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  , 2004

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Church Marks Important Milestone in Atlanta

  By David Winters

(Atlanta, Georgia) -- June 4, 2002
This month members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Atlanta Georgia Temple. The building located in Sandy Springs, was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley, the current leader of the Church of Jesus Christ, on June 1 – 4 in 1983. Temples are considered sacred edifices and, once dedicated, are off-limits to all but the most faithful members of the Mormon faith.

In the three weeks preceding the dedication in 1983, more than 60,000 visitors toured the building. For many visitors it was once in a lifetime event to peer inside a Mormon temple.

In the dedicatory prayer offered twenty years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley, pleaded, "May [those who come to the temple] come with clean hands and pure hearts and in a spirit of love and dedication. May their minds be lifted above the mundane affairs of the world to a higher and more heavenly plane. May any spirit of selfishness or unkindness, or evil, whose influence may affect them in the world, leave them when they enter the doors of this Sacred and Holy Sanctuary."

Clifford Carroll, the current Atlanta Georgia Temple president, reflected on this important milestone for members of the Church in Atlanta, "For 20 years, we have had in our midst a place where worthy members of the church may come to lay aside the cares of the world and focus on eternal verities and the everlasting significance of the family. Each month, thousands come to make or renew sacred covenants with God which require the highest degree of integrity to uphold. These people go forth in the community as good citizens committed to the values which are the foundation of the stability and well-being of our society."

To celebrate the anniversary, members are being encouraged to visit the temple frequently during the month of June.

Many members of the Church, never thought the day would come when a temple would be erected in Georgia. The first mission in Georgia was established in 1879 in Rome. Missionaries were initially treated well, but in July 1879, a missionary was murdered by a mob near Varnell’s Station in northwestern Georgia. A monument to that missionary, Joseph Standing, still marks the spot of his death. Missionary work in Georgia ceased for a decade following that event. A U.S. Census report from 1890 listed only 175 Mormons in all of Georgia.

Today the Mormon faith flourishes primarily in the western United States, but increasingly in the South and throughout the globe as well. In Georgia, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has over 60,000 members and over 120 congregations. Roughly 300,000 individuals globally join the faith annually.