By Cecily Markland
Since the April 2008 announcement that a temple would be built in Gilbert, Ariz., Latter-day Saints in that area and across the state have watched the progress and looked forward with eager anticipation to the opening of a temple in their midst.
In October, the announcement came: The day so many had waited for was just a few months away.
The Gilbert Arizona Temple, the fourth in Arizona, now stands on the southeast corner of Greenfield and Pecos roads. With a spire that reaches 195 feet, it is not only among the tallest buildings in the East Valley, its 85,000 square feet makes it the largest temple the Church has constructed in 17 years.
In January 2014, the doors of the Gilbert Temple will open to the public, welcoming all—including children of all ages—to tour the temple during the four-week open house, scheduled for Saturday, January 18, through Saturday, February 15, 2014, excluding Sundays. Admission is free, but reservations are requested. To make reservations, visit www.gilbertmormontemple.org. Modest dress is suggested for the open house.
“I cannot wait to bring my friends to tour the temple when the open house begins,” says Sharon Slater, of the Gilbert 9th Ward, Gilbert Val Vista Stake. “So many of them are curious, and now we have this amazing opportunity for people to tour the inside before it is dedicated. Regardless of someone’s faith, they will likely find touring the temple to be a wonderful experience.”
Following the open house, on Saturday, March 1, 2014, a cultural celebration, involving 12,000 area youth, will commemorate the heritage of the region through narration, song, and dance. The celebration will be broadcast to meetinghouses in the area.
The temple will be dedicated Sunday, March 2, in three sessions (9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m.) open to those with a recommend. The Sunday block meetings will be cancelled, and the dedication will be broadcast to stakes and districts in Arizona.
The Temple opens Tuesday, March 4, 2014, for all patrons.
Visitor facilities that were open during construction are permanently closed, and visitors are not permitted on the temple site until the open house begins.
When the temple was announced, President Thomas S. Monson said, “It is my personal priority to make sure members of the Church have access to the blessings of the temple.”
As the 142nd operating temple in the world, the Gilbert Temple will soon help Arizonans have greater access to those blessing.