Like Oprah in her prime giving away cars to everybody in her studio audience, Pres Nelson seems to be on a Temple giveaway splurge. Seventeen new temples were announced last week, bringing to 100 the number of temples he has announced (though less than a handful have been dedicated).
To lend some rationale behind this building binge, I have some “hearsay evidence” on that is going on. From a friend of a friend (actually my son-in-law’s father), he told me last month (before Conference) that in a recent Area Coordination Council meeting, the Area Authority 70 told the assembled Stake Presidents from the area that Pres Nelson has placed having a Temple nearby for every member as a higher priority that having a chapel, and that the building program would put emphasis of Temples over meetinghouses. The 70 also said Nelsons goal is to announce 150 new temples in the next five years.
The quick math on that says that there will need to be fifteen new temples announced every conference for the next five years. Again, this was told to me before conference, so the 17 announced last week collaborated this.
Could this be the answer to the cryptic Wendy Nelson statement where she related a recent conversation with her husband ““Oh, I wish I could tell you one of the decisions we made today, it will be thrilling.” I said, “Well, when will I know?” “Oh, you’ll know in about 50 years.” Great. Can’t wait.” If you add another 150 temples to the 100 already announced, it will probably take 50 years to build 250 temples.
I recently listened to a podcast where somebody knew somebody in the Temple Department, and spilled the herbal tea on what was going on there. He said the department was in chaos because of all the new temples that Pres Nelson has announced.
He (the anonymous temple dept. employee) said that there used to be a set of rules that were followed when selecting a location for a new temple. These rules included number of active members, location of next closest temple, how often members travel to attend the temple, and how far they had to travel. Well guess what, Pres Nelson has thrown all these rules out the window, and does not follow them. One could argue that since Nelson is the boss, he can change the rules. But they were there for a reason, and to ignore them creates new problems.
One problem is how do you staff them. This same person said the missionary department is struggling to call senior missions to fill all the staffing requirements. I read that in one of the small temples in Europe, it is often closed when it is scheduled to be open, with a hand written note on the door explaining that not enough temple workers showed up to open. The teller of the story said they now have to call ahead to make sure it is open.
Now everything I have written so far is just third hand and hearsay. But let us assume that what the 70 told the assembled Stake Presidents, and the anonymous person said is true, What do you think is going on? Hawkgrrrl blogged about all the temples last year, and came up with several reasons for all the new temples.
I believe the reason behind this is that the Q15 have statistics that show that members that have a temple with an easy commute are more likely to attend, and thus more likely to pay tithing and remain active.
Love the title. It captures the sort of impulsive, shoot-from-the-hip approach that LDS leaders seem to have embraced for making big decisions these days. So much for all that talk about being such great managers because of all that professional experience, blah, blah, blah. It’s like if they did a study and planned things out, informed staff members would explain to them why this or that impulsive decision wouldn’t work very well. So they don’t do planning or a study, they just announce a new policy and move forward (or sideways, or backwards). Like calling 18-year-olds just out of high school on missions. Like not telling anyone about the Hundred Billion Dollar Fund until it reached a hundred billion. Like the don’t baptize children with a gay parent until they’re not children anymore policy. It’s like there’s a big “Ready, Fire, Aim” sign in the COB conference room.
It’s sort of like how Donald Trump ran the country for four years. And we know how that ended.
It may be for the simple reason that Nelson wants his legacy to be the one who has announced the building of the most temples. He seems to have quite a competitive nature. The first thing he did when he became the top dog was vindicate himself and “reveal” that we were no longer to use the word Mormon in our vernacular. This seemed to be in response to being thrown under the bus some 20 plus years ago when Nelson gave a conference address about not using the term Mormon, then Hinckley said in a later talk we should be proud of the title Mormon. It seems to me that a lot of what Nelson does is simply trying to satisfy a wounded ego.
Of course I don’t know and I wonder if anybody other than President Nelson knows. When I hear “take your vitamins” I imagine it being directed to the General Authorities, telling them to run to keep up. However, it’s easy to speculate that the long term plan is to shift LDS religious practice from a weekly (Eucharist) Sacrament to a weekly temple session. Probably not to eliminate either one but shift the focus. There are several reasonable readings of “covenant path” and when applied on a system rather than individual basis the idea of a weekly temple session tracks.
Looks like we’ll be getting Birmingham, England. Depending precisely where it is, it might or might not finish up being nearer than London for travel time for me. And we might or might not be assigned to that temple district, depending on how boundaries are drawn. Though it’ll definitely be nearer than London for most of the stake, especially if they build it somewhere like Solihull where they already had offices (which moved to Frankfurt.. but now indicate they’re back in the UK with the very recent rearranging of the European Areas… Northern Europe Area offices are apparently in the UK). Anyway, there are a couple of very excited people in my ward, though it’s not been much mentioned otherwise.
Staffing is a big question though. The older ‘stalwart’ generation is literally dying. And many of the younger members don’t have the free time. Retirement age is rising. Final salary pension schemes are a thing of the past. Gone are the days when members my age could think of retiring in a few years time.
