Announced: Jan. 8, 1999.
Location: Northwest Fresno near intersection of Valentine and Sierra avenues, 6920 N. Valentine, Fresno, CA 93711; phone: (559) 437-9451; no clothing rental.
Site: 2.2 acres.
Exterior finish: Sierra white granite.
Temple design: Traditional.
Architects: Paul Stommel.
Project manager: Amos and Gloria Wright.
Contractor: Jacobsen Construction Co.
Rooms: Celestial room, baptistry, two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms.
Total floor area: 10,700 square feet.
Dimensions: 149 by 77 feet.
District: Eight stakes in central California.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: March 20, 1999, by Elder John B. Dickson of the Seventy and president of the North America West Area.
Dedication: April 9, 2000, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 4 sessions.
Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley
O God our Eternal Father, “Hallowed be Thy name….Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). We are met together in reverence and love as we Thy sons and daughters dedicate this Thy holy house.
We are grateful that it has been completed, and that the hearts of many will be made glad because of its very presence.
Acting in the authority of the holy priesthood, that priesthood which comes from Thee, and in the name of Jesus Christ, we consecrate and dedicate unto Thee and unto Thy Beloved Son this the Fresno California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Please accept it, Father. It is our offering unto Thee given with love and with great appreciation for Thy many blessings upon us. We dedicate the ground on which it stands, and all of the structure from the footings to the figure of Moroni. We dedicate the walls and pray that they may never be desecrated by disrespectful hands, and that they shall stand against the elements of nature and any trembling of the earth. We dedicate the interior facilities, the beautiful Baptistry, the endowment rooms, the magnificent celestial room, the sealing rooms, the offices and every other facility found in this structure.
Wilt Thou cause that Thy Holy Spirit may dwell here and that all who enter this house may do so with a spirit of love for Thee and for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wilt Thou bless all who will serve within this sacred structure. They will come here to assist in bringing to pass Thy work and Thy glory, even the immortality and eternal life of man. May they not weary in well doing. May they be blessed with strength and vitality to carry on the rigorous activity which lies before them. Bless the temple president and his counselors, the matron and her assistants, and everyone who serves in any capacity in this Thy sacred house. Bless those who will come here as patrons that they may be many and that they may experience great joy in their service. May they carry in their hearts a sense of appreciation for the presence of this temple in their midst. May its doors be open to all who gather here with clean hands and pure hearts to assist in bringing to pass Thy great work in behalf of the living and the dead. May the work in this house unlock the prison doors beyond the veil that those who there receive the gospel may rejoice in the vicarious work performed here in their behalf.
Dear Father, we pray that Thy servants who are called to preach to the people of the earth may come here to be endowed, thence to go forth with power from on high to declare the restoration of the gospel and to extend to all an invitation to learn of the ways of the Lord.
Bless Thy cause and kingdom in all the earth. May it roll forth and grow with power and majesty. Open the doors of the nations where it cannot now be taught, that Thy great purposes may come to pass. We pray for all who serve in Thy kingdom in whatever capacity and wherever they may be, that happiness may grow in their hearts as they give of their time and strength to the advancement of Thy kingdom.
Now, dear Father, bless the faithful of Thy Church who consecrate their tithes and offerings. It is these who have made possible this sacred house. Bless them for their faith and their faithfulness. May their testimonies of this work grow ever stronger in their hearts. May they teach their children of Thy divine ways and of Thy great promises. We thank Thee for this nation of which we are a part. We are grateful for the Constitution under which it functions. May the precious liberties guaranteed thereunder ever assure freedom of worship to Thy people.
To Thee be the honor and the praise and the glory now and forever more, and to Thy Son, our Redeemer, likewise praise and honor and glory. Smile with favor upon us and let Thy blessings attend us as we look to Thee in faith and appreciation, we humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Start of Fresno temple is one of California’s ‘great days’
By Kathy Barberich
Church News contributor
FRESNO, Calif. — Putting shovel to soil this time of year is nothing new to people of the Central San Joaquin Valley, a rich agricultural area.
