Still the only temple with five spires.

Still the only temple with five spires.

Here at This Week in Mormons, we (or rather I) really love temple announcement forecasting. Perhaps it is because it seems like this great game of demographics and growth projections. Who knows. Either way, temple announcements are exciting. None of us will forget the audible gasps when Nauvoo and Provo City Center were announced. While not every temple gets such love in the press, a new temple is a wonderful thing!

So here are our predictions for possible temple announcements this weekend:

1. Richmond/Hampton Roads, Virginia

Argument for:

Virginia has the most members without a temple of any state. From a strong military presence to an abundance of metropolitan areas, to the very existence of Southern Virginia University, Mormonism does pretty well here. There’s no temple between Raleigh, NC and Washington, DC.

A temple in Richmond would be a central location for those in the Appalachian corridor (see SVU) and Hampton Roads.

Likewise, Hampton Roads is a large area, but a temple there would put it in the extreme southeast of Virginia and also within reasonable distance of Raleigh.

Argument against:

A large chunk of Virginia’s population lives in the very un-Virginian Northern Virginia, which is serviced by the Washington, DC Temple in Kensington, MD. With the Philadelphia Temple slated to open in a few years, a big chunk of the DC Temple’s stakes will go to Philly instead of DC. Sucking away Virginians somewhere in between would leave the DC Temple like other “anchor temples” that now sit emptier.

Nine of Virginia’s twenty stakes are in the DC metro area. While there are surely members spread out across the rest of the state, the density isn’t as high to merit a temple.

2. Managua, Nicaragua

Argument for:

Check out a map. Nicaragua and Belize are the only Central American countries without temples. Nicaragua has the largest population of LDS Church members without a temple – over 67,000.

Activity rates are historically poor and retention rates are low, but recent years have seen a drastic improvement, with eight of the country’s nine stakes being organized since 2000. The Nicaragua Mission also split into North and South in 2010.

Argument against:

Very little. Retention rates are still tough, but the Church is on the upswing here. The newly-dedicated Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple isn’t an unreasonably distance away. Neither is San Jose, Costa Rica.

3. Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Argument for:

Membership growth rates push 10% year-on-year. There are five stakes in Cote d’Ivoire, all of them in Abidjan and its environs. Activity rates are excellent. There are nearly 15,000 members overall in the country.

The Church is clearly keen to invest in Africa, as evidenced by the recent announcements of the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple and the Durban South Africa Temple. A temple in Abidjan could bolster more of West Africa, fueling the work in other franocophone states, like Guinea, and neighboring ones, such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Argument against:

Political instability is an issue, and the Church has demonstrated reluctance to invest in a temple under such conditions. For example, the Church actually closed the Aba Nigeria Temple from 2009-2011 due to political instability and violence in the region.

However, the Bogotá Colombia Temple was constructed well before Colombia ironed out its issues with the cartels, so there is a precedent.

The Accra Ghana Temple is only 200 miles away. Let’s not get overambitious here.

4. Singapore/Bangkok/Hyperabad/Abu Dhabi

Yes, these are grouped together. I’d be stunned if more than one of these locations were announced anytime soon. Let’s do a quick breakdown of each.

Singapore

Argument for:

Decent concentration of members. Robust growth in neighboring Malaysia. Could serve as a Church regional hub as the Church invests more in Malaysia and Indonesia. Trips to the Hong Kong Temple are expensive.

Argument against:

There just aren’t enough members quite yet. Potential terrorism issues (less so in Singapore, but within its potential temple district in Malaysia).

Bangkok

Argument for:

My personal favorite, actually. Thailand has a surprisingly strong Church presence for an overwhelmingly Buddhist country. Bangkok has a stake (but only one), and there are many districts and Church units spread throughout the country. A temple in Bangkok would serve as a hub and a logical extension of the Church southward from Hong Kong. It would also be more easily accessible for Church members in growing India.

Also, Bangkok is a huge shipping hub and air traffic to and from is common and easy. Solid infrastructure, as well.

Argument against:

Are there really enough members to justify a temple? It’s difficult to say.

Government instability rarely lends itself to a multi-million dollar investment.

Hyperabad

Argument for:

India is growing. Time to invest in the future! After a slow start, India now has roughly 10,000 members and two missions. Solid central location, too, considering the nearest temples are Hong Kong or Kyiv, Ukraine.

Argument against:

One stake. Lots of district growth and good temple attendance to Hong Kong, but still, one stake.

However, the Church built the Hamilton New Zealand Temple before the Church was firmly established in the area. President McKay received the inspiration to construct a temple to stimulate growth, not because of it.

Other issues: some instability, threat of terrorism, etc. Also, the Church hasn’t even invested in far eastern India, some of which is 90% Christian.

Abu Dhabi

Argument for:

This would be more of a strategic temple. With no temple anywhere in sight – the nearest being either Kyiv, Hong Kong, Aba(Nigeria), or Johannesburg, something in-between makes sense. Regardless of who it’s from, growth in the area is real. Also, look at the awesome new stake center in Abu Dhabi dedicated by Elder Holland last year.

