Announced: May 7, 1998.
Location: Calle Paraguay 290, Esq Jose Borunda, Col. Partido Romero, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; phone: (52) 656-611-5146; no clothing rental.
Site: 1.63 acres.
Exterior finish: White marble veneer.
Temple design: Traditional Spanish.
Architect: Alvaro inigo and Church A&E Services.
Project manager: David Wills.
Contractor: Granay Montero/Jacobsen Construction.
Rooms: Two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms, celestial room, baptistry.
Total floor area: 10,700 square feet.
Dimensions: 77 feet by 149 feet.
District: 10 stakes, one district in northern Chihuahua, El Paso, Texas.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: Jan. 9, 1999, by Elder Eran A. Call of the Seventy and president of the Mexico North Area.
Dedication: Feb. 26-27, 2000, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 6 sessions.
Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley
Our Beloved Father in Heaven, Thou great Elohim, we bow our heads in solemn prayer before Thee as we meet to dedicate this sacred house. We are grateful for it, and we offer our thanks to all who have labored in any way to bring this undertaking to completion. Praise be to Thy wondrous ways, dear Father.
And now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Beloved Son, we dedicate and consecrate to Thee and to Him this the Ciudad Juárez México Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Please accept it as the offering of our hands and hearts. To repeat what was said at the Kirtland Temple dedication, may "thy glory rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;
"And that all people…may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou has sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness" (D&C 109:12-13).
Father, as we dedicate this house we invoke Thy watch care over the entire structure and all of its facilities, even over the ground on which it stands, that all may function properly in providing for the great work, eternal in its consequences, which shall take place within these walls. Save it by Thy strong arm from any destructive force of man or nature.
May it be a house of peace where those who serve may lay aside the cares of the world. May it be a house of love where those who labor may realize that the ordinances here administered, for both the living and the dead, assist in bringing to pass the great provisions of the Atonement of Thy Son. May it be a house of worship where Thy sons and daughters can commune with Thee.
Holy Father, let knowledge of the redeeming power of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ rest upon all who shall serve here. We pray for those who partake of the blessings here to be found, be they officiators or patrons, that all may rejoice in being worthy of the higher ordinances of the gospel.
Bless this great nation of Mexico that it may rise and shine among the nations of the earth. Lift the burden of poverty from the backs of the people. Bless the leaders of government that they may welcome Thy servants, and may the message brought by Thy servants take root in the hearts of many souls.
Beloved Father, let Thy Spirit whisper peace to Thy Saints throughout the earth. May all know that they are members of one great family bound together by a love for Thee and Thy Son. May all work after the pattern which Thou hast stablished, including service in Thy holy temples. Open the windows of heaven and shower down blessings upon the faithful who consecrate their tithes and offerings which make possible the construction of these sacred houses of the Lord.
We pray for the temple presidency that they may have strength and wisdom to carry forward Thy work. We pray that they shall not weary in the great responsibility that is theirs. We likewise pray for the matron and her assistants that they may be blessed with energy and vitality to move forward their very important responsibility. May all who serve here love and reverence this holy house and do whatever they can to keep it clean and beautiful at all times. May Thy people feel constrained in their hearts to come here frequently and engage in the service which will be performed here. May they leave with gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful opportunity that is theirs.
Now, dear Father, Thou art the Almighty Governor of the universe. Thou art all-wise and all-powerful. But Thou art also our Father to whom we look in love. As we love Thee, we love Thy Son, the Savior of mankind in whose name we come unto Thee with love, and honor, and worship.
Accept of our thanks. Smile with favor upon us, we pray in the name of Him who is our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Resolute LDS in Ciudad Juarez
By John L. Hart
Church News associate editor
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Seven days a week, month after month and year after year, early in the morning, Irma Villa de Ortiz and her children walked the narrow streets 10 blocks to the Church meetinghouse and primary school.
On weekdays they entered the Church's Benito Juarez Primary School where she taught. "It was a very beautiful experience to teach my own children as I taught others," she said. On Saturdays they attended Primary and auxiliary meetings in the meetinghouse, which was the first in Ciudad Juarez. On Sundays they joined Sabbath Day worship services.
Today, as Sister Ortiz reflects on her many years of toil in supporting the Church, the hardships of the past are effaced by accomplishments and progress of the present. Among the accomplishments are the leadership roles of her former students. Her son, Mario Ortiz Villa, for example, an engineer, is a counselor in a stake presidency. The greatest mark of progress is the change that has come to the spiritual center of Church members in Ciudad Juarez. A few years ago, the beloved Benito Juarez Primary School was taken down, no longer needed as public schools became generally available. In its place was erected the glistening white Ciudad Juarez Mexico Temple. This is an appropriate graduation for a primary school location to now have what some refer to as "a spiritual university."
"It is the most beautiful building in Ciudad Juarez," said Sister Ortiz.
