News Release

'A reason to hope': Nairobi Kenya Temple Groundbreaking

Members and friends of the Church gathered on Saturday to mark the groundbreaking of the first temple to be erected on Kenyan soil.

“Today we will break ground for the Nairobi Kenya Temple, officially beginning the construction of this temple which will increase the power of God in East Africa,” Elder Matthew L. Carpenter, First Counsellor in the Africa Central Area Presidency, declared on Saturday September 11, 2021.  

“This is indeed a sacred and a holy day.”

His statements marked the groundbreaking of the first temple to be built on Kenyan soil and in East Africa.

About 100 Church leaders and members, opinion leaders and journalists gathered on this cool Saturday morning to witness the event in Mountain View—a neighborhood of Nairobi. While Covid-19 gathering restrictions limited the number of people physically present, Church members and friends across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia participated in the proceedings via a live online broadcast in their local chapels and homes.

Downloadable B-roll & SOTs

Dedicated to the ‘rising generation’

Elder Joseph W. Sitati, President of the Africa Central Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that the day was dedicated to the youth of the Church. He said this acted as an invitation to the rising generation “to look at the temple that will come up in this site as their temple,” he said. “This is the place they will get married; this is the place where they will make eternal covenants that will bless them for all eternity.”

Young people expressed their reverence and excitement at the idea of receiving a temple in their homeland. “At this moment I am so overwhelmed with joy. I am filled [with] peace,” said Shelda Wandera (24) who addressed the congregation. “I know that our Savior and our Heavenly Father love us so dearly. That is why they have blessed us with this wonderful house.”

Brandon Kioko (15) told congregants that he was looking forward to making any personal changes that were needed to enter the House of the Lord. “The temple is a place where we can feel closer to God; a place where we can search for comfort,” he said. “I know [it] will bring blessings to individuals and families.”

 ‘A reason to hope’

Also attending the event was Kenyan Member of Parliament, the Honourable Mr Opiyo Wandayi. Mr Wandayi shared a message written by the Right Honorable Raila Odinga, former Prime Minister of Kenya.

“Kenya has … a long, unique and proud tradition of tolerance and cooperation between faiths,” wrote Mr Odinga, who is a member of the Anglican faith.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has continued the tradition of not only providing for our spiritual needs, but also for our physical ones,” he said. “I therefore wholly welcome the decision to put up a dwelling place for God in Nairobi.”

Odinga said he thanked the Church “most sincerely, for the work you have done this past year and over the years to sustain the faith, hope and physical well-being of our people. At a very difficult time, members of the Church have been in the forefront, giving us reason to hope.”

Hope was a central theme to the ceremony. As the world memorialized the September 11 tragedy which took place on this day exactly 20 years ago in the USA, so speakers highlighted the hope of triumph over death that is intrinsic to the purposes of temples.

In temples, “husbands and wives can be sealed  -- which means married or bound -- together forever, and have their children sealed -- or bound -- to them as a family, forever.  These sealing blessings again are not only for this life, but they are for all eternity,” said Elder Carpenter. He recalled the day when, 39 years ago, he and his wife Shelly were married in a dedicated temple of the Lord.

“The day will come when one of us will die and we will be separated for a short time from each other,” he acknowledged. “Knowing that we have made the marriage covenant with God by the proper authority, I know we will be together for all eternity.  That brings great comfort and peace,” he said. “That same comfort and peace can rest with each person who enters the temple of God.”

And that feeling of peace can impact not only individuals, but societies as a whole, said Elder Sitati.

Temples “usher in peace in the peace in the world, because of the effect they have on people’s hearts,” he said. “That is why this is a special day.” 

More About Temples

The first Kenyans – a family of four -- joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1979.  Today there are more than 15,000 Church members in the country. The temple will also service the surrounding countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“All told, approximately 39,000 current members will now benefit from having a temple in Nairobi, with thousands more benefitting in years to come,” said Elder Carpenter.

Worldwide, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 251 temples operating, announced or under construction. They are dotted around all regions of the globe.

Temple worship has been practiced since ancient times. From the very beginning, there have been sacred places upon the earth where God has communed with His children. These locations were designated by God and hallowed by His presence, where He would teach and bless His children. Many of these places are recorded in the scriptures—the Garden of Eden; Mount Sinai; the Mount of Transfiguration; the temple of Solomon, and later the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem, where Jesus taught as recorded in the New Testament.

Because God wants His children to have the blessings that come through sacred ordinances and covenants, He instructed prophets in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to build temples. For millions of Church members worldwide, these modern-day temples are regarded as Houses of the Lord, places where Jesus Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed and where families are united for eternity.

Upon completion—and prior to its dedication—the Nairobi Kenya Temple will be opened for guided tours, during which time the public will be invited to visit and tour the building.

A video of the groundbreaking ceremony will be made available in the coming days.

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