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The Kirtland Temple and Historic Buildings in Nauvoo Are Open for Public Tours

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The Kirtland Temple and several historic buildings in Nauvoo, Illinois, are now open for free public tours under the stewardship of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Earlier this month, these buildings and various artifacts were transferred from Community of Christ to the Church.

 

“Our hope and expectation is that we would be as good a steward for these resources, these assets, these sacred locations, as [Community of Christ has] been,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Church of Jesus Christ’s Presiding Bishopric. “And [we want to] allow them to enjoy opportunities to come and visit and to be here, as they have allowed us in the past. Now it’s our turn to reciprocate and to be good stewards and good hosts for them and for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and everyone else — whatever religion or lack of they may have — to come and feel the Spirit.”

The Kirtland Temple is significant to the Church of Jesus Christ because of what happened there in 1836.

“There are events in our Restoration that are important, even critical. But maybe the most important or the ones that we latch on to the most are the ones where heaven and earth come together,” said Elder Kyle S. McKay, the Church’s Historian and Recorder. “That happens in the Sacred Grove. That happens on the banks of the Susquehanna. And that happened here [in the Kirtland Temple], where the Savior appeared on the breastplate of the pulpit, and after Him three heavenly messengers — Moses, Elias, and Elijah — restoring necessary keys for the kingdom to come back to the earth and to roll forward.”

The buildings in Nauvoo transferred to the Church are the Smith Family Homestead and Summer Kitchen, the Joseph and Emma Smith Mansion House, the Red Brick Store (reconstructed), the Nauvoo House, and additional properties.

And now on exhibit through October 26, 2024, at the Church History Museum on Temple Square are some of the sacred artifacts transferred earlier this month from Community of Christ.

Titled “Sacred History: Treasures from the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the exhibit features the following items:

  • Four pages from Revelation Book 1, including portions of revelations now known as Doctrine and Covenants 64, 65, 66, 76, 81, and 133
  • A page from a manuscript of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, along with the printed “Phinney” Bible (Cooperstown, New York, 1828) with his numerous markings as part of that translation
  • Book of Mormon “Caractors” document purported to contain characters illustrative of those on the gold plates
  • A manuscript history of the Church from circa 1830 to 1847, written by John Whitmer
  • The original door of Liberty (Missouri) Jail
  • Seven letters from Joseph Smith to his wife Emma
  • Portraits of Joseph and Emma Smith painted during their lifetimes

Elder McKay said the Church focuses on these important historical locations and artifacts for the same reason Joshua of the Old Testament placed 12 stones in Gilgal to commemorate crossing the Jordan in ancient times.

“God has given a commandment that we remember — and I can imagine that one of the reasons that he wants us to remember is so that he can keep us close,” Elder McKay said. “Our memorials are designed to [help us remember], as the Lord said regarding that monument at Gilgal, ‘that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.’ That is the end purpose for all of our remembrances and memorials.”

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