In April 2008 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that they would build their fourth temple in Arizona. The Gilbert Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the 142nd temple worldwide. Two more, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson, will be added in the near future.
© 2014 Judy Hedding
The temple in Gilbert is the largest that the Church has built in 17 years. It is the tallest building in Gilbert. Mormon temples incorporate exquisite detail, beautiful artistry, and are designed with themes that are intended to honor the religion as well as the locale in which the temple is erected. In the case of the Gilbert Temple, a native plant, the agave, was the inspiration for many of the accents and art glass in the building.
While the title here indicates that visitors are welcome, that is only for a very specific short period of time. After the dedication of the Temple visitors will not be permitted inside the Temple. This is standard procedure for LDS temples; only Mormons with a recommend card (evidence that LDS leaders agree that they live by the principles established by the Church) may enter a temple. Visitors and people of any faith may visit the meetinghouse for worship on Sundays.
The tours that are open to the public for the new Gilbert Temple will take place as follows:
Dates: Mondays through Saturdays, January 18 - February 15, 2014
Time slots from: Mondays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: no charge, no donations requested.
Length of tour: Expect to spend about 45 minutes. There is an introductory film that is about 12 minutes long. You will walk through several rooms inside the temple.
Make a reservation online: templeopenhouse.lds.org/tickets
Make a reservation by phone: 1-855-537-2000
Location: The intersection of Pecos Road and Greenfield Road in Gilbert. From the San Tan 202, take the San Tan Village exit and turn south to Pecos. The tour will begin at the meetinghouse, which is on Pecos Rd., east of the temple itself. There will be plenty of volunteers directing visitors.
Be aware: Thousands of people are expected to tour the temple during the open visitation period. In the interest of minimizing delays and keeping everyone moving through the temple, during peak times the tour may be basically self-guided. That means that you might not have a volunteer providing an explanation in each of the various rooms as you would during the non-peak guided tours. Volunteers will, however, be available outside at the end of all the tours to answer any questions.
I had the opportunity to attend a tour led by Elder William R. Walker, Executive Director of the Temple Department, overseeing the administration of all temples throughout the world. Your tour won't be as long or thorough as the one I participated in, but you can get an advance look into the Gilbert Temple during a television special that will air locally on ABC Channel 15 at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 17, 2014.
The Celestial Room with opulent
Swarovski crystal chandelier.
Photo Courtesy Gilbert Arizona Temple
of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
Just in case your tour doesn't include detailed descriptions, here are some bits of information that might enhance your visit.
- You may not bring any cameras into an LDS temple. As a matter of fact, if you look at the photos posted on the website, those were not taken at the Gilbert Temple. Those photos are simply examples of typical room orientations/setups.
- You don't have to wear a dress or a suit for the tour. Respectful, modest attire is appropriate.
- You'll notice that there's no cross at the top of the temple spire. That's a statue of the Angel Moroni. You won't see any crosses inside the temple either, but there are many depictions of the resurrected Jesus Christ.
- The art glass will be evident from the outside of the front of the temple as well as throughout the temple. Agave leaves, flowers and stalks (century plant) can be seen not only in the blue, green and earth tones of the glass, but also in ceiling, wall and flooring adornment. Look up, down and sideways!
- Some of the religious-themed paintings you will see are originals, and some are copies of originals located in other temples. Interspersed with those messages are paintings depicting beautiful Arizona scenic places. Local artists were commissioned for some of the pieces.
- Crystal sconces and chandeliers are made from Swarovski crystals. The chandelier in the Celestial Room is amazing.
- On your tour you will see the Recommend Desk at the entrance where, after the open house tours have concluded for this temple, qualifications for visiting the temple will be verified. You'll visit a changing room, where members change their clothes into an all white outfit, symbolizing that all are the same in this special place. The Instruction Room is where temple members hear lectures and watch films (English, Spanish, many other languages and closed captioned). You'll see the Baptismal Font, set upon twelve oxen representing the 12 Tribes of Israel, where members can perform baptisms by proxy for their deceased ancestors. Couples are wed in the Sealing Room (there are seven of them) in a short ceremony, sealed together for eternity. You'll notice that there are no paintings in this room; the mirrors on opposite walls are placed such that the reflection of the couple repeats for eternity. The Celestial Room is a place where members meditate, contemplate and pray. During the tour they will ask that visitors remain quiet in this room. Take notice of the white carpet in both the Sealing and Celestial Rooms. It was installed as a plain carpet and then someone was commissioned to manually snip the pattern into it!
- The Gilbert Temple, unlike the Mesa Temple, does not have a Visitor Center or a Family History Library that is open to the public.
- Photography is permitted outside the temple. The grounds are lovely, and many people will enjoy the photo opportunity in front of the water feature on the south side of the temple.
- While the meetinghouse is nice but rather plain, the temple is ornate and luxurious. It is the House of the Lord, and Mormons believe it should be very special place.
More information: Gilbert Temple Official Website