Thursday, September 20, 2007

Temple Lot in Missouri

Top left of the intersection: Community of Christ Temple
Top right of the intersection: Latter Day Saint Museum
Bottom right of the intersection: Community of Christ auditorium of Community of Christ
Bottom right: House is the headquarters of Church of Christ Temple Lot

Geography plays a big role in religion. The whole concept of a "holy land" brings the cosmos onto Earth. For many the holy land is the land in and around the country of Israel. For others the holy land extends down into Saudi Arabia. For Mormons there is another holy land. This one is located in Independence, Missouri and known as the Temple Lot.

The Temple Lot is a hill to the west of downtown Independence (presently a eastern suburb of Kansas City, Missouri). It is here where Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr. declared the spot of the Garden of Eden and where a temple would stand that Jesus Christ would visit during his second coming.

Smith intended western Missouri to be the home for Mormonism. However, the New England "bloc" living Mormons were outcasts in an individualistic, slave-owning Missouri. Tick-for-tat terrorist raids on both sides followed up by an extermination order from the governor of Missouri forced the Mormons out and into Illinois.

The importance of the Temple Lot was not lost; however. Mormon theology still teaches Jesus will visit a temple on the grounds. Therefore a temple must be built. Splits in Mormonism have complicated this. Three branches of the religion claim property on or near the lot.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Days Saints (LDS aka Utah Mormons aka the biggest branch of Mormonism) have a visitor center for historical tourists and the headquarters for their local bishops. The LDS does a good job keeping the history of itself in people's minds and on the landscape.

The Community of Christ (CoC) has its own temple. The CoC's presence is reflective of its relationship to LDS. The CoC split off from LDS after the death of Joseph Smith Jr. The CoC rejected what they claim were inventions by Brigham Young and brought the church closer in line with mainline Protestantism. The temple is open to all (unlike LDS temples) and dedicated to peace throughout the world. Inside everyone is welcomed to take a self-guided tour which one symbolically receives all the CoC's sacraments.

The final player is the Church of Christ Temple Lot. Temple Lot believes that towards the end Jospeh Smith lost his way and his last prophesies were false. This group has tried repeatedly to build a temple but has been delayed because of economical downturns, legal challenges, and arson. The Church is small in membership and does not have relations with any other off-shoot. There small building is a monument to their isolation.


Anonymous said...

The history of Mormonism is very interesting, but so is their theology. They believe that there is a mother god and father god who produce spirit offspring who then eventually take on human bodies. They also believe in eternal progression, which means that humans can eventually become gods themselves. Jesus is thus a created offspring of mother & father god.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the round building just caty-corner to the temple. It's one of the church's gathering halls. I was there last spring for my brothers graduation (Park University).

I was psyched just for the chance to to to Mount Zion.

I had grown up in NW Missouri near Adam-at-ondi (sp?)which is some part of the Mormon conception of Eden.

-elam bend

Catholicgauze said...

Thanks for sharing 2nd Anonymous, it is quite the gathering hall.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to visiting this site in the future.Thank you for the page.Nice view.
Not to be a stickler,but I just wanted to point out that the comment on theology is not accurate....the theology listed is of the LDS faith, and not the Church of Christ Temple Lot. If a teaching does not agree with what is found in the KJV Bible and the Book of Mormon, it is not accepted. Such a teaching would be thought to be a teaching of man and not God.The Book of Mormon tells nothing of polygamy,or "spiritual parents" and Jesus is the only begotten of the Father.Other teachings came later and are not accepted by Church of Christ divinely inspired.The Book of Mormon does not say where Eden is.The LDS group in fact "broke off" from the Church of Christ and went to Utah following Bringham Young and has grown to a much different LDS faith of today. I do agree that it is all very interesting.It is way more complicated than most people would think.

Missouri Mormon said...

Not to turn this into a theological debate (and nobody likes a theological debate), but from the perspective of the LDS Church, the Hedrickites split off from us, not the other way around. Honestly, the same could be said for the RLDS Church (aka Community of Christ), and I wouldn’t begrudge them if they felt the same way for their part. With all due respect (and I’m not just saying that), is this really the best forum for a debate on which of the three religions is THE legitimate one?

If I’ve got anything public to say about the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), I think I’d limit it to that I appreciate that they’re being good stewards of the site for the Temple, by not developing it beyond landscaping.

If I’ve got anything public to say about the Community of Christ, I’d probably limit it to my appreciation for their stewardship of the Kirtland Temple and their efforts at archeological and forensic research with respect to Church History. I might also add that I can’t imagine what Emma and her children went through after Joseph’s murder. If I am ever fortunate enough to meet Joseph Smith Jr., I do not want to have to explain any critical remarks I might have made about his loved ones.

The fact of the matter is that there was no crystal clear line of succession in place when Joseph died. Anyone who did not witness the apparent transfiguration of Brigham Young as he made the case for Apostolic succession (or was not present in meetings where Joseph discussed this with the Apostles), can, in my opinion, reasonably be excused for making the wrong call.

Let’s all just agree to disagree and redirect our attention to the things we do agree on. Isn’t that what the Savior would want us to do?

Gouldenrod said...

The subject as far as who broke from who can be taken down to this: the whole church split apart after Joseph Smith Jr.'s death.
The Utah mormons fallowed brigham young into utah, but their beliefs on controversial things not in direct accordance to the Book of Mormon (in Jacob polygamy was declared an abomination, and continually taught of a single God) were changed over time by revelation.
Church history recorded before the split or the history by Lucy Mac Smith (Joseph's mother)or by Emma (Joseph's wife) doesn't indicate or even elude to pluralty in practice or principle.
In any case, the "Hedrickites" or "temple-lotters", before the made the move into Independence to the prophetic temple lot, remained in location where they had existed in joseph's day.
They were centered in Crow Creek Illinois, and Grandville Hedrick was made president in the early 1860s, hence the name "Hedrickites". These three locals there remained to the first teachings of the church of christ, as taught before the death of Joseph Smith.
Thus, the church of christ (TL) concider themselves the original because they remained when the lds moved. The lds concider themselves the original church because the majority of the church of that day fallowed them to Utah. Yet another group was formed by more of the break up in the early 1900s, partly by Joseph Smith III, and concidered themselves the true church by lineage. The "temple-lot" church of christ has resisted change, though some change has infact incurred among them; the Latter Day Saints church has seemed to embrace changes by revelation, as has the RLDS.
Hundreds of mini factions and branches have broken off or formed up aside from these most notable three, and more modernly the JCRB (Joint Churches of the Restoration Branches) organization has been trying to unify some of these mini branches. Many of the restorationists, but mainly those of the smaller branches and churches still look optimisticly twards a unification of the restoration churches (the main reason of the JCRB), yet at the exclusion of post-Joseph Smith teachings.
Just a small peice of restoration history, feel free to write for specific references or dates etc. at