Friday, April 20, 2018

Church History Tour: Kirtland, Ohio

The next stop on our road trip was Kirtland, Ohio. Kirtland is a very important place in church history, it was the location of the church headquarters shortly after the church was established from 1831-1838. The early saints built their first temple in Kirtland, grew in numbers, and established a firm foundation for the church.

The Kirtland Visitor's Center has brought all the historic buildings from the area to one place, so it is easy for visitors to get an overview of the important events that happened here by easily walking from building to building. The church has done a wonderful job at restoring or rebuilding the historical buildings which makes for a very convenient  and informative visit.

"Newel K. Whitney built his white store in 1826 and invited his friend Sidney Gilbert to become his business partner. The store later served as post office, bishops’ storehouse, and early Church headquarters. While Joseph and Emma Smith lived here, their son Joseph Smith III was born. The School of the Prophets began here, and the First Presidency was organized on March 18, 1833. Among the revelations received here are the Word of Wisdom and the command to build the Kirtland Temple. The store was remodeled and dedicated in 1984."

Newel K. Whitney was a successful businessman, a presiding bishop of the Church, a prominent civic official, and a notable member of his community. Newel Kimball Whitney was also part of a family whose lives, for seven generations, have been closely tied to key events, places, and families in Latter-day Saint history from the beginnings of the Church down to the present. Newel K. Whitney is one of the main reasons the church headquarters was moved to Kirtland, he prayed for Joseph Smith to come to Ohio and Joseph Smith answered that plea and came to live with the Whitney's for a time.

During the winter of 1832–1833, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to organize a school for the purpose of training the brethren in all things pertaining to the gospel and the kingdom of God. This school was held in the upstairs rooms of the Whitney Store. From this school came many of the early leaders of the Church. Another school of the prophets or the elders was conducted by Parley P. Pratt in Jackson County, Missouri. Similar schools were held shortly after the Saints migrated to the West.

"Newel K. and Elizabeth Ann Whitney built their home after the birth of their first child, in about 1824. They were both early converts to the Church in Kirtland, and they welcomed Joseph and Emma Smith into their home in February 1831. While living with the Whitneys, Joseph Smith received several revelations now included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The office of bishop was revealed here, and Newel K. Whitney was later called to serve as the bishop in Kirtland."

An important component in the economic mix for Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, was the ashery. This facility was constructed in 1823-24 by Newel K. Whitney, second bishop of the LDS Church. Frontier settlers brought wood to the Whitney ashery for money or credit. (Whitney) used the wood to heat huge cauldrons of water that had been alkalinized by running it through wood ashes gathered from farmers’ fields and his own operations. The remains after the water boiled away made potash or the more refined pearl ash, used in making glass, in cleaning wool, and in other industrial processes. Newel K. Whitney shipped most of these chemicals in large barrels to factories in the East or Great Britain.” The Kirtland Ashery played a large role in providing funds to build the Kirtland temple as well as several other church buildings.

Next to the ashery was the Saw Mill which cut and carved much of the wood for the Kirtland temple.

After spending some time at the Kirtland Visitor Center, learning about all the events that took place in this town, we drove a few minutes down the road to take a tour of the gorgeous Kirtland temple. The Kirtland Temple stands on a bluff in northeastern Ohio, about 25 miles east of Cleveland, overlooking the beautiful Chagrin Valley. Owned and operated by the Community of Christ (the former Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the Kirtland Temple is open for tours to members of all faiths. 

We weren't allowed to take photos inside, so I borrowed a few from the Kirtland Temple website.

First Floor

Second Floor

Third Floor, which was used as administrative offices for church leaders

Our last stop in Ohio wasn't technically in Kirtland, it was located in Hiram, Ohio and was the John Johnson Home.

"Joseph Smith and his family moved to the home of John and Elsa Johnson in Hiram, Ohio, in September 1831. The Johnson's were recent converts to the Church and had become acquainted with the Prophet while in Kirtland.

During the year Joseph Smith stayed here, the Johnson home served as headquarters of the Church. Joseph received an outpouring of revelation within these walls, including a magnificent vision of the Father and the Son and the three degrees of glory. Several conferences were also held here. In November 1831, the conference voted to publish a Book of Commandments containing revelations received by the Prophet. The Lord confirmed His approval of this book, which eventually became the Doctrine and Covenants.

In March 1832, Joseph was attacked by a mob in the middle of the night and was tarred and feathered near the home. The next day, despite his injuries, Joseph preached as he often did to a large congregation gathered in front of the home and baptized three persons."

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