KANSAS CITY, MO.
In an area of the United States hallowed by the suffering and sacrifices of Latter-day Saints in the late 1830s, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated on May 6 the Church's 137th operating temple.
The Kansas City Missouri Temple is located in western Missouri's Clay County, an area rich in early Church history. At Liberty, Mo., just six miles slightly northeast of the new temple, the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith revelations of comfort, affirmation and instruction, which are recorded in Sections 121-123 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Those revelations came while the Prophet and several of his associates in the gospel were held from December 1838 until April 1839 in the "dungeon" of Liberty Jail.
A plaintive prayer of Joseph Smith while a prisoner there begins, "O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1).
B.H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy (1888-1933) wrote that Liberty Jail was "more temple than prison, so long as the Prophet was there." In A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:526, Elder Roberts wrote, "[Liberty Jail] was a place of meditation and prayer. ... Joseph Smith sought God in this rude prison, and found Him. Out of the midst of his tribulations he called upon God in passionate earnestness."
The Saints settled in several cities in Missouri before they were driven out.
President Monson, after arriving in Kansas City, said, "We are all aware of the history of the early Saints in Missouri and particularly in areas not far distant from where [the Kansas City Missouri Temple] stands. Over 170 years have passed since those difficult days. Feelings have softened. Just a few weeks ago, during the public open house held here, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon referred to the opening of the temple as symbolizing 'a time of healing.' "
President Monson has tender feelings pertaining to the new temple. He announced in the October 2008 general conference that a temple would be built in "the greater Kansas City area." Ground was broken for the temple on May 8, 2010, by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Having come to Clay County for the dedication of the temple, President Monson remarked, "This is an area where the Prophet Joseph Smith walked and where significant events took place in the early days following the restoration of the gospel."
Wherever President Monson went while in Kansas City, Latter-day Saints seemed to be acutely aware that a prophet, once again, was walking among them. They seemed to hang on to his every word and watch his every step.
He presided over and addressed all three of the special sessions held to dedicate the temple. During the first session, which convened at 9 a.m., President Monson led out in sealing in place the symbolic cornerstone — more accurately called a "cover stone" — of the temple. He invited others to join him in placing mortar to seal the stone, behind which had been encased a metal box containing items pertaining to the history of the Church in Missouri and, particularly, the building of the Kansas City Missouri Temple. Included in the items were books, newspaper and magazine articles, documents and photographs.
Participating in the dedication with President Monson were Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and Elder Donald D. Deshler, an Area Seventy who was coordinator of the local temple committee. Accompanying their husbands were Sisters Patricia T. Holland, Diane C. Hallstrom, Vicki V. Walker and Carol V. Deshler.
President Monson invited each to place mortar to seal the stone. Also participating were the temple president, John W. Hardy, and his counselors Richard C. Eddy and Dennis H. Karpowitz, and the temple matron, Sister Nancy S. Hardy, and assistant matrons Mary S. Eddy and Diane C. Karpowitz.
President Monson then invited three children, Isaac Boswell, Sydney Bond and Evelyn Marler, and a woman, Fern Anderson, to take turns with the mortar and trowel. When President Monson thanked Evelyn for helping place the mortar, she shook his hand, looked up at him, smiled and said, "You're welcome."
Some 45,000 members reside in the temple district. Proceedings of the temple's dedication sessions were transmitted to stake centers.
With Kansas City being solidly set in "Tornado Alley" and this being tornado season, many members kept a watch on the skies. As the cornerstone ceremony began, the weather was overcast. A slight sprinkle started just as the choir standing a few feet from the temple began to sing at the conclusion of the outdoor event. Within minutes after President Monson and others had re-entered the temple to continue the first dedicatory session, a steady rain fell. During the second session of the dedication, there was a downpour and then hail, which ushers swept away before members exited the temple. The skies remained clear for the rest of the dedicatory events. Rain recommenced and a tornado watch was issued that evening.
May 6, 2012, will be a landmark date in the lives of many Latter-day Saints, especially those who attended the dedication of the Kansas City Missouri Temple. Wilma Sneddon of the Joplin 2nd Ward, Joplin Missouri Stake, described the day as "like a dream." Attending with her husband, Jack Sneddon, she spoke of "ancestors" — spiritual and familial — who "surely must be here and feeling great joy."
Linda Reeve of the Woodheights Ward, Liberty Missouri Stake, spoke of distant temples members from here have been attending. For many years, members attended the Manti Utah Temple, which required a 20-hour journey by car. "Then we went to the temple in Dallas, Texas (10 hours away)," she said. "Finally, we got a temple in Missouri; we had to drive only four hours to St. Louis." For some members in the new temple district, the journey became shorter with the dedication of the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple, which is just 3 1/2 hours away.
After President Monson left the temple grounds he and Elder and Sister Hallstrom went to the Liberty Jail Visitors' Center. "It was a total surprise to us," said Sister Bonnie Herron, who serves there with her husband, Elder Jack Herron, "Sister Natalie Blackham gave the last narration on the tour. President Monson was very cordial and gracious, and made everybody feel like they were important. It was a wonderful experience."