SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church president Thomas S. Monson on Saturday announced plans to build five new temples in the United States and abroad. Temples will be built in Brigham City, Utah; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Concepcion, Chile; Fortaleza, Brazil; and Sapporo, Japan, Monson said. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already has 130 temples operating worldwide, most in the U.S. Another 16 are either planned or already under construction. Monson has announced plans for at least 10 new temples since he became the church’s 16th president in February 2008. His announcement came during the opening session of the church’s two-day semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City. The locations selected for new temples reflect the growth of the church, which according to statistics released in April has grown to 13.8 million members. “We desire that as many members as possible have an opportunity to attend the temple without having to travel inordinate distances,” Monson said. “Worldwide, 83 percent of our members live within 200 miles of a temple.” Temples are considered sacred to Latter-day Saints and are used for religious rituals including proxy baptisms, marriage ceremonies known as sealings and other ceremonies designed to strengthen church teachings. Architecturally, temples are towering white buildings with tall steeples. Many are topped with a trumpet-blowing golden angel draped in flowing robes. The figure represents the angel Moroni, who Mormons believe led church founder Joseph Smith to a set of buried golden plates that, when translated, became known as the Book of Mormon, the faith’s central text. The Brigham City temple will be the 14th in Utah, the church’s international home base. The Fort Lauderdale temple will be Florida’s second and the first since the Orlando temple opened in 1994. That temple is expected to serve U.S. Mormons as well as those from the Bahamas, according to a church news release. The temple in Concepcion will be the second in Chile and the 15th in Latin America. In Brazil, where the church has more than 1 million members, the Fortaleza temple will be the country’s seventh. Japan’s Sapporo temple will be the third in that country and the sixth in Asia. The two-day general conference draws an international audience. More than 100,000 will pack a 20,000-seat conference center on the church’s downtown Salt Lake City campus in five two-hour sessions. Millions more watch the proceedings – translated this year into 92 languages – via broadcasts over the Internet, and by satellite and closed circuit television. Mormons gather to hear words of inspiration and practical guidance from church leaders in April and October. On Saturday, speakers encouraged faithful Latter-day Saints to pray and read scriptures daily, to be open to learning from others, to live temperately and avoid pornography. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor to Monson in the church’s First Presidency, said that as the church continues to grow, Latter-day Saints can help redefine negative stereotypes about the church by exemplifying Christian values. “Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in out church callings and in our livelihood,” Uchtdorf said. “Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility and respect. … Love should be our walk and our talk.” — On the Net: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: http://www.lds.org
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