Temple Predictions – October 2017 General Conference
To quote Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October, once more, we play our dangerous game—as we take as tab at predicting temple announcements in the upcoming Semiannual General Conference!
First off, we did very well this last go-around. Out of our ten predicted temples—an intentionally loose collection for the sake of entertainment and thought—we called three, with the only slight variation being that we predicted one in Lehi as opposed to the announced temple in Saratoga Springs. With Lehi being slightly more central to the served area, we figured it made sense. Either way, there will surely be a beacon on the hill close to a golf course and Stepford tract housing before we know it!
Continuing in this BIll O’Reilly-esque spirit of self congratulations, we called Muntinlupa Philippines precisely. We didn’t just say Metro Manila. We called the specific district where it will go (and has since been announced as such). Yay for us. Or yay for our informants. *cough*…
So what will this General Conference hold for temple announcements? Will an ailing President Monson even attend this time around, and if not, will he let new temple announcements come from the mouth of Hal Eyring?
Actually, we won’t be surprised if there are no temple announcements this conference. After five pretty dramatic ones in April, this conference might be a fallow period. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth speculating anyway.
We provide our analysis based on a few factors. Arguably the best indicator of growth in an area is whether or not stakes are being divided or created. In addition, in 2011 President Monson stated that 85 percent of Church membership was within 200 miles of a temple. That’s pretty cool. It’s also an imperfect measurement, since traveling 200 miles represents less time and difficulty in developed countries compared to developing ones, but it’s still a great jumping-off point for some data visualization. A sizable gap along with a good number of stakes helps make a case. (We’re still looking at you, Rogers or Bentonville, Arkansas.)
Predicted temples this go-around are in purple.
Naturally, we understand all of this comes from revelation, but revelation also comes through study and some common sense. It’s not too difficult to connect the dots, but for every seemingly obvious choice that gets announced, there are other announcements that come out of nowhere. Likewise, there are a number of sensible choices for temple construction, but the Lord has clearly not given the go-ahead yet.
TWiM’s own Geoff Openshaw joins Joe Peterson in a back and forth on predicted temples. So hit that Next Page link and let’s do this. As always, share this post with your friends and leave your comments below. We love your insights.
Managua Nicaragua Temple
Joe: We’ve said a bunch about this in the past two conferences, but the main thing I’d add is that when you have a member population that very likely would be too poor to have the money for the transportation as well as international travel logistics and approvals needed to make it to the neighboring country, there is a question of access that can be met. Just look at the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple. Sure, there are numbers of saints in Haiti, but it’s also about access for the poorest country on earth.
This question of access seems to have been a major factor in temples that have shockingly small membership in their districts (Hello, Halifax). But that isn’t even at play here. With more than a dozen stakes in Nicaragua alone, there is, at least on paper, a really compelling reason to give the saints in this part of Central America their own house of the Lord, not only as a place to receive temple blessings for themselves, but as a symbol of growth and encouragement for the temporal as well as the spiritual, the people of Nicaragua should be made to feel that they are rich enough, deserving enough and in numbers plentiful enough to at least be equal among their peers in the central american peninsula. (Belize doesn’t count.)
Geoff: Too right Belize doesn’t count. They speak English there. In Central America. What’s up with that?
I agree that the Managua prediction is almost tiresome at this point, as if we’ll keep calling for it until we get our way, sorta like Martin Harris. Regardless, the entirety of Nicaragua falls under the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple, which is only 4 years old. Nicaragua and Costa Rica have rocky relations, requiring all Nicaraguans—residents of the second-poorest country in the western hemisphere—to travel to Honduras for the work. Granted, the trip is shorter than it used to be when temple patrons had to travel all the way to Guatemala, but still. Nicaragua has long reigned as the country with the most stakes without a temple. They even organized another stake in January. The point stands.
Benin City Nigeria (or maybe Lagos) Temple
Geoff: Nigeria currently has one small temple in Aba, down in the southeast of the country. That one temple serves 43 stakes—all in Nigeria—across nearly 600 units. Just this past weekend, two wards and five branches were created in Benin City alone.