The temple has become the spiritual center for an even greater area than its predecessor as the temple district straddles both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border.
To understand the temple's significance for the Church, one must also understand the significance of Ciudad Juarez. A muddy, meandering river — the Rio Grande — defines the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas. This river is crossed by a high and arching concrete bridge that leads to Mexico's customs plaza, and to lines of large trucks with rumbling motors, exhaust fumes, and brake lights as vehicles are slowly sorted and moved. Once inside the border, the heavy traffic never slows; commerce booms forward in this multi-national, industrially flourishing city.
The strategically located city was founded in 1659 as Paso de Rio del Norte, [Pass of the River of the North] and became a customs office in 1835. Although the community to the north took the name [El Paso], the city to the south retained influence.
It was in Ciudad Juarez where the Mexican Revolution accelerated. Gen. Francisco I. Madero's forces defeated federal troops near the city in 1911, the first important battle and the beginning of a long and costly internal war. More recently, since the passage of the North America Fair Trade Agreement, Ciudad Juarez was among the first to be industrialized as hundreds of small factories — many in one-story corrugated steel buildings — were erected. In the last three or four decades, it has grown in population from an estimated 70,000 to more than a million. Estimates of Ciudad Juarez' population range widely because nobody really knows how many people live in the continually growing rings of shelters on the fringes of town. These fringe dwellers mostly come north to cross the border.
"Ciudad Juarez is a trampoline city, where many hope to jump into the United States," said President Jorge Alberto Morales Sanchez of the Ciudad Juarez Mexico North Stake, a computer systems engineer.
President Morales, one of Sister Ortiz's many students now in leadership, said that some of those who come north are Church members.
"Some come looking for a better way of life, and some stay," he said. "We encourage them to stay in their native land and build up the Church." Those who leave often divide their families and spend many years apart, he said.
Just as the city has grown in recent years, so also has the Church, said President Morales. Ciudad Juarez's east, north, south and La Cuesta stakes have large memberships and strong missionary programs. The new temple has also strengthened the membership, and is evidence that the Church is permanent here.
Those being baptized are mostly remaining active, said President Cesar Eduardo Perez Valadez, counselor in the Ciudad Juarez Mexico North Stake and a prominent builder in Ciudad Juarez. "We have given great emphasis to retention," he said. "Having the temple will help."
The current membership in Ciudad Juarez has deep roots. A Church presence here came on Jan. 7, 1876, when Daniel Jones led the first Church missionary effort into Mexico. This effort made no progress after a local priest denounced the missionary party. However, Jones set up a saddlery and won respect for his craft. He even made two saddles for the local priest, who nonetheless kept a sharp eye on the visiting missionaries. The Jones party did find some success farther south before returning to Utah. Later, this city became a favorite crossing point for the Mormon colonists.
The next Latter-day Saints in this city were colonists who came to Ciudad Juarez about 1898. Some members have lived in this city ever since, according to a history, "Mormons in El Paso Norte," by Leticia Gutierrez de Orozco of the Church's local Historical and Records Committee.
The first branch was created in El Paso in 1909 and attended by members from both sides of the border. This branch functioned for a time. On the Mexican side, the revolution and the subsequent discontent prevented missionary progress in Ciudad Juarez for many years. Particularly difficult was missionary work in 1926-34, when foreigners were banned from proselyting.
One of the members from that period is Evelia Antillon de Casavantes, now 95, who joined shortly after being widowed in 1937. She was baptized by Arwell L. Pierce, a well-known Church leader in El Paso, Texas, and in Mexico. Although members in Ciudad Juarez in the 1930s at first attended services in El Paso, Sister Casavantes' home became a hub for the Church in Ciudad Juarez. Her home was opened to the missionaries and became a sanctuary for them. Others in her family were baptized later.
Sister Casavantes has been a strong and faithful member ever since. She remembers when the Church here was comprised of only 15 members who held occasional meetings in her living room. She said the Church began to grow in 1944 and accelerated after World War II when missionary work was formally started in Ciudad Juarez.
Today, at her advanced age, while she is not able to attend meetings, she enjoys the spiritual and historic atmosphere of her living room.
A branch was created about 1947. The first meetinghouse was started in 1955 under the leadership of President Ismael Soza of the Ciudad Juarez Branch. President Soza, who attended the temple dedication Feb. 26, 2000, said, "When we first met as a branch, we did not have a chapel. We met in a photographer's studio, 28 families."
Currently serving as executive secretary of the Nogales Mexico District presidency, President Soza was pleased at the growth in Ciudad Juarez. In the early 1950s he served as president of the Mutual and was a Sunday School teacher, lacking but one thing before he could serve as branch president — baptism. When that was resolved, he became branch president.
The first conference in the new Paraguay Street meetinghouse in 1956 was attended by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve.
President Gerald W. Berry was president of the branch when the Benito Juarez Primary School was built on the meetinghouse grounds in 1960. He was also a missionary who saw the Church grow from about a dozen members to its present size. The Ciudad Juarez Mexico Stake was created in 1976.
