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Farmington - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will break ground here later this month on its first temple in the state and one of about 150 temples for Mormons worldwide.
"We hope the temple will be a great symbol of our faith in our area and our desire to reach out and show our love to each other," said Wayne Taylor, president of the Hartford Connecticut Stake.
When completed two years from now, the Hartford area's 32,000-square-foot, white-granite temple will feature New England architecture, landscaped grounds and paintings representative of the history of the Church and local area, he said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first announced a Hartford-area temple in October 2010 and then chose the current site on the southwest corner of Melrose Drive and Farmington Avenue in May 2012, according to a news release.
To prepare for the new temple, the Church has been working on acquiring the land and submitting the architectural plans to the town for review, said Taylor. Farmington's Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the plans for the temple, he said.
"We've been anticipating this since October 2010 and now it is a reality," said Taylor. "It's really a great thing."
Taylor said the temple is a significant part of Church members' lives.
"In the temple, we could perform ordinances for our family members and we could also worship the Lord and know more of his plan for us on the Earth today," he said. "It's very significant in the fact that we will have a local temple. Currently, we go to Belmont, Massachusetts."
"For example, when a young couple in the Church wants to be married it can be local. It will be a great opportunity for the members here," he added. "The temple will be a great opportunity for members and non-members to enjoy the spirit of the temple."
There are currently about 15,000 Mormons in the state. The Farmington site is centrally located within the state and honors the Church's fourth president, Wilford Woodruff, who was born in Farmington, according to Taylor.
Taylor said placing a temple there represents a realization of the growing Hartford area.
At the Aug. 17 groundbreaking service, the presidents of seven stakes - groups of congregations - and Elder William R. Walker, the executive director of the Church's Temple Department, will attend, according to Thomas Mason, a public affairs representative for the church.
"We feel it's a great privilege," said Taylor. "There are seven different areas of the Church that will be participating: all of Connecticut into Rhode Island" and then up to Springfield, Mass., and the Albany and Newburg, N.Y. areas.
Since space is limited because of parking, the service will be broadcasted to the different areas of the Church.
"Every member, every guest will have an opportunity to participate in the groundbreaking through the broadcast," said Taylor.
Local and state elected officials have been invited to the service, which will feature a dedicatory prayer and participants will "take shovels to turn over the temple construction," said Taylor.
Once construction is complete in two years, the church will hold an open house service to invite the community to the temple and a church leader will dedicate the building, said Taylor.
Kelly Jacobs, a public affairs representative who attends the local congregation in Glastonbury, said she attends the local meetinghouse for Sunday worship services, while the temple is a place for special worship and instruction that she would attend on average about once a month, she said.
"We look forward to the instruction about God's plan for us," she said. "We look forward to the opportunity we have to experience that closeness with the Lord and be guided in our lives with what he might direct. That opportunity to be close with the Lord is a great blessing for us."