By Cecily Markland
Ever since May 24, 2008, when President Thomas S. Monson announced that a temple would be built in Phoenix, Latter-day Saints in the north Phoenix area and across the Valley have eagerly watched the progress of the fifth temple for Arizona.
On May 15, construction workers and several others gathered at the temple site to witness a significant milestone as the gold-plated statue of Angel Moroni was installed atop the 90-foot spire.
Among those in attendance that day was Sister Cheryl Taylor, whose husband, Scott, is the Phoenix Mission President.
“The mission home is five minutes away,” Sister Taylor explains, “so I run over there one time a week from the mission home.”
“It’s been amazing. It’s been fun to watch the progress, to watch it come up and see the different elements of it,” Sister Taylor says. “It seemed real slow at first, but that’s because they went down so far.”
In fact, she says, “Nearby areas have a lot of volcanic rock;” yet, as the construction crew dug the basement, “They just didn’t run into any of that.”
She said watching the progress has been a “line upon line thing” for her. She was there the day the placard was placed that states: “Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord.”
“That was a special thing for me, but there weren’t nearly as many people there then as when the Angel Moroni was placed,” Sister Taylor said. That morning, before 7 a.m., people were already gathering to watch from the hill in the Thunderbird Recreation hiking area across the street from the temple.
She said the interest in this milestone shows that the temple has become a focal point for many of the Church members in the area. This is especially true for the missionaries.
“It has become the focus of the mission. We rebranded the logo of the mission to include the temple,” Sister Taylor said.
Pass-along cards have also been created using an image of the rendering of the temple on the front and a statement about temples, along with the Mormon.org website address, on the back.
“They have pass-along cards with the Salt Lake Temple and the Nauvoo Temple and others with pictures of Christ. About eight months ago, we started to wonder, ‘Why couldn’t we have the Phoenix Temple on a pass-along card?’”
The idea and a mockup of what they wanted to create was submitted to and approved by Church leaders in Salt Lake.
“The cards help the missionaries go out and teach about temples. People are excited to hear that we have temples,” Sister Taylor says.
While the final announcement has not yet been made, the Phoenix Arizona Temple, located at 5104 West Pinnacle Peak Road in Phoenix, will tentatively serve 17 stakes, including stakes in Buckeye, Cottonwood,, Glendale Goodyear, Peoria, Phoenix, Deer Valley, Prescott and Surprise.
Visitors are welcome at the Phoenix Temple site, and many from the area already have taken the opportunity to view the construction of the 58,000 square foot temple from the observation patio or to gather information at the visitors’ trailer. The patio and trailer hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. and Monday through Wednesday, 6 to 8 p.m., by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 623-587-5565. Small groups can be accommodated.
Sister Taylor says for her and President Taylor, the temple has become “our baby,” and they hope it will be completed within the year they have remaining as missionaries.
“We love it here and are so excited—all of the missionaries are so excited—about this beautiful temple.”