway, as someone once told me, Argentina-Uruguay relations are like that of the U.S. and Canada. One is large, brash, and likes to get its way. The other is small, reserved, and competent.
I like Cory’s reminder that Uruguay’s lone temple is a mini temple, and the closest one to it in Brazil is also a mini temple. Rivera gets my pick for most interesting pick in this series.
San Jose California
Joseph: Here’s a location that didn’t jump out at me but became more intriguing the more I dove into the data. Currently, the Oakland temple district has 31 stakes, making it the 4th biggest temple district in the church not currently slated to be divided by a newly announced/upcoming temple. And in the Nelson Era, 30+ stakes in one temple district is too dang high! There are a couple of locations that could be well argued for a temple in this region, but I’m here to advocate for perhaps the most obvious. Let’s head to the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose. By my calculations, there could be up to 12 stakes in the Oakland temple district for whom a San Jose temple would be closer and easier to get to than the one in Oakland, particularly among the southern reaches of the district toward Salinas, Monterey and Santa Cruz.
In fact, it’s safe to say that San Jose is more of a Latter-day Saint hub than Oakland. Even a glance at the stake boundaries over at Cumorah and San Jose looks like the epicenter of several gerrymandered congressional districts dividing up the city. Four Stakes start from the center of the city, dividing it up into larger regions that pinwheel outward. And let’s not overlook that San Jose is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. it needs its own LDS landmark for all the quinceaneras to have as the backdrop for their photoshoots. The nine other cities on that top ten list have their own temple. So let’s give those Silicon Valley NIMBYs something to argue over, like steeple height, the way the North Phoenix NIMBYs and Boston NIMBYs did for the temples there.
Cory: I’ve been hesitant about even considering this prediction for a long time. If the Oakland Temple weren’t so large, I’d be all over it. But like Gilbert, it is a large temple. The ordinance rooms were literally designed to be as big as a movie theater. I would doubt there is much overcrowding here. But honestly, I don’t even think this matters anymore. The temple was built in a time when all of northern California was here. There are still more saints (and people) in Southern California, with it soon-to-be five temples, but now even Yuba City, not far at all from Sacramento will have a temple. So I’ll give this a “eh, maybe” rating.
Geoff: Um, as big as a movie theater… in the early 1990s. I don’t see any stadium seating, Cory! Where’s my Dolby Atmos?! I have no feelings about this, but you had better believe the Church isn’t going to pay for new land for a temple in Silicon Valley. If San Jose (or Los Gatos, let’s be real) gets a temple, it’s going to be on land the Church already owns. Unless, of course, Elon Musk abandons the Fremont plant….
Geoff: We’ve dabbled in ye’ ol’ Herriman before. Where is Herriman, you might ask? Why is it important? Alas, Herriman is an unassuming suburb of Salt Lake City deep in the southwestern Salt Lake Valley. As the area to its west is undeveloped, the sky’s the limit (or the Kennecott mine)! I thought it was Daybreak, but truly, Herriman is paradise. I mean the Wikipedia entry for the city shows a glorious image of its… pedestrian fire station. Viva Herriman!
Anyway, onto the logic. There are approximately 10 stakes that could feed into a Herriman temple, which would barely make an impact on the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, the temple that would stand the most to lose from another temple nearby. 10 stakes might not seem like many, but this new normal could work in Utah, assuming it’s enough to justify a building of no less than 70,000 square feet and with potentially two baptistries.
The Church already has a site on Juniper Crest Road that is more or less ready for a temple. If it’s between this and Lehi, I choose Herriman. It makes more sense, considering the Saratoga Springs temple is right up against Lehi.
That said, Lehi has plans for a massive development around the Micron offices on SR-92, and a temple could form a nice centerpiece to the entire project. Such a temple would serve the needs of the saints in Lehi, Highland, and Alpine, thus forever being known as the Karen Temple.
Cory: This is one of those temples that is already confirmed by prophetic voice. President Hinckley said in 2005 that the church had a property on the “southwest” corner of the valley. You can’t get more southwest than Herriman. He was just waiting for Herriman to blossom like a rose. The day has come as attested by the presence of Herriman Rose Boulevard and the multiple wards named after it. This is the Herriman that President Hinckley foresaw 16 years ago with all its pedestrian fire stations!