The only knock against Benin City is it is slightly closer to Aba than, say, Lagos, but it’s also more centrally located than the latter, which is close to the border with Benin (the country, not the city). So a temple could go in Lagos, but Lagos is also a mess. Lagos also falls neatly in the middle of a gap zone on the radial circles on our main map. Either way, do not be shocked if Nigeria gets a second temple this conference. And if not this time, then in April 2018. West Africa is the future of the Church.
Joe: I definitely think West Africa is in the hot seat for another temple. And Lagos is definitely the more prominent city, but there are also a lot of stakes in Benin City, so I’m with you on this one. It’s a solid guess. Benin City this year, Lagos next? 😉
Clearfield Utah Temple
Joe: OK, we need to talk about Utah for a second. For some reason, there is a certain neglect or bad rap that Davis county and points north get here. I know because I have actively contributed to it. For non-locals, it’s the area of communities between Salt Lake City and Ogden, many of which stretch impossibly west that, for those not familiar with the terrain, you’d think they’d be in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. These flat farmlands are developing quickly and are home to dozens of stakes.
Moreover, when it comes to temple love, it does seem that Utah county really kind of hogs it all. Saratoga Springs, one of our guesses, was a bit more of a stretch than justifying a second Davis County temple to relieve the unbelievably crowded Bountiful temple, and the unexpectedly large district of the Ogden temple.
We’ve floated Layton for a while now, as that is the biggest city in this region, but as most of it is clustered around the main arteries of transportation, it behooves us to consider the equivalent of a Saratoga Springs pick for this northern territory of the Mormon corridor. And that is Clearfield. A decent-sized community in its own right, it also has regional and national importance, being the host city of the indomitable Hill Air Force Base.
Beyond that, as one who has traversed its roads toward the farmlands west of it, there are lots, and I mean lots, of potential areas where a temple could be built that is close enough to the main transportation lines north and south, without hugging the east bench of the Wasatch range. I mean, the members near the lake for which this region is known need some love as well. They might not have the mega mansions and multi-million dollar curb appeal that bench communities seem to think merits them their own private temple (looking at you Draper, always looking at you). But the humble saints of central and western Davis County, to the tune of about 30 stakes, could easily fill the far-too-comfy seats in the ordinance rooms of the temple. They deserve to peacefully snooze when the lights dim and the movie screen lowers just as much as anybody. After all, they’ve been up since 4 AM milking cows (probably).
Geoff: Here’s the problem with being near Hill AFB: noise. Do you want a temple enveloped in helicopter noise? Is the Church going to build a soundproof shell for every temple like it did for the one in Manhattan? Hardly. Why spend the money when there are innumerable former brownfields ripe for gentrification all over the greater Ogden area? Clearfield sucks. It sucks hard. And there are railyards everywhere. Maybe West Point is better? Or Syracuse? Or the Howard Slough Waterfowl Management Area Temple? Or the Antelope Island Temple?
Joe: That. Is. A. Good. Point. About. Hill. AFB. Especially with the new fleet of combat-ready F-35s arriving.
Geoff: Ha! The F-35. Way to stay on budget, Lockheed!
Tarawa Kiribati Temple
Geoff: First off, if you don’t watch Survivor or haven’t attended BYU-Hawaii, there’s a strong chance you’ve never heard of Kiribati, an archipelagic nation in the middle of the Pacific that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979.
The Church has a surprisingly robust and dense presence across the country, which only has a population of approximately 100,000 people. There are two stakes and one district on the island of Tarawa alone. And just look at all those meetinghouses:
The scale is cropped out, but the atoll is 190 sq. miles with 50,000 people. There are 17 units on the atoll. That’s under 3,000 people—not members—per Church unit. Not bad.
The neighboring Marshall Islands has two stakes. The Federated States of Micronesia has one stake and two districts. Heck, there’s even a stake in Guam.
