Long-Awaited LDS Temple Opens In Gilbert
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has built its fourth temple in Arizona. The Gilbert Arizona Temple is the largest the church has constructed in about 20 years.
Faith leaders say the temple represents a need to serve a growing East Valley community. There is also a chapel for worship and meetings near the new building.
The media is getting the first glimpse of the Gilbert Arizona Temple on Wednesday, and the public will get its turn with tours starting this Saturday through Feb. 15.
The Gilbert temple is an 85,000 square feet white concrete building. It sits on the corner of Greenfield and Pecos Roads. A gold statue adorns the top of the temple 195 feet above the ground. Surrounded by farms and new development, the temple is now the tallest building in Gilbert.
Cindy Packard is a church spokesperson. She says the temple is expected to serve 90,000 members.
“The temple will be pretty busy initially because people from all around will want to comes and to see this beautiful temple and to worship here," Packard said.
Unlike a cathedral, the five-level church has several rooms, each serving a purpose. They’re for weddings, baptisms, meditation and other services. The church interior is decorated with a southwestern theme.
For Mormons temples are sacred. Packard said it’s common practice to temporarily open a new temple for the public to visit.
“This temple doesn’t really just bless members of the church but it really blesses the whole community. People who are not of our faith find that the temples are wonderful additions to their area," Packard said.
The Gilbert Arizona Temple is the 142nd worldwide. Another temple is under construction in West Phoenix, and there are plans to build another temple in Tucson.
Updated 1/15/2014 at 4:05 p.m.