The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Arizona

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Christmas Lights at the Mesa Arizona Temple

As of December 31, 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) reported 428,069 members in 895 congregations in Arizona, with 6 missions and 6 temples.[1]


Mormon Battalion
Main article: Mormon Battalion (sections: Battle of the Bulls and Capture of Tucson)

The first presence of Latter-day Saints in Arizona was the Mormon Battalion. They marched through what is now southern Arizona in 1846 on the way to California as part of the Mexican–American War. They encountered wild cattle bulls and killed several of them in defense. They passed through Tucson (then a town of 400–500 inhabitants) causing an attachment of Mexican Forces to flee. They camped at the mouth of the Gila River before entering California.

Northern Arizona settlements

The next time Latter-day Saints entered the area was in 1858 and 1859, when Jacob Hamblin and his companions camped at Pipe Spring in the northwestern part of present-day Arizona. They did this while journeying to and from their missions among the Moqui (Hopi) Indians east of the Colorado River.

During the 1860s and 1870s, LDS parties explored portions of the area searching for possible settlement sites. Also during this period, isolated ranches and small Mormon settlements were established at Short Creek (now Colorado City), Pipe Spring, Beaver Dam and neighboring Littlefield, and Lee's Ferry, all in the area between the Utah border and the Grand Canyon known as the Arizona Strip.

The first effort at large-scale LDS colonization came in March 1873 when a group of Latter-day Saints was sent from Utah to the Little Colorado River drainage under the direction of Horton D. Height. The colonizers turned back, discouraged by the poor prospects, but a few returned the following year and began farming among the Native Americans at Moencopi. Local hostilities forced the colonists to leave again after a month. A year later, James S. Brown led another small colonizing group that successfully settled at Moencopi, then began exploring the surrounding area. Following these explorations, a large group of settlers, led by Lot Smith, arrived in the spring of 1876 and established four settlements on the Little Colorado, which they called Ballenger's Camp (later renamed Brigham City), Sunset, Obed and Allen City (later renamed St. Joseph, and then Joseph City).[2]

Central and southern Arizona settlements
The former Maricopa Stake Tabernacle (1896–1967), in Mesa

Daniel W. Jones was commissioned by Brigham Young to start a Mormon colony within the Salt River Valley of the Arizona Territory. The settlement party arrived at what would become Lehi, Arizona in March 1877. Jones' invitation to local Native Americans to live with them became a point of controversy, and half of the initial colony left, moving on to found St. David, Arizona.[3] In February 1878 the First Mesa Company arrived in Lehi. Rather than accepting an invitation to settle at Jones' settlement, they moved to the top of the mesa, and founded Mesa, Arizona. They dug irrigation canals, incorporating the original Hohokam canals in some places, and within a couple of months water was flowing through them.[4]

Pima was founded in 1879 by Mormon settlers relocating from Forrest Dale, after that location was declared to be on tribal land. Originally named Smithville, it was unlike other Mormon settlements of the era, not being planned by the leaders of the church.[5] Joseph K. Rogers was the first branch president at Pima, being appointed to this office before the settlers arrived. The branch was organized into a ward in 1880. In 1930 the total population of Pima was 980, 666 of whom were LDS, and a total of 1,260 people resided within the Pima ward boundaries.[6]

Membership history[edit]

LDS Membership in Arizona

Year LDS Membership
1920 14,813
1930 18,732
1940 25,272
1950 33,937
1960 60,457
1970 94,249
1980 171,880
1990 241,000
1999 305,034
2008 374,830
2012 395,296
2015 418,959
2017 428,069


On March 7, 1943, the Navajo-Zuni Mission was organized, and specialized with teaching Native Americans in their language. This was renamed the Southwest Indian Mission on January 1, 1949, and again the New Mexico-Arizona Mission on October 10, 1972. It was discontinued and transferred into the Arizona Phoenix Mission on July 1, 1984.

On August 1, 1969, the Arizona Mission was organized from the California South Mission, and was renamed the Arizona Tempe Mission on June 20, 1974.

Arizona is now home to six missions.

