Gilbert, Ariz. has a new temple, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they feel the new monumental temple will have an indelible effect on the area.
Jennifer Wheeler, a public affairs representative for the Church in Phoenix, remarked on the blessings the Gilbert Temple has brought to the people in the area.
“It’s been a herculean effort that has united members around the temple,” Wheeler said. “Many stakes, anticipating the completion of the temple, have been focusing members on preparing themselves for the temple.”
The temple was announced in April 2008 and will soon be opened for ordinance work. A scheduled cultural celebration on March 1, will feature 12,000 participating youth and 6,000 leaders.
BYU student Eric San Diego is a native of Gilbert, and said the cultural celebration has uplifted the youths from his home stake.
“Their participation builds their faith and love for the Lord when they get to participate in little things like that,” San Diego said. “It helps them realize the love the Lord has for them.”
To compliment the positive effects the temple has had on area Church members, architects created a unique design of the temple to reflect its desert location, complete with a motif of the agave plant on its glass-art windows.
“We looked at a number of items that would represent the Southwest here in the desert,” said Greg Lambright, chief architect for the temple in an interview with AZcentral.com. “We wanted something to represent the living waters of Christ and for the temple to be an oasis in the desert. And being a native here, I’ve always loved the agave plant and what it does.”
Realizing the significance of a trip to Gilbert this season, civil engineering major Bahaar Kalra took the 10-hour drive from Provo to attend the open house.
“It’s amazing to me, as a civil engineering student, how the LDS Church uses the best of the very best materials for the things they build,” Kalra said. “They always overshoot all safety factors on quality and construction materials. It’s because they understand the importance of the buildings that they are building.”
The exterior of the temple uses high-quality pre-cast concrete and stone that accentuates the ivory color. Leaf designs representing the sealing power done within the temple are present on the temple walls and can be found both on the exterior and interior.
As the Gilbert Arizona Temple nears its dedication date on March 2, church members are welcoming the new growth the edifice signifies for them.
“It was a blessing for my family to have spiritual goals in mind to keep up with the great spiritual blessing of having a temple in their midst,” San Diego said.
The temple, once dedicated, will be the fourth temple in Arizona and the 142nd operating temple for the LDS Church worldwide.