NAUVOO-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will open the doors of its rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple to an expected one-third million visitors beginning 6 May 2002-an event that promises to be one of the most extraordinary and historic organized by the Church in its 172-year history.
Although all 112 operating temples of the Church have the same function, the Nauvoo Illinois Temple-the Church’s 113th-has special significance to many of the 11 million Latter-day Saints worldwide.
Thousands of Church members have ancestors who lived in Nauvoo, and millions more-even recent converts-have closely studied the history of the city established by Church founder Joseph Smith. The original temple was destroyed after some 12,000 early Latter-day Saints were driven from Nauvoo in 1846.
“There is a great interest in Nauvoo … on the part of our people,” says Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. “The thousands who lived in Nauvoo have become tens of thousands in their descendants. They look back on their people with affection and remembrance and with a great desire to honor them and respect them.”
This temple is unlike any other the Church has constructed in recent years. It is built on the same site and to virtually the same specifications and design as the original Nauvoo Temple-the last landmark seen by fleeing Church members a century and a half ago.
Mormon pioneers wrote in their journals that the promises they made to God in the Nauvoo Temple gave them strength to endure the historic, 1,300-mile trek across Iowa and America’s vast central wilderness to the Rocky Mountains.
On 4 April 1999, approximately 14 years after the Church dedicated a temple in Chicago, President Hinckley announced plans to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. He told Latter-day Saints that the temple would be “a memorial to those who built the first such structure there on the banks of the Mississippi.”
Architectural drawings of the original temple that surfaced in 1948 provided much information on the exterior of the temple, with some interior details. Combining these renderings with an
early daguerreotype of the temple and other meticulous research, a team of restoration architects and a research committee of historians and Nauvoo experts pieced together a reconstruction plan with remarkable attention to historic detail.
The open house will begin with a media and VIP preview, followed by public tours beginning Monday, 6 May 2002, and continuing through Saturday, 22 June 2002. No tours will be offered on Sundays. Public tours are from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, except on Mondays, when tours are offered from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Open house tickets are required and can be obtained by telephoning 1-800-537-6719.
Following the public tours, the temple will be formally dedicated Thursday through Sunday, 27-30 June 2002. Thirteen separate dedicatory sessions are scheduled to accommodate the Latter-day Saints in the area who will be served by the temple, as well as members of the Church from other areas.
Because of the historic significance of this event, the dedication will be broadcast via satellite to Latter-day Saints worldwide.
The Nauvoo Illinois Temple will be the primary temple used by more than 13,000 Latter-day Saints in western Illinois and eastern Iowa in stakes (similar to dioceses) in Nauvoo, Peoria, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Iowa City.
Latter-day Saint temples differ from the hundreds of meetinghouses or churches where members typically meet for Sunday worship services and midweek social activities. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other sacred ordinances that unite families for eternity.