Saturday, May 20, 2017

Temple Construction Costs

The Church used to report the construction costs for temples around the world prior to 1982 in the Deseret News Church Almanac. See below for a list of temple construction costs as indicated in the Deseret News 1981 Church Almanac. I have also calculated what these previous costs would be for temples build since 1919 in current United States Dollars given inflation using the CPI Inflation Calculator which can be accessed here. For temples built before 1919, I used another inflation calculator website that allows for calculations to be made prior to this time. These data provide insights into current construction costs for temples built by the Church. Click on the table below if you have trouble reading it.


Financial self-sufficiency of the Church as a whole and in individual countries is an important aspect of church growth. These funds are necessary for meetinghouse construction, temple construction, missionary work, printing and media costs, and so forth. The Church originally requested members to donate or fund raise temple construction costs in order to meet these purposes. However, this practice is infrequent at present for the worldwide Church since tithing funds appear to primarily fund these needs. Unfortunately, the Church appears to lack financial self-sufficiency in most countries of the world due to lower member incomes in comparison to other nations such as the United States. Greater long-term health and growth in the Church, particularly in regards to temple construction, will likely be achieved once the Church develops greater self-sufficiency in meeting its financial needs in individual countries around the world, particularly in developing nations such as in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

19 comments:

Brett Stirling said...

Some of those figures are misleading as some of the work was completed by volunteer labour, so the costs are inaccurate. Also some of the commodity prices of the materials when they were more plentiful and more readily available are a bit off.

The Laie Temple would cost far more these days to build again from scratch. The renovations alone would dwarf your cost comparison today. To put into perspective the Rome Italy Temple complex has had 100 million Euros attached to it. The Salt Lake Temple would dwarf those costs.

The Church needs to reevaluate it's congregation size and programmes because of the resources required to service them. A full sized chapel servicing 4 wards with average 150-200 people in my opinion is inefficient. If you had 400 people attend a sacrament you could increase the size of wards and therefore reduce the need for so many buildings. The way the Church structures its wards, its programmes and how it allocates resources needs to reimagined. 1,600 people in a single meetinghouse is far more sustainable than 600-800.

Mike Johnson said...

Having been in wards with 300-400 average attendance, I find that wards averaging 200 or so members are far more efficient in the primary purpose of spiritual growth of the members. 300-400 average attendance just gives members too many excuses not to work for the benefit of the congregation.

The majority of mega and very large churches have multiple sites and 6 to 12 sessions usually led by junior pastors. They resemble stakes more than very large wards.

75% of Protestant churches average less than 70 in attendance each week.

I do believe that typical LDS wards fit into the range of medium-sized churches. A range large enough for the full program, but not so large that it becomes impossible to know everybody in the ward.

I think a ward with 1500 in attendance would be very inefficient in proclaiming the gospel and perfecting the saints.

Unknown said...

I think you'd find no wards outside of Utah and the surrounding states would have no where that amount of active members. You'd be lucky to have 100-150 members who attend regularly.

Bryan Baird said...

Two wards in my stake the Baltimore Maryland Stake has recorded 300 attendance in sacrament meeting. Susquehanna Ward around 300 and Jones Falls Ward with 350. This was about 2015/2016 so 2017 not so sure this was according to the map on Cumorah website

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church actually seems to be in process of trying to move to somewgat larger units. I was in a qard on my mission in Las Vegas that when formed had averaged maybe 30 attendance. It was much larger when I was there.



John Pack Lambert said...

The Church has a stardardized building plan largely to keep costs down. In the 1990s the standard plan was scaled down.

I have to admit I find tgat most duscussions of Church fihsnces on tge internet degeneeare into people insinuating the Church is uncharitable. At times tgey ecen feature toral lies about how the Church uses funds.

I think if we think about it we are all glad for cebtral building funds and professionally built chapels. While there was comraderie from building chapels as a ward there was also a downside. In some places it leax to union protest agaibst thd Church fir nit building with union labor.

John Pack Lambert said...

In DR Congo the Church a few years back insituted a project to have returbed missionaries be trained in construction while building chapels. I do not know this has been done elsewhere recently but it possibly could be.

On another note I wonder how many chapels in Ivory Coast are rented as opposed to Church owned?

John Pack Lambert said...

The number I saw floated un the media for tge Philadelphia Temple was $70 million.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Rome Temlle ckmllex is being built as a unig so its costs are not comparable to those listed for just the Salt Lake Temple that does not include other buildings on temple square.

I think the ideal size of a ward is influenced by the age ratio of members. The number of families and not just a count of individuals might be worth considrring.

Joseph Hansen said...

