Following a VIP reception and dinner held on the grounds of the Atlanta Georgia Temple on Friday, April 8, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal toured the temple with Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy.
In addition to the Deals, attendees included Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services; Eva Galambos, Mayor of Sandy Springs; Reverend Gerald L. Durley, Senior Pastor at Providence Missionary Baptist Church; Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; Marshall Christman, CFO of UPS Capital; Mike Cassidy, President of Georgia Research Alliance; State Senator Gail Davenport; State Representative Virgil Fludd; and Dikembe Mutombo, former NBA player.
The evening was hosted by Elder M. Keith Giddens, temple rededication chair and an Area Seventy. Local resident Elder J. Devn Cornish, recently called to the Second Quorum of The Seventy, offered the invocation. Following the meal, attendees were treated to an a cappella musical number by the Krogh Family Singers, How Great Thou Art, and then to remarks by Elder Walker. The attendees were shown a short video on temples featuring pictures of early Atlanta congregations. Elder Walker, Elder Giddens, and Clark Hirschi (area relations manager for Church Public Affairs), led the tours of the temple.
“I was impressed with the beauty of the Atlanta Temple,” said Governor Deal. “It is understandable why it is regarded as a special place for meditation, weddings and other religious instruction.” Senator Gail Davenport said the tour was wonderful, “especially the celestial room.” Several dignitaries were impressed that the renovation incurred no debt. “We pay cash,” said Elder Giddens. Reverend Gerald L. Durley commented that the Temple was the best-kept secret in Atlanta and plans to mention the temple in his Easter Sunday sermon.
On Thursday April 7, Martin Luther King III toured the temple with Elder Walker, former Atlanta Braves outfielder and first baseman, Dale Murphy, and NFL Pro Hall of Fame football quarterback, Steve Young. Brother Murphy and Brother Young were in Atlanta welcoming special guests to the temple tours and inspiring young athletes to continue their quest for excellence not only in their sport but also in their education. They noted that religion was very important and would help them in their quest for achievement.
Originally dedicated on June 1, 1983, by the newly called seventy-one year old second counselor in the First Presidency, President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Atlanta Georgia Temple was the first Latter-day Saint temple in the southeastern United States and the second temple east of the Mississippi built since 1846. It was the first of 97 temples dedicated or rededicated by President Hinckley.
The Atlanta Georgia Temple will be rededicated in two sessions on Sunday May 1, 2011. The dedication will be broadcast to stake centers within the temple district. President Monson was at the original dedication of the temple and led the Hosanna Shout following the dedicatory prayer.
Public tours began April 9 and will continue through Saturday, April 23, except Sundays. Reservations to attend the open house can be made online at lds.org/reservations or by calling, 866-537-8457 or 801-570-0080. All are invited to attend.