Millions of LDS members gathered on Sunday, April 2 to watch the 187th annual General Conference. President Thomas S. Monson was the first speaker of the Sunday session and began by announcing five new temples that would be built. Brasilia, Brazil, Greater Manila, Philippines, Nairobi, Kenya, Saratoga Springs, Utah and Pocatello, Idaho.
With the announcement of the five temples the total number of operating temples around the world is 155, and temples announced or under construction are 27 which brings the total to 182 temples worldwide, according to Mormon Newsroom.
Marisa Barnes, a junior studying exercise physiology, is from Pocatello and was shocked by the temple announcement.
“My reaction was pure shock,” Barnes said. “I’ve seen articles before conference that Pocatello may get a temple, but that rumor has been going on for years. Elder Oaks came to my stake August 2015 and told us we won’t get a temple here until we fulfill our temple attendance in other surrounding areas. I thought it would take years for that prophecy to be fulfilled, but I guess I was wrong, and I am so excited I was wrong.”
Barnes said the reaction she saw from others who lived in Pocatello was full of excitement and joy.
“My Facebook feed was full of my Pocatello friends excited about this new change,” Barnes said. “I did not see much from people outside of Pocatello, but some of my friends texted me and were so excited for me.”
Idaho has four Boise, Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Twin Falls. The temple in Idaho Falls is being renovated and will be rededicated June 4. The Meridian Idaho temple is nearing completion and will be dedicated Nov. 19.
The Pocatello Idaho Temple will be the sixth operating temple in Idaho, according to Mormon Newsroom. Idaho is home to approximately 450,000 Latter-day Saints out of 1.7 million total people who reside in Idaho.
In the 1930s, Church leaders determined the next temple would be built in Idaho, according to ldstemples.com. A hillside was seriously considered in the town of Pocatello; however, the government could not afford to pay.
Barnes said the saints in Idaho are growing and Pocatello in particular has been growing immensely for the past five years, and she realizes that it has been preparing for a temple.
Out of courtesy, the Church told Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad of the plans last week, according to Local News 8. He said it was a hard secret to keep, but he said he ia thrilled for the LDS members who have longed for a temple.
“Mayor Blad was told the temple department was listing a number of potential temple locations to Monson, and as soon as they said Pocatello, Monson immediately said ‘Pocatello will get a temple. The saints there are well prepared and it’s time for them to have a temple,’” according to Local News 8.
Brooke Roberts, a sophomore majoring in marriage and family studies, has lived in Idaho Falls most of her life said the overall reaction from people in Idaho that she knew was excitement.
“I think everyone is excited for the new temple,” Roberts said. “I think a new temple in Idaho is needed to bless the lives of the Lord’s children. I know there are many people in the Pocatello area and with this new announcement, I know it’s continuing to grow. I know it will be a blessing to many people and will allow more people to have opportunities to attend the temple more frequently.”
Barnes said the announcement has already started more missionary work in the area.
“I have already had some missionary work because of the announcement of the new temple,” Barnes said. “This guy had some concerns, wasn’t too happy with the new temple. I told him about tithing and temples and now he has a better understanding.”
Barnes said there are a lot of anti-Mormons in Pocatello, or residents who have false ideas about LDS members and the temples, but she believes the temple will be a great way to unite the community.
“I think this temple will bring the citizens of Pocatello closer,” Barnes said. “The open house will be a perfect opportunity for non-members to get a sense of what we believe.”