Kansas City Missouri Temple: 'The reason for this great celebration'
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KANSAS CITY, MO.
President Thomas S. Monson delivered a message of praise, encouragement and friendship to the youth of the Church who staged a cultural program with “heart” on Saturday evening, May 5, the eve of the dedication of the Kansas City Missouri Temple.
“The stately and magnificent Kansas City Temple, in this lovely part of the country — really, the heartland of America — will be dedicated in the morning. It is, of course, the reason for this great celebration,” President Monson said in a brief address prior to the program.
The theme of the program was “Of One Heart in the Heartland.” Segments of the program followed through on the theme of hearts: “Shining Hearts,” “Willing Hearts,” “Inspired Hearts,” “Courageous Hearts,” “Changing Hearts,” “Broken Hearts,” “Confident Hearts,” “Sharing Hearts” and “Of One Heart.”
Through narration, song and dance, the program presented highlights of the history of the Kansas City Temple district, which includes the “sister state” of Kansas.
The opening scenes of the program began with the year 1800 when “there was no place named ‘Missouri.’ There was, however, a Missouri River, named after a Sioux Indian tribe. … The land, even then, was a gathering place where people and cultures blended. The Missouri River became a crossroads for Indians, settlers and colonists. Four different names have been given to this region of the United States: the Upper Louisiana, the Louisiana Territory, the Missouri Territory and the State of Missouri.”
Kansas, once home to countless herds of buffalo, takes its name from the Sioux word for “south wind people,” or the Kansa (or Kaw) tribe who lived in northeast Kansas for almost 200 years.
The program's narrator explained this area of the country between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains is known as the Ozarks, which has a distinct culture, a blending of German, English, Scottish and Irish settlers who came to this region to forge a new home.
“The transitional character of the physical environment of the Great Plains, the Midwest and the Ozarks is the backbone of this area,” the narrator explained. “Through change comes great strength, for only the strong can survive heat, humidity, wind, cold, hail, blizzard, tornadoes — and chiggers! For the youth of the Kansas City temple district this land is home. They are the youth of the Heartland.”
This is an area rich in Church history. The program outlined some of that history, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s arrival in the summer of 1831 in Jackson County, Mo., accompanied by members of the Church who looked forward to settling in the latter-day Zion.
For two years, as Parley P. Pratt recorded, “Peace and plenty had crowned their labors, and the wilderness became a fruitful field, and the solitary place began to bud and blossom as the rose.”
However, the Saints were driven out of Jackson County and eventually created settlements in Northern Missouri along Shoal Creek and the Grand River. Two of those settlements were Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. The Saints had to abandon all of their Missouri settlements. However, because of their willingness to follow the prophet and to remain true in the face of adversity, they received invaluable revelation and the promise of great blessings.
The program drew attention to dozens of men and women, “people of the Heartland,” who were and are imaginative and inspired. Among those listed were doctors, lawyers, presidents, scientists, athletes, entertainers, explorers, writers, musicians, educators and philanthropists.
The program continued with its thread of history, noting that the heartland has always been a place of exodus, not only for the Latter-day Saints, but also for others as the United States expanded westward. This area became the jumping-off point for three great trails: the Santa Fe, the Oregon and the California trails.
It wasn’t far from Kansas City that members of the U.S. Army approached LDS leaders asking for a battalion of men to march to California in the war with Mexico. The Mormon Battalion passed through this land and stopped at Fort Leavenworth before marching southwest toward Santa Fe.
In recent decades, Missouri and Kansas became parts of several missions and mission headquarters. By the end of World War II, there were eight branches in the temple district; one each in Kansas City, Independence, Topeka, Joplin, Sedalia, St. Joseph, Springfield and Webb City.
“From Indian tribes coming and going on the river, to the westward expansion with covered wagons and the growth of the railway, to the beginnings of the famous Route 66 and the aerospace industry, the Midwest has been all about change,” the program’s narrator explained.
“But not all change involved leaving. Some groups came. Beginning in the 1960s, this region has seen an influx of Polynesian immigrants coming to participate with the Saints of this land. Gathering from all the islands of the South Pacific, Independence and the regions around it are home to one of the largest expatriate Polynesian groups in the world.
“Likewise, economic opportunities and a desire for freedom and opportunity have brought large numbers of Hispanic and European peoples to the Heartland of America. All groups share rich cultural traditions, which are joyously passed down to their posterity.
Large screens were used to present news reports, still photos and aerial footage of destruction from tornadoes and recovery efforts. Youth in yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” T-shirts rushed onto the arena floor, bringing blankets, boxes of food, clothing and other items.
The program’s narrator proclaimed that Latter-day Saints in the Heartland stand confident in themselves and their culture. “For the LDS youth, being peculiar is not a bad thing.”
The narration continued: “We take seriously the charge to go to all the world and share our Father in Heaven’s message: The Savior lives. His Atonement is real. Preparing our hearts to share His message starts in our formative years and strengthens us as we prepare for missionary service. Just as Alma, we have experienced a ‘mighty change of heart,” and desire to share the joy of the gospel of Christ to all of His children.”
The audience rose and applauded as missionaries marched across the arena floor.
Of One Heart
Videos were shown of several youth bearing their testimonies, sharing their faith and love and expressing gratitude for the temple.
In the closing moments during the program, the young performers, accompanied by a youth orchestra and choir, sang “We Believe,” and “Of One Heart in the Heartland,” which Wendy V. Dyck wrote especially for the program. Many members of the audience, as well as numerous youth, wiped tears from their eyes.
At the conclusion of the program, President Monson stood, applauded, waved and gave a big smile to the youth. As he started to leave, young people shouted, “We love you, President Monson!”