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More of Don's
photo series.

Temple Lot

Temple of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as Community of Christ
This picture is taken from the veranda
of the LDS Visitor Center, which is the only
building the LDS has at the Temple Lot.
When Joseph Smith and his followers were in Independence, Missouri, the church acquired a piece of land which is about six square blocks in size, which came to be known as the Temple Lot. Smith said that this was where God wanted them to build a temple. As time went by, various events happened, one of which was that the Mormons left Independence and went to Nauvoo, Illinois.
After Joseph Smith was killed, a power stuggle insued. The church split into various groups. Some of these groups went back to Independence, Missouri; the largest of these groups was the followers of Emma Smith, Joseph's primary wife, and their son. Their group became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Another group was called the Hedrickites, also known as "Church of Christ (Temple Lot)."
All of these groups claimed to be the true church, and therefore the rightful owners of the Temple Lot. Various lawsuits ensued, and the Temple Lot was split between those three groups: LDS, RLDS, and Hedrickites. This remains the situation today. Looks to me like a bit of sibling rivalry going on here.

RLDS TempleRLDS Temple spire

The Temple was constructed by and is owned by the RLDS, now called the Community of Christ, not by the LDS. It is a fabulous building indeed. The spire is made of stainless steel, coiled like a chambered nautilus -- a truly unique structure. It is used mainly for education, as nearly as I can find out, rather than for the ceremonies the LDS temples are used for.

The temple conducts tours for visitors -- a very good thing in my opinion. Below is pictured the Sanctuary, which is used for gatherings of a religious nature; it is also used by non-RLDS groups sometimes. As nearly as I could determine from what the tour guide said, rather than there being one choir (like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) there are ad hoc choirs for different occasions, some of which are composed of singers from different religious and non-religious organizations.

Below are pictures of the interior of the spire, the Sanctuary organ, and the stained glass window which adorns the front of the temple.

Looking up into the spire

The organ in the Sanctuary Stained glass window in the Temple

The Stone Church and Church of Christ (Temple Lot)
The stone building is the Stone Church, the original Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the white one is the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Some say the Hedrickites are the closest to being the church founded by Joseph Smith.

Interior of the Stone Church, the original building of the RLDS.

The interior of the Stone Church displays the fine craftsmanship which has been a tradition of the Mormons from the very beginning. The stained glass below adorns the Stone Church.

Stained glass window in the Stone ChurchStained glass window in the Stone ChurchStained glass window in the Stone Church

The plaza of the Temple is very large, with a stylized map of the world on it. The building across the way is The Auditorium, RLDS' answer to the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake.

Temple Plaza

The Auditorium

Interior of The Auditorium

The Auditorium seats 5,800 people. Its main function is to provide a place for the biannual conference of the Community of Christ; however, it is rented to many organizations throughout the year for school graduation exercises, other churches, political events (President Truman spoke here on several occasions, including the declaration of the desegregation of the armed forces; Colin Powell spoke here at the 50th anniversary of that event). It is often filled to capacity, even the overflow areas. The organ is magnificent and the acoustics are nearly perfect.

A couple of things happened during the tours of the Temple and the Auditorium which bothered me. First, the tour guide at the Temple talked considerably about the symbol of the Community of Christ, a stylized lion, child, and lamb with the word Peace; he said one of the themes of the church is peace. I asked him if their church was pacifist, and he avoided answering me.
The second incident occurred during the tour of the Auditorium. I asked the tour guide there if the members of their church referred to themselves as Mormons -- a perfectly innocent question on my part. She said, "No!" and scooted about ten feet away from me, never coming within ten feet of me the rest of the tour. I offer no explanation of those two incidents.

©D.L. Mark 1997-2002

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