News Story

New Temples Open in Panama and Idaho

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will dedicate new temples in Panama City, Panama, and Twin Falls, Idaho, this summer bringing the number of operating temples worldwide to 128.

Latter-day Saint temples differ from meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. Temples are considered “the house of the Lord” where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make covenants to serve Jesus Christ and their fellow man.

Church members in Panama are looking forward to having a temple in their country.  “For me the Panama City Panama Temple is a gift from heaven and a blessing, not just for members, but also for all of the people of Panama,” said Romelia de Garcia.  “Temples are places where sacred covenants are made, but are also places where we find peace for our souls and tranquility for our minds troubled by worries” she added.

The membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Panama has increased substantially since the first members — soldiers and their families — arrived on the military bases established by the United States in 1940.

There are now more than 40,000 Latter-day Saints throughout Panama — members of eight stakes and six districts (a stake or district is similar to a diocese).

The Panama City Panama Temple will be the third temple in Central America. The other temples in that region are located in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and San José, Costa Rica. In addition, the construction of three more temples in Central America has been announced: one in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; one in San Salvador, El Salvador; and one in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple will be the fourth Temple in Idaho. The other temples in the state are located in Idaho Falls, Boise and Rexburg.

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple will serve some 42,000 Latter-day Saints in communities across southern Idaho, including Twin Falls, Jerome, Burley, Rupert, Ketchum and Hailey.

According to local Church leader Brent H. Nielson, there have been many positive comments about the Twin Falls temple. “Those who are not of our faith refer to it as ‘our temple,'" Nielson said.

"Anticipation of the open house is quite something," he said. "Ninety thousand tickets to the various open house sessions have been ordered from the Church’s Web site."

The sacredness of the temple anciently can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, Moses had the children of Israel carry with them the Tabernacle (a large, portable temple) as they wandered in the wilderness.

King Solomon built and dedicated the great temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. It was rebuilt and later substantially expanded, but again destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.

The great Western Wall which served as a buttress wall for the Temple Mount can still be seen in Jerusalem today, and even after millennia remains a sacred site for Jews.  

And the New Testament gives an account of Jesus Christ clearing the temples when its sacredness was violated by people using its courts as a common market.

The Church’s modern-day temples are considered just as sacred. Once a temple is dedicated after a public open house, only members who observe the basic principles of the faith can enter.

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