FORT COLLINS, COLO.
Anytime a temple is built around the world members of the Church rejoice in celebration and gratitude for a temple in their area. The visual reminder of eternal truths brings joy to individuals and strength to families and communities.
For members of the Church in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple district, a newly dedicated temple is something they had desired for many years.
“We have a temple in Fort Collins,” said George F. Rhodes. Brother Rhodes served as chairman of the local coordinating committee for the temple and is a member of the Terry Lake Ward, Fort Collins Colorado Stake. “We are so grateful Heavenly Father invited the president of the Church to announce and build a temple in Fort Collins.”
In an area of the world with Church ties going back to as early as 1846, Church members have witnessed much growth over the century and a half after the first settlers in Colorado arrived.
Although not in the exact location of the new temple, Church members were some of the first settlers and builders of Colorado. During the winter of 1846-47, sick members of the Mormon Battalion rested in Pueblo, Colorado. The family of Samuel M. Rooker were some of the first settlers at the site that later became Denver.
In January 1897 the first LDS congregation was organized in Colorado, and about 40 years later, in June 1940, the first stake was created. Boundaries for the stake went from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to the north and Pueblo, Colorado, on the south.
Over time, growth of the Church brought more changes and in December 1968 the Fort Collins Colorado Stake was created. At that time there were five congregations and about 2,400 members in the area. The Denver Colorado Temple was dedicated in 1986.
Over time, growth of the Church has continued and now 44,000 members live — and multiple stakes have been formed — in the Fort Collins area.
“My parents were born and reared out on the prairie east of here,” said Gwen Tracy, a member of the Parkwood Ward, Fort Collins Colorado Stake. “They were married in 1949 and then when I was 3 years old … the missionaries tracted them out. They heard the gospel and were baptized. … My father helped build the first Church building in Greely. To see all of the things that have come to pass here is just amazing.”
Sister Tracy remembers when she was 4 years old her parents made the trek to Utah so they could be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.
“I remember standing in the temple waiting to be sealed,” she said. “I remember the feeling, and it is the same feeling that I get when I come in the temple today.”
The Fort Collins temple district includes nine stakes in northern Colorado and four stakes in Wyoming — Casper, Cheyenne, Cheyenne East and Laramie.
“It gives our members an opportunity to worship and serve in the temple on a much more frequent basis than they have been able to in the past,” said Henry F. Bailey, president of the Cheyenne Wyoming Stake. “It has been a beacon to the LDS community and the community at large and I believe it will draw many people unto Christ in the coming years.”
For Kyle Cleverly, who serves as bishop in the Fossil Creek Ward of the Loveland Colorado Stake, the temple is in his ward boundaries and is visible from his neighborhood.
“It has been a blessing for our ward family to have this going up right in front of our eyes,” he said. “With every week that we are at church and with every activity we make reference to the temple being built.”
The construction of the temple has benefitted all ages, he said. The youth groups have gone door-to-door inviting community members to the open house, and the visual reminder has been an opportunity for members to share their beliefs with others.
“People are beginning to understand how the temple elevates us,” he said.
Just two months after President Thomas S. Monson announced a temple would be in Fort Collins, Mark Tingey of the Timberline Ward, Fort Collins Colorado Stake, was asked to help in the development and construction of the temple. Brother Tingey moved to the community in 1985 and has worked as a city planner and later a developer in the community for many years.
“A piece of our lives is in this building,” he said. “I’m grateful we were here, and that we were able to stand on the ground when it was just ground and have seen how it has come together. We are grateful to be a small piece in the puzzle.”
Whether it was obtaining approvals from the city, figuring out lighting, or working with the community, Brother Tingey and his wife, Polly Tingey, have seen many miracles along the way.
“The address to the temple is on Majestic Drive,” said Brother Tingey. “We didn’t plan that. That had been done years before.”
Sister Tingey added, “I looked up the word ‘majestic’ and it means kingly, godly, royal. How fitting for the entrance to the temple.”
For Russ McClure, who recently retired from being the CES institute coordinator in the area and has also served as a stake president, the new temple is an opportunity for members to strengthen their faith and serve the Lord.
“There has been an excitement and energy and focus,” said Brother McClure. “The saints are wonderful here. This new temple is an indicator of the Lord’s trust in … the people. … We love the temple. We know that where much is given much is required. We are invested in temple worship and understand the responsibility of the temple.”