'We share an important slice in history'
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NAUVOO, Ill. A common love of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, brought leaders and members of two faiths together June 27 in a noon-day ceremony of tribute and honor.
In a verdant, tranquil setting with a sweeping view of the Mississippi River, President Gordon B. Hinckley joined President W. Grant McMurray of the Community of Christ in services held in the Smith Family Cemetery where President Hinckley offered the benediction.
"We share an important slice in history," said President McMurray of the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"We celebrate his visionary leadership," he said of Joseph Smith. "We celebrate his prophetic leadership."
In his benediction, President Hinckley paid tribute to the lives of Joseph and Hyrum and the Smith family and expressed gratitude for what they accomplished. He also expressed appreciation for the "great privilege to be with friends."
In his invocation, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve noted what "this [Smith] family has done in restoring the gospel." He also expressed appreciation for the invitation to participate extended by the Community of Christ church.
Sister Marjorie Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, placed a rose on the grave of Hyrum Smith after Estell Neff of the Nauvoo 1st Ward placed a wreath near the three graves of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum.
The commemorative service included a stirring musical selection sung by the young performing missionaries who take part in several presentations during the summer in historic Nauvoo. Prelude music was offered by interns of the Community of Christ who conduct tours of historic sites during the summer.
President McMurray, after speaking of Joseph as a builder, said, "We share grand and glorious traditions of faith. We honor [the Smith family], not by standing at their grave site, but by being faithful."
An estimated 200 to 300 people attended, with most seeking relief from the heat and humidity by huddling in the shade. The Smith Family Cemetery includes graves of the Prophet's parents, as well as two brothers. It is located in a picturesque setting near the Homestead, the first home occupied by Joseph and Emma in Nauvoo, near the Mississippi River.