But the hundreds who wielded shovels in light rainfall here March 20 were preparing the ground for something far greater than food and fiber. They were breaking ground for the Fresno California Temple — the Church’s 99th announced temple and California’s fourth. It will be the first in the central part of the state. Other temples are in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego.
“From the days of the sailing of the ship Brooklyn to San Francisco Bay in 1846 and the forced march of the Mormon Battalion, California has taken a key role in the history of the Church,” said Elder John B. Dickson of the Seventy and president of the North America West Area, who presided over and conducted the groundbreaking services. “This is another of those great days.”
The 10,700-square-foot temple is being constructed on a site adjacent to the Fresno California West Stake center in a residential area in northwest Fresno. Metropolitan Fresno has a population of about 1.5 million. The new temple district includes 28,000 members in eight stakes, covering about 150 miles. Some of the wards in the stake are in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Local Church leaders, sensitive to the needs of the neighborhood and not wanting to cause traffic congestion, limited the number of people at the groundbreaking to about 3,000. Each stake president has a video of the groundbreaking that will be made available to wards and branches. The program, which had been scheduled on the temple site, was moved into the stake center when it was apparent it would rain.
After the groundbreaking services, those attending walked to the temple site for the ceremonial turning of the first shovelful of soil. Helping Elder Dickson were Pres. Trevor Beatson of the California Fresno Mission, stake presidents and civic leaders, including Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson and Councilman Chris Mathys. Afterward, others in attendance, including children and families, took turns with shovels.
In his remarks, Elder Dickson said that since that day in April 1830 when the Church was organized once again, it has begun to fill the whole earth. “We now find ourselves on the threshold of unprecedented growth and expansion,” he declared.
Speaking of the Book of Mormon, he continued: “What a blessing it is to have this other testimony of the Savior amidst the unbelief of the 20th and 21st centuries. Through these scriptures we have more fully come to understand that God is our Heavenly Father, that we dwelt with Him before this earth life and that part of His plan for our happiness was that a way be prepared for us to return to Him one day
“We have also learned that the family is the central unit in Heavenly Father’s plan for His children,” Elder Dickson explained. “This brings us to the purpose of our being here today, for we know not only that families are basic and important, but they can also be eternal. The building that will rise on this sacred piece of property is a building dedicated to the proposition of helping us to establish eternal families.”
Elder Dickson added: “Let us make sure that this new temple is always a holy and sacred place to us, a place where our children and generations unborn can come and feel peace in a troubled world. May it be a place that non-members of the Church will also recognize as sacred and holy, whether seen from a distance or as they step onto the grounds.”
Also speaking during groundbreaking services were Pres. James R. Maxwell of the Fresno California West Stake, Pres. Steven E. Tree of the Porterville California Stake, and Pres. Larry Lawrence of the Fresno North stake.
Symbol of growth in fertile San Joaquin
Temple added in ‘nation’s breadbasket’
By R. Scott Lloyd
FRESNO, Calif. — Here in the San Joaquin Valley, where the soil is fertile enough to provide one-fourth of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, the gospel took root in 1912, budded with the organization of the Fresno Branch in 1920 and the Fresno Stake in 1951, and has now blossomed with the dedication of a temple of the Lord.
President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Fresno California Temple, the Church’s 78th operating temple, April 9 in four sessions, with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy participating.In addition to those Brethren, Elder Robert B Harbertson, formerly of the Seventy and the first president of the California Fresno Mission when it was organized in 1975, spoke in the first dedicatory session and participated in the cornerstone ceremony.
Clear weather and comfortable temperatures prevailed, prompting President Hinckley to exclaim to a crowd of some 1,200 as he stepped outside the temple for the cornerstone ceremony: “What a beautiful morning! I’ve never been in Fresno on a more beautiful morning.”
