SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Temples are distinct from chapels, or ordinary places of Sunday worship. Normal Sunday services may be held anywhere, including rented buildings if necessary, but temples are considered the most sacred places on earth.

Several years ago, faced with the growing worldwide membership and a relatively small number of temples, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley called for the building of dozens more temples to make it possible for more members to participate.

Geraldo Diogo Lima, a local Church leader in Manaus, said it was impossible for him to adequately express the joy he felt when he learned a temple was to be built in his city.

Some members in remote locations still travel for several days and with notable sacrifice to reach a temple.

More than thirty members of the Church in Douala and Yaounde, Cameroon, traveled more than 150 miles on unpaved roads to attend the temple in Aba, Nigeria for the first time after it was opened. The rainy season made travel challenging for the heavily laden vans. For much of the 36-hour trip to the Nigerian border, men shoveled and pushed the vans through tire-high mud while the other passengers walked.

Mormons in Cameroon journeyed 150 miles on muddy roads to reach the temple in Aba, Nigeria. © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Church members are encouraged to visit the temple regularly. According to Mormon beliefs and practice, Church members may also stand in as proxies for their own deceased family members, in order for them to be together as families after they die.

From these beliefs comes the emphasis in Church teachings on family history or genealogical research.

In 1900, only four temples existed, all of which were in Utah. Since President Hinckley’s announcement, the worldwide total of temples in use has reached 124, with an additional 12 that are under construction or announced.

Temples currently operate or have been announced in 32 states of the United States and in 40 countries.

This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.