The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans Saturday to build a temple in Trujillo, Peru.
The Trujillo Peru Temple becomes the 146th temple already in operation or in the planning and construction phases. It will become the 17th temple in South America.
"We are confident that this will be a blessing to the many faithful Saints in this and surrounding areas who have had to travel long distances to enjoy the blessings of the temple," the LDS Church's First Presidency wrote in a letter to ecclesiastical leaders. "We commend the Saints for their devotion and faithfulness, and are thankful for the blessings that will come to them through the construction of this new temple."
The new temple will be built on the site of an existing LDS Church building on Teodoro Valcarcel Street in Urbanizacion Primavera, Trujillo. It will serve more than 88,000 LDS Church members in the region.
Church members in Trujillo currently travel nine to 10 hours by bus to attend the temple in Lima, said Lane D. Ward, a Lehi resident who served as president of the Peru Trujillo Mission from 2004 to 2007. The trip is twice as long for church members who live even farther north in the mountains, Ward said.
"They really had to sacrifice to go to the temple," he said. "They had to take some long trips to get down there."
Ward said Latter-day Saints in Trujillo for years have been praying and hoping a temple would be there.
"From a personal standpoint, I think it's one of the best places for the church to put a temple," he said. "It's going to be a great contribution to the missionary work there."
The church previously announced plans for temples in Manaus, Brazil, and Cordoba, Argentina.
To LDS Church members, a temple is "a house of the Lord," the most sacred place on earth. Temple services bind families together for eternity, teach the purpose of life and explain God's plan of salvation, according to LDS doctrine.
LDS Church missionaries began preaching in Trujillo in 1960. The first baptisms in the original Trujillo congregation were performed in February 1961. In 1963, the first LDS meetinghouse was dedicated in Trujillo.