By late afternoon, a total of 10,294 faithful Church members had attended the four sessions, filling various rooms of the temple itself and packing the adjacent Fresno California West Stake Center, where the session was transmitted via closed-circuit television.
From throughout the temple district they came, which comprises the Fresno, Fresno East, Fresno North, Fresno West, Hanford, Merced, Porterville and Visalia stakes. Located exactly in California’s center, the district extends from the valley floor up into the Sequoia National Forest of the Sierra Nevada range to the east. From the mountain canyon, one looks down upon thousands of acres of orderly vineyards and orchards.
This verdant valley truly is the breadbasket of the nation, according to Fresno West Stake President James R. Maxwell, temple committee coordinator.
“Ours is the No. 1 agricultural producing county in the world,” said President Maxwell, who owns several agriculture-related businesses. “Five of the top six agricultural producing counties in the world are lined up, back to back, up and down the San Joaquin Valley. Probably four of the five would be within this temple district. We grow 25 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States right here.” Major crops include grapes (a Church-owned vineyard outside Fresno produces raisins for the welfare system), almonds, prunes, figs, pistachios, peaches, nectarines and apricots.
In preparation for the temple’s coming, prospective and less-active Church members in the temple district have been nurtured with the same care and diligence as the crops in the valley. Dan Malcolm, a publisher of agriculture-industry periodicals, is elders quorum president in the Peachwood Ward of the Fresno California North Stake. Newly formed a year ago, his presidency set a goal to contact all 125 families under their stewardship.
“We thought it would take two months; it took about six to get to everybody,” he said. “And they responded to it, people who, for one reason or another, had fallen between the cracks. They’d been put on ‘no-contact’ lists for some reason, perhaps because home teachers couldn’t ever reach them and thought they weren’t welcome. Many of these people are now active members of the Church, and it’s exciting. We have one family that has a temple date of May 6 who, six months ago, were completely inactive. We have six brethren who have obtained the Melchizedek Priesthood in the last six months who were nowhere close to it before.”
The temple has been welcome in the community, where some 51,000 visitors toured it during the open house March 25-31 and April 3-4, including government and religious leaders and other dignitaries.
“That’s a pretty good indicator” of how the community feels about the temple, said Hap Cluff, security and news media liaison for the temple committee. As chief information officer/director for the City of Fresno, Brother Cluff was in a position to facilitate approval processes for the temple construction and is pleased with the fact that it is the 78th temple to be constructed though it was the 99th announced.
“I met with the mayor [Jim Patterson] on Thursday in my budget session,” Brother Cluff said. “He spent most of the time asking me about what he learned here [during a tour of the temple] and talking about how nice it was.”
The valley, in fact, is a nearly ideal place for Latter-day Saint families, Brother Cluff feels. “When I moved up here from Southern California, one of my friends who was living here and was helping us to find a place [to live] said, ‘You’re going to think you’ve died and gone to Utah.’ And I think that describes it well. In Clovis, a suburb northeast of Fresno, over 10 percent of the students in high school are members of the Church.”
For some people the temple dedication was a chance to renew cherished acquaintances with those who had helped introduce them to the gospel.
Outside the temple after the third session, Bryan Pratt could be seen taking a Polaroid snapshot of the Higinio and Elva Rodriguez family with children Ruby, 11, Higinio Jr., 10, and Efraim, 9. Now members of the Gridley 3rd Ward in the Gridley California Stake, Brother Pratt and his family came back for the dedication because they are former members of the Lamoore Ward in the Hanford California Stake, where Brother Pratt was in the bishopric. It was there, three years ago, that the Rodriguezes investigated and then joined the Church.
“I took a long time,” Brother Rodriguez reflected. Then, he declared: “I was not converted by the elders; I was converted by Alma [in the Book of Mormon]. No one can [knowledgably] say the Book of Mormon is not true; anybody who says so has not read it!”
You can reach R. Scott Lloyd by e-mail at [email protected]