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In February, presidents were named for three unfinished temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Since then, the church has announced open house and dedication dates for two of the three temples.

The public is now welcome to drive onto the grounds of the third, the Orem Utah Temple, which appears mostly complete on the outside, with maturing landscaping.

The new Orem Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nearing completion, as seen on June 7, 2023.
The new Orem Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nearing completion, as seen on June 7, 2023. | Tad Walch, Deseret News

Fewer than 19 miles away, the general public can walk through the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple right now. The temple’s open house has been underway for nearly two months and runs through July 8.

Utah journalists tour the new Saratoga Springs Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 2023.
Utah journalists tour the new Saratoga Springs Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday, April 10, 2023. A public open house ends July 8. The temple will be dedicated on Aug. 13. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Each of the three temples is located in notably distinct places.

Orem Utah Temple

The pending completion, dedication and opening of the Orem and Saratoga Springs temples will clear the way for the church to close and begin an extensive renovation and dramatic redesign of the Provo Utah Temple.

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Orem alone is home to 26 stakes of the church. (A stake is a grouping of five to 12 wards, or congregations.) The Provo temple and Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple were at capacity before the Payson Utah Temple (2015) and Provo City Center Temple (2016) were dedicated.

Workers have been building a seventh temple in Utah County, in Lindon, since April 2022.

The Orem temple president is Kenneth Lee Sorber, who served in a BYU young single adult stake presidency with Robert Millet and Brent Top, who each served as dean of Religious Education at BYU. Sorber then was president of the Tennessee Nashville Mission. He has spent the past 11 years as vice president of strategic relations at Western Governors University.

Bangkok Thailand Temple

This temple will make history. It will be the first in mainland Southeast Asia.

The open house is scheduled from Sept. 1-16. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will dedicate the temple on Oct. 22.

The Bangkok temple cuts a striking, golden glowing image at night nestled between buildings in the city’s business district. Wisan Wisanbannawit kindly granted permission for us to use one of his images of the temple.

The Bangkok temple president is Wisit Khanakham, a patriarch and former Area Seventy, stake president and branch president.

McAllen Texas Temple

The open house is scheduled for Aug. 25 through Sept. 9. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will dedicate it on Oct. 8.

I met the temple president and matron, Carlos Villarreal and Myrna Ann Garza Villarreal, exactly two years ago when he was assigned to be the director of the church’s new Family Transfer Center for immigrants in Houston, Texas.

Sister Villarreal kindly helped translate a powerful interview for me with a young mother who carried her 5-month-old son through one of the world’s most dangerous places — the jungles of Panama’s perilous Darién Gap. The interview, along with photos from the border, became the centerpiece for one of my favorite stories of 2021: “Migrants march a deadly trail to find ‘God’s love in action’ along the border.”

The Villarreals temporarily moved to Houston from their home near San Antonio to help at the Family Transfer Center. Now they will live in McAllen, a border city in the Rio Grande Valley with a population about 50% larger than Orem. It is lovely and still agricultural while being one of the most impoverished cities in America.

I attended a kind, thriving, Spanish-speaking branch there — I don’t speak any Spanish — for church and a baptism one Sunday in 2014 for a story about how five basketball and football stars temporarily set aside their sports careers to serve Latter-day Saint missions. The story begins in a trailer park in Peñitas, Texas, a half-hour from McAllen.

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My recent stories

Elder Holland returns to apostolic assignments after ‘some serious health challenges’ (June 6)

Latter-day Saints update and expand policy on political neutrality and participation (June 1)

About the church

President M. Russell Ballard rededicated the Columbus Ohio Temple.

Elder Ulisses Soares has been in South America. He was interviewed by an international television network in Chile. And he met with the president of Uruguay.

The Helena Montana Temple will be dedicated on June 18.

Some residents in Cody, Wyoming, are concerned about size and lighting plans for the Cody Wyoming Temple. A church spokesman was there this week to talk with residents ahead of a planning commission meeting set for next week.

A news outlet in Twin Falls, Idaho, has done a story on the effect of a mission on a college athlete.

How to watch the world premiere of “Music and The Spoken Word” in Spanish.

What I’m reading

Utah is a “passport service desert,” Sen. Mitt Romney says, who wants a new passport office in Salt Lake City. The problem is exacerbated right now with a huge backlog of requests, which means it takes 13 weeks to get a passport through a routine application and nine weeks for an expedited request. Romney noted that thousands of Latter-day Saint missionaries travel abroad from Salt Lake City every year.

A 74-year era is ending for the BYU track team.

A former BYU basketball assistant is returning to BYU. See what he said about the school, his new job and why he took it.

NFL football player and Latter-day Saint Kyle Van Noy posted on social media about the power of prayer after his son recently survived a “scary” medical ordeal.

Behind the scenes

The new Orem Utah Temple is seen through a fence on the property on June 7, 2023.
The new Orem Utah Temple is seen through a fence on the property on June 7, 2023. | Tad Walch, Deseret News
The new Orem Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nearing completion, as seen on June 7, 2023.
The new Orem Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nearing completion, as seen on June 7, 2023. | Tad Walch, Deseret News