KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
The doors of the newly completed Kansas City Temple were opened on Thursday, April 5 as hundreds of VIP special guests toured the 137th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Guests included Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his wife, Georganne, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Supreme Court justices and government officials from both states, religious, education, civic, business and entertainment leaders and members of local, regional and national media.
The historic significance of the building of the temple in northwest Missouri, situated near the city of Liberty, was on the minds of many, including Elder William R. Walker, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who serves as the Executive Director of the Temple Department. Elder Walker remarked “It’s a great day for us, the church returning to Missouri in such a magnificent way to where the prophet Joseph once walked.”
Beginning with the arrival of six missionaries in 1830, Church members, under the direction of the prophet Joseph Smith, began gathering in Independence and Jackson County, eventually establishing communities in places in nearby Caldwell and Davies Counties. The majority of members left the area during the year 1838, crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois. The Church did not officially establish a presence in Kansas and Missouri again until the turn of the century. Today approximately 25,000 members live on both sides of the state line in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
Following a dinner for special guests, Elder Walker personally led a tour of the temple for a small group that included Governor Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster. At the conclusion of the tour, Governor Nixon stood, extended his hand to Elder Walker and very warmly said, “On behalf of the six million people of the state of Missouri, I’d like to express our appreciation at your church’s commitment to building a place of such physical and inspirational significance. We are pleased and honored that you have done so. It’s a truly historic moment.” The Governor continued, “The people of Missouri have not always treated your people as they should have. This is not only a tremendous accomplishment for you, but is a time of healing for us.” He expressed his wish that Elder Walker convey to Church leadership in Salt Lake City and also Church congregations that Missouri extends congratulations and a heartfelt welcome.
Elder Walker, remarking on the Governor’s message to the Church, expressed similar sentiments. “We are deeply grateful that the governor of Missouri came to visit our beautiful new temple. Governor Nixon was very warm and gracious and his expressions of good will and commendation were certainly appreciated. In this place where there is so much history for Latter-day Saints, it was a truly historic occasion - for the governor of Missouri to come visit our temple and extend the hand of fellowship was very meaningful to us.”
Following the tour, Governors of both Kansas and Missouri presented official proclamations from their respective states for Elder Walker to share with President Monson on his return to Utah. The Kansas Proclamation spoke of the early history and accomplishments of Latter-day Saints in Kansas, including the story of the Mormon Battalion. The proclamation ended with this statement: “I, Sam Brownback, Governor of the State of Kansas, do hereby acknowledge and warmly commend the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the construction of this magnificent temple, for their dedication to religious liberty, for their deep spiritual conviction, all of which provide a valuable contribution to the people and families of the great state of Kansas.” The Missouri proclamation was also complimentary towards the Church and expressed appreciation for the contributions members have made to Missouri throughout the years.
The temple, prominently located on a rise, at 7001 N. Searcy Creek Parkway will open for public tours from Saturday April 7 through Saturday, April 28. Requests for tickets can be made online at kansascitymormontemple.org or by calling 1-866-537-8457.
A formal dedication of the temple is scheduled for Sunday, May 6, 2012. Three dedicatory sessions will be held, and the services will also be broadcast to Latter-day Saint chapels in the surrounding area to accommodate Church members unable to attend in the temple. The dedication will be preceded by a cultural celebration featuring music and dance by three thousand the youth of the Church, to be held in the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City on the evening of May 5.