Mormons to build first new temple in UK

The first new Mormon temple in the UK in three decades is set to be constructed in Sutton Coldfield, serving as a venue for “sacred ceremonies” and contributing to the overarching objective of having temples dispersed across the United Kingdom. The proposed structure will feature a 314ft spire and a commanding entrance arch. While planning permission is pending, the church anticipates the commencement of construction this year, with a projected completion timeline of up to three years.

This forthcoming temple will mark the third for the Mormons in the UK, following the opening of the first temple in Newchapel, Surrey, in 1958, and the second in Chorley, Lancashire, in 1998. The Chorley temple is known for hosting approximately 800 individuals annually for missionary training.

The new temple, slated for construction on the grounds of an existing Mormon church, is part of a global initiative to expedite the building of temples, making them more accessible to members, as explained by Elder Martin Turvey, a church leader and spokesperson. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, has faced controversy over issues such as sexual abuse cases, its stance against same-sex couples engaging in sexual activity, and historical support for polygamy.

The Mormons gained unexpected attention through the satirical musical “The Book of Mormon,” which premiered on Broadway in 2011 and in London’s West End in 2013. Despite the church’s response, citing the potential to change lives, the musical received numerous awards and became a cultural phenomenon.

With global headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Mormon Church boasts over 16 million members worldwide, with nearly 187,000 members in more than 315 congregations in the UK. Turvey notes that membership is experiencing modest growth.

Turvey describes temples as the most sacred places for worship, learning, and participation in various ordinances or ceremonies. Only church members have access to these locations, where events like weddings (sealing ordinances) and baptisms for the dead take place. Sealings represent eternal marriages, contingent upon adherence to the church’s rules, including abstinence from premarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and tithing (donating 10% of income to the church).

The “ultimate goal” of the church is to have a temple within a couple of hours’ drive from any location in the UK. While the cost of the Sutton Coldfield temple remains unknown, Turvey states it will be funded through church investments and members’ donations. Despite the construction of temples, church missionaries continue to spread their message globally, emphasizing an invitation for people to come to know Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith in New York, has a rich history of missionary work, including its arrival in the UK in 1837 and subsequent significant British emigration to join the church in the US.

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