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Friday, June 21, 2024

Church declares acquisition of iconic Kirtland Temple, additional historical landmarks and documents

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SALT LAKE CITY — ‍In a joint announcement made on Tuesday, The‌ Church of Jesus​ Christ⁣ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ revealed ​that the former now owns the historic Kirtland Temple and other properties previously held by the latter.

The Kirtland‌ Temple holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Latter-day Saints and ​others who regard⁤ it as ⁢sacred. This is because it is the first temple to be completed after the Church of Jesus Christ was founded in 1830. Moreover, it‍ is believed that Jesus Christ appeared​ there a few days⁣ after Joseph Smith dedicated it in 1836.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of⁢ Latter-day Saints expressed his ‍gratitude​ to the​ Community⁢ of Christ for‌ their stewardship of these sacred places, documents, and artifacts. He ‌said in ⁤the joint statement, “We are deeply honored to assume the stewardship of these sacred places, documents and artifacts. We thank our friends at Community of Christ for their great care and cooperation in preserving these historical treasures thus far. We are committed to doing the same.”

Due to persecution, the Latter-day‍ Saints had to leave Kirtland,​ Ohio, in 1838. The ownership​ of the temple, which was initially with Joseph ⁣Smith, became unclear after his⁢ murder in 1844. The Community of ‌Christ, formerly known as the⁢ Reorganized Church of⁢ Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had been ​the primary caretaker of‍ the temple for over 140​ years.

The two churches have ⁤been ‌working⁣ on the transfer of ownership since 2021, according to the joint statement. They have​ a respectful relationship, and the Community ⁣of Christ had previously sold historic sites‍ in Missouri‍ and Ohio to the⁤ Church of Jesus Christ ⁤in 2012 and the ​printer’s manuscript‍ of the Book of Mormon in 2017.

The recent transfer of⁣ historic ‍sites and ‌documents includes numerous items and buildings, such as church history sites in ‌Nauvoo, Illinois. These include significant buildings within ⁢church ‍history,​ like ​the Red Brick Store, where the⁢ Relief ⁣Society, ​the church’s global women’s organization, was ‍first⁢ organized. Other​ sites include⁣ the‍ Joseph and Emma ⁤Smith Mansion ‍House, the Nauvoo⁤ House,‌ and the Smith Family Homestead.

Also included in the⁢ sale was the Bible used in the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible, the original door of⁢ Liberty Jail, and many other items and manuscripts. The purchase ‌price of the historic sites and⁣ documents was $192.5 million, as per a ⁤Q&A released on the church’s ‍Newsroom‍ website.

The ​Kirtland Temple is ⁤the centerpiece of this ⁣transaction. It⁤ was nominated as a National⁢ Historic Landmark in 1969 and officially designated⁢ as one in 1976. But its significance‍ extends beyond its historical importance to both churches.⁢ The temple is considered sacred due to what ‌one Latter-day Saint leader referred to as “the great​ pentecostal outpouring that Joseph ⁢and the Saints received ​in Kirtland.”

As the late church President Gordon ​B. Hinckley said in 2003, “There is something unique and​ wonderful about what happened here. Nothing like it has occurred anywhere else‍ in the history of the church, either before or since.”

Joseph Smith reported that the spiritual priesthood keys‍ to operating Christ’s ancient ⁤church were ⁣restored by three angelic visitors at the Kirtland ‍Temple — Moses, Elias, and Elijah. They restored the power to seal families together forever, a cornerstone of the Latter-day Saint faith. Today, the church operates⁢ 188 temples worldwide and has plans to build 147 more.

The Reorganized Church, which became ⁣the Community of Christ in 2001, obtained the ‌Kirtland ⁢Temple through Joseph Smith’s son. Joseph Smith III bought the temple through a ⁢quit-claim deed in 1874. He⁢ gave the‍ property to the Reorganized Church⁣ in 1880, and the title was finalized in 1901.

Before Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints⁢ left Kirtland, the ⁤Kirtland Temple served as much as a meetinghouse as a⁢ temple. Church members used it for Sunday worship services, Thursday⁢ prayer‍ and fasting meetings, regular school, and a church choir.

Today, Latter-day Saint⁤ temples open‍ to the public briefly after new construction or renovations, then are dedicated for the purpose of performing ⁣temple ordinances carried out by Latter-day Saints with active temple recommends. The Community of​ Christ has used the Kirtland Temple for various meetings and⁤ has opened it to ​the public for tours. The⁢ Church of Jesus Christ announced​ that the Kirtland Temple will remain a historic building ‍open to the public.

