Joy and gladness reigned during the dedication of The Gila Valley Arizona Temple on May 23.
On this sacred and happy occasion, President Thomas S. Monson — the first president of the Church in more than 25 years to visit "The Valley" — presided over and spoke in all three sessions held for the dedication of the temple. He also wrote the text for the dedicatory prayer, which he offered in the three sessions.
"We are grateful for this sacred and hallowed structure. We are grateful for the purposes for which it has been built. We thank Thee for the faithful Saints who will use it," President Monson prayed.
Further, he petitioned, "Wilt Thou accept this edifice as a gift of Thy people to Thee. It has come of their consecration and love. Wilt Thou hallow this house and sanctify it. May Thy presence be felt here, and may Thy Holy Spirit abide constantly within its walls. May all who enter feel of that Spirit. …"
Participating with President Monson in the temple's dedication were President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department.
Sister Ann M. Dibb, President Monson's daughter and second counselor in the general Young Women presidency, accompanied him. Accompanying the other Brethren were Sisters Kathleen Eyring, Patricia Holland, Margareth Costa and Vicki Walker.
In an interview with Church News, President Monson said, "Each temple has a beauty attached to it; therefore, a temple's dedication is a thing of beauty."
He spoke of President Spencer W. Kimball who, at age 3, moved with his family and lived in The Gila Valley until he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1943 at age 48. He was president of the Church from Dec. 30, 1973, until his death on Nov. 5, 1985, at age 90.
President Monson said that he felt close to President Kimball during the dedication of the temple.
"President Kimball was so close to the Lord," he said. "He was a spiritual giant. As short as he was in stature, he was a giant in spirituality. This was his home, really, in his heart and soul. From here, he learned to read the Bible as a boy. He grew to maturity and became a stake president here. I felt his influence here today.
"The temple is the pinnacle of our faith. We begin by teaching our children as they learn to pray to regard the temple as holy. President Kimball once urged that each child have a picture of the temple in his or her bedroom so parents can point the child's attention to the temple. Then, having seen that picture frequently in childhood days, he or she will not turn elsewhere for marriage than in the household of God."
President Monson said one of the points he would like to emphasize about the temple's dedication is summed up in one word: spirituality.
"There is nothing that brings greater spirituality than a temple dedication because it's here where eternal covenants are made and where families are sealed for time and all eternity," President Monson continued.
"I think much of it comes from our association with Spencer Kimball. He was such an influence. We loved this area just because he loved it, and we hadn't even been here. So when we did come here for stake conference or otherwise, it was always a special occasion."
The most special of occasions that brought President Monson and others to this place on May 22 and 23 were the events for the dedication of The Gila Valley temple.