Nauvoo Illinois Temple

The Nauvoo Illinois Temple in sunset n Nauvoo, Illinois on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Nauvoo Illinois Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Nauvoo Ilinois Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Nauvoo Illinois Temple Credit: Intellectual Reserve Inc.

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Announced: April 4, 1999.

Location: 50 North Wells, Nauvoo, Ill. 62354-0310; 217-453-6252.

Site: About 4 acres.

Exterior finish: Limestone quarried in Alabama, a near duplicate of the original stone.

Temple design: Several styles.

Architect: FFKR Architecture of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Project director: Stephen Jacobsen.

Project manager: Gale Mair.

Project superintendent: Richard Holbrook.

Contractor: Legacy Constructors of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rooms: Assembly room, baptistry, chapel, five progressive instruction rooms and celestial room, and six sealing rooms.

Total floor area: 47,000 square feet.

Dimensions: 128 feet by 88 feet; 150 feet high.

District: Five stakes in western Illinois and eastern Iowa.

Groundbreaking, site dedication: Oct. 24, 1999, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; cornerstone laying Nov. 5, 2000, by President Spencer W. Kimball.

Dedication: June 27-30, 2002, by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 13 sessions transmitted by satellite to members around the world, including Europe East and Asia areas.

Dedicatory Prayer

Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley

Almighty God, we come unto Thee in solemn and reverent prayer in the name of Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

On this same site in the year 1841, Thy people, under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and in obedience to revelation from Thee, began construction of a temple to the Most High. They spared nothing in their efforts. They used the best materials, and with great skill and in a spirit of consecration, they labored through the years. Even when their Prophet and Patriarch were murdered by the ruthless mob in Carthage, the work on this structure continued. So did persecution against them. Denied the protection of the law and left to the mercy of the mob, they knew they would be forced to abandon their homes, their farms, and their city. Nonetheless, they determined to complete the temple.

They did so, and in that holy house ordinances dealing with the things of eternity, as revealed from Thee, were administered to thousands. They then left Nauvoo in bitter winter weather, many of them crossing the Mississippi on the ice, bound for a place of asylum somewhere in the West.

Thou knowest, dear Father, of the travails of those who made that long journey. Many died and were buried along that trail of tears. Great was their suffering, tremendous their courage.

We thank Thee that those harsh days are now long past. We thank Thee for this season in which we live, with the many blessings of peace and prosperity which we enjoy at Thy hands. Thy Spirit has brooded over us and moved upon us, and in obedience to its prompting we have now reconstructed on this hallowed ground the temple that once stood here. Through the tithes of Thy people and the generosity of faithful Saints there has been brought together all of the elements and the necessary skills to create this magnificent structure.

And now, acting in the authority of the divine priesthood which comes from Thee, and in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we dedicate and consecrate unto Thee and unto Him this the Nauvoo Illinois Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We dedicate the ground on which it stands with its beautiful vegetation, the footings, the foundation, the walls and the tower with its bell, all surmounted by the figure of Moroni. We dedicate the magnificent baptistry, the areas for the initiatory ordinances, the endowment rooms, the beautiful celestial room, the sealing rooms and their sacred altars. We dedicate every space and facility in this wonderful structure.

Brought together in splendid harmony are the stones of the walls, the carefully crafted woods, the decorative murals and other paintings, the drapes and carpets, the elegant windows and many other unique and beautiful features. The entire structure has become a treasured work of art.

We pray that Thou wilt accept of this our offering. The hearts of the children have literally turned to those fathers who worked on the original building. They have done so with love and a wonderful spirit of consecrated effort.

Now, Beloved Father, this is Thy house, the gift of Thy thankful Saints. We pray that Thou wilt visit it. Hallow it with Thy presence and that of Thy Beloved Son. Let Thy Holy Spirit dwell here at all times. May Thy work be accomplished here, and Thine eternal purposes brought to pass in behalf of Thy children, both the living and the dead. May our hearts reach to Thee as we serve within these walls. May all who are baptized in behalf of those beyond the veil of death know that they are doing something necessary under Thine eternal plan. May those who are here endowed understand and realize the magnitude of the blessings that come of this sacred ordinance. Seal upon them the covenants which they make with Thee. Open their eyes to a clear perception of Thy divine purposes. As they move into the beautiful celestial room, may their minds be brought to an understanding of Thy glorious plan for the salvation and exaltation of Thy children.

May those who gather at the altars in the sealing rooms, whether in their own behalf or in behalf of their forebears, comprehend by the power of the Spirit Thy divine will concerning the eternity of the family—fathers, mothers, and children, joined together in an everlasting union. May they receive a vision of Thine infinite “plan of happiness” which Thou hast designed for Thy faithful sons and daughters.

May all who come within these hallowed walls be worthy to enter into Thy presence. Save this structure from desecration of any kind. May it stand immaculate with “holiness to the Lord.” Strike down the evil hand of any who may seek to injure or destroy. Preserve this Thy house from the storms of nature and destructive elements of all kinds.

We pray for the temple presidency and the matron and her assistants. May they be blessed with strength and energy to carry forward their heavy responsibilities. Bless all who serve with them as workers that they may find great joy in their labors. May those who come as patrons walk reverently before Thee and be brought to a knowledge of Thy will and Thy ways.

We pray for those whom Thou hast appointed to stand in responsibilities of leadership in Thy Church and kingdom. Reveal unto Thy servant Thy will and bless him and his associates that all may work together for the accomplishment of Thy purposes.

Bless Thy cause throughout all the earth. We invoke Thy blessings upon Thy people wherever they may be.

As was said in Kirtland: “Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;

“That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;

“And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:72-74).

Father dear, bless this land that those who govern shall never trample the rights of the people as was once done in Nauvoo. May liberty and peace be maintained under the banner of the Constitution, which Thou hast caused to be established “for the rights and protection of all flesh” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77). Bless this city of Nauvoo, which came to be known as the City of Joseph. May it shine with a renewed luster as the home of a Temple of God. May this sacred house stand as a memorial to him who lived here and was buried here, Joseph Smith, the great prophet of this dispensation, and his brother Hyrum, whom he loved.

We love Thee, Father. We love Thy Beloved Son. Smile with favor upon us. Strengthen our resolve to walk acceptably before Thee at all times. Increase our dedication to Thy will. Keep ever bright in our memories the solemn covenants into which we have entered with Thee. May Thy blessings attend us, and all who seek to live Thy commandments.

Praise be to Thee, Thou great Elohim, Thou who dwellest in the heavens and governeth the universe. Thou art our Father and our God, to whom we may come in prayer. To Thee we lift our voices in adoration and worship.

Increase our love for Thine Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer who has snatched us from the jaws of death and opened before us the wonders of eternity. Accept this our prayer, we ask Thee in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

A temple, again, in Nauvoo

In historic, sacred services held on Thursday, June 27, 2002 — marking the158th anniversary of the martyrdoms of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum — President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

After an absence of more than a century and a half, a house of the Lord, with all the sacred ordinances administered therein, is once again majestically gracing an elevated site in Nauvoo, Ill., overlooking a bend in the Mississippi River. The present meets the past as the newly constructed temple, which replicates the design and structure of the original temple as far as possible, becomes the latest in an unprecedented era of temple building.

The original Nauvoo Illinois Temple was one of the most imposing buildings in the state of Illinois during its day. It was constructed at great sacrifice by faithful men and women who were eager to receive the sacred ordinances administered by priesthood authority and available only within the walls of a holy temple.

In the fall of 1840, the First Presidency announced the acquisition of a four-acre site in the newly named city of Nauvoo to build a house of the Lord. In a revelation the following January, the Lord declared that such a house (a temple) be constructed where He could “restore again that which was lost . . . even the fulness of the priesthood” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:28). Sacred ordinances not available since the days of the apostolic ministry in the meridian of times, and essential to enabling one to live in the presence of God, were once again to be restored to the earth. The promised ordinances would bless both the living and the dead.

In January, 1844, Joseph Smith spoke of the saints becoming “saviors on Mount Zion” and declared, “herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah. And I would to God that this temple was now done, that we might go into it, and go to work.” (History of the Church, 6:184.)

Tragically, the Prophet suffered martyrdom just a few months later and the temple would take almost two more years to complete.

Portions of the temple were dedicated for use as they were completed, making it possible for an estimated 5,600 worthy members to receive their endowments before Brigham Young concluded this season of administering the sacred ordinances and the exodus west commenced. The official public dedication occurred May 1, 1846, by Elders Orson Hyde and Wilford Woodruff.

