TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Driving along Thomasville Road in Northeast Tallahassee, a massive construction project has probably caught your eye. It is only the third building of its kind to be built in the state of Florida.
It is the state’s newest Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This temple will draw visitors from as far away as Alabama.
Along Thomasville Road, there are many places of worship. Now, less than two miles off I-10 a new temple is reaching 125 feet into the Capital City sky.
“It’s a place where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to find spiritual growth and foundation,” explained Ben Smith. He is stake president for the Tallahassee area.
“A stake is a like a diocese in other churches,” Smith explained. “It’s the local leader for various congregations.”
He leads the just over 3,600 members of what is also known as the Mormon Church in the Tallahassee area. This includes parts of South Georgia, Thomasville, Cairo, Madison, Perry, and Crawfordville.
“We recognize that the temple being present will be a great asset to the community,” Smith added.
Temples are different than meeting houses like the one already in Tallahassee. Temples are places specially set apart for sacred service and ceremonies.
“Historically, members would travel to Utah. Several decades ago, that’s where the closest temple was,” Smith said.
Utah is not where all Mormons live.
“People don’t realize, I think, that Mormons are much more expansive denomination than it would first appear,” explained Dr. John Corrigan. He is a distinguished professor of religion at Florida State University.
“The last five years, Mormon growth has been either flat or negative,” Dr. Corrigan said. “Preliminary statistics show there’s a resurgence the last year or so.”
The church said Florida is home to more than 160,000 Latter-day Saints in 267 congregations. The new Temple going up in Tallahassee could potentially attract more people to visit the Big Bend from as far west as Mobile and as far east as Jacksonville.
“When members participate in a temple trip, it often is a day-long trip,” Smith said. “Something extends overnight with hotel stays and things like that.”
The 30,000-square-feet building started going up when ground was broken in June of 2021. The church says there are over 160 operating temples in countries around the world.
They just announced a fourth in Florida that will go up in the Tampa area. This project just a small part of that growing number. Temple construction is paid for from the tithing funds.