The church ​plans to reopen the temple for free⁣ public tours on⁣ March 25. The Community ‍of⁢ Christ will be given⁢ special access to use the Kirtland Temple for ‌some meetings.

The Church of ‍Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a fully functioning temple in Columbus, Ohio, and a second temple in​ the state, in Cleveland, is under⁣ construction.

Community of Christ President ‍Stephen M. Veazey said the ⁢funds from the sale⁤ will ⁤bolster the endowments used to pay ⁤for ⁤many⁢ of the church’s missions.

For a virtual tour of the Kirtland Temple, click⁣ here.

Full joint churches statement

Today, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, the responsibility‌ and⁢ ownership for the Kirtland Temple, several historic buildings in Nauvoo, and various manuscripts⁣ and artifacts officially transferred from Community of Christ to The Church of ⁤Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an agreed-upon amount. Together, ⁣we share an interest in and reverence ‍for these historic sites ‌and items and are committed to‍ preserving them for future generations.

Discussions⁣ leading to this landmark agreement commenced in June 2021.‍ “This ⁣exchange of assets ‌is significant for our church,’ said Stephen M. Veazey, president of Community ⁣of Christ. ‘Through funding ‍from increased endowments, Community of Christ ‍will have greater⁣ capacity to pursue our mission priorities around the ⁤world, including continuing to ‍fulfill the divinely envisioned purposes for our temple in Independence, Missouri.’

“We are deeply honored ​to assume the stewardship​ of these sacred‌ places, documents, and artifacts,” said Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church‌ of Jesus‍ Christ⁣ of Latter-day Saints. “We thank our friends ‌at⁣ Community of Christ for their great care and cooperation in preserving these historical treasures thus far. We are committed‌ to doing ‌the ​same.”

The ​Kirtland Temple will remain an historic building. The Church of⁤ Jesus⁤ Christ of Latter-day‍ Saints plans to reopen it March 25, 2024, for public tours at no charge. Likewise, in​ Nauvoo,⁣ the Smith Family Homestead, the ‍Mansion House and the Red Brick‌ Store will also⁤ reopen on March 25, 2024, for year-round public tours ‌at no charge. More details about the transaction, assets, and ‌the other items included in the agreement will be forthcoming.

The ‌historic transfer underscores our long-standing effort to preserve religious and cultural heritage and ‍foster‍ respective opportunities for growth and service to ⁤the world.

Community of⁤ Christ ‍is an‌ international faith community dedicated to fostering ⁤authentic connections with one ​another and ‌with God. It strives to restore Christ’s ​peace on Earth and challenge unjust systems that ‌diminish human worth. Community of Christ affirms the intrinsic worth of‌ every‍ person​ and provides⁢ a place to belong, be loved and valued, grow spiritually, and discover⁢ a purpose that can change lives⁤ and communities.

The Church ‍of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a worldwide faith, teaches​ that ‌our Father in Heaven and his ⁣Son Jesus Christ have ⁤in our​ day ​again called a ​living prophet and ⁢restored priesthood authority and covenants to bless families and individuals with joy. Members seek to live ⁣and share the gospel of Jesus Christ, care for those​ in need and unite families for eternity. They cherish ‌the Book of‍ Mormon and the Bible as holy scripture.

Frequently asked questions

The churches also released a⁤ Q&A with more information ​about the purchase:

“Today, Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the transfer of significant historical properties and artifacts related to the‍ restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. ⁣The following answers address frequently asked questions about the details⁢ of the transaction and future plans for the ⁢historic sites and artifacts.

1. What was ​included​ in the transaction?

The⁣ transaction involves land, buildings, artifacts, and documents. ‌The real estate, along with some artifacts, are in Kirtland, Ohio, ⁣and Nauvoo, Illinois, while artifacts and documents ‍also come from Community of Christ Library and Archives in Independence,‌ Missouri.

2. What are the most ​significant items?

The most significant properties are the Kirtland Temple, ⁤the ⁢Smith Family Homestead, the Mansion ​House, ⁢the Nauvoo House, and the Red Brick Store. ‌Significant documents and artifacts include manuscripts and the Bible used⁢ in the‍ Joseph Smith⁢ Translation of the Bible, ⁢seven‍ letters ​from Joseph Smith to his ⁣wife Emma, ​John Whitmer’s⁣ history of the church, original portraits of Joseph and Emma Smith, ‌the⁢ cornerstone‍ of the Nauvoo House, the original door of‌ Liberty Jail, and a document with ‍the title of “Caractors,” which may contain a ‌sample of inscriptions ​from the gold plates. (See the appendix ⁢for a more detailed list of ‍items transferred.)