I join Bill and Hedgehog in fearing that these temples will not be used by the younger generation. Young people today simply do not have the view of temple attendance that existed among prior generations.
Young people today don’t want to spend time in temples. They want to spend their time playing violent video games and watching sexually explicit video clips on TikTok. These things are effortless and take require no work, which appeals to those raised to seek the easy way out.
In addition, going to the temple requires young people to dress up. They are simply not willing to do so. If they can’t do something while clad in sweatpants and crocs, they don’t want to do it.
In short, I fear that the temples will become empty vessels if young people don’t change their ways.
JCS must know a different cohort of teenagers than I do, because the ones I am acquainted with are concerned with things like cleaning up the environment, reducing income inequality, protesting against racism and for LGBTQ+ rights. Performing pseudo-Masonic rituals on behalf of dead people isn’t even in their top ten. And I’m hard pressed to tell them they’re wrong.
P.S. it’s not sweatpants and Crocs anymore. It’s jeans that appear to have been washed in a blender, and sneakers so dazzlingly white you can see them from space.
I was surprised and pleased that the April 2022 list of temple announcements didn’t include another one for Utah.
Likely is misspelled twice in the last paragraph.
The 18-year-old minimum age for missionaries was actually thoroughly studied beforehand. I was about halfway through my mission at the time and my mission president said that the church had been running a successful pilot program with 18 year old missionaries in Mexico and a few other countries for a couple years before lowering the minimum age to 18 worldwide.
Except for Africa and some areas in Utah, there is little need for new meeting houses as active membership is shrinking. And, unlike meetinghouses, there is an ROI for temples.
That said, I do think that RMN just does what he wants – and he wants more temples.
Not sure I would do any better if I had the top seat and the resources at his command.
I can only imagine what my brain farts and bizarre dreams would produce.
Pontius Python, I think was Dave was referring to WRT the missionaries was the lake of coordination with BYU. They had largest pool of missionaries, yet their was no heads up this was coming so they could plan accordingly. And thanks for the spell check. I’ve fixed it!
Well, they do have 100B plus burning a hole in their pockets….
The first time I went through the temple was in the SLC mission home. Back in the day, it was a one week affair with the temple visit happening on second to last day. The temple experience was so shocking I almost bailed on my mission.
I still don’’t get it. Before my sons went on their missions, I asked my father to take them to a session. I didn’t want them to have the shocking experience I had in the MTC.
I’ve become a broken record. Instead of building temples and obsessing over the dead, lets help the living. Help the poor, the refugees, the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. Let’s build homeless shelters instead of temples. Please make Sharon Eubanks a GA.
As for the rumor mill, I had a brief talk with an architect that used to work for the Church temple department. He quit (retired) over concerns about their lowered construction standards.
To summarize: I don’t get it. But I’m obviously not the target audience.
John charity spring,
The kids don’t want to go to the temple because it is boring. Church is boring. The whole program is boring.
When you combine that with the gen authorities lying to us, hundred billion $$ stock fund, just sitting there doing nothing you get apathy. I’m not one of the new generation and I have trouble getting dressed to come to a church that I have to pay to attend ( “worthily”) and be bored out of my skull for two hrs listening to re-purposed conference talks.
Thank the lord for the smartphone. Gives me something to do instead of drawing pictures which is what I did before 2010.
I can at least attest to the fact there is less emphasis on chapel building. After combining wards, my parents were meeting in the oldest chapel in town. It was condemned and torn down. The Church made it clear there were no plans to rebuild, though they did retain the property. My parents were then meeting in their former chapel, and that got condemned as well. Same response from the Church. The word they got is that more emphasis would be on Temples.
I still think they’re using at least a few metrics to determine new temple locations. If they were going purely off member populations then Uganda, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Indonesia would have had temples announced twenty years ago or so (government roadblocks could also admittedly be a likely factor). Talking to returned missionaries from Mongolia, they simply do not have enough active priesthood holders right now. Many were surprised by the announcement of a temple in Hungary, but based on studies and blogs I’ve read, they’re actually one of the most active countries in Europe, with a relatively tight group of Saints. I doubt they’ll have any staffing issues.
It’s just speculation, but If you’re truly a believing saint, which I believe RMN is, and you think a millennial state is coming sooner, rather than later, I think one can also entertain the idea that many of these temples will likely be staffed with resurrected beings, freeing up mortals to concentrate on the work.
How depressing if Mormonism converts from a religion that celebrates life through meaningful activities that brings people together over food and fun (as I remember it from a child), to a religion that brings people together to ponder the dead in snoozy rituals.
Have you ever heard of the law of diminishing returns?
I remember when the announcement of 4 or 5 temples really meant something. Now it’s turned into a kind of parody. 17 in just one conference at a time when there’s a backlog of dozens in the pipeline?
Additionally, I can’t help but think of the temple announced for Russia (3 years ago I believe). Really? Putin is going to green light that or do we just count the Ukraine Temple as Russian and call it prophecy.
I am obviously a cynical x-TBM and it shows. But even at the climax of my LDS faithfulness I would have been very skeptical about this temple bing. It’s made me dread the very end of every General Conference because it’s just so silly at this point.