We have no temple in Micronesia or Melanesia. Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are currently assigned to the Laie Hawaii Temple, and Guam and the Fed. States of Micronesia are assigned to the Manila Philippines Temple. So yeah, We kinda need a temple in this neck of the woods.
Joe: While I definitely think a case, a good case, could be made for this Gilbertonian atoll, I refer you back to our official prediction for Praia, Cape Verde, where I queried “If you are an island nation in Polynesia and you have a decent population of Latter-day Saints, you get a temple. Why not island nations of other oceans?” The question was not rhetorical, Geoff. Then again, famed travel humorist J. Maarten Troost observed, while living in Tarawa, Kiribati that no matter how “off grid” one thinks one goes, there are always smiling Mormon missionaries already there. Maybe he was on to something.
Concepción Chile Temple
Joe: It’s kind of crazy that the 2,653 miles-long country of Chile, with its 18 million people, and its stakes of Zion literally clustered and scattered down the entire length, is still a single-temple country. That one temple is in a city of 5 million people and 30 stakes, to say nothing of the 47 other stakes and 16 districts outside the metro area, elsewhere in in the temple district. In one sense, Santiago seems ripe to be the next Lima in terms of a second temple in the same city, but It is in looking to those stakes outside of the metro area that one sees two predominant clusters of membership that have the added benefit of being more geographically strategic to deserving members that are more far flung from the population hubs.
I suppose as long as we rely on the spiritual edification of harrowing journeys and once-in-a-lifetime sacrifices to faraway temples as currency in the faith-promoting story mill, Chile as an up-and-coming “second world” country may have the right combination of far-flung members that may be able to just barely afford such a magnificent trip. If that’s the case, I’m sure it will be a highlight of a future back-of-the-Ensign “Voices” segment.
Geoff: Uh, Joe. I love you, buddy, but we’ve gotta talk about this. The Concepción Chile Temple was announced in 2009, and is currently under construction, with a likely dedication somewhere in mid-2018. We even wrote an article about its groundbreaking. Consider this a written warning or you’re off the team.
Also, I hate to be that guy, but this sort of stuff is my day job: Chile is considered a developed country, with an HDI higher than Portugal or Saudi Arabia. It has the most stable economy in Latin America.
Joe: What am I eating? Is this crow?! It tastes terrible!! Oops. Did I say Concepción? I meant to say Viña Del Mar. Yeah, that’s definitely what I meant. Uh huh. Yup. Totally.
Hyderabad India Temple
Geoff: This is one of the fun ones, but since I was correct about Bangkok, I figure I can roll the dice on Hyderabad. The Church isn’t particularly huge in India, with 49 units across the country, or one ward/branch per every 27,020,408 persons. For reference, that’s up 8 units since the last time we did this 6 months ago.
However, from humble beginnings the work has continued. A second mission was created in New Delhi in 2007 and the country’s three stakes have been organized since 2012, with a fourth slated to be organized in New Delhi later this year. What’s more, those original three stakes are kinda sorta close-ish to each other, and Hyderabad could be a nice meeting point. Plus it is essentially the center of the Church in India.
So I’m calling for a temple here even though Bangkok was only recently announced as sits somewhat close to the area. But this temple could serve members from as far away as the Persian Gulf and the Levant.
Neighboring Pakistan has seen tremendous Church growth, but a difficult political situation between the neighboring states might make a temple even as close as New Delhi unattainable for those across the border. For that reason I almost gave the edge to Abu Dhabi once more, but for now, I’m sitting with India.
Joe: One ward or branch for every 27 million people? Yowza! Still, this is a strong guess, and it’s been completely off my radar. Astutely observed, Geoff, ol’ chap! The subcontinent would benefit for sure with an anchor like this. A temple here would be a rallying cry and a beacon for hope in the way that Rome and Thailand were, but aside from the symbolic gesture, it seems there’s ample need.
