Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History

History of the Kirtland Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has purchased the Kirtland Temple, adding to the building’s storied history.

Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland Temple in 1836. He introduced temple ordinances prior to the dedication as a way to help prepare pioneers for a future endowment of power. The temple’s history includes visions of Jesus Christ and Old Testament prophets, a two-hour Sidney Rigdon sermon, and a few myths. The latest news came in March 2024 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the Kirtland Temple from the Community of Christ. This article provides factual snippets from historians, pioneers, and more.

Sign up to be notified when we publish new content, such as updates to our articles on Joseph Smith Jr., Brigham Young, and Come Follow Me 2024.

Table of Contents

Community of Christ and the Kirtland Temple

Sold the Kirtland Temple in 2024

The Community of Christ announced in a 5 March 2024 statement that it sold the Kirtland Temple to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purchase price of $192.5 million also included other buildings and documents, such as the Red Brick Store and Joseph Smith Translation manuscripts. The Church will use the Kirtland Temple as a historic building rather than convert it into an operating temple.

President Russell M. Nelson said:

We are deeply honored to assume the stewardship of these sacred places, documents and artifacts. We thank our friends at Community of Christ for their great care and cooperation in preserving these historical treasures thus far. We are committed to doing the same.

Kirtland temple ownership

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now owns the historic Kirtland Temple. The Community of Christ owned the pioneer sanctuary for a long period of time until 2024.

In 1880, an Ohio court’s post-dismissal finding of fact indicated that a group of Joseph Smith’s descendants owned the title to the building. This ownership was later transferred to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) led by Joseph Smith III, the church now known as the Community of Christ.

A joint statement released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ provides a historical summary:

After the Saints left Kirtland in the 1830s, different parties controlled access to the temple over the years. In 1901, Community of Christ, then known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“RLDS Church”) secured title to the Kirtland Temple through legal proceedings.

As mentioned above, the Community of Christ sold the Kirtland Temple to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2024.

Emotionally devastating

Lachlan MacKay has helped the Community of Christ diligently care for the Kirtland Temple—and played a key role in the discovery of a potential Joseph Smith photograph. He says that his church no longer has the human or financial resources to properly care for the building, and calls the decision to sell it “devastating emotionally.”

“There was a time when I thought it might break me,” he added in a YouTube reflection video. MacKay plans to persevere in faith, much like members of the Smith family previously moved forward after suffering extraordinary loss.

Community of Christ Apostle Lachlan MacKay reflects on the emotional impact of selling the Kirtland Temple to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2024.

Multi-purpose building

The Community of Christ used the temple for several purposes. In particular, the temple was “used as a house of worship, education, and leadership.” This included conducting Kirtland Temple tours for the public.

Experience a virtual tour of the Kirtland Temple with the Community of Christ Historic Sites Foundation.

1993 sacrament meeting

M. Russell Ballard asked for—and received—permission to use the Kirtland Temple for a 1993 missionary training and sacrament meeting. It was a spiritual experience for everyone involved, including Al Walters, a Community of Christ representative who was initially opposed to the idea.

The service lasted more than 7 hours.

Walters recalls being upset that leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wanted to use his temple when they had ones of their own. He grew angry as the meeting progressed, becoming sick enough that he thought he was having a heart attack.

As Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi stood to speak, Walters had a sacred experience (he would later call it a “spiritual spanking”) that demonstrated the cooperative spirit that has long existed between the two churches:

Al felt the spirit come over him. An audible voice that only he heard made three statements: ‘Alan, this is not your temple; this is mine. These are also my Saints. This is an acceptable use of this sacred space!”

Karl Ricks Anderson recounting the experience of Al Walters

Kirtland Temple Dedication

Basic details

The Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March 27, 1836. The temple dedication included a prayer offered by Joseph Smith (recorded as D&C 109), a multi-hour sermon given by Sidney Rigdon, the singing of hymns, and speaking in tongues demonstrated by Brigham Young and David W. Patten. The service lasted more than 7 hours and involved roughly 1,000 people, including some who gathered in a schoolhouse overflow meeting next door to the temple.

