San Antonio Texas Temple
On June 24, 2001 the Mormon Church announced it would be building a temple in San Antonio, Texas, making it the state's fourth. Work quickly began to find a site for the temple. The need for a temple in the San Antonio area had become great because of the rapid growth of the Church. In ten years the number of Mormon members in the area grew from 9,000 to 12,000. Until the San Antonio Temple was announced members in the area had to travel to Houston a three and a half hour trip one way; or Dallas a four and a half hour trip one way.
On March 29, 2003 a site dedication and groundbreaking ceremony was held and construction began. As the Mormon temple neared completion in September 2004, a ceremony was held to place a thirteen-foot, gold leafed angel Moroni statue on the spire of the temple. The day chosen for the ceremony was September 21, because that was the day 181 years ago that the angel Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith.
After the building's completion an open house was held April 16 through May 7, 2005 to allow people to see the inside of a Mormon temple. During these three weeks, more than 50,000 people took a tour through the newly finished temple. The inside of the temple is beautifully furnished with African Cherrywood, stained glass windows, paintings of Jesus' life and a mural by San Antonio artist Keith Bonds. During the open house a group of Evangelical Protestant missionaries got together to hand out pamphlets about the Mormon Church that presents information they say shows that the Mormon Church misrepresents itself. However members were asked to be kind and not argue with the protesters. Michael Otterson, the media relations director for the Mormon Church explained that church officials do not need to respond to critics, "This is a never-ending battle, and we just don't think the Lord Jesus Christ is pleased when we start throwing accusations at each other." Throughout the open house those handing out pamphlets were allowed to use the facilities at the nearby Mormon Chapel.
Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley officially dedicated the San Antonio Temple for use on May 22, 2005. The night before the dedication a celebration was held at the Alamodome. More than 20,000 people attended to watch a show featuring over 4,000 singers and dancers, horses, fireworks, and presentations of Texas history, family values, and Mormon beliefs. President Hinckley also spoke to those in attendance about the temple.