Despite the late Neal A. Maxwell prophesying of a temple in New Delhi back in 1992, Hyderabad is definitely closer to more of the church’s members in India. One thing is for sure, this would be a bold and newsworthy announcement. We thought Rome shook the conference center with it’s shock and awe. This would definitely give that announcement a run for its money.
Look to Halifax, Memphis and elsewhere—tiny temple districts with tiny temples. But even still, Hyderabad seems more like a Billings. It could support a larger temple to serve a broader region, despite it being an isolated area away from most Church membership clusters and/or expansion hot spots.
San Juan Puerto Rico Temple
Joe: Puerto Rico has been in the news for all the unfortunate reasons of late, so please don’t think I’m being glib. Hear me out. I think a San Juan temple announcement would be especially monumental this conference seeing how the puertoriqueño saints could use some hopeful news. More than that, it would signal, much like Haiti I would think, a commitment to a growing church investment in the area and its members. There’s a lot going on right now with a humanitarian response to the island in the wake of hurricane damage (please lend your support).
A temple announcement would also send the signal that the church is undeterred to continue support, spiritually and temporally to the saints, and everyone, in Puerto Rico. After all, President Eyring recently urged the saints in Puerto Rico to rebuild not only their buildings, but also their faith in Christ. A temple announcement now seems like the perfect moment to show that the church intends to help them do both.
Geoff: That really would be pretty neat, right? Currently the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple serves essentially all of the Caribbean, even down to Trinidad and Tobago, which is right off the coast of Venezuela. Even Suriname is in the district, which is on mainland South America. (Fun trivia: which language is spoken there?) So is Guyana.
Construction will soon commence on a temple in Haiti, but I’ll put my non-gambling money that temple serving Haiti and only Haiti. Half the reason they have that thing is because the DR won’t allow Haitians into the country, and Haitians overall are too impoverished to go anywhere else, least of all Fort Lauderdale.
So a temple in Puerto Rico would be pretty cool. It’s only one Greater Antille closer than the DR for all the Lesser islands, and there are a so-so five stakes on the island. Travel is also relatively cheap to the rest of the US. Like you said, though, what a great message of rebirth that would be. The unrealistic part of this is—sudden revelation aside—I doubt a decision would be made to build a temple based off of a recent natural disaster.
Richmond or Hampton Roads Virginia Temple
Geoff: I try not to be biased here, living in DC. But we need a win. Earlier this year the Church announced the long-term closure of the Washington DC Temple for major renovations, then followed up a few months later by telling us the Raleigh North Carolina Temple is also hitting the mat.
Just look at the 200-mile map with and without those two temples. We are in a hearts-of-the-children desert!
Now obviously a temple in Richmond or the Hampton Roads area would not be magically completed in time to bridge the gap while the other temples are closed, but this speaks to a slight weakness in coverage in the region.
The I-64 corridor is a fast-growing area, a temple here would keep most saints within an hour of sacred work, especially if it were in Richmond.
Downsides: Richmond is only 90 mins from DC. Hampton Roads isn’t much farther for Raleigh. The Washington DC Temple also lost about a third of its feeder stakes to the Philadelphia Temple.
Joe: I could easily see a temple in this neck of the woods, Geoff, just probably later rather than sooner. With major freeways that provide fairly easy passage to either the DC or Raleigh temples from places like Richmond or Newport News, I don’t see a temple in this area for a while. Unless of course we looked westward to LDS hubs like Roanoke or Lynchburg (and Beeeeyuna Vista, y’all!!). A temple there would almost be more understandable, servicing the heart of Appalachia, including almost all of West Virginia. It’s odd that neither of the Virginias have a temple. Perhaps it’s punishment for Thomas Jefferson’s deism.
Regardless, I’m more Hampton Roads than Richmond on this one, but an announcement of the Good News in Newport News would be pretty epic for the Mormons of the Eastern Seaboard. Imagine how many Duck Beach hopefuls, in brave acts of performative righteousness, would sneak away to do a “quick sesh” before heading back to the throes of unrequited love in the Outer Banks. Will marriage proposals go up over Memorial Day? You’d better believe it.
