The groundbreaking for the sixth temple to be built in Arizona—the Tucson Arizona Temple—is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 17.
“When we heard the announcement about the groundbreaking, we were naturally very excited,” says Gary Rasmussen, a member of the Tucson Stake who serves as chairman of the Tucson Temple Groundbreaking Committee.
“I imagine it’s what Church members feel in every other place a temple is to be built, that the Lord loves us and that somehow we have gotten into a position that is sufficient to having a temple built in our midst,” says Brother Rasmussen. “It’s a feeling of being grateful and humble.”
President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for a temple to be built in Tucson in General Conference on October 6, 2012.
“People have been so enthusiastic about having a temple here that it has been had to wait, but we are fine. We are not behind; we are right on schedule,” Brother Rasmussen says.
The temple site is in the Catalina Foothills, where East Ina Road curves into Skyline Drive.
“It is a gorgeous location in the foothills. The temple will look out over the valley, with the mountains behind it,” Brother Rasmussen says.
The Tucson Arizona Temple will be “larger than the Gila Valley Temple, and smaller than the Phoenix Temple,” Brother Rasmussen says.
The two-story, 34,000-square-foot mission-style building will include a dome-shaped cupola.
“It’s a classic style in the Tucson area,” Brother Rasmussen says. “City Hall is a domed building and the Spanish mission south of Tucson has a dome feature.”
“Our temple is not going to look like any other temple Our temple is going to fit this area. It will look like it belongs,” he adds.
The temple was designed by FFRR Architecture and Big-D Construction has been selected as the general contractor.
When completed, the Tucson Arizona Temple will serve approximately 33,000 members who make up the eight stakes in the Tucson area.
“This temple will serve people all the way from Sierra Vista, Wilcox, Avra Valley, Marana, Oro Valley and clear down to Nogales,” said Jana Cherrington, Tucson Public Affairs Specialist.
Latter-day Saints first entered the area that is now Tucson in the winter of 1846, as part of the Mormon Battalion, organized to help in the Mexican-American War. The trails they blazed across Arizona had started in Iowa and ended in California and ultimately became the “highways” for people headed west throughout the 1800s.
Thirty-three members of the Battalion returned and settled in what is now Arizona. More members of the Church arrived in 1873, having been sent from Utah to establish settlements in Arizona.
Since then, Church members have continued to play an important role in the growth of the state as Latter-day Saints have not only raised their families and pursued successful careers in the area, but have also served in the schools, on local and regional committees, in youth sports leadership and have worked within their communities in various capacities.
While attendance at the October 17 groundbreaking ceremony is by invitation only, the general public is invited to view the live broadcast of the proceedings in local meetinghouses.
When construction is complete, the temple will be open for public tours prior to its dedication.
“Latter-day Saints make up only 3 percent of the population, so people in this area may not know a lot about the Church,” says Brother Rasmussen. “We are excited that the Church does have a presence in this area and that, with the temple, we are going to be able to showcase that and share it with friends and nonmembers.”