Vicki Svendsen shared with hundreds in the pews of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Burleson how her family roots are closely tied to her faith community south of Fort Worth. 

Svendsen related that her great-great-grandparents, Thomas Hurricanus and Sarilda (Roberson) Griffin, became the first members of the church in Cleburne in 1904. Their home became a place of refuge for missionaries, elders and those looking for shelter and food.

Svendsen gathered with members of the church, civic and religious leaders on Oct. 28 in Burleson to honor the groundbreaking of a new temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple will be at 1851 Greenridge Drive, just a few miles from Svendsen’s family home. 

“I am so grateful of the heritage that I have and … those that have come before me that have made a difference in so many lives. And I’m so grateful to live in a community where even though we have many faiths, we all love the Savior. We are all children of God,” Svendsen said during the service. 

The single-story temple will be built on a 9.37-acre site and will be about 30,000 square feet when completed. The Fort Worth Texas Temple will be the second built in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It joins the Dallas Texas Temple.

Anessa Woolford, a Fort Worth resident and member of the church, said that the new temple will save her the hourlong drive it now takes her to attend services at the temple in Dallas. 

“This has been such a spiritual experience to see the growth of the church,” Woolford said. “Now it will be nice to have something much closer.” 

Temples are considered houses of God, places of holiness and peace separate from the preoccupations of the world. Temples serve as the only place where ceremonies such as baptism and eternal marriage can be performed on behalf of those who have died — a practice that Latter-day Saints believe was followed in the New Testament but later lost, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Temples are not regular places of Sunday worship for members of the faith. Instead, they are a place where the highest sacraments of the faith take place, including marriages and the “sealing” of families for eternity. 

The temple is expected to be built in about 20-24 months, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesperson. Once it is complete, members of the public will have the opportunity to tour it during an open house event — typically scheduled over a period of two weeks or more. 

The groundbreaking ceremony was originally scheduled to be at the temple site but moved indoors due to the rain and standing water at the site. The church had an on-site soil-turning event after the indoor ceremony. 

Members of the church, civic leaders and religious leaders of other faiths gathered under a tent at the temple site for an on-site soil toss after the indoor ceremony. (Courtesy photo | Leslie Horn)

Elder Jose L. Alonso serves as a member of the General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and provided the dedicatory prayer for the groundbreaking event. 

Members of Buddhist, Catholic and Methodist faiths joined the ceremony. Before the prayer, Alonso shared that the symbolic turning of the soil was breaking “not only the ground beneath our feet but also the barriers that may separate us in our hearts.” 

“It is a day of celebration, gratitude and unity,” Alonso said. “Today, we’ll remember the words of the Savior Jesus Christ who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We express our deepest gratitude to each of you for your unwavering, deepest commitment to the well being of the community.” 

Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member, covering faith for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at or on Twitter @marissaygreene.

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Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member and covers faith in Tarrant County for the Fort Worth Report. Greene got her start in journalism at Austin Community College, where she spearheaded the...