Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire Temple
The Abidjan Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Temple was one of three new temples — along with ones for Bangkok, Thailand, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti — announced by the late President Thomas S. Monson on 5 April 2015, during the Sunday morning session of Sunday Morning Session of the 185th annual general conference. The temple will be constructed on the site of the stake center for the Cocody Cote d'Ivoire Stake in the commune of Cocody, known for its beautiful residential districts. A rendering of the temple’s exterior was released on 4 October 2018.
The Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) is home to approximately 20 million people, including nearly 44,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 14 stakes, 211 congregations, and two missions. Missionary work officially began in Côte d'Ivoire in 1988 and the first meetinghouses were built in the late 1990s. Church members in Abidjan, the country's largest urban center on the southern Atlantic coast, currently attend temple services in Accra, Ghana, which requires a 12-hour one-way trip by car to reach.
Over the past few years, Church membership growth in Côte d'Ivoire has been among the highest in the world. The number of members and congregations has multiplied in this West African nation where twelve stakes and thirteen districts operate. Eleven of the twelve stakes are headquartered in the greater Abidjan region. In 2012, three of the five stakes in Côte d'Ivoire were among the top 25 in the Church in the percentage of adults submitting family names for temple ordinances.
The Church currently has 160 operating temples worldwide. The Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire Temple will be the Church's sixth temple built on the African continent and the first built in the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire). It is estimated that the building of the temple will take approximately two years to complete. Three temples are currently operating — Aba Nigeria Temple, Accra Ghana Temple, and Johannesburg South Africa Temple. The Abidjan temple will join ones in Durban, South Africa and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo as the three temples under construction.
Another four temples have been announced but not yet started — in Harare, Zimbabwe; Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; and Praia, Cape Verde.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday, 8 November 2018 at 10:00 am. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided. Attendance at this ceremony was by invitation only, with the general public invited to view the proceedings live from local meetinghouses. A media section was provided at the ceremony and the media was respectfully asked not to record the dedicatory prayer. Elder Andersen offered the dedicatory prayer in French, the official language of the West African nation.
During his remarks, Elder Andersen said, "Today is a sacred day, a holy day, a day that will long be remembered in the records kept in heaven and by the Saints of God here in the Ivory Coast. The building of this temple means that the restored kingdom of God will be established here in Abidjan and throughout the Ivory Coast until the Savior returns to the earth and that there will be covenant people here to receive Him when he returns."
In his April 2015 general conference address, Elder Andersen highlighted a pair of the Church’s "pioneer" couples in the country — Lucien and Agathe Affoue and Philippe and Annelies Assard — who separately had joined the Church in Europe before relocating in Ivory Coast in the 1980s and meeting and forming a Sunday School.
The Assards were married in her native Germany, where they joined the Church and were sealed in the Bern Switzerland Temple, later moving to his native Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire). In his remarks at the groundbreaking, Elder Andersen shared the testimonies of three generations of the Assard family.
From Annelies Assard: "With a grateful heart, I testify to you, dear brothers and sisters, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Messiah and that our Heavenly Father listens to the prayers of His Saints. We are in His true and living Church."
From Dorothée Anzoua, a daughter of the Assards: "When I think of the Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful gift He gave me by sacrificing himself for me, I am infinitely grateful to Him. This feeling of love and gratitude strengthens and motivates me every day to make the right choice and to consult the Holy Spirit to guide and lead in my daily journey. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches me the truths about the plan of salvation and the eternal life promised to those who follow His way."
And from Marie-Emmanuelle Anzoua, a granddaughter almost 13 years old: "The gospel and the Church are very important in my life because, without them, I would not know our good Savior who made so many sacrifices for us to become just and right. I am very (grateful) to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ because we have the restored truth. Our Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ have done so much for us that we cannot count it. So, obey His commandments, glorify Him and sanctify Him."
Elder Andersen was joined by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, who also spoke in French during the ceremony as well as Elder Marcus B. Nash, General Authority Seventy and Africa West Area President, and his wife, Sister Shelley Nash; and Elder Edward Dube, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Africa West Area, and his wife, Sister Naume Dube.
During her remarks, Sister Andersen said, "Each time I enter in the temple, I am touched by the fact that the Lord permits us to enter in His holy house to receive the blessings that we cannot receive in any other place on earth. She continued, "My dear brothers and sisters, you have made so many sacrifices to go to the temple and to return year after year. We are greatly strengthened by your faith and your devotion."
Elder Andersen also admonished the Saints, "Let this be an example for us in our own lives. Let us devote ourselves during these months of construction to better shaping our character and souls to be ready to enter the dedicated temple. Let us be better husbands and wives, better children; let us be more true to following the Savior. Let us be honest in our tithes and offerings. Let us be kind and generous to those around us. Let us pray with humility and real intent."