Friday, July 15, 2011

LDS Church Announces Plans To Build A Temple Near Paris, France After French Media Break The Story; Cost Of Temple Complex Could Reach €80 Million

Elizabeth Smart must have been a regular Pied Piper during her mission to France, leading the investigators in a veritable conga line straight into the baptismal font. Less than six months after Smart completed her mission, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build a temple in Le Chesnay in the outskirts of Paris. The Church has now set up a dedicated page on the proposed temple.

Normally, new temples are announced only during the twice-yearly General Conferences, but the French media broke the story early. The following statement was published on LDS Newsroom:

President Thomas S. Monson said today that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hopes to build its first temple in France on property on the outskirts of Paris.

Customarily, new temples are announced by the president of the Church at one of the Church's general conferences, after local government building approvals and property acquisition have been secured. Although the local government approval process for the French temple is still under way, French newspapers were already reporting Church plans to build at Le Chesnay, near Versailles, and this prompted today's announcement.

Church spokesman Scott Trotter said that the Church has been working for many months with local officials. More details will be given later.

There have been several previous attempts to find a suitable site for a French temple, but none were finalized. French members of the Church wishing to visit a temple usually travel to those in neighboring European countries.

One of the French media outlets breaking the story is; a Google English translation of the story is available HERE. They claim that the Church is prepared to spend as much as €80 million (euros, which converts to $113 million based on July 15th exchange rate) on the complex, which in addition to the temple, will also include a residential hotel and several pavilions for the exclusive use of templegoers, as well as an underground car park. No significant local opposition to the project is reported.

When this temple is finally approved, it will be the 162nd temple either announced, operating, or under construction. LDS Church Growth notes that the decision was made despite the fact that Church growth trends in France have been relatively stagnant over the past decade as the number of LDS congregations declined in France from 125 to 110. However, the sizable LDS population in France, consisting of 35,960 members organized into 110 congregations, would seemingly justify the investment.

Currently, French LDS members are split up among four separate temple districts. While members in the Lorient France District, the Paris France Stake, and the Paris France East Stake are assigned to the Frankfurt Germany Temple, members of the Lille France Stake are assigned to the London Temple District, members of the Bordeaux France Stake are assigned to the Madrid Spain Temple District, and members of the Angers France Stake, the Lyon France Stake, the Nancy France Stake, the Nice France Stake, and the Toulouse France Stake are assigned to the Bern Switzerland Temple District.

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