New Joseph Smith Papers podcast focuses on revelations in Church history era of Kirtland, Ohio

‘Kirtland, City of Revelation: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast’ is a new eight-part, documentary-style miniseries hosted by Church historian Spencer McBride

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in a state of rapid growth when its young leader and Prophet, Joseph Smith, arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831.

The swift increase in membership was almost more than the Church’s organization could handle. Questions arose:

  • How does the community of believers function together?
  • How will they organize their meetings?
  • How will they minister one to another?
  • How will they learn the gospel together?

In the years that followed, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received several revelations, said Spencer McBride, an associate managing historian with the Joseph Smith Papers project.

“We get all these revelations in the early 1830s that are really about establishing order in the Church,” McBride said. “These revelations are also focused on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, principles that maybe people didn’t fully understand from their previous religious experience before joining the Church.”

What unfolded in Ohio is explored and discussed in “Kirtland, City of Revelation: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast,” a new eight-part, documentary-style miniseries hosted by McBride.

“Kirtland, City of Revelation: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast” cover
“Kirtland, City of Revelation: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast,” is an eight-part miniseries from the Joseph Smith Papers Project and explores the history and legacy of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Joseph Smith Papers announced the new podcast in a news release on Wednesday, March 8.

Podcast listeners will learn about the general history of the Church in Kirtland and why it is significant. But rather than try to provide a comprehensive history with every story and detail, the podcast is focusing on the theme of revelation.

“It’s this idea that thousands of men and women flocked to Kirtland and built their lives in that city in Ohio because Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was there. And it was in Kirtland that Joseph Smith delivered dozens and dozens of revelations to these same men and women,” McBride said. “At the same time, we see as a constant theme of Joseph Smith’s ministry, especially in Kirtland, teaching men and women how to hear the voice of God in their own lives.”

The podcast examines many of the revelations received during the Kirtland era of Church history, including a focus on the remarkable events surrounding the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

“The theme is very much seen in the construction of the Kirtland Temple,” McBride said. “That is a centerpiece to the story of Kirtland.”

Artwork showing the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Who are the podcast’s featured guests?

The miniseries features interviews with historians, scholars and Church leaders.

Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy who serves as the Church historian and recorder, and Matthew J. Grow, managing director of the Church History Department, are featured guests on the podcast.

Other historians and scholars include Matthew Godfrey, Brent Rogers, Elizabeth Kuehn, Jonathan Stapley, Joseph Darowski, Christian Heimburger, Robin Jensen, David Howlett, Jeffrey Mahas, Sharalyn Howcroft, Benjamin Pykles, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Jennifer Lund, David Grua, Mark Staker, Kerry Muhlestein and Jennifer Reeder.

Where is the new Joseph Smith Papers podcast?

All eight episodes of “The Kirtland, City of Revelation” are available at the Church’s Gospel Library and on other platforms such as iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Amazon. The episodes are currently available in English and will be available in Spanish and Portuguese in the near future.

The Newel K. Whitney Store served as the home of Joseph and Emma Smith between September 1832 and February 1834. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Previous Joseph Smith Papers podcasts

“Kirtland, City of Revelation” is the fourth podcast produced by the Joseph Smith Papers.

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The response to the Joseph Smith Papers podcasts has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Our previous three series have surpassed 5 million downloads and streams, and the number continues to grow,” McBride said.

“Christ Appears in Kirtland Temple,” by Walter Rane
“Christ Appears in Kirtland Temple,” a painting by Walter Rane. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What listeners will find in each episode

Here is what listeners can expect to learn about in each episode of the new “Kirtland, City of Revelation” podcast.

Episode 0: Series Introduction

“This introductory episode previews the limited-series podcast on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. It describes the significant role Kirtland played in that history, particularly in the way the members of the Church came to understand the place of divine revelation in their lives.”

Episode 1: Missionaries in Kirtland

“This episode explains the history of Kirtland, Ohio, as well as how the preaching of four missionaries in the area in 1830 led to the conversion of hundreds of men and women. Guests: Matt Grow, Elizabeth Kuehn, Mark Staker.”

Episode 2: Go to the Ohio

“This episode examines the circumstances of Joseph Smith’s move from New York to Ohio, and the work he did once he arrived to translate scripture and to establish greater order in the Church. Guests: Mark Ashurst-McGee, Matt Grow, Elizabeth Kuehn, Mark Staker, Jonathan Stapley.”

Episode 3: A Stake of Zion

“This episode tells the story of the establishment of Zion in Missouri and how that effort affected the growth and development of the Church. The episode considers what the establishment of a new city in Missouri meant for Kirtland and how Church members understood these events as they looked forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Guests: David Grua, Chase Kirkham, Brent Rogers, Mark Staker.

Episode 4: Publishing Revelation

“This episode illuminates the challenges Church leaders faced in publishing the revelations of Joseph Smith, as well as their efforts to care for the poor and to establish the School of the Prophets designed to train men to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Guests: Joseph Darowski, Matthew Godfrey, Sharalyn Howcroft, Robin Jensen, Jenny Reeder.”

Episode 5: Temples and Scripture

“This episode explains the efforts of Church leaders to redeem Zion, including a march that became known as Zion’s Camp. The episode also explores the building of the Kirtland Temple, the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants, and Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Abraham. Guests: Matthew Godfrey, Christian Heimburger, Sharalyn Howcroft, Robin Jensen, Elizabeth Kuehn, Kerry Muhlestein, Jennifer Reeder, Brent Rogers.” 

Episode 6: An Endowment of Power

“This episode tells the story of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the solemn assembly that featured the long-promised endowment of power, and some of the spiritual manifestations that occurred in the temple. This episode also explains how these spiritual moments quickly gave way to contention and dissent in Kirtland. Guests: Chase Kirkham, Elizabeth Kuehn, Jonathan Stapley, Jennifer Reeder, Brent Rogers.”

Episode 7: The Fate of the Kirtland Temple

“This episode reflects on the history of Kirtland after Joseph Smith moved away from the city. It considers the challenges faced by Church members still living in the area and contests over the ownership of the Kirtland Temple. Guests: Christian Heimburger, David Howlett, Elizabeth Kuehn.”

Episode 8: The Legacy of Kirtland

“This episode tells the story of how Kirtland became a historic site and the challenges associated with restoring and reconstructing historic buildings. Scholars and Church leaders reflect on the historical and spiritual legacy of Kirtland. Guests: Matthew J. Grow, Jenny Lund, Elder Kyle S. McKay, Benjamin Pykles.”

Lessons to learn

Many Latter-day Saints who attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple experienced an outpouring of heavenly manifestations, including visions, prophecies, the gift of tongues and the appearance of angels. These profound spiritual experiences led many to become strong disciples of Jesus Christ.

Spencer McBride, an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, has also been the host of the Joseph Smith Papers podcast.
Spencer McBride, a volume editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, is the host of the Joseph Smith Papers podcast. He is seen here examining a document in a 2020 file photo. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In the same setting, others struggled mightily with their faith.

“Here in the 21st century, I think we can relate to that,” McBride said. “We can have these profound spiritual experiences and maybe even the next day be confronted by strong obstacles to our faith. That’s the story of Kirtland in many ways.”

McBride hopes podcast listeners will come away with a better understanding of this era of Church history and, as a result, relate more to those early Latter-day Saints.

“I think the relatability of Church history is as important as ever,” he said. “We are not studying Church history just to learn about how great everybody was in the past, because everybody wasn’t great. These were ordinary people who were able to do extraordinary things when they followed the commandments of God, when they sought the voice of God in their lives. I think the relatability of Church history is as important as ever in the Church today.”

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