David M. Bresnahan
Ill. -- Latter-day Saints around the world rejoiced Thursday evening at
the restoration and dedication of the Nauvoo Temple, destroyed by
persecutors of their faith over 150 years ago.
Members of http://www.lds.org
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considered this event so
significant they gathered in over 2,300 locations around the world to
participate in the dedication ceremonies by closed circuit satellite
broadcast in 72 countries. The ceremony will be repeated in a total of
13 sessions ending on June 30 to give as many as possible an opportunity
President Gordon B.
Hinckley, world leader of the Church, told the media at a news
conference before the ceremony that "this is the greatest season in
the history of the Church and it will only get better."
The LDS Church faced
significant opposition and persecution when it was founded by Joseph
Smith, who was shot and killed June 27, 1844 by an angry mob. At the
time he was murdered he was being held in a jail in nearby Carthage on
trumped up charges. Brigham Young became the next leader of the Church
and completed the original Nauvoo Temple in 1846.
Newspapers of the day
joined with persecutors to demand the "extermination" of
Church members. The LDS people were soon driven from Nauvoo by mobs,
which started the exodus to Utah led by Young. The Nauvoo Temple was
burned by arsonists, and Church members have always revered the
dedication of the pioneers who built it in the face of severe opposition
Hinckley was often
overcome with emotion as as he spoke during the dedication ceremony. He
talked of Smith and the pioneers who sacrificed 10 percent of their
assets, income, and time to build the original temple only to have it
destroyed by persecutors.
The dedication ceremony
began exactly 158 years from the very minute when Smith was martyred
with his brother Hyrum.
"We're back in
Nauvoo to dedicate this magnificent building, built on the same spot
where our forebears constructed a temple that looked ... just like this,
and worked through five years to build it, construct it, sacrificed
everything to make it magnificent and then left it ... to go west,"
The rebuilt temple was
made possible by donations and is part of a restoration project that has
been underway to reconstruct many of the buildings of what was once the
old city of Nauvoo. Most of the city was destroyed when Young led
members of the Church to Utah, so restoration has been from the ground
Since the time of the
Latter-day Saint exodus from Nauvoo to Utah, the Church has grown to
more than 11 million members in 160 countries and territories. Once
regarded as an "American church," there are now more members
outside the United States.
At the peak in 1845 the
population of Nauvoo was over 15,000. There are now only about 100
Latter-day Saints living in Nauvoo, with about 13,000 members in western
Illinois and eastern Iowa who will use the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple.
LDS people believe that the ordinances performed in temples make it
possible for individuals to return to the presence of God, and for
marriages and families to last forever - not just "until death do
This is the Church's
113th temple worldwide and 53rd in the continental United States.
Hinckley has overseen the construction and dedication of more temples
than any other LDS Church leader. He said there was good reason for the
urgency of building so many temples.
"This Church is in
a hurry to get its work done, we've got a big job to do," he said.
"We've got to do work for the whole world and we don't have forever
to do it. We're in a hurry."
He told reporters that
Smith approves of the restored temple, and that he and other pioneers
were spiritually in attendance at the dedication.
"I feel confident
of that, and that Joseph Smith will be in that audience and Hyrum Smith
will be in that audience and many others who gave their life and their
time and their energies to the construction of that temple."
Temples are different
from the thousands of meetinghouses or churches where members typically
meet for Sunday worship services and midweek social activities.
will occur in this temple henceforth will be concerned with the things
of eternity," explained Hinckley. "Everything that takes place
here the baptismal work, the ordinance work will all point in the
direction of the conviction of our people that God has spoken, that the
heavens have been parted, that the Father and the Son appeared to
the Prophet Joseph and declared a system under which we believe in the
eternity of the human soul, that life goes on, that this is not the
© David M. Bresnahan - All Rights
David M. Bresnahan [email protected]
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