The Phoenix Arizona Temple was dedicated Sunday, November 16, 2014, in three sessions by President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The president of the more than 15-million-member church was greeted by Latter-day Saints from Phoenix and surrounding areas. President Monson was joined by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as he conducted the cornerstone ceremony, a Church tradition that sybolizes the temple’s completion. Following the cornerstone ceremony, President Monson presided over the dedication inside the temple where hundreds of devout members of the Church attended and thousands more watched by satellite feed at chapels across Arizona. Also attending were members of the temple presidency and the temple matron and her assistants.
Elder Kent Richards, executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, said the cornerstone ceremony is symbolic. “It brings to mind the Savior Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone in our Church,” said Elder Richards.
“There is a box and it will contain artifacts and memorabilia that the dedication committee planned and brought together,” he explained. “On Friday, just two days ago, it was filled symbolically. Yesterday it was put into its place on the southeast corner and it will never be opened.”
Four choirs composed of Latter-day Saints from 16 stakes in the temple district provided music for the dedication. A choir for the cornerstone ceremony was made up of individuals selected from seven stakes. Three other choirs representing three congregations each were chosen for the three dedicatory sessions.
“I was able to sing in the cornerstone choir and it was just a wonderful experience to be able to practice and prepare and to sing, celebrate this wonderful building that we have here so close to us,” said Jonathan Linford, who attended the cornerstone ceremony.
Maurine Linford was touched by the beauty of the temple. “We’re excited to have it near us so we can come and worship here,” said Linford.
“The temple for me is a very special place,” expressed Pilar Felix, who was at the cornerstone ceremony. “I love to come with my family. The temple is an opportunity to feel the love of Christ, to know that we can be families forever.”
Leah Felix was also in attendance. “I felt a warm feeling in my heart that it was a good thing I came here today to see the prophet and the temple.”
Sylvia Ramirez Ozaeta discussed what the temple means to her at the cornerstone ceremony. “It’s a refuge from the storm for me. I can just partake of the spirit of peace anytime.”
A cultural celebration with more than 4,300 Mormon youth participants (between the ages of 12 and 18) from 15 stakes was held on Saturday, November 15, prior to the dedication. President Monson presided at the event and gave his trademark “thumbs up” to the delight of the youth performers.
“When I saw the prophet I was just I almost started crying,” said London Wheeler, a 16-year-old performer. “I was really happy. And I never thought I would actually get emotional about that kind of thing, but it was a really good experience to see him in person.”
The theme was “Be a Light,” and the celebration featured music and dance performed by youth from Phoenix and the surrounding communities of Buckeye, Cottonwood, Deer Valley, Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria, Prescott and Surprise. The program highlighted the diverse history of the area, including its five Cs: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. The youth also celebrated the Honeymoon Trail that connected the Saints in northern Arizona to the St. George Utah Temple, the Mormon Battalion and the Church’s involvement with the Good Samaritan Hospital. In addition, the culture of service among the youth was emphasized as hundreds of full-time missionaries took to the stage.
“You are indeed the strength of the youth,” President Uchtdorf told the participants. “In many ways you represent even more Cs whether it’s caring, cheerful or courageous, and tonight you are also cool.”
“The theme, to be a light, is to kind of be an example in the world we live in today so we can try to be an example and lead people back to Jesus Christ,” said 17-year-old performer Samantha Hawker.
Tens of thousands of people toured the temple during a public open house in October and November that was hosted by Church volunteers. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and other dignitaries were among the open house attendees.
The Phoenix Arizona Temple sits on just over five acres adjacent to an existing meetinghouse located at the intersection of Pinnacle Peak Road and 51st Avenue. It is a single-story building and has a footprint of 27,423 square feet, with a full basement and an 89-foot spire. The materials and workmanship are of the highest quality, and the grounds are created and maintained to bring a sense of peace and tranquility to visitors.
Ground was broken for the Phoenix Arizona Temple on June 4, 2011, in a ceremony that was presided over by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy, who said the new building would be a “beautiful and magnificent temple” that will bless both Mormons and the Phoenix community.
The Phoenix Arizona Temple will be the 144th operating temple of the Church worldwide. It is one of five temples in Arizona, with others in Mesa, Snowflake, Gila Valley and Gilbert. A sixth temple, in Tucson, has been announced.
Latter-day Saint temples differ from meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where Jesus Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through ordinances such as baptism, marriage and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make covenants to serve Jesus Christ and their fellowman.