Mission Organized
Arizona Gilbert Mission July 1, 2013
Arizona Tempe Mission August 1, 1969
Arizona Phoenix Mission July 1, 1984
Arizona Scottsdale Mission July 1, 2013
Arizona Tucson Mission July 1, 1990
Arizona Mesa Mission July 1, 2002


Route marker on House Rock Valley Road for the Honeymoon Trail, which included part of this road

On October 23, 1927, the Mesa Arizona Temple was dedicated. Until that time, members had traveled to the St. George Temple. Because of all the bridal parties that traversed the trail during the early years, the wagon road between St. George and the Arizona settlements became known as the Honeymoon Trail.[7][8] The Mesa Arizona Temple was the first temple in the Church to be rededicated (on April 15, 1975) after extensive remodeling and enlarging to accommodate increased attendance.

On March 3, 2002, a second Arizona temple was dedicated in Snowflake. Since then, a third, The Gila Valley Arizona Temple has been dedicated in Central, Arizona and three additional temples have been dedicated in Gilbert, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Mesa Temple.jpg

7. Mesa Arizona Temple (Closed for Renovation) edit


Mesa, Arizona, United States
October 3, 1919
October 23, 1927 by Heber J. Grant
April 16, 1975 by Spencer W. Kimball
120,000 sq ft (11,000 m2) and 50 ft (15 m) high on a 20 acre (8.1 ha) site
Neoclassical Architecture - designed by Don Carlos Young, Jr. and Ramm Hansen
The first temple to offer ordinances in a language other than English (Spanish).


108. Snowflake Arizona Temple edit


Snowflake, Arizona, United States
April 2, 2000
March 3, 2002 by Gordon B. Hinckley
18,621 sq ft (1,730 m2) on a 7.5 acre (3 ha) site
Classic modern, single-spire design - designed by Trest Polina

Gila Valley Temple at Sunset.jpg

132. Gila Valley Arizona Temple edit


Central, Arizona, United States
April 26, 2008
May 23, 2010 by Thomas S. Monson
18,561 sq ft (1,724 m2) and 100 ft (30 m) high on a 17 acre (6.9 ha) site
Classic modern, single-spire design - designed by Gregory B. Lambright
Announced by Thomas S. Monson on April 26, 2008.[9][10]

Gilbert Arizona Temple 2014-03-02 - 8595.JPG

142. Gilbert Arizona Temple edit


Gilbert, Arizona, United States
April 26, 2008
March 2, 2014 by Henry B. Eyring & Thomas S. Monson
83,000 sq ft (7,700 m2) and 195 ft (59 m) high on a 21 acre (8.5 ha) site
Neoclassical center spire
Announced by Thomas S. Monson on April 26, 2008, to be built on the southeast corner of Pecos and Greenfield Roads.[9][11][12] A public open house was held from January 18 to February 15, 2014.[13] The temple was formally dedicated on March 2, 2014.[14]

Phoenix, AZ Temple - Completed.JPG

144. Phoenix Arizona Temple edit


Phoenix, Arizona, United States
May 24, 2008
November 16, 2014 by Thomas S. Monson
58,000 sq ft (5,400 m2) on a 9 acre (3.6 ha) site
Announced by Thomas S. Monson on May 24, 2008. A public open house was held from October 10 to November 1, 2014.[15] The temple was formally dedicated on November 16, 2014 by Thomas S. Monson.[16]

Tucson Arizona Temple 2017.jpg

157. Tucson Arizona Temple edit


Catalina Foothills, Arizona, United States
October 6, 2012
August 13, 2017 by Dieter F. Uchtdorf[20]
38,216 sq ft (3,550 m2) on a 7.4 acre (3 ha) site
Announced by Thomas S. Monson on October 6, 2012[17][18][19]


Latter-day Saints have had a significant role in establishing, settling, and/or populating communities within the "Mormon Corridor", including the following in Arizona:

