SALT LAKE CITY — As she stood outside the Conference Center with a group of friends, Ann Brinkerhoff was still trying to wrap her mind around the idea of two more Latter-day Saint Temples in Utah.
“Orem and Taylorsville? How unusual. Not what you would expect,” said the Salt Lake Valley resident who has family in Taylorsville.
Orem and Taylorsville, Utah’s 22nd and 23rd temples, were among eight announced by President Russell M. Nelson during the women’s session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The eight locations are:
- Freetown, Sierra Leone
- Orem, Utah
- Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
- Bentonville, Arkansas
- Bacolod, Philippines
- McAllen, Texas
- Cobán, Guatemala
- Taylorsville, Utah
“All our efforts to minister to each other, proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints and redeem the dead converge in the holy temple,” President Nelson said. “We now have 166 temples throughout the world, and more are coming.”
President Nelson reminded Latter-day Saints about plans to renovate the Salt Lake Temple, Temple Square and the adjoining plaza near the Church Office Building at the close of this year.
“This sacred temple must be preserved and prepared to inspire future generations, just as it has influenced us in this generation,” President Nelson said.
“As the church grows, more temples will be built so that more families can have access to that greatest of all blessings, that of eternal life. We regard a temple as the most sacred structure in the church. Whenever plans are announced to construct a new temple, it becomes an important part of our history.”
Brinkerhoff and others were touched that President Nelson would make the temple announcement during the women’s session.
Tears welled up in Kiera Brown’s eyes as reflected on the announcement.
“For the prophet to announce it in the women’s session was a wonderful way to honor us as women, to show his love and respect to us in showing us that he considers us extremely special,” the Cache Valley resident said as dabbed at her eyes.
Sitting next to Brown in a wheelchair was her husband’s grandmother, Jessie Roberts, of Beaver, Utah.
“It was unusual but wonderful,” Roberts said. “It’s very exciting.”
Ana Ova, a 23-year-old from Taylorsville, couldn’t stop smiling. She said everything that happened Saturday was “inspiring.”
“It was amazing,” she said as she sat near a fountain outside the Conference Center. “I’m going to be like five minutes away.”
Travis Hansen, a former BYU basketball and pro basketball player, serves as bishop of the Sharon 4th Ward and has lived in Orem most of his life. He was watching the women’s session at home, holding his 2-year-old daughter, while the other kids played in the backyard. His wife was at the conference with other family members.
When President Nelson announced a temple for Orem, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“I still can’t believe it. It’s surreal,” he said Saturday night. “Man, what a blessing it’s going to be for the whole community and in so many people’s lives. This means there will be more opportunities to go there, receive blessings and connect with heaven. This is the best of the best.”
Hansen recalled that while playing professional basketball in Russia, the nearest temple was in Spain. He recalled how the people rejoiced when a temple was built in Kyiv, Ukraine. It helps him to appreciate having a temple so close in Orem.
“We love Orem,” Hansen said. “This will be a tremendous blessing in all of our lives.”
The McAllen temple will be the fifth in Texas. Samantha Walsh, from San Antonio, had a Texas-size grin when talking about the new temple in McAllen.
“They have to drive up to the nearest one in Houston,” Walsh said. “This will really benefit them.”
After she joined the church in the 1960s, Maria Gonzalez, of Victoria, Texas, remembered the toils of traveling from Mexico City to Arizona to attend the temple in 1981.
“I know what it means to travel from far away, so anytime we have a new temple it makes me happy because the blessings are closer to us,” Gonzalez said.
President Nelson’s announcement brings the total number of operating temples (166) and temples announced or under construction (51) to 217 worldwide.
The Bentonville temple will be the first in Arkansas.
The Freetown temple will be the first in Sierra Leone.
The Bacolod temple will be the seventh in the Republic of the Philippines.
The temple in Cobán will be the country’s third temple.
Members in Papua New Guinea currently attend the temple in Suva, Fiji.
Since becoming church president in January 2018, President Nelson has announced 35 new temples. Last April, he announced eight new temples. Aside from when former church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced some 30 new smaller temples in 1998, no other church president has announced more temples in such a short period of time.