Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will preside at groundbreaking services for The Gila Valley Arizona Temple, to be held on Saturday, 14 February 2009, at 9 a.m. This will formally initiate construction of the temple, which was announced by Church President Thomas S. Monson on 26 April 2008.
Elder Andersen will be accompanied by Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, and also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Following a brief program, Elder Andersen will pronounce a prayer of dedication on the site. Church leaders and other local dignitaries will then join Elders Andersen and Walker in turning the first shovelfuls of earth.
The Gila Valley Temple will be the third temple in Arizona and will serve approximately 32,000 Church members from congregations in the surrounding area. Arizona’s first temple, in Mesa, was completed in 1927 and was only the seventh temple built by the Latter-day Saints after their westward migration. In 2002, some 100 temples later, the Snowflake Arizona Temple was dedicated. Since becoming the president of the Church in February of 2008, President Monson has announced three new temples in Arizona. Other temples slated for construction will be located in Gilbert and northwest Phoenix.
For some 13 million Latter-day Saints throughout the world, The Gila Valley Temple will be a sacred “house of the Lord” where families can be united for eternity. It will also stand as a constant reminder of the sacrifice and example set by early members of the Church who first settled the Gila Valley and wrested a living from the arid soil.
Once construction is complete, a public open house will be scheduled and announced. Following the public open house, the temple will be formally dedicated and thereafter used by faithful members of the Church for marriages, baptisms and other sacred ordinances intended to provide eternal family relationships.
With the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in March, there will be 129 operating temples throughout the world. In addition to the Arizona temples, there are another 14 Latter-day Saint temples announced or in some phase of construction.