Harare Zimbabwe Temple
On 3 April 2016, at the Sunday morning session of the 186th annual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of the first temple in Zimbabwe in the capital city of Harare.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been an influence in Zimbabwe and the surrounding area since 1930, when Church missionaries from the United States and Europe first began arriving to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Harare Zimbabwe Temple will be the seventh temple built in Africa and the first built in Zimbabwe. It joins twelve other temples-seven of which are either announced or under construction—on the continent of Africa. The Johannesburg South Africa Temple, the first to be constructed on the continent, was dedicated in 1985. The most recent temple dedicated was the Durban South Africa Temple, earlier this year.
In Zimbabwe, there are 26,000 members of the Church organized into six stakes and two districts. Three of those six stakes are headquartered in Harare. Prior to the temple announcement, Zimbabwe was the country with the second highest number of Church members without a temple. Nicaragua has the highest. Members desiring to participate in temple worship currently drive 13 hours to reach the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. Other nearby African nations will also benefit from the temple, including Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Harare Zimbabwe Temple will be constructed next to the stake center for the Harare Zimbabwe Stake at 65 Enterprise Road in the Highlands neighborhood of Harare. President Russell M. Nelson toured the site while visiting Harare on 17 April 2018, as part of his world ministry tour.
On 1 October 2020, an official exterior rendering of the Harare Zimbabwe Temple was released to the public, featuring a 17,250-square-foot temple with a spire rising over the main entrance. Church facilities will stand on either side of the temple. The temple will be built on a 6.7-acre site.
Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Harare Zimbabwe Temple was held on Saturday, 12 December 2020. A handful of leaders and invited guests of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were in attendance, which was limited because of local COVID-19 restrictions. Elder Edward Dube, a native of Zimbabwe, a General Authority Seventy, and first counselor in the Africa South Area presidency, presided at the groundbreaking and offered the dedicatory prayer. He was joined by his wife, Naume; Elder Ciro Schmeil, a General Authority Seventy and Second Counselor in the Africa South Area Presidency, along with his wife, Alessandra; and several invited guests.
His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa, president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, was also in attendance. President Mnangagwa praised the Church in his remarks. he said, "The contribution of the Church to national development and social well being of the citizenry cannot be overemphasized." He also said, "I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Church for extending an invitation to me. It is most opportune that this event comes in this month of December, where the majority of Christians from all walks of life and denominations, commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour."
Elder Dube commented, "The Harare Zimbabwe Temple will be a beautiful and stunning building. Like every temple, it will stand not only as a manifestation of the faith of Latter-day Saints who live close by in this country and the neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique, but also a manifestation of the faith of Saints all around the world. It reflects our testimony and our faith in Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. It reflects our testimony and faith in His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. And it reflects our testimony and faith in the Saviour’s Atonement and Resurrection."
Just prior to Elder Dube’s remarks and the dedicatory prayer, President Mnangagwa spoke to those in attendance. "I applaud your church leadership for its strategic decision to construct this temple in Zimbabwe. This development is testimony to my Government’s commitment to the protection of the right to freedom of worship as enshrined in our National Constitution. The church, just like the family, remains an important institution for the nationalization of social norms, values, and ethics. Both institutions are fundamental and have a responsibility to preserve and protect the moral fabric of our society. It is in the home—and the church—where children and the members of our society are taught lessons of love, respect, forgiveness, compassion, care, and service."
In his site dedicatory prayer, Elder Dube said, "As we watch the rising of this building from the ground up, may we also turn our hearts upward to Thee and Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ." He also prayed, "We ask that the nation of Zimbabwe and its neighbouring nations on this vast continent will be blessed by Thy merciful hand […] Bless their leaders with courage to protect the religious liberties of the citizens and with insight to enlarge opportunities—that these people may be lifted from the bonds of poverty and disease and look forward to more prosperous living. May the teachings of the gospel through missionary work help heal, fortify, and strengthen Zimbabwe and the neighbouring nations. . . .Bless the workers so that they feel the importance of what they are doing, and so that they have additional skills needed to do their work the best they can. Wilt Thou protect them from injury and the effects of the current pandemic that covers the earth."
Details for the open house and temple dedication, upon its completion, will be announced at a future date.