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Historic Salt Lake Temple to close for renovations amid new temple announcements

(Photo courtesy of Church Newsroom)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints drew to a close Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the church would be building eight new temples.

Among the eight will be the 21st temple in Utah, set to be built in the Tooele Valley. Pres. Nelson also announced major renovations to take place to the Church’s historic Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square.

Since becoming church president in January 2018, President Nelson has announced 27 new temples. Last October he announced 12 (the largest number of temples announced on the same day) and last April he announced seven new temples.

The other seven temples that were announced by President Nelson were in:

  • Pago Pago, American Samoa. The temple will be the first for American Samoa. The area has one of the densest concentrations of Latter-day Saints in the world.

  • Okinawa City, Okinawa. The Okinawa Islands are made up of 150 islands and will house Japan’s fourth temple.

  • Neiafu, Tonga. The new temple will become the second temple in the Polynesian kingdom. Tonga has the most dense population of Latter-day Saints of any nation in the world.

  • Moses Lake, Washington. The temple will become the fourth temple in Washington.

  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras. This will be the second temple in Honduras and the eighth in Central America.

  • Antofagasta, Chile. This will be Chile’s third temple in the South American country.

  • Budapest, Hungary. This is the first temple in the country and the fifteenth in Europe.

Sunday’s announcement brings the total number of temples announced, under construction, or operating to 209.

“We regard the temple as the most sacred structure of the church,” President Nelson says. “As we announce plans to construct a new temple, it becomes part of our sacred history.”

Temples differ from Latter-day Saint meetinghouses in their construction and purpose. Temples are considered a sacred place where faithful members go to seek guidance, make sacred promises to live commandments, and get married.

The announcement of another temple in Utah has many residents in the Tooele Valley excited.

Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn told the Deseret News that she was thrilled to hear that a temple would be coming to Tooele.

“I am thrilled with the news of a temple coming to our beautiful valley!” Winn said in a text to the Deseret News. “Members have waited for this announcement for many years. I look forward to working with church officials as this great edifice comes to our valley!”

Pioneer renovations

In addition to the eight new temples across the world, President Nelson also announced that major renovations would come to the faith’s earliest pioneer era temples.

“The earliest ones stand as monuments to the faith and vision of our beloved pioneers. Each temple constructed by them resulted from their great personal sacrifice and effort,” he says.

“Ours is the sacred responsibility to care for them.”

With that responsibility, President Nelson announced that all of the pioneer temples in Utah will “soon undergo a period of renewal and refreshing,” with some going through some serious restoration.

Each one of those temples will be closed during the renovations and will be rededicated after the updates.

A temple rededication means the public will have an opportunity to tour the edifices that have not been open to the public in many years.

The Church expects to release its plans for the Salt Lake Temple and surrounding area of Temple Square on April 19.

The church made announcements earlier this year for plans on the renovation of the St. George Temple. The longest operating temple in the church will close later this year for two years to update “extensive structural, mechanical, electrical, finish and plumbing work.”

The four pioneer temples set for renovations were all completed and dedicated in the late 1800s and will all be rededicated.