Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with community leaders in Star Valley, Wyoming, on Saturday, April 25, 2015, to break ground for the first temple in Wyoming.

Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at the ceremony. He was joined by Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department. Several community and civic leaders also attended.

“There couldn’t be a more appropriate place for a house of God,” said Elder Christensen. “The temple is a gift of God. It is to the great heritage that is here… It links generations together. The temple will become a landmark, a sacred place for this valley for years to come.”

Elder Richards added “[The temple] isn’t a monument to the past; it is a new beginning. It is a beginning of faith and courage of your generation and your children and your future. Everything we do is to prepare ourselves for the temple.”

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple will be constructed east of U.S. Highway 89 on the Haderlie Farm property south of Afton.

“I hope and pray that each of us will be better people, and not just satisfied to be the same,” said McKell Allred, temple groundbreaking committee chairman and a former Church stake president. “This temple will be a constant reminder to each of us to improve ourselves and our lives.”

“It’s quite an honor for a little community like Star Valley to have a temple,” remarked Stephen Campbell from Auburn, Wyoming. His great great grandfather was one of the original settlers of Star Valley. Lawanna Campbell said, “It’s very exciting and satisfying.” She explained that, “Many people from Star Valley travel great distances to work and serve in the temple, sacrificing time and resources.”

The temple was announced by Church President Thomas S. Monson at the Church’s October 2011 general conference.

Once construction of the new temple begins, it will take approximately two years to complete.

To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, temples are the “house of the Lord,” the most sacred places on earth. Unlike meetinghouses, where Sabbath worship and weekly activities take place, temples are open throughout the week and closed on Sundays.

Temple services bind families together forever, teach the purpose of life and explain God’s plan of salvation. Temple attendance emphasizes personal spiritual growth and strengthens Latter-day Saints’ commitment to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

There are currently 173 temples throughout the world either in operation, under construction or announced. Five are being renovated.