One of five new temples announced this weekend by Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be built in the greater Kansas City area. Saints in Missouri and Kansas have been rejoicing as they heard the news that this temple would be built.
Missouri has the first history of temple activity of any of the early Church history locations. One temple has been built there and at least three were never completed. The St. Louis Missouri Temple was the Church’s 50th Temple, dedicated on Brigham Young’s birthday, June 1, 1997. Seventy-eight temples have been dedicated since that day.
The first missionaries called to preach the gospel to the people in the western-most frontier of the United States, which at that time was western Missouri, were called by revelation and were none other than Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer, Jr. and Parley P. Pratt.
Their journey from western New York would change the history of the Church because of their stopover in Ohio and meeting with Parley’s old friend, Sidney Rigdon. So many people joined the Church from the efforts of these Missouri-bound missionaries; the headquarters of the Church was changed from New York to Ohio.
These brethren slogged their way towards their goal in extremely difficult circumstances. Parley recorded: “In the beginning of 1831 we renewed our journey [after their longer-than-planned stopover in Ohio ]; and, passing through St. Louis…we traveled on foot for three hundred miles through vast prairies and…trackless wilds of snow—no beaten road; houses few and far between; and the bleak northwest wind always blowing in our faces with a keeness which would almost take the skin off the face…
“We carried on our backs our changes of clothing, several books, and corn bread and raw pork. We often ate our frozen bread and pork by the way, when the bread would be so frozen that we could not bite or penetrate any part of it but the outside crust.
“After much fatigue and some suffering we all arrived in Independence, in the county of Jackson, on the extreme western frontiers of Missouri, and of the United States. This was about fifteen hundred miles from where we started…through a wilderness country, in the worst season of the year…during which we had preached the gospel to tens of thousands of Gentiles and two nations of Indians; baptizing, confirming and organizing many hundreds of people into churches of Latter-day Saints.” 1
The Prophet Joseph Smith would make his first journey to western Missouri the end of July of 1831 and the first reference or allusion to temple-building, by revelation, was given there.
Upon his arrival a revelation was received: “Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together…in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion …Behold the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.” 2
In the decade of the 1830’s, the Latter-day Saints established many settlements in Missouri, including in Independence, Kaw Township, Far West, DeWitt, Haun’s Mill, Adam-ondi-Ahman, and many other smaller communities and settlements.
By 1833 there were 1,200 Saints living in 10 different branches in Jackson County alone. The Saints would be driven from Jackson County in 1833 and would settle in Clay County and later in Daviess and Caldwell Counties.
Temples were planned in Independence, Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. Though small cornerstones were laid in the ground, more in symbolic form, for the Independence Temple , this temple was never really begun.
Cornerstones were laid for the Far West Temple but the Saints were driven from the State before any work could be done on the temple.
On April 26, 1839, members of the Twelve Apostles, directed by revelation, gathered in the cover of early morning darkness and after prayers, hymns and the ordinations of Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith to the Apostleship, set upon their mission to Great Britain.
The cornerstones laid in those days are still to be found on the temple site there in Far West. Many feel that the temple in Far West, now in a rural, sparsely populated area of northwestern Missouri, will yet be rebuilt.
The second stake in the entire Church (after Kirtland Ohio ) was organized in Clay and Caldwell County on July 3, 1834 with David Whitmer as its president. The third stake was organized at Adam-ondi-Ahman on June 28, 1838 with John Smith (the Prophet’s uncle) as president. Both stakes were later discontinued.
The Church Today in Missouri and Kansas
The Church maintains visitors’ centers and commemorative markers in Independence, Liberty, Far West and other a number of other historic locations.
As the Church has spread throughout the United States congregations have been established in every major city in the Midwest.
In Missouri and Kansas there are approximately 100,000 members. There are now 14 stakes in Missouri ; seven of which may be connected to the “greater Kansas City area” temple. Kansas hosts seven stakes ( Derby, Garden City, Lenexa, Olathe, Salina, Topeka and Witchita). Some wards in Kansas are connected to the Kansas City Missouri Stake.
Greater Kansas City Statistics
Kansas City itself is divided by the course of the Missouri River flowing through it. Kansas City, Missouri has a population of 441,545. Kansas City, Kansas has a population of 146,867. Independence , Missouri has a population of 110,704. The Kansas City Metropolitan area is made up of fifteen counties straddling the border of Kansas and Missouri and, in 2007, was estimated at 1,985,429, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri and largest in Kansas.
The New Temple
As reported from the Church, more details concerning architectural design and the exact location of the temple will be announced as they are available.
Some of the material contained in this article was taken from the LDS Newsroom Press Release.
1 Pratt, Parley P. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City , 1985, p. 52.
2 Doctrine and Covenants 57: 1-3. Please note two other references to a temple in D&C 36: 8 and D&C 42: 36 given before this time, but not necessarily an allusion to building a temple.