Geoff: “Fairly easy passage”? You’ve driven I-95, yes?
Neuquén, Argentina Temple
Joe: The booming, provincial capital Neuquén in Argentina is the largest city in Patagonia and well positioned along transportation lines to relieve the Buenos Aires temple district by at least 10 stakes and 5 districts in the southern area of Argentina alone. Besides, Patagonia has an outlet in Salt Lake, maybe it’s time for SLC to put an outlet for faith and worship in Patagonia. Or am I confusing the clothing brand with the geographic region? Either way, this is a good guess, says me.
Geoff: Yeah, and Cotopaxi is HEADQUARTERED in Salt Lake, Joseph. Let’s keep our priorities straight. Either way, now is not the time to joke about the presence of outdoor apparel vendors in Utah because, um, you know.
Back on task, I think this is a compelling choice, and one I’ve not seen anyone but you call for. If you look at the map on the first page, the whole southern cone is pretty dang isolated as far as temples go. But do they really have the critical mass sufficient to support one? Admittedly, I’m on the fence, but I’d love to see this, if anything because my cousin served a mission in Neuquén.
Or we could go the other way and build a temple on the Islas Malvinas, err Falklands, err… let’s just cause an international incident for fun!
Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Temple
Geoff: Honestly, I don’t entirely know why I stick with this one. Is it the romantic in me? Is it because Furious 7 forever changed my mind about Dubai’s rival?
I like to take the President McKay approach to temple construction: build them where you want the Church to grow, not where it is already established. That being the case, the Persian Gulf region is a very interesting one for the Church. We actually have two stakes in the area, with the Abu Dhabi stake containing seven wards in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha, and a handful of branches in the region. The Manama Bahrain stake is even more interesting in that its only ward listed is one in Kuwait. Then there’s a branch in Manama. Not to out anything, but the Church has groups in Damman, Saudi Arabia, mostly composed of expats in the petrochemical industry.
Basically, neither of these stakes is filled up with native Emiratis, Kuwaitis, or others. Rather, they are mostly made up of the aforementioned expat western folks, Filipinos, and Indians. Either way, the Church exists here, and the Abu Dhabi government is actually reasonably accommodating of our Church.
So while on paper, a temple may seem a ways off, it would make for a great regional hub, also bringing in saints from Pakistan and India. Granted this only makes sense of Hyderabad doesn’t happen. I can’t see a situation where both Abu Dhabi and India have temples in any remotely concurrent timeframe.
Joe: Is this a hope, Geoff, or a prediction? Because if it’s a hope, I’m right there with ya, buddy. But if it’s a prediction, I have to admit, it’s the Stretch Armstrong of stretches. And the city you chose of all the Emirates, is it because it’s the political capital of the country? Personally I’d go with Sharjah, it’s considered the cultural capital of the region and is more rich with history and architecture than its more modern neighbors. I mean, the architectural and design committee would have a blissful hey day with this location.
But more, Dubai is all glitz, and Abu Dhabi is all glamour (aka, fancy shopping centers). Sharjah also is considered more conservative than its island-building neighbor to the South with the world’s tallest building. Lastly, it has the American University of Sharjah. It’s a well-to-do conservative city with a certain measure of love for America. I mean, those are the qualifications for getting a temple, no?
Geoff: I think you’re mixing up the positive notions of conservatism in America, where a religious building would ostensibly be welcome, with conservatism in the Islamic world, which is a whole other thing.
No, I do not support Sharjah. Abu Dhabi is the capital. We have an awesome, huge stake center there. We have the presence. It makes sense in every way if we’re talking a UAE Temple.
Praia Cape Verde – Almost made the list. Still a likely possibility.
Rogers Arkansas – Another longtime list member and makes lots of sense on paper.
Auckland New Zealand – See our last issue.
What are your predictions?