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Hopes for spiritual and economic renaissance accompany Mormons' Snowflake temple

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona's second Mormon temple, perched on a butte above the tiny town of Snowflake, goes on public display during an open house Feb. 2-16. It will serve nearly 35,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northeastern Arizona.

Many of the town's 5,600 residents -- half of them non-Mormon -- hope the temple will help make Snowflake a boomtown that draws Mormon pilgrims and retirees.

''This is the biggest thing to ever happen to Snowflake,'' said Town Planner Joe Papa. ''It's a dream come true for many people here. We're just hoping that we don't get run over.''

After the open house, expected to draw 60,000 visitors, and the March 3 dedication, admission will be restricted to church members.

Mormons practice the bulk of their religion in meeting houses and churches. But their faith also requires them to regularly attend a consecrated temple for sacred ordinances to bind marriages for eternity and offer salvation to the dead through proxy baptisms.

Until now, many Arizona Mormons have had to trek hundreds of miles to the temples in Mesa or over the border in St. George, Utah.

Mormon leaders have dramatically increased temple building. Of the 107 across the world, the majority were built after 1997.

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