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April 27, 2008 - 9:41PM

New Mormon temple slated for Gilbert

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Mike Branom, Tribune

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to build two new temples in Arizona, one of them in Gilbert, officials said. That would double the number of temples in the East Valley, as Mesa’s temple celebrated the 80th anniversary of its dedication last fall.

That was the only temple in the state until 2002, when a second was dedicated in Snowflake.

The other planned temple would be built in the Gila Valley of eastern Arizona, near the towns of Thatcher and Safford.

Don Evans, Arizona spokesman for the church, said the expansion comes in response to the demand placed on the existing two temples.

The Gilbert temple will be built near the intersection of Greenfield and Pecos roads, Evans said, but a timetable for construction was not immediately known.

The church’s newer temples are generally on a smaller scale than those built in the past, Evans said. For example, the Mesa Arizona Temple is more than six times larger than its counterpart in Snowflake.

“Smaller temples come at a lesser cost and can be constructed in a shorter time frame,” Evans said.

LDS President Thomas S. Monson revealed plans for construction last week. These are the first new temples announced since Monson assumed the church’s highest office in February.

Currently, the church has 134 temples already in operation or in the planning and construction phases.

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