I still think JCS is a program put together by disillusioned BYU computer science geeks, and the sweats/crocs loop is their idea of a good time.
Fortunately this program is only capable of issuing ridiculous edicts, but not of engaging in actual conversation.
JCS is right here. Young people are not interested in the temple. And why would they be? Converting the dead to the same closed minded prejudice that exists among the living members. No thanks.
I think P is a computer generated algorithm that is only capable of attacking other comments, without adding anything to the conversation.
For me, it’s a positive growth metric that they can control. Convert and CoR baptisms are down. Birthrate is declining. Inactivity and resignations are up. All these temple announcements signal to the believing masses that the church is stronger than ever. Plus it’s a place to park the money. And they have enough money to do this for a very long time. Russ can announce all the temples he likes. It will be someone else’s problem to get them built. He can’t live forever.
As others have noted, staffing has got to be an issue in some places. Either there won’t be enough people to do it, or it will end up being all the usual suspects that are already keeping the wards and stakes alive and running. Which will lead to burnout, and questioning and doubts and more inactivity.
I went to the Church’s construction status site and came up with the following counts:
Finished and awaiting dedication – 3
Under construction – 39
Site selected, but no actual construction – 23 (ceremonial groundbreaking doesn’t count as construction)
No site selected – 47 (including 3 announced four years ago).
Of the temples dedicated in the last 10 years, the time between announcement and dedication has varied between 4 and 11 years with most falling in the 5-7 year range.
As for staffing, in the mid to late 90s, the Washington DC temple had what were called “restricted ordinance workers” of which I was one. We were (in theory) trained to do all of the tasks that regular temple workers did, but only worked when our ward or stake had a scheduled temple excursion. Our ward went one evening a month and we generally provided out own workers for the initiatory. Our stake provided all but the supervisory staff for one Saturday a quarter. I thought it worked reasonably well, but the system was abolished in 1999. It could be revived in areas where regular staffing is in short supply.
“As others have noted, staffing has got to be an issue in some places. Either there won’t be enough people to do it, or it will end up being all the usual suspects that are already keeping the wards and stakes alive and running. Which will lead to burnout, and questioning and doubts and more inactivity.”
Word up, Magic Rat – but there’s an easy fix: change ceremonial attire to include (you guessed it) crocs & sweats! These will have to be white crocs & sweats, of course – but can you imagine the hordes of grateful (not to mention repentant) souls just POURING out of every 7-11, Dairy Queen and honky tonk in the land? How better to usher in those Last Days that are always arriving but never actually arrive!
Still laughing at “spilling the herbal tea”.
Also laughing @Joni: “P.S. it’s not sweatpants and Crocs anymore. It’s jeans that appear to have been washed in a blender, and sneakers so dazzlingly white you can see them from space.”
Count me among the people who are puzzled and getting cynical about the temple-announcing binge that’s been going on for several years now. It would be a nice reality check if the announcements went like this, “Since the last Gen Conf, we’ve dedicated one temple. Now we’re going to announce 17 new temples.” There ought to be some focus on temples actually dedicated. Announcing new temples doesn’t spend any of that $100B fund. I’m also curious if temples are funded from Church investments at all. I haven’t paid tithing in a while, but there used to be a line so you could donate to the “building fund.” The Church’s official teaching that I parroted while teaching lessons was that tithing was used to build meetinghouses and temples. The Church invests excess tithing. I’ve assumed temple building money comes from tithing (I could be wrong).
If the focus moves from meetinghouses to temples, I agree that staffing will be a concern. I live in Utah, where temple staffing isn’t an issue so maybe we have so many temple workers that they’re scraping for things to do BUT I’ve always felt bad for the hostesses. A woman stands at a corner and smiles for an hours-long shift, occasionally gesturing to a patron about where the dressing room is, and maybe answering a question twice an hour. BORING. I had a roommate who was a temple worker, and she had to put in months as a hostess before getting promoted to veil assistant. She never did work in initiatories.
Janey, my goodness you aren’t wrong about the boredom factor. All those tedious household tasks I find something interesting to listen to while I do them. But it’s not just that.
My brain literally does not cope well with repetition. In order to practice anything I find some talk radio, podcast or audiobook to listen to whilst I am doing it. This allows me to repeatedly practice something without losing my mind (my music teacher isn’t that thrilled but needs must). Otherwise it’s meltdown, losing nouns, actual physical pain in my head, cold sweats, hyperventilating until I either go mad or run! Ok I never actually had to run, but it was a near thing one German class in my teens.
I can’t do more than one endowment session as a patron without taking a big break. The thought of the repetition involved as a temple worker is horrifying. I absolutely don’t think I could do it.
Not to pile on the cynicism but here goes…
I think RMN may be something of a narcissist. The medical field sometimes attracts them, plus his unchecked power. He seems to want to erase GBH and TSM and their legacies. They supported the term Mormon; he’s declared it a victory for Satan. GBH was previously the “temple” prophet and RMN has now outdone him.
