President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Gilbert Arizona Temple on Sunday, March 2, to be a sanctuary of serenity, a refuge from the storms of life and the noise of the world and as a house of quiet contemplation concerning the eternal nature of life and the Lord’s divine plan for His children.
President Monson presided over the three sessions to dedicate the new temple, the 142nd operating temple in the world and the fourth in Arizona.
“It was my privilege, on April 28, 2008, to announce that a temple would be built here in Gilbert,” President Monson said Sunday morning. “Following early preparations, including the city’s approval of detailed plans for the temple and the surrounding area, ground was broken on November 13, 2010.
“Now, just a little more than three years after the groundbreaking, we are gathered here to dedicate this magnificently beautiful Gilbert Arizona Temple.
“Let us open our hearts and open our minds and open our souls to the spirit here today. I would hope that we would all remember not just what is said, but also, and perhaps more importantly, let us remember how we feel. I think it important that we feel close to our Heavenly Father on this special day.”
President Monson alternated with President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, in speaking and delivering the dedicatory prayer.
It was fitting that President Eyring accompany and share with President Monson those sacred duties. On the day before the dedication, President Eyring spoke with the Church News of his family ties to Arizona.
His grandfather, Edward Christian Eyring, was among Mormon colonists who came out of Mexico in 1912. The Eyring family went first to El Paso, Texas, and, a year later, to Pima, Ariz., where President Eyring’s father, Henry Eyring, completed high school before going to Gila Academy in Thatcher and then to Tucson where he received degrees from the University of Arizona.
As President Eyring walked on the grounds of the new temple, he reflected on his family’s Arizona connections.
“I have a feeling of gratitude of my grandfather and others who came here,” he told the Church News. He spoke of the decision made shortly after President Monson became president of the Church in 2008 to build temples in The Gila Valley, Gilbert and Phoenix.
“When the decision was made to build those temples I had a feeling of gratitude for the righteous people, the wonderful pioneers of the Church in this area,” President Eyring said.
Located in Phoenix’s East Valley, the Gilbert Arizona Temple serves Latter-day Saints from 26 stakes in Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler, Queen Creek, Florence, Globe and Maricopa.
The dedication events began with the official sealing of a symbolic cornerstone in which was placed a container filled earlier with written histories, photographs, documents and other items of significance to the history of the Church and the temple district. At the cornerstone ceremony, President Monson paid special attention to young children and youth, engaging them in brief conversations.
He singled out a 16-year-old young woman, Kendall Crum, who was in a wheelchair. He asked if her parents, Russell and Shawna Crum, could bring her closer to the platform from which he presided over the cornerstone ceremony. They brought her as close as they could get.
Later, her mother said that Kendall, who communicates through her iPad, loves President Monson and downloads his conference talks, listens to them and plays them for others. When the family received tickets to attend the dedication, she communicated that her greatest desire was to meet President Monson. He did not know anything about her when he invited her to come forward.
“Our miracle happened,” Sister Crum said.
For 85 years, until the Snowflake Arizona Temple was dedicated in 2002, the only temple in Arizona was the one in Mesa, which was dedicated in 1927. Generations of members in the Gilbert temple district have attended and served in the Mesa temple.
Willa Dean Lamb, who lives in Superior, Ariz., had just begun her 14th year serving in the Mesa temple. “I’m 84. I thought they would turn me out to pasture, that they would want younger people to serve in the new temple,” she said. “I was thrilled to receive the call to serve here.”
She said her husband, John Clyde Lamb, who died 20 years ago, was a descendant of early Mormon pioneers who were sent to colonize Mesa. “I am so grateful for those pioneers. I’m sure they are rejoicing today,” she said.
Kari Clouse, who served as an usher at the Gilbert temple dedication, said she spoke with a 96-year-old woman who told her after the concluding session that she had attended the dedication of the Mesa temple when she was a young girl. “She said she was so glad to be here today, that it was a wonderful experience,” Sister Clouse said.
Joining President Monson and President Eyring in speaking at the dedication were Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department; Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy; President Daniel E. LeSueur, president of the Gilbert temple, and his counselors, President Robert H Hicken and President Darl J. Andersen; Sister Nancy R. LeSuer, temple matron; and Sister Patricia R. Hicken and Sister Kaye L. Andersen, assistants to the temple matron.
On the eve of the dedication, a cultural celebration was held in a park near the temple. (Please see the report on pages 8-9).