Community of Christ Historic Sites
In the fall of 1830, four missionaries of the new Church of Christ journeyed through Kirtland where they shared the message of the Restoration with Sidney Rigdon and others. Their evangelistic success led to the establishment of Kirtland as church headquarters and eventuated in the construction of a sacred house of study and worship known today as the Kirtland Temple.
The “House of the Lord,” commonly known as the Kirtland Temple, was built between 1833-1836 and served as a center of community life. The Temple served multiple functions, focusing on worship and instruction. When Kirtland Temple was completed, it was one of the largest buildings in northern Ohio. It stands as a symbol of the importance of building community and the spiritual empowerment that comes from extensive preparation.
The building features two large assembly rooms, tiers of elaborately carved pulpits at both ends of these rooms, and windows on every interior and exterior wall. The first floor served as a “meetinghouse,” where people gathered to worship. The second floor served as a training center for priesthood and missionary work. The third floor consisted of classrooms and administrative offices. Classes were held here for Kirtland High School; the School of the Elders; and Kirtland, Ohio Theological Institution, which included Hebrew classes. Joseph Smith Jr. (founder of the church) had an office on the west end of the third floor.
Community of Christ operates and maintains the Kirtland Temple.
For information, including details on scheduling services and classes in the Temple, check the Kirtland Temple website or contact the Kirtland Temple, 7809 Joseph Street, Kirtland, OH 44094, 440/256-1830.
Far West - Caldwell County, Missouri
In 1838, less than two years after the town’s founding, followers of Joseph Smith Jr. (founder of the church) had transformed this prairie wilderness into a thriving community with more than 150 houses, eight storefronts, six blacksmith shops, two hotels, and a printing office. Local leaders David and John Whitmer, along with W. W. Phelps, planned to build a house of the Lord on the public square.
Far West became home to some 5,000 church members, with as many as 7,000 more living in surrounding Caldwell County. By the spring of 1839, following the siege at Far West and the arrest of church leaders during what is known as the “Mormon War,” the town was abandoned and quickly reverted to farmland. The Church was forced to move from the state of Missouri during the winter of 1838-39, and many moved on together to Quincy, Illinois, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois. (Directions to Far West)
The Latter Day Saints sought refuge in Illinois beginning a community at Nauvoo on the Mississippi River. The city, named after a Hebrew word carrying connotations of “Beautiful,” flourished until the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844. By early 1846 many members had scattered, but Emma and her family remained.
The Joseph Smith Historic Site retells the story of the Latter Day Saint movement in Nauvoo during the early 1840s. Within the Visitor Center, guests will find original paintings of Nauvoo by David Hyrum Smith as well as other artifacts and information about the city and its people. Guided walking tours begin at the Visitors Center, starting with a short film and continuing through the Smith family's homes.
Tours of the Community of Christ properties at the Joseph Smith Historic Site, include the Visitors’ Center, the Homestead, Mansion House, Red Brick Store, and Smith Family Cemetery are available. See the Nauvoo Joseph Smith Historic Site website for more information or contact the Joseph Smith Historic Site, P.O. Box 338, Nauvoo, IL 62354, 217/453-2246.
The Plano congregation was organized on April 21, 1861, and met at the home of Elder James Horton. In May 1868, church members passed a resolution to build a church. In a show of support and encouragement, townspeople contributed liberally to the endeavor and a local merchant donated the land. Plano Stone Church was completed and dedicated in November 1868. The pews and pulpit, made from native lumber by church members, are still in use.
Joseph Smith III (church president and prophet from 1860-1915) and his family lived in Plano from January 1866-1881. Plano Stone Church served as church headquarters for that time period. Fourteen General Conferences of the church were hosted here. Early church publications, including the Holy Scriptures, the 1874 version of the Book of Mormon, and the first Zion’s Hope, were printed in Plano. In 1974 Plano Stone Church was designated a Kendal County historic landmark and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Plano Stone Church has the longest history of continued service in Kendal County.
For information check the Plano web page or contact Lachlan Mackay at 217/453-2246.
In 1870 a stewardship association of church members, known as the Order of Enoch, purchased over three thousand acres of land in southern Iowa as a place for gathering. Church headquarters relocated to the emerging community in 1881 and Joseph III made Liberty Hall his home. Four RLDS Church presidents lived in Liberty Hall. The church was headquartered in Lamoni, Iowa, and Liberty Hall was a center of social and religious life for the community.
During the next 60 years, Liberty Hall served as a home for the aged, a farmhouse, CCC Headquarters, and a private residence. Now restored to its 1900-1905 Victorian style, Liberty Hall reflects the culture of the large, middle class Smith family living in a small, mid-western town as well as the heritage of Community of Christ.
The church-sponsored private liberal arts college, Graceland University, was dedicated in 1895. The campus’ historic Administrative Building was renovated in 1997. For more information regarding campus tours, contact Admissions Office, Graceland University, Lamoni, IA 50140; (641)784-5196; or www.graceland.edu.
In addition to the Temple and Auditorium, take time to visit Independence’s other historic church sites. The purchase of the 63-acre “Temple Lot” was negotiated in the Flournoy House, an 1820s brick building at Heritage Plaza. Next door is President F. M. Smith’s renovated 1830s brick cabin, now known as the F. M. Smith Study.
May through August, tours are available Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; other times by appointment. Check the Heritage Plaza web page for information or contact Charlie Robison at (816) 461-6578.
Walk in the footsteps of early church members on the Missouri Mormon Walking Trail through Independence, visit the Stone Church and see its stained glass windows depicting events in church history. Contact Stone Church at 816/254-2211. Or, visit Mound Grove Cemetery where you can see the graves of Joseph Smith III, Frederick M. Smith, Israel A. Smith, W. Wallace Smith, and other church leaders.