Fort Worth Temple, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church Breaks Ground on the Fort Worth Texas Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begins work on its sixth temple in Texas, with two more announced for the Lone Star State.

More blessings than rain fell on Fort Worth, Texas, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke ground for its newest Texas temple on October 28, 2023.

Although much of the ceremony was conducted indoors due to stormy conditions and saturated ground, nothing dampened the spirit of thanksgiving and enthusiasm for those in attendance and those watching by livestream from various locations throughout North Texas.

“Today, we gather in this place under a vast sky, a rainy Texas, in wonderful protection, to commemorate a momentous occasion, the groundbreaking of the Fort Worth Texas Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Elder Jose L. Alonso, General Authority Seventy and First Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency, who presided over the event. 

“The temple that will be built soon will stand as a living testament to Christ’s eternal invitation for all to find peace in His love,” proclaimed Elder Alonso. “It is a day of celebration, gratitude, and unity.”

The temple […] will stand as a living testament to Christ’s eternal invitation for all to find peace in His love. [This] is a day of celebration, gratitude, and unity.

Elder Jose L. Alonso, General Authority Seventy and First Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency

In attendance were Burleson Mayor Chris Fletcher, Judge Jeff Monk, Fort Worth City Councilman Michael D. Crain, as well as several members of the Burleson city council, many first responders, and members of the Fort Worth interfaith community. To these honored guests and those not in attendance, Elder Alonso expressed his desire for the symbolic turning of the soil to break “not only the ground beneath our feet but also the barriers that may separate us.”

Burleson Mayor Chris Fletcher and Elder Jose L. Alonso pose with ceremonial groundbreaking shovels. Photo by Jan Taylor.

“As we break the ground and turn the soil today, we also aspire to break the fear that sometimes divides us. We seek to break the animosity to replace it with understanding. We aim to break the sadness with the hope that comes from knowing God loves us. We desire to break discouragement and replace it with the knowledge that in Christ, there is always a path forward.”

Elder Jose L. Alonso, Rebecca Alonso, Venerable Bhante Pannakara of Huong Dao Temple Fort Worth, and, facing away, John Elmer, Fort Worth Temple Groundbreaking Committee Coordinator. Photo by Julianne Winzenz.
Elder Jose L. Alonso and Bishop Kenneth Spears of First Saint John Cathedral, Fort Worth. Photo by Julianne Winzenz.
Burleson Mayor Chris Fletcher, Elder Jose L. Alonso, and President Eldon J White of the Texas Fort Worth Mission. Photo by Julianne Winzenz.

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Alonso invoked God’s blessings on “all who set foot here [that they might] feel an overwhelming sense of peace, harmony, unity, love, and joy” and for the protection of “this land so that it might fulfill Thy divine purpose, standing as a beacon of Thy love, inviting all to partake in its sacred ordinances.”

The prayer further included a blessing upon “the youth of this area, igniting within them a fervent desire for goodness and unity and truth. Grant them the courage to tread the path of righteousness, fortified by the knowledge of their divine heritage.”

A fervent plea to the Almighty concluded the dedicatory prayer that He may “strengthen our resolve to love Thee and love our neighbors with the same profound love with which Thou and Thy beloved son Jesus Christ have loved us.”

To read Elder Alonso’s Fort Worth Texas Temple dedicatory prayer in full, click here:

Claire Hunter of the Alliance Texas Stake.
Photo by Julianne Winzenz.

Also addressing the gathering were Fort Worth Stake President Brandon Ellison, who conducted the meeting; Paea Vimahi of the Hurst Texas Stake, who offered the benediction; Claire Hunter of the Alliance Texas Stake, and Vicki Svendsen of the Burleson Texas Stake, along with a youth choir from the Alliance Texas Stake performing This is the Christ, directed by Scott Tilley and accompanied by Lisa Fuller.

Hunter, age 15, spoke of the gathering of Israel and the vital role temples play: “I still remember the first time I [went to the temple.] Nothing could have prepared me for what I felt that day […] With the peaceful silence, I was clearly able to hear the Holy Ghost speak to me. That day, I knew the temple would forever change my life and how it could change others […] The Lord has promised so many blessings, including joy and peace, power from God, and protection from temptations […] I am so grateful for this new temple to be close to my home.”

Early Cleburne area church members Thomas Hurricanus and Sarilda (Roberson) Griffin. Courtesy of the Griffin Family.

Emphasizing the importance of family, Vicky Svendsen spoke of her Griffin family heritage as the first members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Cleburne, Texas, area. Thomas Hurricanus and Sarilda (Roberson) Griffin, along with other family members, joined the Church 120 years ago in 1904.

“As we stand here today rejoicing in the building of this temple,” said Svendsen, “I think of my great grandfather’s last wishes, feeling that his death was not far away, writing to [his friend], requesting and giving permission to him to do the temple work of himself and some of his family members, trying to meet his obligation to the Biblical verses that refer to whatsoever is sealed on earth shall be sealed in Heaven and as the thoughtful man that he was, he enclosed $15 for any inconvenience that his wishes were to cause.” (Thomas Hurricanus Griffin’s temple work was completed following his death in 1914.)

Svendsen added, “[My father noted] that the Biblical verse also speaks of families being loosed as well. He wrote, ‘a million voices could not shake the fact that I know that I was obligated to bind my family. Love, beyond all else, will endure.‘”

Latter-day Saints consider temples the “house of the Lord” and the most sacred places of worship on earth. Temples differ from the Church’s meetinghouses (chapels). All are welcome to attend Sunday worship services and other weekday activities at local meetinghouses. The primary purpose of temples, however, is for faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ to participate in sacred ceremonies, such as marriages, which unite families forever, and proxy baptisms on behalf of deceased ancestors who did not have the opportunity for baptism while living.

The 30,000-square-foot temple will be constructed on a 9.37-acre site located north of Southwest Hulen Street and Greenridge Drive in the suburb of Burleson. Five operating temples in Texas are located in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, and San Antonio. In addition to Fort Worth, there are plans to build temples in the cities of Austin and Prosper.

Located in the South-Central United States, Texas was by missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843. In 1898, about 300 Church members settled on land purchased by the Church in northeast Texas that would become the colony of Kelsey. Church growth in Texas has been rapid in recent decades, with more than 132,000 Latter-day Saints in 1985 growing to just over 210,000 in 2000. Today, Texas is home to more than 378,000 members in nearly 750 congregations.

By Janene Nielsen

Janene Nielsen is a novelist, freelance journalist and Multi-Stake Public Affairs Assistant Director over Media Relations for the Fort Worth Coordinating Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints