On Sunday, September 21, 2008, local priesthood leaders announced the site for the Gila Valley Arizona Temple to be the property at the stake ballpark in Central—a complex of four baseball fields located between Pima and Thatcher along Highway 70. The temple and an adjoining meetinghouse will be constructed on the northern side of the property with the temple on the east, nearer the highway. The northern fields are anticipated to be replaced by parking and landscaping while the southern fields and concession stand are retained.
On Wednesday, September 17, 2008, a petition for a height-restriction exception went before the Graham County Planning and Zoning Commission from the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. Approval of the exception would allow a proposed 100-foot steeple on the Gila Valley Arizona Temple. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend the exception, which went before the Graham County Board of Supervisors on October 20.
Ground view of the ball field where the temple will go.
The temple will serve the faithful Saints of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, who currently travel some 150 miles or more to attend the Mesa Arizona Temple or the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple. Located at the base of the soaring Pinaleño Mountains, the Gila Valley is best known among members of the Church as the home of President Spencer W. Kimball, 12th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though born in Salt Lake City, President Kimball was reared in Thatcher from the age of 3. And after returning home from a mission and being sealed to Camilla Eyring in the Salt Lake Temple, the Kimballs settled in Safford to raise their children and run an insurance business (with my grandad's brother, Emil). In the early 1980s, President Kimball initiated an unprecedented worldwide temple-building program—one of the hallmarks of his ministry.
Newly announced temples are indicated in yellow. Current temples in red.
President Thomas S. Monson jointly announced the Gila Valley temple with the Gilbert Arizona Temple—his first temple announcements after becoming president of the Church. On May 24, 2008 President Monson announced a third new temple to be built in Arizona. The Phoenix Arizona Temple will serve the members of the west valley area who currently travel to the south east valley to attend the Mesa temple. The announcement of this temple will bring the total number of temples in the state of Arizona to five.