Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday, May 23, a hot spring morning in Central, Ariz., for the cornerstone ceremony of The Gila Valley Arizona Temple.
Looking out at the vast crowd, President Thomas S. Monson paid homage to another Church president who loved eastern Arizona. Spencer W. Kimball, 12th president of the Church, talked often about the Gila Valley, said President Monson.
“I served with President Kimball,” he said. “He was a great leader and he represented this part of the country very well.”
Speaking to the boys and girls gathered for the ceremony, President Monson asked the boys to serve missions and told them all to get married in the temple.
“That is why we brought a temple down here,” he said.
As part of the ceremony, President Monson put mortar in the cornerstone, then asked the Brethren accompanying him to do the same. President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Church's Temple department followed.
Then President Monson called on several children to apply mortar. Hunter Reidhead, 5, and his brother Jarod Reidhead, 8, of the Pomerene Ward, St. David Arizona Stake, each took a turn. So did Davin Judd, 6, of the San Padro Ward, St. David Arizona Stake, and Sophie Welker, 3, and her cousin Danielle Welker, 4, both of the Thatcher 4th Ward, Thatcher Arizona Stake.
When it was time to go back inside the temple, President Monson said, “They are waiting for me to go in, but I am having more fun out here with the kids.”
The Gila Valley Arizona Temple is the Church's 132nd Temple worldwide and third temple in Arizona.
President Kimball's son, Andrew Kimball, traveled to eastern Arizona from Utah for the dedication. He said he knew his father would be pleased with the temple. “He loved this area. He loved the people. He loved the Church.”
Brother Kimball said his father always wanted a temple in eastern Arizona to bear one name: “The Gila Valley Arizona Temple.”