Not only that. RMN has effectively made it impossible for his successors to outdo him as well. He will leave them with over 100 announced temples that haven’t broken ground so they will be too busy building those temples to announce new ones.
Lastly, every time they announce new temples I’m reminded of Uchtdorfs talk about Potemkin villages. This feels like an attempt to assure the members there is growth even if the numbers don’t support it.
I also really hate that RMN is such a killjoy. During my believing days, I LOVED the cheers that accompanied each temple announcement. Why does he hate seeing the members excitement? Yes I’m aware of reverence but these cheers were not ostentatious.
A couple of contradicting points I’m going to make. First, Joseph Smith never built a chapel; he he built only temples. One could argue that the Gospel is temple work.
On the other hand like John said above, youth programs are really hurting, probably in part because of overburdened bishops/ YM presidents. I have a stake calling and it seems there is little interest among the youth to attend church or weekly activities. The church is neither fun nor relevant. I think we need at least one of those. Both would be better.
Just last week a SP member sent an email saying we need 15 more ordinance workers from our stake for our local temple. My immediate thought was “where do they think they will come from??”
“I’ve become a broken record. Instead of building temples and obsessing over the dead, lets help the living. Help the poor, the refugees, the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. Let’s build homeless shelters instead of temples.”
Keep that broken record playing. And playing. And playing. Is this not the gospel of Jesus Christ? “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Travel the streets of Salt Lake City on a cold evening and think about that scripture as you pass unhoused people trying desperately to stay warm. Healing from mental illnesses and addictions is not easy when one is unhoused or in a shelter that operates on extremely limited resources. Given the scripture in Matthew, couldn’t we consider homeless shelters to be temples?
“A couple of contradicting points I’m going to make. First, Joseph Smith never built a chapel; he he built only temples.”
How many temples did Jesus build? He made due with what he had when he worshipped. He focused on lifting the vulnerable people that surrounded him.
There’s a lot of opportunity cost with our temples. Land. Construction costs. Utilities. Maintenance. Staffing, paid and unpaid. Those temple hostesses could be at their neighborhood elementary schools helping children learn to read, practicing arithmetic with second graders, and tutoring high school chemistry students.
My question is at what point might a temple in say Sweden or the Netherlands become defunct and put up for sale? What happens then? Well, I guess with $150 billion and counting, that’s a worry for a distant future.
Just out of curiosity, how could a defunct temple be repurposed? Who would be in the market for a used one?
Couldn’t we just throw in a few youth centers??
A temple is being built in my area that will cover 1 stake (which speaks one language), and 1 district (which speaks a different language). Very few members of the stake and district speak both languages (less than 5%), so we won’t be able to help each other out much with staffing. So, yeah. I think staffing is going to be an issue. I know that the district has a hard time currently filling all of it’s callings, which is why at one point I had 4 fairly large district callings (“just to help out until someone else can be called”-which took 6+ months).
Every week we hear about “preparing for the temple” which I think in their mind means “be prepared to spend all your free time at the temple”, but in my mind I’m “preparing to set strict boundaries to protect time with my family.”
I’m pretty sure it makes me a bad member of the church, but I am not excited for the temple to be completed, and I would not have chosen to have one be built in my area.
A question I’ve had since I was a young girl, and I’m now 66, was why did rituals seem to be the most important things to God and our church? Why was the temple the most important thing to aim for? Why baptism? It always seemed to me that the message Jesus was always trying to teach us, was how we should treat our fellow human. I can understand why this emphasis of love one another would be important to God, but I could never understand since rituals really had nothing to do with how we treat each other so why so important? And now that I’ve decided that the God I believe in doesn’t think rituals amount to a hill of beans, I’m at peace with that.
I think we’re beginning to see the fulfillment of Nephi’s prophecy from 1Nephi 14:
12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.
14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.
I’m of the opinion that consistent temple worship has great sanctifying power. And so, the more the saints are involved in doing temple work the more likely they are to become pure enough to receive the powers of heaven spoken of by Nephi.
aporetic1, in support of your point, I was appalled at the story Henry B. Eyring told in last April’s conference. He was thrilled that, when he went to the temple with his daughter, and the temple workers asked her over and over to stay longer and do more baptisms, she said yes over and over. I think the message is, as you feared, that a temple is a way for the Church to demand more of its members’ time.
Here’s the talk:
This topic came up in EQ today and the consensus seemed to be (at least for those who commented) that RMNs temple frenzy is a sign that he is a prophet, the church is true, the work is progressing etc. So the plan seems to be working among TBMs, at least for now anyway. I wonder if any of these people in the announced areas will become disillusioned when 7 years have passed and they still have no temple. I wouldn’t be surprised to see further reforms to temple ritual that require fewer staffing.
I really think RMN got into “office,” looked at the shrinking numbers and said, we have to simplify being a good latter say Saint. So in comes 2 hour church, fuzzy ministering (a text counts now), scaled back youth programs, and dumbed down lesson manuals. Just go to the big white building (don’t worry, we’re building one near you) and the smaller brownish building, have lots of babies, send them on missions, pay your membership fee, and if possible, don’t be a jerk online and you’re in. Highest kingdom for you. The miscalculation, of course, is that for the people who are leaving – or disengaging, this is no longer a motivation. As the kids say, tell me you are the church of JESUS CHRIST with out telling me you are the church of Jesus Christ. You could start by announcing 17 long-term free housing units with wrap-around services, not 17 new temples. Jesus spent most of his time among “the least of these ” doing good. He spent about 5 bibles versus in the temple. And most of those were throwing out the money changers.
