Mesa Arizona Temple LDS

For the rest of the northern hemisphere, spring may have transitioned into summer, but for LDS temples, it’s still a season of renewal, namely for years-long renovations and updates. Or rather, winter is coming?

More Temple Renovations Announced

Today the Mormon Newsroom announced the pending closure of three more temples, all in the United States, bringing the total of closed or soon-to-be-closed temples to a whopping 11, or approximately 7% of all dedicated temples.

These three temples will join the four others that were announced in April this year, making it quite the banner year for these kinds of announcements, including the more headline-grabbing announcement in February of the more coastal and iconic temples in Oakland and Washington, D.C.

We’ve been tracking these closings and renovations starting two years ago with the Jordan River Temple, but it seems that more than removing escalators, many historic and prominent temples, as well as several from the Hinckley mini-temple era, are in need of major updates (or expansion?) that require a full closure, typically for a couple of years, to complete each project.

Per the Newsroom’s announcement,

“The Mesa Arizona Temple will close in May 2018 and will reopen in 2020 following needed repairs and upgrades. The Raleigh North Carolina Temple will be closed beginning January 2018. In February 2018, the Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple will temporarily shut down.”

In what clearly is a thinly veiled agenda* at hosting more cultural celebrations, the “temples in North Carolina and Louisiana will be rededicated sometime in 2019 complete,” culminating with a public open house, naturally, and a rededication. And we all know that that means cultural celebrations to fill up local press—and the Deseret News—just to spite Al, our culture-hating podcast co-host.

Mesa, Arizona

For the truly grand and historic temple in Mesa, Arizona, the announcement notes this will be its second renovation in its 90-year history, adding, “It was rededicated in 1975 by President Spencer W. Kimball following refurbishment. It was originally dedicated by President Heber J. Grant in 1927.”

I guess this means people in Mesa will actually have to leave Mesa. Perish the thought! Maybe they’ll go to the short-but-beautiful temple in Phoenix? HAHA! That’s a joke! That would never really happen. People from Mesa (of which I am one) don’t really venture, not to Phoenix anyway. But prepare ye, Gilbert, because the temple-attending saints from Mesa cometh. Ooh, it’ll be a twofer date night to the temple and a show at the Hale Center Theater!

The Hinckley Temples

The other two temples to close per this recent announcement are in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. These temples are of the Hinckley small temple era, and this announcement brings the temples of this period that are slated for renovations up to four. Raleigh and Baton Rouge were both dedicated by President Hinckley a year apart at the turn of the century, 1999-2000 making it not quite 20 years before needing an update.

This is curious considering Mesa’s ratio of age-to-renovations. More interesting still considering that Mesa is no doubt one of the busiest temples, being—until fairly recently—the only one in an area heavily populated with active, temple-attending members. It’s no wonder that we saw a cluster of temples pop up in Arizona to alleviate what was surely a strain on the 90-year-old temple.

But could it also be that these renovations of the Hinckley temples (we’ll go ahead and call them, for short) might also be to expand their size and allow for more patrons to attend? Could this be a sign of an increase of temple attendance for these regions? It will be interesting to see if others continue to follow suit.

To recap, per the Newsroom’s announcement:

Work is currently underway in the Salt Lake Valley on the Jordan River Utah Temple, which closed February 15, 2016. The Frankfurt Germany Temple was closed September 7, 2015, for extensive renovation.

The Tokyo Japan, Oklahoma City Oklahoma and Memphis Tennessee Temples will close in October 2017, and the Asunción Paraguay Temple will close in November 2017. Renovations are expected to be completed in 2020 for the Tokyo Japan Temple and 2019 for the other three temples slated to close this fall.

The Oakland California Temple will close in February 2018, while the Washington DC Temple is scheduled to close in March 2018.

For some geographic context, this will mean the Washington, DC and Raleigh temples will be closed at the same time, requiring a large swathe of stakes to attend temples in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Columbia, South Carolina. Likewise, having Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Baton Rouge shut down will require saints to drive to Dallas, Houston, Nashville, or Birmingham.

*lest it’s not obvious, maybe for you Disney lovers, this is not real anger, but light-hearted and good natured silliness. We know these temple closings and renovations are not a secret agenda to have more cultural celebrations.