Latter-day Saints in southern Arizona are ready to welcome visitors to the Tucson Arizona Temple, which has been built among the saguaro cactus in southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Complimentary tickets are now available for a public open house for the newly completed temple that will begin on Saturday, June 3, and continue through Saturday, June 24, 2017, except for the Sundays of June 4, 11 and 18.
“The temple is beautiful,” said local member Joshua Ramirez. “It’s just like a big beacon.”
“I believe that when people come to visit the temple, they will feel something special as they visit the house of the Lord, as they come here and view the insides of this beautiful structure,” expressed member Daniel Post, who is excited the temple in Tucson has been completed.
Calvin Caldwell, project manager for the temple, explained that going to the temple is like finding an oasis in the desert. “They have that opportunity to take a deep breath and relax and all their worries kind of go away,” said Caldwell.
The design and colors inside the new 38,000-square-foot temple are influenced by the Art Deco style and reflect the green desert landscape of the American Southwest, including native plants, red cactus flowers and orange hues that represent the desert sun. Designers used the native ocotillo plant and the flower of the paddle cactus or prickly pear as inspiration for the décor, such as the art glass. Paintings feature stories of the ministry of Jesus Christ from the scriptures and desert scenery.
One of the unique features of the exterior of the Tucson Arizona Temple that sits on seven acres of land is the blue dome constructed of imported tile from Germany topped with an angel Moroni statue.
“As you notice around the valley and throughout the city, there’s multiple domes or cupolas, and we took that into our design so that it would be able to fit in and match the area itself,” said Caldwell.
“The structure itself is totally Southwestern and just is the feel of Tucson. It’s the old pueblo,” described local Latter-day Saint Lucinda Contreras. “Its unique dome [with] the beautiful blue … is representative of the sky and the beautiful colors that we have here in Tucson.”
Her 15-year-old daughter, Candace Contreras, said residents are curious about the new temple. “Now people are wondering what it is, and even my friends at school are like, ‘Hey, what’s that big building with the statue on top? Like what does that mean?’ And it gives me an opportunity to share with them what I know to be true and what it means to me.”
“I see the dome at night when they illuminate it,” said Emmanuel Vouvakis, who lives next door to the temple. “It’s very tastefully done, and the Church has done an exceptional job in building this temple.”
Vouvakis believes the temple will benefit the community. “It brings a more diverse aspect to the city,” he said.
“It’s the realization of a dream, the realization of many prayers and hopes that someday we would have a temple in Tucson,” shared lifelong resident and member Duane Bingham, whose family arrived in Tucson from Utah in 1893.
“The patrons are going to love it, and they’re going to use it,” said Caldwell.
“It will give us the opportunity to be influenced by the Savior Jesus Christ. He is the water, and those who partake in the blessing of the temple will be filled and be quenched,” said Post.
The Church has more than 150 temples around the world where sacred ordinances such as eternal marriages and family sealings are performed, as well as baptisms for deceased family members. The 156th temple was recently dedicated in Paris.
“I’m grateful [the temple] is a place where my daughter can come and be married to her future husband, my son can come and be married to his future wife,” said member Lucinda Contreras.
A cultural celebration featuring Mormon youth will be held Saturday, August 12. The temple will be dedicated the following day, Sunday, August 13, in three sessions at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The temple dedication will be broadcast to Church members in Arizona. The three-hour block of meetings will be cancelled for that Sunday so local Latter-day Saint congregations can participate in this sacred event.
“We dedicate it to God. And in turn, we’re able to come to the temple and to feel the Spirit and to be able to feel the closeness to our Heavenly Father here in the temple,” said Lucinda Contreras.
The Tucson Arizona Temple will be the sixth in Arizona, known as the Grand Canyon State. Temples are currently operating in Mesa, Snowflake, The Gila Valley, Gilbert and Phoenix. There are more than 416,000 members of the Church in Arizona.
Ground for the temple was broken October 17, 2015. The temple is located at 7281 North Skyline Drive in the Catalina Foothills of Tucson. Visit templeopenhouse.lds.org to make a reservation to attend the temple open house.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.