The magnificent Nauvoo Temple, built at such tremendous sacrifice and with such hopes, was left behind. Truly it remained a building of beauty, but no longer were the endowments administered; for priesthood authority and sacred ordinances had been withdrawn. The building itself was later destroyed by a combination of arson and a tornado. The remaining building blocks were also carried away so that all that was left was an empty site.

As he left Nauvoo for the last time, Elder Woodruff said: “The work in Nauvoo was done, henceforth the city of the Saints was to be nothing more to them than a memory until God should determine otherwise.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Daily Journals [1964], 248.)

Today we witness the blessing of a loving Heavenly Father who through His prophet determined to rebuild the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Many have expressed feelings of great satisfaction in seeing the temple once again upon the hill. However, true joy was experienced when President Hinckley, acting with authority and the inspiration of heaven, dedicated the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple. As a result of this dedication, once again the sacred ordinances can be administered in this temple to those prepared to enter the house of the Lord.

President Hinckley has said: “I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy to hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein. I am satisfied that every man or woman who goes to the temple in a spirit of sincerity and faith leaves the house of the Lord a better man or woman. There is need for constant improvement in all of our lives. There is need occasionally to leave the noise and the tumult of the world and step within the walls of a sacred house of God, there to feel His spirit in an environment of holiness and peace.” (Ensign, November 1995, p. 53.)

May each member of the Church cultivate and act upon the desire to follow the counsel of a prophet of God to be worthy of holding a current temple recommend and to make the temple and temple covenants a more central part of daily living. The spirit felt at the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple can continue to be a regular part of one’s life.

Rebuilding of magnificent temple

By Greg Hill

Church News staff writer

NAVUOO, Ill. — A sense of joy and spirituality returned to the Nauvoo Temple Lot Oct. 24 when President Gordon B. Hinckley presided over groundbreaking ceremonies for the rebuilding of the Church’s second temple.

A little more than 153 years ago, Latter-day Saints had to abandon the temple they had recently dedicated. Soon, President Hinckley said, “There will grace this sight a magnificent structure, a re-creation of that which existed here and served our people so briefly during that great epic [Nauvoo] period of the history of the Church.”For the groundbreaking ceremony, people filled more than 2,600 chairs for the event with hundreds more standing or sitting on the grass at the temple site.

The setting was ideal for the day eagerly awaited by members of the Church since President Hinckley announced during April 1999 general conference that the Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt. (The new edifice will be named the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.) Sunlight drenched the congregation settled under a blue Sunday afternoon sky. The block’s large trees loaded with autumn leaves added a colorful contrast of red, orange, yellow and green.

President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, were accompanied to the ceremony by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Kathleen. They had just arrived from Michigan where they had participated in the dedication of the Detroit Michigan Temple that morning and the day before. Conducting the meeting for the groundbreaking was Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and second counselor in the North America Central Area presidency. Elder Eyring and Elder Staheli offered remarks during the ceremony.

Also among those attending were Nauvoo Mayor Tom Wilson and members of the city council who just five days earlier had approved the granting of a building permit for the temple. Others in attendance were government and business leaders; citizens of Nauvoo, including members of other faiths; leaders and other guests from other religions; and missionaries and members of the Church from surrounding areas.

The special significance of the day was voiced by Shannon Mahaffey of the Chesterfield Ward, St. Louis Missouri Stake, who said after the groundbreaking, “The last time something like this happened here, it was done by Joseph Smith.”

Looking back on that era of Church history, not long after the Prophet was martyred, President Hinckley said: “I can just see the people in 1846, the wagons that bitter, bitter cold day going down Parleys Street to the water’s edge, getting on a barge, moving across the [Mississippi River] up on to the higher ground and looking back on this sacred structure which they had labored so hard to build and realized that never in this life would they see it again. It is difficult to imagine their emotions.”

President Hinckley called the time of the groundbreaking a “happy day” in Nauvoo “where it all really began.” He noted that although the Kirtland Temple was the first built in this dispensation, “there was no ordinance work in that temple,” as there was during a brief period in the Nauvoo Temple.

President Hinckley commented on the excitement generated among Church members by his announcement of the rebuilding of the temple. “I’m grateful for that wonderful looking back on the part of our people to the pioneering historic days of this Church,” he said.

