Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have six temples that are less than a two-hour drive from Pocatello.
But will members of the church soon be able to go to the Gate City to attend temple ceremonies and ordinances?
The answer is foggy at best. But with the April 2017 General Conference slated for next week and a 10-acre parcel of land owned by the church set to be annexed by the city of Pocatello, rumors of an upcoming announcement of a Pocatello temple are swirling.
Announcements of new temples are made during General Conferences, and the next one is slated for April 1-2 in Salt Lake City.
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Ryan Satterfield is the president of Satterfield Reality and Development. He says the annexation of approximately 74 acres of land — 10 of which have been owned by the church since 1997 — into the city of Pocatello will be put to vote by the City Council on April 6.
The land is east of Satterfield Drive in Pocatello, and the 10 acres owned by the church sit right next to an existing Mormon church on Butte Street. If a temple were to be built on that parcel of land, it would have to be annexed first, according to Pocatello City Council member Jim Johnston.
“A temple would need city services — water, sewer, garbage, police protection,” he said.
The annexation of land owned by the church doesn’t necessarily mean the intent is to build a temple there. It could be used to build a number of things. Satterfield said the land’s previous owners donated the land 20 years ago in hopes the church would someday build a temple on it.
“That was the idea behind it,” Satterfield said. “However, ... when we donated it to them, there’s not any stipulation that a temple has to be built there. So technically they could put another meeting house on it. They could make it into a ballfield for the area. They could do a number of things with it.”
Up until the late 2000s, the only temples in the vicinity of Southeast Idaho were in Idaho Falls; Logan, Utah; and Ogden, Utah.
A temple in Rexburg opened in December 2007. That was followed by the opening of a temple in Twin Falls in July 2008 and another temple in Brigham City in August 2012. The temple under construction in Meridian, which is scheduled for dedication in November, will be the fifth in Idaho. Boise and a newly remodeled temple in Idaho Falls are the others.
While several temples have recently been built around Pocatello, there has never been word of a temple opening in the Gate City.
The talk of a potential temple, however, has steadily grown, especially over the last decade as others in the region have opened.
“There’s over 150 temples now that are open, and there’s even more that are either in construction or announced, so there’s just been a lot of temple activity, which has created more people (in Pocatello) talking about temples,” said Larry Fisher, regional public affairs director for the church.
The church will keep a tight lid on any announcement for an upcoming temple — in Pocatello or elsewhere — until the General Conference. Neither Fisher nor Satterfield have heard any intentions for a temple to be built in Pocatello. But both say an announcement would be exciting for the city.
“If they announce one in Pocatello, that’d be great,” Fisher said. “You never know what may happen. ... I support whatever they decide. I support it 100 percent — whether they decide to do one in Pocatello now, in the future or never, that’s their decision.”
Added Satterfield, who is also a member of the church, “We would certainly love to see one in our backyard right here.”