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Emotions again run high as temple nears rededication of Atlanta Georgia Temple

55,000 tour edifice during open house

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ATLANTA, GA.

Excitement with a huge dose of gratitude ran high 28 years ago when the Atlanta Georgia Temple was dedicated. Those emotions surfaced again for LDS volunteers who served April 9-23 during an open house preceding the rededication of the temple, which had been closed since renovation began nearly two years ago. The temple will be rededicated May 1 by President Thomas S. Monson.

Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011
Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011 | Photo by Gerry Avant

"We were expecting large crowds, and we got them, some 55,000 people," said Elder M. Keith Giddens, an Area Seventy and local coordinator of the temple's rededication committee.

Elder M. Keith Giddens is local temple committee chairman, over open house, cultural celebration and
Elder M. Keith Giddens is local temple committee chairman, over open house, cultural celebration and re-dedication. | Photo by Gerry Avant

Among special guests were Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. congressmen and other elected officials, leaders of other faiths and business and education leaders.

Youth from the Sugarhill Georgia Stake visited the Atlanta Georgia Temple open house on Thursday eve
Youth from the Sugarhill Georgia Stake visited the Atlanta Georgia Temple open house on Thursday evening, April 14. | Photo by Gerry Avant
| Photo by Gerry Avant

Elder Giddens said hundreds of volunteers served as tour guides, ushers, parking lot attendants and as musicians and servers of cookies and water in the reception tent. "Groups came every night to clean the temple," Elder Giddens said. "As I met each one of them and thanked them for serving, they said, 'It's a privilege and an honor.' "

During the open house for the Atlanta Georgia Temple, Sister Rebeca Eversole of Orem, Utah, and Sist
During the open house for the Atlanta Georgia Temple, Sister Rebeca Eversole of Orem, Utah, and Sister Jenny Johnson of Fresno, Calif., visit with Amber Candela of Fairport, N.Y., who is in Atlanta for school. | Photo by Gerry Avant
| Gerry Avant, Photos by Gerry Avant

Members from throughout the temple district attended the open house and served as volunteers. The district includes 15 and a half stakes spread throughout all of Georgia and parts of Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. The half stake is Ashville North Carolina; the other half of that stake is in the Columbia South Carolina Temple district.

Some members traveled long distances to attend the open house and serve as volunteers. "Some came from the Tifton Georgia Stake, down on the border of Georgia and Florida."

Elder Giddens said some volunteers came by bus, riding overnight. "Everyone was very positive and helpful."

Georgia's spring weather, for the most part, helped make the open house a pleasant experience. The one exception was a tornado that hit Sandy Springs, the Atlanta suburb where the temple is located, on Friday evening, April 15, around the time the last tour group had assembled.

The storm began with heavy rain and thunder. Then hail. "Television reports said the hail was two-and-a-half inches in diameter," Elder Giddens said. "The tornado was right on the temple grounds, but there was zero damage to the grounds. Cars in the parking lot weren't damaged by the hail.

Ruth Hauser, left, and Anne Mauss provide music in exhibit area during open house.
Ruth Hauser, left, and Anne Mauss provide music in exhibit area during open house. | Photo by Gerry Avant
Tabitha Moore, left, Rachael Hammett and Kelsie Koch, attend open house.
Tabitha Moore, left, Rachael Hammett and Kelsie Koch, attend open house. | Photo by Gerry Avant

"We ushered people from the reception tent into the temple, and moved people from the grounds into the [meetinghouse] chapel and waited out the storm. Everyone was fine.

"All the other storms that came through during the open house period occurred at night, when there were no tours."

Elder Giddens said members are looking forward to having the temple open again. "During the nearly two years it has been closed, members in the Atlanta temple district have gone to the Birmingham Alabama, Columbia South Carolina and Nashville Tennessee temples. They had a temple for 28 years and, while it doesn't seem far to travel to the other temples, they are excited to have the Atlanta temple open again.

"Stake presidents are reporting an increase in the number of members preparing to go to the temple."

gerry@desnews.com

Ray Newton of the Andulsia Branch, Dothan Alabama Stake, guides visitors during the Atlanta Georgia
Ray Newton of the Andulsia Branch, Dothan Alabama Stake, guides visitors during the Atlanta Georgia Temple open house. He has directed their attention to the statue of the Angel Moroni atop the temple's spire. | Photo by Gerry Avant
A group of visitors walk behind the Atlanta Georgia Temple s they prepare to enter the temple during
A group of visitors walk behind the Atlanta Georgia Temple s they prepare to enter the temple during the open house. | Photo by Gerry Avant
Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011
Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011 | Photo by Gerry Avant
Billy and Mary Ann Duke  of Sarasota, Fla., attend open house with Scott and Krina Carter of Mariett
Billy and Mary Ann Duke of Sarasota, Fla., attend open house with Scott and Krina Carter of Marietta, Ga. Brother Duke, a sealer in the Orlando Florida Temple, performed the sealing ceremony for the Carters in the Orlando temple in 2010. The Carters have since moved to the Atlanta area. | Photo by Gerry Avant
Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011
Atlanta Georgia Temple, April 2011 | Photo by Gerry Avant
Greg and Katie Cardenas and children, Isabela 2, Esmeralda, 4 months, of Cartersville Ward, Cartersv
Greg and Katie Cardenas and children, Isabela 2, Esmeralda, 4 months, of Cartersville Ward, Cartersville Georgia Stake, view exhibit during Atlanta Georgia Temple open house. | Photo by Gerry Avant
Atlanta Georgia Temple
Atlanta Georgia Temple | Gerry Avant, Photos by Gerry Avant
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