Ziff: “the temple workers asked her over and over to stay longer and do more baptisms” Doesn’t that story make it sound like they are having a hard time finding people to do temple work?
Regarding staffing, I’ve been in several stakes where we had a stake temple day or trip or session and the stake staffed it. Not the whole temple, in those cases, but everything the stake members were involved with. I don’t know whether it was an experiment or a trend or one Stake President planning, but it left an impression as a way forward.
Instead of constructing more temples, perhaps the Church should invest in the development of holodeck-style technology. This could potentially save on construction costs and solve staffing problems. The technology would be very marketable, and could add billions to the Church’s rainy-day fund.
In a holodeck, just imagine what the celestial room might look like. The BYU motion picture department could create quite elaborate representations. Think of the movie Avatar. A temple excursion could become an immersive video game style experience.
Maybe you wouldn’t need a building or a room, just 3-D goggles.
Here’s a problem for temples that hasn’t come up in this discussion or in LDS discussions: in the Covid era, a lot of people just aren’t willing to go sit in an enclosed room for two hours, shoulder t0 shoulder with a bunch of people they don’t know, with minimal ventilation, and zero control over where they sit or if they can get up to move or leave it they (for example) have someone nearby that is coughing or sneezing or whatever. Covid isn’t going away.
Businesses with similar challenges — theaters, schools, airlines — have really grappled with this problem. They know it’s a problem. I think the Church is just sort of hoping it all goes away and every active Mormon again becomes happy or at least okay with the mingle-closely-with-strangers model of temple activities. This is all in line with my earlier comment, the very first in this thread: LDS leaders won’t seriously deal with a problem until it becomes a crisis. That’s not a good management model.
A simple idea:
An elderly relative proudly volunteered full days in the temple. For many years. He memorized lines. He planned his trips to visit his kids in other states during his allotted vacation.
He loved it. At the end of his day, he would buy himself a Jello in the cafeteria. He said it costs 35¢, and in his uncle’s restaurant, 35¢ would buy a nice meal.
Could the Church of Jesus Christ of Lattee-day Saints provide a meal for every 4 hours the volunteers serve?
Particularly for the elderly, nutrition has often been sub par, for various reasons. Increasingly, this applies to people of more diverse ages.
Providing a nice meal for the volunteers would be good. Would demonstrate their appreciation.
My current temple is 158 miles away, just over three hours plus stops. I’ve lived here over a decade and never been because it’s just not a priority with kids to worry about. For a few years that temple was closed due to shoddy construction and ward members were going six hours one way to the next temple. I’m in the United States.
As a newlywed our apartment bus stop was literally at the the entrance to the Provo Temple. I do wonder what it would be like to have a temple close enough to go for an evening again. If my spouse wanted to go, I might go. And then I likely would have kept up paying a full tithe, and there’s the ROI.
Before my mission, I lived in the “mission field”, sometimes near other denominations’ church buildings. They were always busy with community events and other activities. Many were not affiliated with anything churchy. I remember asking why we didn’t have the building available for non-Mormon use. The reasons were because of liability, insurance, janitorial, etc, I get that.
So as long as we’re talking about better uses for funds than building temples, we could do a lot of good with the buildings we already have that sit empty much of the day throughout the week. The building cost is sunk and a relatively small “donation” on the church’s part (insurance cost, janitorial, and such) could really stretch the budgets of other community non-profits. I volunteered at a grief support program (pre-pandemic) that was run by a non-profit and meet in the American Fork, UT Presbyterian “community building” where their socials and Sunday School classes were held. They just charged us $100 a month to cover utilities. Oh, and the decision was made by a vote of the appropriate congregational committee.
Like many of you I’ve been puzzled at the logic of putting temples in places with so few total members (and even fewer active members). I’ve chalked it up to hubris and a pocket full of money.
But after thinking about this latest flurry of announcements, I really think that “normal” for temple operations will become a thing of the past. The temples in places like Europe will have VERY limited operating hours and be primarily by appointment. I’m not a fan of RMN at all but I think he’s trying to play a very long game with this. If you build it, they will come. Or even if you build it and it gets used once a week that’s ok too.
I agree that Temples are losing appeal among the younger generations, for the same reasons that fraternal/civic organizations (Moose/Elks/Shriners/Masons/Lions) and country clubs are dwindling. For generations, they thrived on being exclusive and elitist, and that was one of their main draws. Young people today, however, value fairness, egalitarianism and equal access, and are also aware of the historic racism and sexism that is intertwined with those archaic institutions (LDS temples are no exception). They are also more likely to call BS on the ritualistic weirdness. With a glut of new and coming temples, but only a finite pool of potential staff and patrons (this group shows no signs of growing to keep pace with the number of temples), this is not a sustainable approach without drastic programmatic changes.
