LDS temple is coming to my hometown, writes Jana Riess

…“Excited.” Many friends have been praying for this day in an area where the church has had a presence since the earliest years of Mormonism in the 1830s.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Louisville Temple in Kentucky. This has been the closest temples for members in and around Cincinnati, which is now poised to get its own Latter-day Saint temple.

My own city of Cincinnati will get a temple, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Sunday at General Conference. Cincinnati was one of 15 cities identified as future temple sites, including Edinburgh (for the first temple in Scotland) and Chihuahua, Mexico.

All together, the declaration means that 350 Latter-day Saint temples are in operation or some stage of development all over the world. For church members, temple rituals are the highest form of religious life, accessible only to those who hold a “temple recommend,” a clearance to attend issued to those who fulfill certain requirements. Temples are not used for ordinary weekly Sunday worship (which is open to all) but are reserved for the holiest rituals of our faith, such as marriage for eternity.

My cellphone started exploding with text messages the moment President Russell M. Nelson made the announcement at the end of the Sunday afternoon session. Latter-day Saints here have hoped and prayed for this, and many of us were aware that the church had recently bought a 35-acre plot in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Mason.

According to Warren County property information, the lot was purchased Sept. 11, 2023, for the sum of $7,875,000.

Curious about the purchase, I drove there from the city a few weeks ago. The site is located at the intersection of Mason-Montgomery Road and Cedar Village Drive. It’s in a thriving suburban area with offices, shops and many restaurants.

I would expect that, since the plot is so large, there will be a considerable buffer area between the temple and the roads. Other temples also have a stake center (or meetinghouse) on the same plot; I suppose that is a possibility, though I have not heard any plans for this. The church has not officially announced the exact location of the planned Cincinnati Temple.

I also don’t have any information about how locals will feel about the temple. Will they welcome it as a boon for our area, beautifying the landscape and bringing a special spirit? Will there be tension over the chosen site? Some other communities — most notably in Cody, Wyoming — have not been happy with the planned large temples going up in their residential areas. The church likely will not release an architectural plan for the Cincinnati Temple for quite some time yet, so we will have to wait to have a sense of its size.

Latter-day Saints here in Cincinnati are excited about finally having a temple of our own after nearly 200 years of members in the area. The Utah-based church has had a presence since the earliest days of Mormonism in the 1830s.

For decades, people have been praying for a temple here. In the 1940s, David I. Stoddard, the outgoing president of the Northern States Mission (of which Cincinnati was a part) predicted we would have a temple here someday. At that time, it must have seemed like a dream. Members had to travel more than 1,000 miles to Utah if they wanted to marry in the temple or receive their endowment.

Then, in the late 1960s, members helped raise the money to fund the temple near Washington, D.C. — in addition to paying their regular tithing and fast offerings. Through the 1970s, the Washington, D.C., Temple was our temple. Then in the early 1980s, the Chicago Temple became available, so members carpooled and bused the six hours there in the 1980s and 1990s.

And then in 2000, hallelujah, the Louisville Temple was dedicated. Its location just 100 miles away in Kentucky made regular monthly temple-going a possibility for Latter-day Saints in our area. And in the years that I’ve lived here, we’ve added temples in Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, both within a two-hour drive. The prospect of having a temple just outside of Cincinnati itself feels almost surreal.

As a scholar who studies Mormonism and the religious landscape of the United States, my reaction is that a temple here is superfluous because our membership is so small. We are going to struggle even to have enough volunteer labor to staff this temple along with the three others that are within a two-hour drive. But as a church member, I can’t help but be excited. I know how many people I love have prayed for this very thing to happen, and as such, it is a banner day.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess.

(The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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