The Tallahassee Florida Temple — the third temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state — is officially “under construction,” following its Saturday, June 5, groundbreaking.
Elder James B. Martino, a General Authority Seventy and North America Southeast Area President, presided at the event and was assisted by Elder Victor P. Patrick, an Area Seventy.
“This temple will bless the entire land around it and the entire community,” Elder Martino said. “It will be a beacon of holiness and a place of peace for all to both see and feel. Here we will seek to draw closer to God, to hear His voice, and seek to follow His teachings.
“This edifice that will be built right here is called the House of the Lord, because truly it is His house for us to learn of Him.”
In dedicating the site and the construction process, Elder Martino prayed for the individual lives of those living in the region and that Saturday’s milestone would be a spiritual groundbreaking in the lives of the members of the Church.
In his opening remarks, Elder Martino underscored the significance of the word “groundbreaking.”
“Groundbreaking was considered a representation of breaking the earth, to make a sacred deposit that would endorse a firm foundation,” he said. “How appropriate of a description. Truly, this is the symbolic act to begin a foundation for a most sacred building.”
The temple is being built on a 4.97-acre site located at 2440 Papillon Way in northeastern Tallahassee, the largest city in the Florida Panhandle and the state’s capital. Adjacent to an existing Church meetinghouse, the site is to include a distribution center.
Announced on April 5, 2020, by President Russell M. Nelson, the Tallahassee Florida Temple was one of among eight new temples identified in the closing session of the April 2020 general conference. It is the first of those eight to start construction, with the Syracuse Utah Temple scheduled for its groundbreaking later this month.
The site location and exterior rendering were released on Jan. 12 for the Tallahassee temple, which is projected to be approximately 29,000 square feet, with a center spire.
Florida is home to more than 160,000 members in 33 stakes, 267 congregations and four missions. The new Tallahassee temple will be the third in the state, joining the Orlando Florida Temple (dedicated in 1994) and the Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple (dedicated in 2014).
Tallahassee currently is in the Orlando temple district, with that temple some 260 miles away.
“In past years, pioneer brothers and sisters from this part of the Lord’s vineyard have prepared for and traveled to Utah and Arizona to receive temple blessings. My parents and grandparents had this privilege,” said President Benjamin Smith of the Tallahassee Florida Stake. “Our knowledge of those pioneers from our area is dear in our hearts and minds.
“In more recent times, members would travel to Washington, D.C., then Atlanta, and then Orlando for temple blessings,” he added. “We are grateful for these cherished memories of extended travel. … With the announcement of the temple in Tallahassee, we, with hearts full of gratitude, look forward to further becoming a gospel sharing and temple going people.”
James Andrew Gray, Sr., 94, a retired home builder who joined the Church in 1995, didn’t think he would see this day, with some of the older members of the Church in the area having waited for decades to have a temple so close.
“We have wanted a temple for a long time. I didn’t know that I would live to see one,” he said while choking up. “I enjoy and love being a member of the Church.”
Similar to other groundbreakings announced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was an invitation-only event adhering to local government social-distancing guidelines. Joining the onlookers at the groundbreaking ceremony were local civic and community leaders.
As an alternative way to participate, members and friends of the Church were able to view the groundbreaking ceremony via live stream.