One possible improvement is to use robots to run temple ordinances. Robot hands can easily be programmed to execute the signs/tokens. The whole veil process can be done entirely with AI algorithms to ensure the patron says the words correctly. Most temple workers are basically robots anyway, like the officiator who starts the endowment by just standing there while staring straight ahead for several awkward minutes, then pushes a button.
^ There should be a sarcasm tag on that post, right? At least the second paragraph. Unfortunately, it seems all too plausible ….
Jack Hughes brought up staffing which is a whole other important topic.
Based on purely anecdotal experience, I’m seeing less senior missionaries and less retired folk that have time to take on a temple calling.
With rising costs but no change to the Church’s position to marry and start a family before you achieve financial stability, many grandparents are busy watching grandkids because young couples can no longer survive on one salary. Additionally, many boomers are putting off retirement, both because of financial strain and just also as a result of living longer and wanting to do something meaningful.
My guess is the Church is looking to these folks to operate the temples. If they are busy, then who will actually be available to operate these temples?
Another possible staffing solution–paid temple workers. Since temple workers are not really doing anything that qualifies them as clergy, I can’t think of anything in our doctrine/history that prohibits this. As I understand, we already pay janitorial, maintenance and foodservice workers in temples. Temple Recorders are also salaried Church employees.
They could also assign young proselytizing missionaries to be full-time temple workers for 1.5- 2 years. 19-year-old me (TBM, orthodox, but introverted and averse to high-pressure salesmanship) would have loved this option if it were available.
Just a little enlightenment on Shriners 🙂
The Shriners are wholly service oriented on a large scale. They have orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists to provide surgeries to children with physical disabilities. They have nurses, child life, nutrition, radiology, lab, etc. Even school for children who are in patient for a length of time. Some of their hospitals are burn centers.
They have physical and occupational therapists, and a braces center, all to help children function well after the surgeries.
They fly in patients from other states and nearby countries.
They do not charge the patients anything at all. About ten years ago they started billing insurance, but only take what insurance pays after deductibles and co-pays.
Community youth organizations and churches bring activities and games and crafts for the children. Siblings always welcome, too.
Shriners model (and live) in an altruistic way that I can only dream of many churches doing. They are the real deal.
I highly recommend Shriners hospitals for children as a recipient of charitable donations.
Sasso and Jack Hughes – the Church will (has) closed all Temple cafeterias in 2022. So nutritious lunch for the elderly or a nice meal for volunteers is gone.
Thank you for the clarification, Sasso. I did not intend to diminish that organization and the good work they do. If anything, the comparison highlights the absurdity of an organization that is willing to invest so much of its resources into building opulent buildings that are only accessible to a select potion of its own members and provide no tangible benefits to anyone.
I actually like Roger Hansen’s idea of VR temples. Have a designated room in every chapel with a stash of goggles, earphones, gloves, and shoulder pads. Schedule sessions for whenever you have a critical mass of patrons. Run each session as a multi-player game so patrons would still interact with workers (who could be geographically located anywhere). Initiatories would be trickier–those may still require a physical temple.
Maybe the brethren see this coming, but figure it is not ready for prime time. That would explain why construction standards are dropping–the buildings won’t be needed for very long. On the other hand, their unwillingness to allow remote sacrament prayers during the pandemic does not bode well for this idea.
Full disclosure–my son has done work in the VR field and could potentially profit from this.
On VR temples: No thanks! The temple experience is already far too lifeless and automated, the last thing I want is for the temple to become a video game!
Thank you. I agree. I wanted to highlight the real, practical good that Shriners do. No boundaries.
The contrast really is stark.
About a century ago the Shriners made a conscious decision to focus their efforts on something that is meaningful. Their resources are limited, but they apply them expansively
It’s corporate America; MacDonald’s, MacTemple; one on every corner, but only the most prime real estate corner. But that’s just my tongue-in-cheek opinion. BIG PROBLEM; Islamic countries will not permit them, nor Israel. But, America knows best. Just hope their foreign policies with the building of the same is not like their political foreign policies. Absolute disaster.
I can’t wait for the stories about the washing and anointing from robotic hands. Is that ritual still practiced? Can robots be endowed with the priesthood? So many questions …
My local temple has some young service missionaries serving as temple workers as part of their assignment (they also volunteer for various area non-profits). The increase in service missionaries may help with temple staffing.
The title of this blog entry of course made me cry. Very first world outlook. Please understand that there are various places around the globe where people cannot attend a temple. The island where I served a mission is only a single flight, less than three hours, to Bangkok. But if someone cannot qualify for a passport because they lack one of the four required forms of documentation, then they can never go to that temple. They need a temple in their own country, and although the country’s capital is farther away, it can be reached without a passport.
And of course only a few members on our island can afford to travel to the temple at their own expense. Most rely on the Temple Patron Assistance Fund, which fortunately is very flush since the overall abundance of temples means fewer people needing travel help. But that fund only provides money for certain events: a family sealing, a child getting married. For most folks, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like a hajj. So the advice to worship regularly in the temple does not seem particularly realistic.