Argument against:

Most members in the Abu Dhabi (formally Persian Gulf until 2011) stake are Western petrochemical workers or Filipino immigrants. There is little representation among the natives. A transient populace does not lend itself to temple stability.

Potential government interference, but the UAE government is more open than others in the region.

5. Puebla, Mexico

Argument for:

Puebla has two missions. It’s legit. It is also one of the areas in the world with the largest number of stakes but no temple. The Mexico City Temple has one of the largest number of stakes assigned to it worldwide. Closest temples are Mexico City, Veracruz, and Oaxaca, the latter two being so-called “mini” temples from the Hinckley era.

Argument against:

See that whole “largest number of stakes assigned to a temple” thing above? You know how that translates? Poor temple attendance. The Mexico City Temple is known for having weak attendance. Why should nearby Puebla get a temple, then?

Many argue that if Mexico is to get another temple, it should go adjacent to the new MTC that was converted from the Benemerito school in Mexico City. Pretty much every MTC worldwide also has a temple next to it.

6. Layton, Utah

Argument for:

The Northern Wasatch front has grown in population in recent years. It has two temples – Bountiful and Ogden. Ogden, however, has been closed for nearly four years as it winds down an extensive facelift. The newer Brigham City Temple is on the northern end of the Wasatch Corridor, but most consider it removed from the main population center. The Logan Utah Temple is also way out of range.

As of the last census, Davis and Weber Counties have slightly more people than Utah County. Utah County has two temples in operation and two under construction.

We can draw some parallels here. Payson, Utah, while at the southern extreme of the 801 area code, nearly has a temple completed. Brigham City, while in Box Elder County, serves a similar purpose on the northern end of the Wasatch Front.

So with Provo receiving the City Center Temple, it only makes sense that the underserved midway point between Bountiful and Ogden would get a temple. And that’s where Layton would come in.

Argument against:

Stop being greedy, Utah.

7. Edinburgh/Stirling/Glasgow, Scotland

Argument for:

The nearest temple is Preston, England, about three hours away. Temple trips happen regularly and are attended by many. Scotland has five stakes. Also, looming Scottish independence could make a temple on Scottish soil appealing both for legal reasons and PR ones. And with the Church now needing to pay property taxes on its temples in England, avoiding said taxes in Scotland might be desirable.

As far as which of the three listed locations, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, so there’s the panache that goes with that. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. Stirling is much smaller than both, but would serve as a compromise between both metropolitan areas.

Argument against:

The Church has been in Scotland forever and it’s only managed five stakes. That’s about one stake per million people, much lower than in the Midlands Region of England, where the Preston Temple is.

Convert retention is iffy.

8. Rapid City, SD

Argument for:

Rapid City is South Dakota’s largest metro area, and while its stake covers the western third of the state, there are four wards concentrated in Rapid City itself, with other units only fifty miles away.

The closest temples are the Billings Montana Temple and Bismarck North Dakota Temple. A Rapid City Temple could serve a large area of eastern Wyoming and a ton of Nebraska.

Argument against:

The Bismarck Temple isn’t that far away, and the Fort Collins Colorado Temple is under construction, close to the Wyoming border. A Rapid City Temple could represent hyper-saturation in an under-saturated market.

9. Pittsburgh, PA

Argument for:

Pittsburgh is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States without a temple at a reasonably convenient distance. The closest temples are in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC. While Cleveland could also merit a temple, the drive from Cleveland to Detroit or Columbus isn’t that bad. And going anywhere north of Pittsburgh or Cleveland puts us into the Palmyra New York Temple area or Toronto.

Punxatawney deserves a temple somewhere closer than Palmyra or Philadelphia.

Argument against:

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Church is bafflingly weaker in Pittsburgh than it is in other similarly-sized areas.  Total membership numbers are not overwhelming.

The Philadelphia area has more people, and, therefore, more members, but the number of members per capita compared to Pittsburgh isn’t much better. The difference between Philly and Pittsburgh is that Philly is in the Northeast corridor.

Also, a temple in the middle of Philadelphia carries bigger bragging rights than one in Pittsburgh. Sorry, Pittsburgh. You are the gem of Appalachia, but now is not your time.

Alternative temple for the area: Youngstown, Ohio. It would serve both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland metro areas.

10. Ottawa, Canada

Argument for:

It’s Canada’s capital. We love temples in capitals.

The Ottawa area has a number of stakes. Members currently need to visit the poorly-built Montreal Quebec Temple, which is going down for a year. There are decent stretches of population between Toronto and Montreal, and Ottawa makes a nice midpoint.

Argument against:

Ottawa is still only 100 miles or so from Montreal. The Church currently expects members in Richmond, VA to drive to Maryland to attend the temple. There’s no reason to assume it won’t expect Ottawans to do something similar.

Honorable mentions

  • Moscow, Russia
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Maracaibo, Venezuela
  • Cape Verde
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado

What are your predictions? Talk about it in the comments below!