President Russell M. Nelson announced the construction of eight new temples for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the Sunday afternoon session of the April 2020 General Conference.
The announcement came despite all temples being closed during the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.
“It may seem odd to announce new temples when all of our temples are closed for a while,” President Nelson said. “Brothers and sisters, during times of our distress when temples are closed, you can still draw upon the power of your temple covenants and endowment as you honor your covenants.”
The temples will be built in Bahia Blanca, Argentina; Tallahassee, Florida; Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Benin City, Nigeria; Syracuse, Utah; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.
President Nelson spoke specifically about the significance of the Shanghai and Dubai temples.
“The plan for a temple in Dubai comes in response to their gracious invitation, which we gratefully acknowledge,” President Nelson said.
The temple will be the first one built by the Church in the Middle East. United Arab Emirates will join Nigeria as the only other Muslim-majority country to have a temple.
He also announced specific guidelines for the Shanghai Temple and explained the context behind it. He said in the past, members in China traveled to the Hong Kong China Temple, which was closed in July 2019 for a long and much-needed renovation.
“In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple — in the People’s Republic of China — for them and their ancestors,” President Nelson said.
The temple in Shanghai will only be for Chinese members, and foreigners will not be allowed inside. During the initial use of the facility, entry will be by appointment only. The building of the temple doesn’t change the legal status of the Church in China, he said. President Nelson has long-standing professional relationships with physicians there.
“Because we respect the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, the Church does not send proselyting missionaries there; nor will we do so now,” President Nelson said.
He concluded his remarks and the conference by giving an Apostolic blessing “during this time of tension and uncertainty.”
“I bless you with peace and increasing faith in the Lord. I bless you with a desire to repent and become a little more like Him each passing day. I bless you to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness.
“Should there be illness among you or your loved ones, I leave a blessing of healing, consistent with the will of the Lord. I so bless you, adding once more my expression of love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen,” said President Nelson, ending the two-day conference.
The closing hymn, “We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet,” was sung not only via video of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square but by recordings of several choirs from around the world edited together to show them singing in a variety of languages, emphasizing the worldwide membership of the Church.