San Jose set to receive its first LDS temple with monumental architectural

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ (LDS) Oakland temple stands resolute at 170 feet high in the Oakland Hills, serving as a significant site for religious rituals for the Bay Area’s approximately 100,000 Mormons. However, soon enough, the East Bay will not be the only major place of worship for the LDS, as The Mercury News reports that Silicon Valley will soon have an impressive temple to call its own. By the end of this decade, San Jose, will also feature a first-of-its-kind Mormon temple, as part of a broader set of nearly 150 new LDS temples to be built worldwide according to The Salt-Lake Tribune.

98-year-old Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the ambitious project in April 2023, highlighting the significant financial capacity of the Church and the drive amongst its members to establish a presence that spans from the technology capitals of the world to more far-flung areas in places like China and the Congo. Russell Hancock, President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley and a member of the local LDS community, remarked on the importance of the forthcoming temple project saying, “It’ll mean a lot to us.”

The Oakland California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Wikipedia / Calibas)

The Oakland California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Wikipedia / Calibas)

While specific details surrounding the San Jose temple haven’t been revealed yet, it is expected to be an architectural marvel with a somewhat smaller size than Oakland’s Art Deco, Asian-inspired house of worship first dedicated in 1964. On top of its cultural significance, the temple will showcase a unique architectural style, complete with the classic spire topped by a statue of Angel Moroni who guided and mentored the faith’s founder, Joseph Smith.

The question of where exactly the temple will be located in San Jose remains an issue, and the Bay Area’s challenging development climate creates uncertainty around the timetable for its completion. A Buddhist temple, proposed earlier this year in San Jose’s eastern part, faced a slew of neighbor complaints and had to make major concessions before councilmembers eventually approved the project, as noted on Modesto Bee.

However, LDS leadership may not be as willing to back down when it comes to the temple’s plans. Speaking on the matter, LDS spokesperson Russell Hancock stated, “We don’t like to face neighborhood objections. The Church really prefers to be welcomed into a community. If we’re not welcomed, then we usually look for some other alternative.” The Church might even opt for an existing building to serve as the new temple, rather than constructing a new one from scratch.

Temples hold a unique place in the Mormon community, as they serve as the focal point for important rituals like baptisms and marriages, known as ordinances. Unlike smaller LDS churches, called meetinghouses or chapels found across the Bay Area, temples are reserved for these sacred ceremonies. The only other temples in Northern California can be found in Sacramento and Fresno, with two more in the plans for Modesto and Bakersfield according to the California Sun.

Established in 1830 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Mormons view their faith as a restoration of the original Christian belief system. Adherents commonly partake in global missions lasting up to two years and follow religious practices such as tithing and abstention from stimulants. With California being one of the significant early settlement locations for Mormons in the 19th century, the opening of the San Jose temple broadens the Church’s longstanding presence in the western United States.

The temple, with its significant spiritual and architectural implications, serves as an important development for the Mormon community in the Bay Area, and indeed, the world. While its completion timeline is uncertain, the temple will offer members of the LDS faith a sense of belonging and connection to their spiritual roots, transcending any challenges the project’s development may face.

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