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Historic

Sites

Kirtland Temple

Kirtland, Ohio

Introduction

God commanded Joseph Smith in December 1832 to build a temple 1 in Kirtland, Ohio. The Prophet and several others saw the Kirtland Temple in a vision, which provided its design. Construction began in June 1833, at a time of great poverty in the Church. Work slowed in 1834 because many brethren were absent with Zion's Camp. When they returned, Joseph Smith labored with others in the sandstone quarry, and vigorous efforts to build the temple resumed. Church members made enormous sacrifices to complete this "House of the Lord."

The Prophet Joseph dedicated the Kirtland Temple on March 27, 1836, repeating the ceremony several days later. Beginning in January and continuing past the dedication, many Church members witnessed heavenly manifestations during this glorious season, culminating in Jesus Christ's appearance to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to accept the temple. 2 Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared to Joseph and Oliver to restore priesthood keys 3 for the salvation of all mankind.

Most of the Saints moved away from Kirtland in 1838. The temple fell into disrepair, and its ownership was challenged. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ, gained title to the building in 1880. They restored and beautified this sacred place and maintain it today as a historic site with guided tours.

Quotes

Joseph Smith Quotes

Joseph Smith explained the need for a temple this way: "We must have all things prepared and call our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish his great work: and it must be done in God's own way; the house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it according to the order of the house of God." (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 110; spelling and punctuation modernized.)

Joseph recalled that during the dedication, "George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place." (History of the Church, 2:428.)

Witnesses

Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Church, 1847–1877 

The Church was too few in numbers . . . and too poor in purse to attempt such a mighty enterprise. . . . Joseph [labored] in the stone quarry, quarrying rock with his own hands, and the few then in the Church, follow[ed] his example of obedience, and diligence, wherever most needed; with laborers on the walls, holding the sword in one hand to protect themselves from the mob, while they placed the stone and moved the trowel with the other. (Deseret News, Apr. 16, 1853, 42.)

Orson Pratt, Apostle, 1835–1881 

God was there [in the Kirtland Temple], his angels were there, the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the people . . . and they were filled from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet with the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and uttered forth prophecies in the midst of that congregation, which have been fulfilling from that day to the present time. (Deseret News, Jan. 12, 1876, 788.)

Eliza R. Snow, General Relief Society President, 1866–1887 

The ceremonies of that [Kirtland Temple] dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with "joy inexpressible and full of glory." (In Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, (1877), 95.)

Key Events

Revelations Received

  • D&C Section 109  — 

    Mar. 27, 1836. This dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple was given to the Prophet Joseph by revelation.

  • D&C Section 110  — 

    Apr. 3, 1836. One week after the Kirtland Temple was dedicated, the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, separated from the congregation by a veil, offered silent prayer at the pulpit. When they finished, this glorious vision was given to them.

  • D&C Section 112  — 

    July 23, 1837. This section was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to help Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, guide the Quorum of the Twelve.

  • D&C Section 137  — 

    Jan. 21, 1836. At a meeting of Church leaders in the nearly completed Kirtland Temple, the initiatory ordinances of the endowment were administered. The participants received visions and revelations, including this one to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Readings

Online Resources at LDS.org

Online Resources at BYU

 

Footnotes

[1] Literally the house of the Lord. The Lord has always commanded his people to build temples, holy buildings in which worthy Saints perform sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel for themselves and for the dead. The Lord visits his temples, and they are the most holy of all places of worship. Building and using a temple properly are signs of the true Church in any dispensation, including the restored Church in our day. The Kirtland Temple was the first temple built and dedicated to the Lord in this dispensation. Since that time temples have been dedicated in many lands across the earth (Guide to the Scriptures, Temple/House of the Lord).

[2] See D&C 110:7.

[3] Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God's priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys. The President of the Church holds all priesthood keys (see D&C 107:65–67, 91–92; 132:7; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Keys of the Priesthood," 141).