SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Mormon church president Thomas S. Monson today announced plans to build five new temples in the United States and abroad.

Monson says the temples will be built in Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Tijuana, Mexico; Urdaneta, Philippines; and Lisbon, Portugal.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already has 134 temples operating worldwide, most in the U.S. Another 16 temples are either planned or already under construction.

Monson’s announcement came during the opening session of the church’s two-day semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City. The church has nearly 14 million members worldwide.

Temples are considered sacred to Latter-day Saints and are used for religious rituals. The new temples will be the first for the church in Connecticut, Indiana and Portugal.

The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News reported that Monson opened the conference by urging Mormon faithful of all ages to become missionaries.

A two-year mission is a universal expectation for every “worthy, able young man,” Monson told more than 20,000 Mormons gathered in downtown Salt Lake City. Millions more watched around the globe via satellite.

“Missionary service is a priesthood duty, an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much,”he said.

While young women don’t have the same obligation to serve full-time, they can make “a valuable contribution as missionaries. We welcome your service,” Monson said.

The 83-year-old LDS leader also urged older couples to embrace missionary service, saying “we need many, many more senior couples.”

Other speakers Saturday discussed the need for integrity, the importance of choice and responsibility, and the need to focus on the simplicity of Christ’s teachings.

“Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light,” said Dieter F. Uchtdorf, First Counselor in the First Presidency. “It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most.”

Apostle Quentin L. Cook defended the Mormon church’s political involvement in what it considers moral issues.

Recent LDS official statements have been released on issues such as same-sex marriage and Salt Lake City’s anti-discrimination statutes.

“All voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced,” Cook said.

“Furthermore, we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles they will automatically be accepted or given preferential treatment. But it is also clear that such views and values are entitled to be considered on their merits.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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