The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added two temples to its number of temples in operation on Sunday, October 8: The McAllen Texas Temple and the Feather River California Temple in Yuba City.
McAllen Texas Temple
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the McAllen Texas Temple — the Church 183rd temple — on October 8.
The 27,897 square-foot McAllen temple is the fifth dedicated house of the Lord in Texas, and the 183rd operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It sits on a 10.61-acre site located at the northwest corner of Col. Rowe Boulevard and Trenton Road and will serve members in Corpus Christi and Laredo, Texas, in addition to those in Rio Grande Valley.
Its design features Spanish colonial architecture and citrus blossoms, a nod to the area’s climate that nurtures some of the nation’s sweetest oranges and grapefruit, locals say. Additionally, blue colors used in the design connect to both bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, and the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
Located just miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, the temple is a symbol of unity and connection in a border town divided by literal and figurative walls.
A Peaceful Symbol
“In a world with a lot of walls, we need to continue to build bridges,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “The temple is a beautiful symbol for that peaceful effort, and it will radiate throughout the community here … and it will spread out all across the world.”
Elder Uchtdorf was accompanied to the dedicatory services by his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf. Also participating were Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, a General Authority Seventy, and Sister Elaine Finholdt Parrella; Elder Jose L. Alonso, a General Authority Seventy, and Sister Rebecca Salazar Alonso; and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric and Sister Carol S. Waddell.
Prior to the dedication, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf visited the U.S.-Mexico border with Elder and Sister Alonso.
In speaking about the McAllen Texas Temple, Elder Uchtdorf emphasized that the gospel connects and unites. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he explained, is available to all, regardless of language, cultural background or socioeconomic circumstances.
“The spreading of the restored gospel did not stop at political or social boundaries; it expanded on both sides of the Rio Grande,” he said.
During the public open house for the new temple, local Church members shared their new temple with the community and expressed gratitude and excitement for the blessings the temple will bring them and their families.
Jason Hess, a member of the Weslaco Ward, attended the dedication’s first session with family members.
The dedication “is so special to be a part of,” he said, adding that having a temple in McAllen “makes it so much easier … to have the Spirit and the temple feeling close to home.”
Ricardo Mendez and his wife, Maria Leticia Mendez, of the Harlingen Texas Stake, previously traveled about five hours twice a month to the San Antonio Texas Temple, where they served as ordinance workers.
Now, with a temple in McAllen, they can enter the house of the Lord as often as they want.
Reflecting on the years spent traveling to San Antonio, Mendez said he doesn’t see the time and expense as a sacrifice; rather, “I look at it as a privilege. [Not many people] can say they had that privilege [to] work in the temple, learn what you can never learn anywhere else and … have a closeness to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That’s the kind of experience you can never exchange for anything else.”
Tim Brann, a member of the Monte Cristo ward and a long-time McAllen resident, recalled his mother’s conversion when he was six years old.
At that time, members met in a borrowed San Juan building, and Brann remembers men cleaning up cigarette butts and other litter every Sunday morning before services. The branch later purchased and remodeled its own building.
“So, the Church has grown from about zero to temple strength in 70 years,” Brann said.
Sergio Solis, chair of the local open house and dedication committee, served as a young missionary in the McAllen area. Then he promised locals that someday the Rio Grande Valley would have a temple of its own.
“My prayer has been answered, along with so many other members that have been praying before me,” he said. “I am witnessing that the Lord does answer prayers in His time, not our time. In my case, it was His time and I get to live it, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Feather River California Temple
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Feather River temple — the Church’s 184th operating temple — in two sessions on Sunday, October 8, five years and one day since it was announced in 2018.
“The dedication of this and all the other temples testifies that God has a divine vision and plan for His sons and daughters from all generations,” Elder Soares said. “It is indeed evidence of the divinity of His true gospel. This temple stands as a beacon in this area.”
Elder Soares was joined by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; Elder Mark A. Bragg, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s North America West Area, and his wife, Sister Yvonne Bragg; and Elder James R. Rasband, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Mary Rasband.
‘A Special Day’
Few looked forward to the dedication of the Feather River temple as much as Virgil Atkinson.
After leading many friends from the community through the temple during the open house, Atkinson said he awoke Sunday at 5 a.m. to arrive at the temple for sunrise and be the first in line.
“This is an important day, a special day,” said Atkinson, who has lived in Yuba City for nearly 70 years. “I’m going to take it all in. I want to treasure this day. We have worked really hard to prepare for this and here it is.
I wanted to make sure this day was a very special day and it has been.”
Members of the Adrian family, also of Yuba City, volunteered to place booties on shoes as people entered the temple for the dedication. They have lived in the area for 25 years. Daniel Adrian, age 16, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“It has been special to see the temple go up and know we now have our own,” he said.
The 41,655-square-foot structure is located at 1470 Butte House Road in Yuba City.
The exterior art glass’s main design motif is the regionally significant almond blossom. The landscaping is inspired by the Mediterranean climate of the Sacramento Valley and the area’s rich history and biodiversity.
A new adjacent meetinghouse and distribution center will meet the needs of Latter-day Saints throughout the area. Including Feather River, there are 12 temples in California, the most of any state besides Utah. These temples serve nearly 730,000 Latter-day Saints in California in over 1,130 congregations.