Observance this year of 160 years since the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith brings to mind a landmark event of two years ago. On June 27, 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the reconstructed Nauvoo Illinois Temple at the exact hour of the day when the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob in Carthage Jail.
The timing, of course, was chosen by President Hinckley as a memorial to the Prophet Joseph, who directed the commencement and much of the construction of the original temple from 1841 until his death in 1844.
Two years after the dedication, the reconstructed temple continues to be "a memorial to those who built the first such structure there on the banks of the Mississippi," as President Hinckley said in his surprise announcement in general conference of April 1999 that the temple would be rebuilt.
As the Church president predicted then, the temple has been "very busy" during the summer months.
"Summer is definitely our busiest time, because a lot of our patronage is visitors not only from this country but all over the world," said Richard W. Winder, who is soon to conclude his two-year term as temple president.
"I'm curious, and very often when people come, I will ask what brought them here," he said. "They will tell me they had ancestors who helped build the
original temple, or they have felt a fascination with Nauvoo."
The temple baptistry is particularly busy, President Winder said, because of youth groups who come to perform baptisms for the dead. "It introduces them to temple worship," he said. "Some have come on trips with family reunions, and they say it is the highlight of their trip. Adults say that too, as they come to go on an endowment session."
In addition to visitors, the temple draws worshipers from the five stakes in the temple district: Nauvoo and Peoria in Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids in Iowa.
Fifty couples are serving as temple missionaries. They hail mostly from the western states. Last year there were 75. "We're getting more local workers to help, so we haven't required quite as many missionaries this year," President Winder said.
He feels Joseph Smith "is pleased with what is here." He noted that a newly erected statue of Joseph and Hyrum on horseback stands just to the west of the temple and has become something of a focal point for visitors who come to see the temple. The dedication of the monument is yet to be announced.
The temple's summer schedule, which began April 1 and extends through Oct. 30, is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the week except for a 7 p.m. session on Fridays. The temple is closed Sundays.
The winter schedule commences Nov. 16, with sessions held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays; 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.
The above schedules are effective through the end of the year.
Clothing may be rented at the temple, but it has no cafeteria. Ample parking is available in a special parking terrace across Mulholland Street to the south from the temple.
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