Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds temple in heart of uMhlanga

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Feb 3, 2020

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Durban - THE dedication of a “temple” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in uMhlanga this month, was an indication of the church’s growth in KwaZulu-Natal, religious experts say.

The temple, located among other prime real estate in uMhlanga and a short distance from Gateway, will be only the second temple in the country and one of a handful on the continent, according to Vusimuzi Shabalala, public affairs director of the church’s KwaZulu-Natal region. The first temple was built in Parktown, in Johannesburg, in 1985.

He said one of the reasons for construction of the temple was because KZN was one of the church’s fastest growing regions in the country. “It is also accessible for local people because the temple is patronised by everybody in the country,” he said.

Shabalala said he could not divulge the cost of building the temple but said the construction was announced in 2011, by their then president Thomas Monson. They then began the work of finding a site for the church. Groundbreaking took place in 2016 and the temple was completed last year. The temple would be the 168th operational temple in the world.

The temple, located among other prime real estate in uMhlanga and a short distance from Gateway, will be only the second temple in the country and one of a handful on the continent. Picture: Supplied.

Shabalala said they ensured that the design of the temple reflected its local environment. He said the temple, located on a hill, can be seen from the N2 and from certain angles when flying into King Shaka International .

During a tour of the temple, he pointed out stained glass, which featured proteas and sugar cane in their design. The proteas represented the country and the sugar cane represents the field the temple is built on. The temple can accommodate about 170 people at any given time, said Shabalala.

Professor Maria Frahm-Arp from the faculty department of religion studies, at the University of Johannesburg, said the church was growing in the province. She said this was not peculiar to KZN, as it grew along with other churches like the Nazareth Baptist Church, which allow polygamy.

Frahm-Arp said as beautiful as the Umhlanga temple was, it would not be as large and beautiful as the main church in Utah - all temples around the world are poor cousins to the headquarters.

Sibusiso Masondo, an associate professor and theologian at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said a possible reason for the location of the temple was to inspire people who visited it. He said another reason for the location was to prevent a display of opulence in the face of poverty.

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