A pilot program to build multiple small meetinghouses at the same time was started in 1978, under the direction of Elder Richard G. Scott, then of the Seventy and now of the Quorum of the Twelve.
President Morales remembers as a youth, then about 17, with other Aaronic Priesthood holders taking turns staying at the construction site to protect it. Although occasions came when the youth felt protected from danger, the construction went smoothly and without any opposition. Once, recalled President Morales, he and a friend were staying at the site when they went into the newly completed bishop's office and were accidentally locked in. They remained trapped until morning when passers-by heard their cries for help and telephoned leaders to come and release them.
The labor project united the members, he said.
"Everyone worked together on the building, old men, young men, women and children," said President Morales. "We would stop working to eat. The sisters had prepared food. We all sat around the table and ate together.
"We really loved those times. There was a good feeling among the members for the new buildings. Here in Ciudad Juarez, the Church began to grow."
That good feeling for new buildings continues with the temple, he said.
"It is really a miracle to have a temple here. Ciudad Juarez needs a temple."
Juarez Temple is an island of calm in bustling city
By John L. Hart
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The Ciudad Juarez Mexico Temple, sheathed in white marble, is like a pearl of great peace in a border city bustling with commerce and challenges.
President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the temple, presiding at the first of six sessions Feb. 26-27. Subsequent sessions were presided over by President Thomas S. Monson after President Hinckley left on other Church errands, including the dedication of the Hermosillo Sonora Mexico Temple the following morning.
The two temple dedications were the first of nine expected to be dedicated this year in this nation of some 850,000 members. The nine temples comprise a large part of the more than 40 temples under construction and likely to be dedicated this year.
President Hinckley was accompanied in Ciudad Juarez by his wife, Marjorie; President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Kathleen, and Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy, counselor in the Mexico North Area presidency, and his wife, Rosalie.
Members from both sides of the border — the United States and Mexico — gathered early for the 11 a.m. cornerstone ceremony and first dedicatory session of the Church's 71st temple, located near the downtown area behind a high school and a park. Stake members from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, who worked together on last-minute details, sang together in the choirs. Members from El Paso were well represented at the dedication as well. Some 8,161 attended the sessions.
When President Hinckley applied the mortar to the cornerstone cover, he did so with great care. After the other leaders and their wives participated, he invited two youngsters, Samuel Lehi Terrazas Carrasco and Brenda Lizeth Cortes Lizarraga, to also apply mortar. After the ceremony was completed, President Hinckley cleaned the excess mortar off with a cloth.
Buses from many areas in the temple district brought members to the dedicatory services. Some of these members viewed the proceedings from a nearby stake center, to which they were brought by satellite from the temple.
Temple President Gerald M. Pratt said that members in the city are very excited. "Emotion is running high, and everyone is expressing a desire to participate. Many of them don't have very much time, but they are willing to give what they have."
The temple presidency, he said, hopes to make the temple experience pleasant enough that patrons will want to return. President Pratt said that the members in Ciudad Juarez have been active in taking temple excursions in the past and he expects the temple to remain busy. Over time, he said, the number of recommend holders will increase and the surrounding stakes will be stronger.
"One of the strengths of the Church is the annual temple recommend interview," he said. "It brings a person to the point of looking at his own life."
President Jorge Alberto Morales Sanchez of the Ciudad Juarez Mexico North Stake, the owner of a computer support company who attended the Church's Benito Juarez School which once stood at the Ciudad Juarez temple site, said that there is a "reaction of great gratitude" among the members in the city for the temple.
"As members in Mexico, it is difficult for us to go to a temple. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time, and it is difficult to get a passport." Still, he said, many of the members have been to a temple. He recalled as a youth traveling with his family in an old car to the Mesa Arizona Temple, and the car breaking down on the way.
"I think that the experiences we had as youth have made us strong and faithful in the Church."
The new temple, he said, "is a blessing for all who live in the area. There were many tears of gratitude to know that the Lord had confidence in us here in the community of Ciudad Juarez to have a temple."
The open house, he said, was attended by some 25,438 people. Among these were professional associates of his who had not been eager to attend. Once inside, one of the professional associates commented, "I don't need to die to see heaven. This is heaven."
Another associate who came said, "If all the people in this city could come here and feel what I feel, Cuidad Juarez would be a much better city."
One less-active member who had not participated in the Church for 25 years came reluctantly to the open house. Inside the celestial room, he began to weep and said that he wanted his family to know about the Church.
Some 647 referrals were received from the open house.
President Morales said that many people from the interior of Mexico come to Ciudad Juarez seeking a better way of life. From this city, many enter the United States where they can increase their wages substantially. Often, however, this comes at great cost to their families as husbands and fathers are separated from their families for years.
He said that with the temple in Ciudad Juarez, perhaps the members among these people will choose to stay.