Joseph: I’ve said it before but there’s a double standard we need to realize here. In the world outside of the urban corridor of Utah’s I-15, ten stakes is a reasonable number (these days) to count as a critical mass of membership deserving of its own temple. Certainly so internationally speaking. But the environs of Greater Salt Lake, the land of 80,000 square feet temples?? No, sir. It’s not enough. Utah is saturated. Here be temples aplenty!
Cory: I was personally dumbfounded when president Monson announced a temple for Winnipeg, Manitoba. The temple will only serve one stake in Winnipeg and some isolated branches of the Fort Frances Ontario District. The temple in Regina will lose one of its three stakes. Unlike Austin, the rationale for this temple is distance, not growth. Winnipeg is six hours away from Regina, and those Canadian winters are rough.
Scanning the northern tundra there is another city with striking similarities. At 64.8 degrees north, Fairbanks, Alaska, is the city with the most northern stake in the world (higher than the new Jyväskylä, Finland Stake). Similar to Winnipeg, Fairbanks is six hours away from the nearest temple in Anchorage. Similarly winter driving is terrible and there are even fewer hours of daylight this far north. However, I will argue that Fairbanks has an even better argument than Winnipeg ever did. The temple in Anchorage is much more supported with six stakes in the area. Even better, a potential temple in Fairbanks would have two stakes. TWO! That’s right, the North Pole Stake was organized in March of 2021. That’s North Pole, Alaska, not where Santa lives. North Pole is a community just south of Fairbanks (a suburb?).
So I say if Winnipeg can get a temple, so can Fairbanks. In a devotional for Young Adults in January 2021, Elder Gong leaked the information of the organization of the North Pole Stake . He couldn’t help but mention it when describing the various locations where the church was organized. So, heck, why not put the temple there in the North Pole. Imagine the memes and the lols when President Nelson announces the “North Pole Temple.”
If Joseph’s prediction of Punta Arenas or Tierra del Fuego also comes to pass. The church members would have a heyday with being able to say that temples are being built “even until the ends of the earth.”
Joe: Thank you for saying it, Cory I teed it up nicely for you or Geoff to cite that quote and you did not let me down! Now, about a so-called North Pole Temple, my step-dad has a massive collection of Dept. 56 light-up ceramic houses along the theme of a Santa’s village in the North Pole. I’m sure he’d be willing to donate them for the interior decor. If the O.G. Provo Temple could have a carrot-like spire for ages, certainly this one could have a candy-cane striped one. In all earnestness, though, you do make a great case. I endorse this prediction, with the caveat that unless President Nelson hits us with another “20 more temples!” announcement, it probably won’t get announced this cycle.
Geoff: I’ve been to the North Pole outside of Manitou Springs, Colorado. It’s lovely. I have a cool t-shirt that says, “THIS Guy Loves Christmas!” It’s slightly too small for me, but I had to have it. And now everyone has to see my desirable abdominal undulations.
I feel pretty strongly about Fairbanks. The Anchorage temple dates back to the Millennium temple push, and even though it was quickly expanded, Fairbanks is still just so, so far away. It’d take less time to get from Winnipeg to… anywhere else than it takes to get from Fairbanks to the rest of civilization. Plus, there’s a decent military presence there, and we Latter-day Saints comprise a decent portion of folks in uniform.
Since we are in the land of potentially 20 temple announcements, honorable mentions can be very real possibilities!
- Heber Valley Utah
- Spanish Fork Utah
- Charlotte North Carolina
- Bakersfield California
- Wichita Kansas
- Victoria British Columbia
- El Paso Texas
- Tacoma Washington
- Henderson or Summerlin Nevada
- Culiacan Mexico
- La Paz Bolivia
- Maracaibo Venezuela
- Florianopolis Brazil
- João Pessoa Brazil
- Maceió Brazil
- Osaka Japan
- Jakarta Indonesia
- Kampala Uganda
- Monrovia Liberia
- Central Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kananga or Mbuji Mayi)
- Uyo/ Port Harcourt Nigeria
- Edinburgh/Stirling/Glasgow Scotland
- Barcelona Spain / Toulouse France
- Colorado Springs Colorado