Gila Valley Arizona Temple
The Gila Valley Arizona Temple was announced on 28 April 2008 by President Thomas S. Monson. It is one of the first two announced by President Monson since he was ordained President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The groundbreaking took place on 14 February 2009, with Neil L. Andersen presiding. Two temples previously were in active use in Arizona, the Mesa Arizona Temple, and one in Snowflake, Arizona. In addition to the Gila Valley Temple, two others have been announced to serve the Arizona membership—theGilbert Arizona Temple, and the Phoenix Arizona Temple.
Gila Valley is known in the Church as the location where beloved prophet Spencer W. Kimball was raised.
The site is 17 acres located at 5291 West Highway 70, Central, Arizona. The temple is faced with architectural pre-cast stone, and has a classic-modern, single-spire design. Its 18,561 square feet has two ordinance rooms and two sealing rooms.
The temple will serve approximately 32,000 members from the following seven stakes: Pima Arizona Stake, Thatcher Arizona Stake, Safford Arizona Stake, Duncan Arizona Stake, St. David Arizona Stake, Sierra Vista Arizona Stake, and Silver City New Mexico Stake (Jill B. Adair, "Ground broken for Gila Valley temple," Church News 16 Feb. 2009). Nearly 375,000 Latter-day Saints live in Arizona.
In December, 2009, the First Presidency of the Church announced a public open house prior to the dedication of the temple. The public was invited to visit the temple beginning on Friday, 23 April 2010, through Saturday, 15 May 2010, excluding Sundays. Around 90,000 people took the opportunity to tour the temple before its dedication. (Only 40,000 people live in the county.) After being dedicated, temple doors close to the public, and only members of the Mormon Church who are worthy can enter.
The temple was dedicated on Sunday, 23 May 2010, by President and Prophet Thomas S. Monson in three dedicatory sessions. In conjunction with the temple dedication, a cultural celebration of music and dance throughout the region was staged on Saturday, 22 May 2010 at Mickelson Stadium at Eastern Arizona College, during which more than 1,600 young people ages 12-18 retold -- through song, dance and words -- the rich cultural history of eastern Arizona.
A cornerstone ceremony was held on Sunday morning before the dedications. As part of the ceremony, President Monson put mortar along the edge of the cornerstone, then asked church leaders accompanying him to do the same. President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the church's Temple Department followed.