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “LDS Statistics and Church Facts | Total Church Membership.”, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
  2. ^ Peterson, Charles S. (1992), "Arizona, Pioneer Settlements in", in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York, NY: Macmillan, pp. 66–67, ISBN 0-02-904040-X, OCLC 24502140.
  3. ^ "Mesa History – Lehi Settlement and Fort Utah",, archived from the original on 2008-07-20, retrieved 2010-11-30
  4. ^ "Mesa History – First Mesa Company",, archived from the original on 2008-09-07, retrieved 2010-11-30
  5. ^ McClintock, James H. (1921). Mormon settlement in Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona: Office of the Arizona State Historian. pp. 244–246. OCLC 1988605. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
  6. ^ Jenson, Andrew (1941), Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, p. 654, OCLC 3188924
  7. ^ Garrett, H. Dean (July 1989), "The Honeymoon Trail", Ensign: 23
  8. ^ Turner, D. L.; Ellis, Catherine H. (2009), Latter-Day Saints in Mesa, Images of America, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, pp. 9, 126, ISBN 9780738558578
  9. ^ a b "Two new temples: Gilbert, Gila Valley". Church News. April 26, 2008. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  10. ^ Satterfield, Rick, "Gila Valley Arizona Temple",, retrieved October 15, 2012
  11. ^ Satterfield, Rick, "Gilbert Arizona Temple",, retrieved March 3, 2014
  12. ^ Greene, Katherine (September 3, 2009), "Panel paves way for new Mormon temple in Gilbert", The Arizona Republic, retrieved November 2, 2012
  13. ^ "Public Invited to Tour Gilbert Arizona Temple", Newsroom, LDS Church, October 21, 2013
  14. ^ "Church Dedicates 142nd Temple", Newsroom [], LDS Church, March 2, 2014
  15. ^ "Public Invited to Tour the Phoenix Arizona Temple", Newsroom, LDS Church, August 7, 2014
  16. ^ "Phoenix Arizona Temple Dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson", Newsroom, LDS Church, November 16, 2014
  17. ^ Mandy, Morgan (October 8, 2012). "LDS Church announces plans for new temples in Arizona and Peru". Deseret News. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  18. ^ "Tucson to get its own Mormon temple". Arizona Daily Star. October 7, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  19. ^ "New temples announced for Tucson, Arizona and Arequipa, Peru". Church News. October 6, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012..
  20. ^ "Tucson Arizona Temple Is Dedicated: Marks the 6th Mormon temple in Arizona and 157th in the world", Newsroom, LDS Church, August 13, 2017

Further reading[edit]

  • Abruzzi, William S. (1993), Dam that river!: ecology and Mormon settlement in the Little Colorado River Basin, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, ISBN 0819191264, OCLC 27814216
  • Garrett, H. Dean; Clark V. Johnson (1989). Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Arizona. Provo, Utah: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University. ISBN 0-8425-2370-7. OCLC 22014464.
  • Herman, Daniel J. (2010), Hell on the Range: A Story of Honor, Conscience, and the American West, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, ISBN 9780300137361, OCLC 601348221
  • Herman, Daniel J. (April 2012), "Arizona's Secret History: When Powerful Mormons Went Separate Ways", Common-place, American Antiquarian Society, 12 (3)
  • Peterson, Charles Sharon (1967). Settlement on the Little Colorado, 1873-1900: a study of the processes and institutions of Mormon expansion (Ph. D. thesis). Dept. of History, University of Utah. OCLC 3681211.
  • Smith, Sophronia (1937). A historical survey of the northeastern section of Arizona, its settlement and development into Latter-Day Saint Stakes, 1876-1937 (M.S. thesis). Brigham Young University. OCLC 18939235.
  • Ward, Margery W.; Dye, Della L.; Conrad, Kathryn (1974), Register of the records of Mormon settlements in Arizona, Salt Lake City: Special Collections Dept., University of Utah, OCLC 2569009
  • Williams, Oran Adna (1957). Settlement and growth of the Gila Valley in Graham county as a Mormon colony, 1879-1900 (M.A. thesis). Dept. of History, University of Arizona. OCLC 28230204.
  • Young, Valerie P. (2005). The "Honeymoon Trail": link to community and a sense of place in the Little Colorado River settlements of Arizona, 1877-1927 (M.S. thesis). Utah State University. OCLC 60858535.
  • Webb, Rhonda; Goodman, Arleen (2003), Mormon pioneers of the San Pedro Valley: Saint David, Arizona, St. David, AZ: St. David Heritage and Cultural Arts Society, OCLC 54848798