Whenever new temples are announced, I read about other folks in other countries who are also feeling a bit left out from temple access, and like second-class saints.
Please be grateful for what you have.
@Naismith, thank you. That is a generous perspective. My previous comment was self-centered and just thinking about me- not about the people in my area who want to attend the temple but haven’t been able to due to travel limitations. I will try to focus on that perspective and have a better attitude (I might have just missed it, but nobody has really brought that up in the church meetings that I’ve been in. It’s all been about doing the work for the dead).
I’ve never understood or bought in to the argument that “You should attend the temple often if you have one close by, because some people have to travel a long way to attend the temple”. But I can buy in to the argument, “For those who want to attend the temple, it is a good thing for them to have that opportunity without excessive travel or expense.”
I live in the Salt Lake valley in the Jordan River Temple district. The JRT is a big temple and quite busy. I think I may be assigned to the Taylorsville temple once it is completed. It is another small temple. I am honestly baffled by the small temples in my area. The church is really struggling to staff the JRT and I believe all the other temples in the area. Members are frequently begged to volunteer to become temple workers. I am literally within 20 minutes of 4 temples, soon to be 5, and 3 of them are small. I feel that if more capacity is needed it makes a lot more sense to build a large temple rather than multiple small temples in this area. I can understand building small temples to serve remote areas but there just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for many of the announced temples currently. In the last 10 years I have gone from feeling excited about new temple announcements to just thinking “what? why?” I can’t imagine what leadership is thinking or why they feel the need to keep that thinking to themselves. What would be the downside of explaining what process they are using to make these decisions?
Naismith, great comment. Which brings up the questions of why the temple ordnances could not be done in rooms in an already church owned building. We have precedent of the first endowments being done in a room over a store. And the first ordinances in SLC were done in an “endowment house”, not a temple. Just think of the joy, money , and time saves for the Saints in these distant locations if every chapel had a room dedicated to be a “temple”.
^^^This! Yes – build ward/stake buildings that not only allow for worship by the living for the living, but include a dedicated “temple” room – this is not a new concept. Think of all the funds that could be then used for giving aid and assistance to the living. It would also be a much better stewardship of land, buildings, and money. Ward buildings wouldn’t sit empty all week since we won’t allow them to be used for community purposes and they can’t be used during the day unless priesthood holders are there. Temples wouldn’t struggle as much with staffing. I don’t like the intense focus on the dead with so much need among the living.
1) When I heard that Wichita was receiving a temple, I thought of Natasha Helfer’s excommunication and vigil in the parking lot of the (Wichita) Derby Stake Center, where the SP called the cops to remove the peaceful members who were there supporting a sister in crisis (not protesting, not causing a disturbance, just a small number in cars and at a picnic table). This site is on the edge of a developing wealthier suburb, next to a main highway, greenspace (farmland). It fits the formula for a prime temple-building location. One of the top two potential sites for the new temple in the city. How can we build on that type of disharmony, both literally and symbolically? And the very same SP who held a kangaroo court, magnificently bumbled the P.R. would be one of the primary leaders for this new temple. Heartbroken.
2) Mormon 8 speaks to us about costly adornment of churches- and warns against it. There was a difference between hand-crafted temples that received our sacrifice, and hand-hewn skill in a form of worship, and the “McTemple”
Model that is out-sourced (primarily) to non-members and costs a bazillion dollars. We should be striving to adorn our temples with our own hands and hearts, and not costly edifices imported from SLC or built by J.E. Dunn. Sadly, we (the members) are not a temple-building people anymore, we are not required to sacrifice or envision, to hone any craft, we are just temple attendees. It’s a spiritual deficit to be excluded from real and complete temple worship, and no wonder it lacks relevance for us- we aren’t participating in it (holistically).
As others have suggested, the whole idea of a Mormon Church building needs to be revisited. Church buildings are mostly vacant for at least 90 percent of the week. Adding a temple component might be a great way to increase usage in some churches. ESL and other classes might be another. Or maybe humanitarian distribution or feeding centers. Or daycare centers. In developing countries, adjoining land could be used for playgrounds or gardens.
In Accra, Ghana, we added a small playground to a Church property. There was already a soccer field in place. But the property appeared to be mostly closed off because of concerns about vandalism. But a guard during periods when the playground is open would easily solve that problem. And the small park would enhance the Church’s image in the area. So would English classes, etc.
A friend of mine recently mentioned a creative idea I had never considered before – build a church owned cruise ship that can provide temple services…. With a small feet, they could route some to islands/port cities where temples are not available….. other ships could be used for “temple cruises” – “Sealings on the Seas”… Innovative Idea? Bad Idea? I am not sure….but creative…
Did I miss the news of a great harvest of souls in France and then Italy which was rewarded with temples? Je pense que non.
My recommend from 2020-22 (which I never used) just expired. Not really excited about renewing but when I do, I will blame the delay on COVID uncertainty.
Scientology already beat you to the punch with the cruise ship-church. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freewinds
There were several allegations of abuse amidst the isolation of the high seas.
