By Cecily Markland
Phoenix Arizona Temple Dedicated to the Lord
Arizona Latter-day Saints joined in a sacred event of praise and celebration, reverently watching from locations across the state as the Phoenix Arizona Temple was dedicated in three sessions Sunday, November 16, 2014, making it the fifth operating temple in Arizona, the 144th in the world.
The day before, on Saturday, November 15, approximately 4,300 Young Men and Young Women from the temple district participated in a cultural celebration, sharing their testimonies and excitement about the temple through music and dance.
The dedication and cultural event were preceded by a public-invited open house, held Friday, October 10 through Saturday, November 1, which allowed thousands to tour the temple and not only see the fine workmanship, but understand more about the purpose of temples.
“They are the most sacred buildings we have. We believe them to be the house of the Lord,” said Elder Kent F. Richards, Executive Director of the Temple Department, during a special tour at the Phoenix Temple.
“They are built to the needs of the area and using the finest craftsmanship possible,” he said.
For the Phoenix Temple, that fine craftsmanship began with a beautiful design by CCBG Architects, Inc., The single-story, 27,423 square foot building has a full basement and an 89-foot, multi-faceted spire. The exterior integral-colored precast concrete bears an aloe stalk and desert tree leaf motif.
Inside, that same motif is seen throughout, including in laser-cut patterns in some of the dark wood. The carvings and all the other woodwork in the temple was by Western Millwork, a Phoenix-based company. Robert McKee, project manager, said no one in his company is LDS. He and his crew felt honored to work on the temple. “You run into a project like this once in a lifetime. You just don’t see buildings like this, with such beautiful design.”
Members in the area appreciate the beauty and see other reasons as well for rejoicing at having a temple so near.
Diane Broderick, of the West Wing Ward, Peoria North Stake, has driven the hour each direction to attend the temple in Mesa once a week for the past year. She takes her mother, Maurine Doyle, who was an ordinance worker in the Mesa Temple for 10 years. Now, Alzheimer’s disease has made it hard for her to remember most things. “Yet, the temple is very familiar to her,” Diane says. “We do initiatory work and she can comprehend that and remembers it.”
Diane says her own comprehension of temple ordinances and the associated blessings has increased. “As I’ve listened to those ordinances over and over this past year, I’ve come to appreciate more these amazing, amazing blessings of the temple. It’s so incredible and so powerful.”
Diane and her husband, John, gathered all of the props for the Cultural Celebration—a huge job, but one that allowed them to see the enthusiasm the youth have for the temple.
Their own daughter, Jannell, is 17. “She has a goal of doing baptisms in every temple,” says Diane. “That may not be possible with as many temples as there are, but when she does baptisms in the Phoenix Temple, that will be number 35 for her.”
Janell and her sister, Joanna, who is 12, both have names to take to the Phoenix Temple for baptism.
“The youth really do love going to the temple. They feel the spirit there, they feel a sense of peace,” Diane says.
Diane’s nonmember friends could sense that spirit during their open house tour. “When we got to the celestial room, one of them said to me, ‘It feels so peaceful. Do you feel this every time you come? No wonder you want to come.’”
To have that spirit so readily available will be a great blessing to people in the Phoenix Temple district, says Jim Allen. Born and raised in Phoenix, he served as the Paradise Valley Stake President from 1981 to 1991, and he and his wife, Shirlyn, still reside in the stake.
“Having a temple in Phoenix is a very good thing. There are parts of the Valley that aren’t wealthy, and many retirement areas, so with the long trip and the cost of gas, going to Mesa has been a challenge.”
“Now, people will attend more often. Lots of people will reactivate their recommends and go,” he says.
President Allen has strong ties to the history and growth of the Church in the Phoenix area, particularly as it relates to the temple. His father, Nephi S. Allen, now 96, and his mother, Marjorie, served as the president and matron of the Mesa Temple from 1988 to 1991.
“I can remember when I was young, we knew everyone who was a member of the Church in the entire Valley,” he says.
He remembers, too, the association he had with his grandfather, James Robert Price, who was known as JR.
In 1918, when the first church building in Phoenix, at Seventh Street and Monroe, was dedicated, JR Price was sustained as the first Phoenix bishop: and, in 1938, when the Maricopa Stake was split, he was sustained as the first Phoenix Stake president.
The area once presided over by President Price, plus a few outlying areas, now makes up the Phoenix Temple district with 16 stakes in Phoenix, Glendale, Surprise, Peoria, Buckeye, Goodyear, Deer Valley, Cottonwood and Prescott.
President Price was released in 1947, after 20 years as a stake president. From 1960 to 1963, he served as the Mesa Temple president.
President Allen remembers, “It was 17 and the oldest grandson in the Phoenix area. He came to me and said, ‘Jimmy, drive us to see all the temples.’ We drove to St. George, Manti, Salt Lake, Idaho, and he spent hours at each one, talking about how things were to be done in the temple.”
It meant a great deal to President Allen to have his grandfather officiate when his wife was sealed to her parents. “He was my hero. He taught me to love the temple and that love has never wavered.”
“A temple is a special place,” says President Allen. “There is no other place like it in the world.”
Lynn Maxfield, of the Peoria Ward, Peoria Stake, agrees. She and her husband, Mike have served as ordinance workers in the Mesa Temple for the past 11 years.
“I’ve had a love for the temple ever since I was converted to the Church,” she says. That was in 1974, but, because Mike wasn’t ready for baptism, she waited and wasn’t baptized until 1977, “and then I waited some more,” she says.
Mike ultimately was baptized in 1984. “One year and one day later, we were sealed in the temple.” Since then, her love for the temple and her commitment to attend regularly has grown.
“It’s hard to list all the blessings. Most of all, regular temple attendance brings the gift of peace. Attend one time a week and your gift will be peace, I can testify of that. I have experienced it.”
Elder Todd B. Hansen, Area Seventy, says, “It’s wonderful to have this temple in Phoenix. We invite members to come and partake, to come and step on holy ground, to come and drink deeply of the waters.”