3. How did ​Community of​ Christ acquire these materials?

After the Saints left Kirtland in the ⁣1830s, different parties ⁣controlled access to ‌the temple over⁤ the‌ years. In 1901, Community of Christ, then known as the Reorganized Church of​ Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“RLDS Church”) secured title to the‌ Kirtland⁢ Temple through legal proceedings.⁣ The⁣ Smith family properties in Nauvoo remained in possession of Emma Smith after Joseph Smith’s death and she and her children eventually joined the RLDS Church. Thereafter,⁣ the properties passed through family connections to⁣ the RLDS ⁤Church. ​Other documents and artifacts were donated⁢ to ⁣the RLDS Church archives by their individual ⁣owners.

4. Why did Community of Christ sell these materials‌ now?

As Community of Christ President Stephen M. Veazey‍ noted in the joint statement, ⁢the transfer ‌of materials at this time enables ​their mission and ‌priorities around the world.

5.⁢ Why did The Church of Jesus⁣ Christ of Latter-day⁢ Saints purchase these ​materials?

The sites‌ and ⁢artifacts in this‍ transaction relate to significant events and people in⁤ the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

6. What is the relationship between the two churches?

The two churches enjoy a strong, respectful, and friendly relationship. For many decades, we have collaborated on numerous historical⁣ and humanitarian projects.

7. Have there been previous transactions of ‍historic materials between the two churches?

Yes. In 2012,‌ Community of Christ sold to the Church of Jesus Christ ⁤several properties, including the Hawn’s Mill Massacre site and the Joseph‍ and‍ Emma Smith⁣ home in Kirtland. Five years later, Community of Christ sold the Printer’s Manuscript ⁤of the Book of Mormon to the ⁣Church of Jesus Christ.

8. What was paid for the properties,‌ artifacts,‌ and documents?

The church‌ paid $192.5 million without ⁢assigning specific values to the⁤ properties and items.

9. Will the historic sites be open to the public?

Yes. The historic buildings in Kirtland and Nauvoo closed​ on March 5, 2024, to facilitate the​ transfer of ownership and will ⁤reopen to the public ‌on March 25, 2024. Tours will be provided of the Kirtland⁣ Temple, the ​Smith Family Homestead, the Mansion House, and the‍ Red Brick Store. Updated visitor information will be published on the historic site webpages for Historic Kirtland and Historic Nauvoo.

10. Will admission be charged to visit the‌ sites?

No. All of the ‍Church of Jesus Christ’s historic sites are ‌open​ to the⁣ public at no charge.

11.‍ Will members of ​Community of Christ continue to have ​access to⁤ the sites?

Yes. The sites will be open to ‍the public​ generally. The church​ has‌ also made specific arrangements with Community of Christ to allow for special meetings and gatherings over the coming years.

12. Will the Kirtland Temple be converted into ⁢a functioning Latter-day Saint temple?

No. The Kirtland Temple will be maintained and presented as a historic building that is open to the public. President Russell M. Nelson announced a temple‌ in ⁤Cleveland in ⁤April 2022, and the church released its site address in December ⁢2022 and a rendering in July 2023.

13. Will the ⁢church continue to pursue development of ‌its proposed ⁤new visitors’ center near​ the Nauvoo Temple?

Yes. The proposed visitors’ ⁢center‌ in Nauvoo will orient⁣ visitors to the historic and ‌contemporary significance of the Nauvoo Temple. The use of the other‌ two visitors’ centers in Nauvoo will be determined⁣ in the future.

Dedicating another transferred property

In 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased 6,000⁢ acres of ⁤Missouri farmland, the Hawn’s⁤ Mill Massacre site and Far West Burying Ground in Missouri, ‍and Joseph and Emma ⁣Smith’s Kirtland home from the⁤ Community of Christ.

On Aug.‍ 26, 2023, Elder David A. Bednar of the⁣ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the restored home, which offers views of the nearby Kirtland Temple.

Elder Bednar said, “The first temple (was built) here in Kirtland and (we have) more than 300 temples today. This⁢ work is true. It​ was in Kirtland that Joseph said that the church would grow, prosper and‌ spread. ‌It would⁣ fill North and South America. It would fill the world. That’s true. I’ve been ‍able to travel the world and see the fulfillment of that prophecy. ⁤So, coming to this place on⁣ this day ‌is a sacred experience‌ for me.”

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