Arizona has its fourth Mormon temple — with two more on the way.
President Thomas S. Monson and his top lieutenant, President Henry B. Eyring, dedicated an LDS temple Sunday in Gilbert, Ariz., just east of Phoenix.
Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints witnessed the dedicatory sessions, which were broadcast to Mormon meetinghouses across the Grand Canyon State.
During a cornerstone ceremony, Monson remarked, “There is sunshine in my soul today,” referring to the rains that soaked the cultural celebration the night before, according to a story on the Utah-based faith’s lds.org website.
“The 85,000-square-foot temple features ivory-colored exterior, high-quality precast concrete and stone accentuated with fine rustications and beautifully crafted art glass windows,” said the website. “The building’s dimensions are 193 feet by 165 feet, and it is crowned with the statue of the Angel Moroni, which is on the top of the tallest spire at 195 feet.”
Many LDS temples boast Moroni statues. Mormons believe Moroni was the last contributor to the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, and later appeared to church founder Joseph Smith to trumpet the arrival of restored Christianity.
The Gilbert temple — the 142nd worldwide for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — joins similar Arizona edifices in Mesa, Snowflake and Gila Valley. A temple in nearby Phoenix is under construction and a sixth Arizona temple is planned farther south in Tucson. There are more than 400,000 Mormons in Arizona.
Latter-day Saints see temples as houses of God, where they take part in their faith’s highest sacraments, including eternal marriage.