The 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a surprise visit at the groundbreaking service for the new Mormon Temple in Farmington on Saturday, Aug. 17.
President Thomas S. Monson does not dedicate every new temple, but he gave the dedication speech at the temple soon to be built at the corner of Melrose Drive and Farmington Avenue.
For many locals, it comes as no shock that the prophet came to Farmington.
Monson said that Connecticut holds a special place in his heart because of his family. His granddaughter, Sarah Steele and her husband, Jim live on Simsbury.
While the Farmington temple will be the first Mormon temple in Connecticut, Monson said there were plans before – in 1992, according to www.ldschurchtemples.com – to base one in Connecticut. However, the Church instead decided to open temple locations in the Boston and New York areas first because of growths in the religion in those regions.
Three years ago, Monson traveled to Farmington and chose it as the ideal location for a new temple.
"My brothers and sisters, you faithfully traveled the distances required to attend the temples in those locations. The Lord has been pleased with the sacrifices you have made to do so," Monson said during his address at the ceremony. "Three years ago, I had the privilege of announcing that a new temple would now be built in this area. Today is a special and sacred day as we bring to fruition the hopes and dreams of the church members here and break ground on the Hartford, Connecticut temple."
Monson will celebrate his 86th birthday on Aug. 21 and the 700 or so attendees from five different states at the ceremony sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
He was the first to turn the soil, first with Elder William Walker and then with his family, church officials, area stake presidents, a little boy in the audience and Town Council Chairman Jeffrey Hogan and Planning and Zoning Chairman Phil Dunn.
Monson and his family left after the service concluded to spend time together.
Check back later for more of our coverage and video and photos of the event.
The Church plans for the Hartford Temple to be concluded in 2015 and the public will be invited to tour it for one time only at an open house.
You can also read Patch's previous coverage of the new Mormon temple by clicking on the links below:
- Happy Birthday, President Monson!
- Photo Gallery: Farmington Mormon Temple Groundbreaking
- What's the Difference Between a Mormon Temple and Chapel?
- Farmington Plays Historical Role in Mormon History
- Mormons Announce Groundbreaking Service for Farmington Temple
- A Look at the Mormon Temple Plans
- Mormon Temple Site Preparation Expected Soon
- Mormon Temple Hearing Continues Tuesday
- Mormon Leaders Discuss Temple, Church Service with Malloy
- Mormons Plan Temple in Farmington
- Mormon Official: Temple Would be a 'Place for Families'
- Mormon Temple Approved
- Mormons Present Plan For Temple to Zoning Commission