The Mormon Church's decision Saturday to build a temple in Tucson was greeted with tears of joy from local church members.
President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for two new temples at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' semiannual conference in Salt Lake City. The second will be built in Arequipa, Peru.
"I can't stop crying, it's just incredible," Tucson's Megan Allen told the Salt Lake City Deseret News. "It's a huge thing to have that so close and so available for everybody. I remember for every conference, everyone was on the edge of their seats for the announcement, and finally this is the one."
Todd Polley, president of the Tucson north stake (similar to a diocese), said, "Members of the church have looked to this day for a long time, hoping and praying that it would come. But even for those not of our faith, we believe this will be a great blessing."
David Hoefferle, church spokesman in Southern Arizona, said: "We have 27 buildings throughout Southern Arizona open to the community for our Sunday worship services. But a Temple is a special, quiet place where members of the church go to find peace in our hectic lives. It's in the temple where we are reminded about our eternal purpose on earth and are encouraged to serve our neighbors with love."
D. Lee Walker, president of the Tucson stake, said: "There was an initial elation of hearing the announcement, and then came the realization of the responsibility a temple brings, because it is a place of service as well."
Rachel Hathcock, who moved with her husband and family to Oro Valley from Mesa less than two years ago, said a temple in Tucson is an answer to many prayers.
"We are so grateful that the Mesa temple is only two hours away," she said. "We have gladly made the trip up to Mesa, but learning that a temple will be built in Tucson is truly such an exciting and much-anticipated announcement. This is something we have been praying for for a long time."
Hathcock's daughter, 12-year-old Taylor Hatch, said: "The temple is a beautiful place. I'm excited to have one so close!"
Tucson church leaders say they do not know where the temple will be built. A location will be announced at a later date.
More than 400,000 Arizonans are Mormon. More than 30,000 church members live in Tucson, which has 73 local congregations.
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