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R. Scott Lloyd
People line up to enter new Tucson Arizona Temple of the LDS Church for dedicatory service Aug. 13, 2017.

TUCSON, Ariz. — In this city where sunshine and cacti abound, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf dedicated the newest temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday.

Arriving for the service with his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf at his side, a smiling President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s First Presidency, warmly interacted with Mormon faithful waiting to enter the domed edifice for the first of three dedicatory services Sunday morning.

Just after the beginning of the 9 a.m. service, President Uchtdorf and other church leaders, with their wives, stepped outside for the traditional cornerstone ceremony in which a cover is sealed in place over the cornerstone, marking the completion of the temple.

“Let us just remember that as we seal this cornerstone, it is also a moment to seal our hearts,” the church leader said to a small group of spectators outside and, by video relay, to the congregation gathered inside the temple for the dedicatory service.

“The temple is the place to teach the purpose of life. It is the moment where the world around us hopefully will see with us the goodness of the House of the Lord. … You are living in an area with wonderful friends, with great people who support the growing of the church in this beautiful area.”

Among those invited to take a turn at applying the ceremonial mortar was Sister Uchtdorf. “We have practiced this in our kitchen,” President Uchtdorf joked.

Other church leaders invited with their wives to apply mortar were Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy; Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric; Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department; and the three members of the temple presidency.

President Uchtdorf then beckoned several children to come forward from among the spectators and take a turn with the mortar.

Located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains on the northeast outskirts of the city, the temple is the 157th in the church and the sixth in Arizona, with others operating in Mesa, Snowflake, the Gila Valley, Gilbert and Phoenix. With a façade suggesting Southwestern architecture and a distinctive dome topped with the traditional Angel Moroni statue, it sits amid a landscape of cactus and desert vegetation.

Proceedings of each of the three dedicatory sessions were transmitted live to church meetinghouses throughout Arizona, where Mormons holding recommends from local church leaders were invited to attend.

In keeping with tradition, a youth cultural celebration was held Friday, the eve of the dedication, with more than 2,100 youths from the nine LDS stakes in the temple district putting on a spectacle of music, dance and color at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, a large baseball park in central Tucson.

Including Native American and Mexican Mariachi segments, the celebration highlighted aspects of Arizona culture and history and the part the church plays in that history. The celebration was themed “The Time Is Now,” meaning the new temple is an occasion for youths to accomplish great things. The program was replete with “I Will” statements from many of the youths, pledging their determination to do things of worth to show gratitude for having a temple in their area.

Characteristic of Arizona’s erratic monsoon season, predicted showers threatened to dampen both the temple dedication and the cultural celebration the night before. In fact, heavy rainfall late Saturday and early Sunday prompted a flash-flood warning in the area lasting until 6:30 a.m.

But fair skies and hot weather prevailed for both the dedication and the cultural celebration.