By JOE HOLLENBAUGH
When its 7th temple is dedicated in March, Mexico will have more temples than any other country in the world, with the exception of the United States.
Two temples, located at Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua in Mexico and Hermosillo, Sonora, also in Mexico, along with a new temple in Albuquerque, New Mexico held open houses beginning Feb. 12. Dedications for these temples will begin next week.
The flurry of temple open houses in Mexico marks the beginning of a blizzard of new temple openings all around the world this spring.
Eleven new temples will be dedicated between now and April 16, bringing the total number of operating temples in the world to 81.
The Albuquerque, New Mexico Temple open house takes place Feb. 17-26, with the dedication scheduled for March 5.
The Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Temple and Hermosillo Sonora Mexico Temple open houses were held Feb. 12-19. Both dedications will be held this weekend.
Hermosilla, Sonora holds a unique place in LDS church history in Mexico. Two LDS missionaries baptized the first five Mexican converts there in 1876.
Clark Hirschi, manager of international area relations for LDS public affairs, attended the Hermosillo Sonora Mexico temple open house.
About 11,000-12,000 people attended, Hirschi said.
He said he especially enjoyed the gardenia and palm trees that adorn the temple grounds.
“The most interesting thing is that everyone is scrambling to get these temples done on time to keep up with the schedule of our prophet. It keeps us hopping,” Hirschi said.
The next open houses are scheduled to begin Feb. 28 for the Oaxaca, Mexico temple and Feb. 29 for the Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico Temple.
A total of six new temples will be dedicated during March alone. Seven of the 11 temples opening this spring are located in Mexico, bringing the total number of LDS temples in Mexico to nine.
Mexico had no temples until 1983, when the Mexico City temple was dedicated. The second Mexican temple, located in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, was dedicated in March 1999 by LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley.
The circumstances of the LDS church in Mexico changed dramatically in June 1993, when the Mexican government formally registered the LDS church, allowing the church to own property in Mexico.
When the seven new temples in Mexico are completed, Mexico will have more temples than any nation outside the United States.
The most recent figures published by the LDS church place total church membership in Mexico at 811,177 as of Dec. 1998.