Durban South Africa Temple
On 1 October 2011, during the opening session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church, announced the construction of a temple in Durban, South Africa. The Durban South Africa Temple will be the fifth Mormon temple built in Africa and the second in South Africa. The Johannesburg South Africa Temple, which was dedicated in 1985, was the first Mormon temple built in South Africa.
The nation of South Africa has 12 stakes, 4 districts, and 1 operating temple in the city of Johannesburg, over 350 miles (570 kilometers) northwest of Durban. The city of Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. With a metropolitan population of almost 4.5 million people, it is the country's third-largest city, behind Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Early Church History in South Africa
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a long-standing history in South Africa. In August 1853, only 23 years after the Church was officially organized, the first congregation in South Africa was formed four miles from Cape Town. The growth of the Church was amazing. In just two years' time, one congregation became three, and South African Latter-day Saints in the area totaled almost 130. Government restrictions and challenges in speaking Afrikaans led to a period from 1865 to 1903 in which no Mormon missionaries were sent to South Africa. Just a few years after missionary work resumed there, the first Mormon church building was constructed in Mowbray in 1917.
The growth of the Church moved steadily onward. By October 1978, there were 7,200 church members in South Africa, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South West Africa (Namibia), 3,450 of whom attended the area’s first conference. Fourteen years later, 4,200 church members attended a conference in Johannesburg, and four years after that, a regional conference celebrated the attendance of 5,000 church members.
As of 2014, South Africa had over 59,000 Church members of all races, worshiping in unity and working together to overcome some of South Africa’s cultural challenges. Throughout South Africa, there are 154 congregations, and 61 family history centers, where members and others can learn how to do genealogical research.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Durban South Africa Temple
The Ground was broken for the Durban South Africa Temple on Saturday, 9 April 2016, as hundreds of Latter-day Saints and other community members gathered to celebrate the event. The temple, announced by President Thomas S. Monson in 2011, will serve as South Africa’s second temple.
Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy and President of the Church’s Africa Southeast Area presided at the groundbreaking. He was joined by his wife Lynette. Elder Stanley G. Ellis and Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, also of the area presidency, and their wives Kathryn and Claudia, respectively, attended along with dignitaries and community leaders.
Elder Cook commented, “Today the ceremonial shovels will turn the soil, and the construction of the temple will begin. We can likewise begin building. We can build our personal lives in preparation for the temple. Today we can increase our faith, we can increase our obedience to God, and serve Him more fully.”
Once the temple is completed, open house dates will be announced so the public can tour the temple before it is dedicated. A date for the temple dedication will also be announced.
Today there are more than 61,000 Latter-day Saints in South Africa. The first temple in the country was completed in 1985 in Johannesburg.
The Church has three operating temples in Africa (Aba, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; and Johannesburg, South Africa), one under construction (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and two more announced (Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Harare, Zimbabwe).
Public Open House, Youth Devotional, and Dedication Dates Announced
A public open house is scheduled for Wednesday, 22 January through Saturday, 1 February 2020. An open house will not be held on Sunday, 26 January 2020. The open house will afford peoples of all faiths to step inside the temple and see the beauty of the sacred edifice, as well as provide them with information about why the Church builds temples.
A youth devotional will be held on the evening of Saturday, 15 February 2020, in a meetinghouse close to the temple, and will be broadcast to meetinghouses in the temple district. Church leaders will speak to the youth during the devotional.
The Durban South Africa Temple will be dedicated in three sessions, 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, and 3:00 pm by Church leaders on Sunday. 16 February 2020. All dedicatory sessions will be broadcast to meetinghouses in the temple district. Additional details regarding the dedication will be announced at a future date.