You know, for all the dislikes Jack’s comment got, I can’t say he’s wrong, at least on a more personal and toned down level.
I mentioned something similar on the Hawkgrrrl post BB linked, but as a person who tries to be patient and reliable for family, friends, and strangers, someone who tries to consistently to be more service-oriented and generous, and as someone who is trying overall just to be a person working to be better (however slow or slippery that path is), attending the temple regularly just helps me do all those things better. It amplifies my ability to change for the best, and I really do feel there is power there, as well as a peace. I’ve admitted before that I have gotten a little turned off at times by the over eagerness or strictness of temple workers, but that’s improved a lot lately. I try to attend once or twice a month, and it does offer a spiritual recharge of sorts. I know people can become better without a temple, but I’ll embrace anything that makes that process easier and expedited.
I can’t find the quote, so I have no way of knowing if he really said it (it may have been from a leadership meeting my Dad attended), but President Hinckley supposedly said that temples were for the living, not the dead. That makes sense. As urgent as redeeming the dead is, the Church knows we have our own lives as well. Otherwise, temples would be open 24/6, and we’d regularly be asked to do graveyard rotations or marathon runs (I know the St. George temple actually has done that on rare occasions). If it were just about the dead, we’d probably use the temple money to ship families from remote locations to Utah for two weeks (basically going all out on the temple patron assistance fund), let them get their own ordinances, have them do a half-dozen sessions a day for a couple weeks (maybe throw in a free day for a national park visit), then ship them back home, never allowing any more access to that recharge beyond any initial power the endowment gives. Building these temples makes sense, because they’re going to do a lot more than just redeem the dead.
I get that many can’t stand the ceremony, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say my mind has drifted from time to time, but as time goes on, I’ve started to feel that’s part of the point. I pay attention where it counts, but going to the temple and receiving thoughts and impressions over the years that seemingly have nothing to do with the temple has, on its own, been worth the effort to attend. I get that it’s not that way for everyone. I don’t think that means the temple is a failure.
Bishop Bill, great point about the endowment house and possibly reserving a room in chapels for such purposes, and I think we may eventually move that way should more impediments to temple building arise. But your point also begs the question of why the move away from that in the first place? I get the cynical POVs, but I would think part of it is reserving a special place for such work to be done, somewhat symbolic of the specialness of the work itself—a symbolic and unique mountain top of sorts, but I don’t know for sure. I do think the Lord is as practical as He is pure and symbolic, so again, that’s a definite possibility in the future.
My wife and I actually did sealings today at Timpanogas. We needed an appointment, but attendance, as far as I could tell, was indistinguishable from pre-pandemic levels.
“A question I’ve had since I was a young girl, and I’m now 66, was why did rituals seem to be the most important things to God and our church? Why was the temple the most important thing to aim for? ”
Stella: that is such a good question that I wanted to touch on it. Just like good LDS’s today, the faithful in the OT were doing pretty much what they assumed was the best thing ever by going to the temple and offering sacrifices. Au contraire, says the Lord through Isaiah “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” . Instead, He would have them “Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isa. 1:11-17 NIV)
I find it hard to believe that these are not the values that He still treasures most.
“Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isa. 1:11-17 NIV)
rickpowers thank you for that scripture. It seems to be saying there what we can use temples for.
If you set foot in a local homeless shelter it might feel “uncomfortable” for those with middle class sensibilities. There are people who don’t shower on schedules many of us are accustomed to. There are people with substance use disorders. People who have mental illnesses that cause them to behave in ways that may make us feel some discomfort. When we get to know people there we might find out that a lot of them come from families just like ours. Some of them have experienced traumas that would cause the strongest among us to crumble. And when we are able to talk to them we will find out that largely they share the same hopes and dreams that we do if they are able to focus on something beyond worries about getting another meal or a place to sleep sheltered from the elements..
I can’t be convinced that the homeless shelter in my area isn’t a temple when it’s housing some of the most vulnerable among us. Isn’t that what the scripture in Isaiah is speaking of?
I see a mandate to build temples to be a mandate to build homes for the poor, hospitals, medical clinics, legal aid clinics, community centers, schools, tutoring centers, substance treatment facilities and harm reduction spaces, recreation options for at risk and vulnerable youths, mentoring programs for adults working toward high school completion, centers for financial counseling for disadvantaged adults, domestic violence shelters, community education programs, soup kitchens, food banks, affordable universities, places where we can facilitate self-help groups, libraries, playgrounds (thank you Roger Hansen), parks, transportation services for cancer patients, hospice programs, centers for homeless youths, clean water well drilling sites.
We already do some of these–we could build on them, and support local initiatives according to needs in various areas of the world. If they are helping vulnerable people they are sacred spaces.
The Isaiah scripture gives us a good starting point. It’s an overwhelming list given the needs that are out there, but we could start with a few that we could develop worldwide or empower and support local initiatives given the diversity of needs from location to location. We have the resources both in terms of capital and human resources to accomplish so much good.
The scripture in Mosiah 18 about bearing one another’s burdens suggests that the covenant path we embark on at baptism is through engaging in human service.