Referring to the Nauvoo Temple as beautiful and large, he shared an experience from an earlier visit when Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and North America Central Area president used weather balloons on the temple lot to outline the area and height of the sacred building. “I was amazed at the height of it,” President Hinckley said. “I knew the dimensions in feet, but I’d never envisioned that height.”

The temple will be built again to that height and with the same exterior look as the original, he said, funded largely by contributions “from those who love the Lord and love this work.”

Noting some changes in construction from the original, he said it will be built of reinforced concrete faced with the same kind of stone as the original. “It will be stronger and will last a very long time,” he said.

Inside, some changes will be made to accommodate current building codes and ordinance work, he said. The first floor of the five-story temple will include an assembly room as in the original, but the second floor, which was also originally an assembly room, will be occupied by ordinance rooms.

President Hinckley said, “I hope to live long enough to participate in the dedication of this wonderful building which means so very much in the history of this Church, in the history of my family, in the history of your families, so very, very many of you who are gathered here today.”

The idea of rebuilding the temple is not a new one. President Hinckley said that his father, while president of the mission that included Nauvoo in 1939, suggested to the First Presidency that the Nauvoo Temple be rebuilt. But the idea wasn’t accepted at that time when the country was just coming out of the Depression and the Church didn’t have a lot of money.

His father was disappointed at that time, President Hinckley said, adding, “But I count it something of a strange and wonderful coincidence that I’ve had a part in the determination of rebuilding this temple.”

There has been some concern among the citizens of Nauvoo about the impact the temple will have upon the community of 1,200. President Hinckley confirmed the belief that the temple will bring thousands of visitors to Nauvoo, but said, “This building, in my judgment, will do more for Nauvoo than anything that has happened here in a long time.”

President Hinckley told local residents that when the reconstruction is finished, the temple will be open to the public “to look it over carefully and thoroughly.” Then it will be dedicated for sacred purposes.

“This will be the House of the Lord. It will be dedicated as His Holy House. It will be reserved and set aside for the accomplishment of His divine and eternal purposes. It will occupy a special place in the belief and testimony and the conviction of this people. It will have great historic significance. It will be a thing of beauty and, I hope, a joy forever.”

At the conclusion of his address, President Hinckley pronounced a dedicatory prayer upon the site.

Elder Eyring, in his remarks, spoke of one of his great-grandfather, John Bennion who, while on a mission in England, visited a former prime minister of that country. Elder Bennion was asked how he, being so poor, seemed so educated and to know so much. Elder Eyring recited his ancestor’s answer: “My education was in the kingdom of God and its priesthood.”

Then Elder Eyring said: “Our belief is that within these temples we are taught things that lift us and give us a perspective on life as it will be in the worlds to come, but as it can be here. Everything that happens in these temples is uplifting and gives people hope for this life and for the world to come.”

Elder Staheli directed part of his remarks to the residents of Nauvoo. He said: “As a new temple is built here, we hope that you will be just as proud of it as we, and just as excited about the blessings it will bring, not only to the members, but to the non-members.”

Following the benediction, President Hinckley, Elder Eyring, Elder Staheli, local Church leaders, Mayor Wilson, and others went to a specially prepared spot, took shovels and ceremonially broke the ground for the temple construction.

President Hinckley invited other special guests to participate and then announced that anyone in attendance who so desired could also take a shovel and turn some soil. Hundreds accepted the offer and lingered in line for as long as an hour to have a chance to be a part of that history.

Many members from the area also had the opportunity to participate by offering service. Dan Hahl, second counselor in the Nauvoo Illinois Stake presidency, said that bringing together the services needed for the event was a challenge because there was such a short time between the granting of local governmental approval to proceed and the actual event.

“In three days they put it all together,” he said.

Music was provided by a Nauvoo Illinois Stake choir, and members of the stake and missionaries also took care of site preparation, ushering and security. Pres. Hahl said that people outside the Church sometimes don’t understand the value to the Church of the willingness its members have to serve. “The Church teaches that service,” he said. He also added that the members of the Nauvoo Ward who live closest to the Nauvoo Temple Lot and provided so much of that service, willingly stood or sat on the ground during the ceremony so that special invited guests could have the chairs.

Many members who attended expressed appreciation for the peace and spirit felt in Nauvoo, particularly with President Hinckley present for the temple groundbreaking. Brother Mahaffey, who made the drive from St. Louis with his wife and five children, said: “This is holy ground to us. We were delighted to be a part of this in some small way.”

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