Having wards with 400 sacrament attendance might work if you only had one ward attending the building at a time but when you get two at the same time you just run out of room. We have attendance around the 300 mark and just have no more room We use one of the bishop offices of the other ward for our teacher councils because we can't find another place other than maybe the kitchen. You probably don't run into this issue with a larger building but the standard building these days it just doesn't work. Although, money is important it's more about the salvation of the members and if we need more building to have smaller wards so people get the chance to serve more I think it worth it.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Two other reasons for smaller, manageable wards are:
1) The bishop and his counselors and members in general should know each other and their likes, wants and needs, made more difficult by bigger untenable numbers, and;
2) Chapels in many parts of the US and world are located at far distances for regular worship or other active access. People in Maine, Pennsylvania, California, Belize, Peru, New Caledonia, Russia are too far from any chapel or meeting group, let alone temple, in order to effectively be a vital part of an LDS community.

Brett Stirling said...

The Salt Lake Temple is much larger and far grander than all those buildings put together.

Brett Stirling said...

Hence the programmes need to be reimagined. Remember the 3 hour block has only been around for 37 odd years. Salvation is achieved through faith and the ordinances of the gospel. The programmes to strengthen and develop and sustain the faith are no set in stone.

Paul said...

The Church could simplify in many ways with no impact on doctrine. Most family history centers could be closed now that Family Search is so robust. Primary activity days could be eliminated. Stake general priesthood meetings could also go. The rest of Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting could be canceled as well. Girls camp is another item that could be stopped.

james anderson said...

As to family history centers, there are still going to be a lot of things that they will not have publishing rights for outside the lr FHCs, and community patrons can also come in and use Ancestry or the otheibrary or partners, and a few others we don't have noe. Most also have equipment where they could run classes and some do, which could draw more in, and members could benefit too.

james anderson said...

I think stake priesthood meetings are tied in some way to doctrine, as the stake president presides over the Melchizedek priesthood within the stake. He also is the president of the high priest quorum, which in wards is broken into groups. A quorum meeting of that is held at least once a year.

John Pack Lambert said...

I clearly see a role for FHCs, but I think in the era of family search, we need to reevaluate how many are needed in areas with high access to the internet. This was already done in southern Salt Lake County where they elimanated basically all the FHCs and created a familySearch Center.

In my stake the current stake president brought about a major reduction of the hours our two FHCs were open, which made sense considering how many of these hours there were often no patrons present. Sometimes my parents would go in on a Saturday and have no patrons.

Some neighboring stakes I think need to reconsider if they need as many FHCs as they have. There has also been a growing number of community as opposed to church located FHCs.

James said...

It is all well and good for us to sit around and comment extensively on what we, as individuals or as a group, think could or should be changed or done better in regards to Church practices and programs, but whenever I start to have such a mindset, I am reminded that no decision, program, practice, or policy is put into effect, altered, or restructured without extensive study and input that general and local leaders are requesting and receiving not just from those familiar with the issues involved, but also, more importantly, through and under the direction of the Spirit. I have been touched recently to read more extensively of the process by which modern revelations about extending the priesthood to all worthy males, the proclamations published in the Hinckley era, the lowering of missionary age, and the revelations that have been, are being, and will be received regarding temple locations and designs. Part of our membership in the true and living Church involves the acceptance that modern revelation is taking place all the time in this day and age. I remember the account of a conversation an apostle once had with someone not of our faith in describing what it means to have a living prophet. The question was asked, "When was the last time your prophet had a revelation?" The answer: "Last Thursday." Modern revelation, a key element, factor, and characteristic of the Lord's true Church, is happening constantly. We see the results of such revelation often, with every announcement that comes from Church headquarters, with each new temple that is being put into place, and so I could go on. The point is that it would be incorrect and erroneous to assume that the Church and its leadership, generally and locally, are not constantly assessing the needs of Saints worldwide and making the decisions that would advance the Lord's work in the best way possible in every part of the world. Just wanted to add that thought, for what it's worth. We have seen the Church just recently announce a decision to discontinue its Varsity and Venture programs. Some have decried the decision as being the Church's abandonment of a valuable asset to young men. But as I observed in my blog post about that news, that decision only came after much study and prayer, and after considering every possible impact on this decision. And in fact, short of denying boys age 14-17 participation in the Scouting program, it puts the responsibility more on the young men ages 11-13 to earn their Eagles, and for those who have not done so by age 14 to either finish on their own or to look to community organizations. And there will be no neglect of those ages 14-17. The Church is devising a program for them that will be better suited for young men in that demographic. So modern revelation does happen. And the Church is better for it. We can talk all we want about certain programs and practices of the Church that are redundant, outdated, or unnecessary in our eyes. But at the end of the day, they still exist because they serve a purpose. If and when that needs to change, it will. Just wanted to say that.

bwebster said...

I think you'd find no wards outside of Utah and the surrounding states would have no where that amount of active members. You'd be lucky to have 100-150 members who attend regularly.

On the contrary. When we lived in Valley Ranch, TX, the ward we attended (Coppell Ward) had over 700 members of record and easily had 300-400 members attending each week.

About a decade later, we lived in Parker, CO for about 9 years, and large ward size was a constant issue. In those nine years, we went from one stakes to two stakes, doubling the number of wards (from roughly 9 to roughly 18) in the same geographical area.