A week of pentecost

The pentecostal experiences of the saints during the Kirtland Temple dedication continued for roughly one more week. According to the Joseph Smith Papers, this involved activities and experiences such as:

  • Gathering for instruction
  • “Respecting the ordinance of washing of feet”
  • Visitation of angels
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Prophesying
  • A second dedicatory service for those who missed the first
An image from the Library of Congress shows two people standing in front of the Kirtland Temple in 1904.

Heavenly messengers

Several heavenly messengers appeared during the Kirtland Temple dedication and the subsequent pentecostal outpouring. These included Jesus Christ and several Old Testament prophets.

A rare prayer

The Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer (found in D&C 109) is one of only two dedicatory prayers found in scripture. “The other is the dedicatory prayer for the temple of Solomon,” wrote Casey Griffiths.

Past and future hymns

Hymns were sung at the temple’s dedication—and a temple-themed hymn would be written in its aftermath. According to biographer Bruce Van Orden, William W. Phelps wrote “The Spirit in God” as a consequence of the “spiritual outpourings that occurred in the Kirtland Temple in January 1836 leading up to the eventual dedication.”

Phelp’s version of “The Spirit of God” contains verses not published in the current hymn book, including one with temple themes:

We’ll wash and be wash’d, and with oil be anointed

Withal not omitting the washing of feet:

For he that receiveth his penny appointed,

Must surely be clean at the harvest of wheat.

Fourth stanza of “The Spirit of God,” by W. W. Phelps

Going back in time

The dedication left such a powerful mark on history that Latter-day Saint historians Matt Godfrey and Sharalyn Howcroft selected it as an event they’d want to go back in time and witness:

My heart is really in the Kirtland period of church history, so I would have loved to have attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple—maybe not for Sidney Rigdon’s two-and-a-half hour talk at the dedication, but for everything else.

Historian Matt Godfrey Talks About Joseph Smith, Brigham Young

Kirtland Endowment and Ordinances

“Kirtland endowment”

The “Kirtland endowment” isn’t the temple endowment that Latter-day Saints today are familiar with. Semantics can therefore cause confusion when moderns church members understand a word differently than their pioneer counterparts.

Kirtland Saints referred to initial temple ordinances and related spiritual experiences as their “endowment.” As Karl Ricks Anderson explains, the Kirtland Endowment as “consisted of more than great spiritual outpourings or even priesthood ordinations.”

Pre-endowment ordinances

Joseph Smith administered ordinances prior to the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. John Whitmer indicates that Joseph taught “we must perform all the ordinances that are instituted in his house” prior to receiving the temple endowment. Accordingly, the Prophet instituted the washing, anointing, and blessing of quorum presidents in January 1836.

They remained in the House of the Lord through the night.

The Church of Jesus Christ announced on 5 March 2024 that it purchased the Kirtland Temple from the Community of Christ. Credit: “Kirtland Reflections” by Al Rounds. Used by permission.

Post-dedication ordinances

Approximately 300 priesthood officers received washing and anointing ordinances in a solemn assembly three days after the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. These ordinances were considered preparatory to an endowment of power, and several records of the time indicate such an endowment was received.

According to the Joseph Smith Papers Project:

According to several accounts, many who were gathered in the solemn assembly experienced a powerful spiritual outpouring. They remained in the House of the Lord through the night, prophesying, speaking in tongues, and seeing visions. Many felt that the promise of an endowment of spiritual power had been fulfilled, and elders began leaving Kirtland the following day to perform missions.

Joseph’s knowledge of temple ordinances

It’s unclear what Joseph Smith knew about temple ordinances during the Kirtland era. Some believe that Joseph revealed all he knew to the Saints in 1836, and then revealed more in Nauvoo after he himself grew in knowledge.

This isn’t a satisfactory conclusion for Jeff Bradshaw:

My study of the Book of Moses and others of the initial revelations and teachings of Joseph Smith have convinced me that he knew early on much more about these matters than he taught publicly. It is evidence that Joseph Smith’s extensive knowledge of temple matters was the result of early revelations, not late inventions.

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The need for an endowment

Joseph Smith met with the apostles on 12 November 1835, and taught them the importance of preparing themselves for the blessings of the Lord:

We must have all things prepared and call to our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish his great work: and it must be done in Gods own way, the house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it according to the order of the house of God and in it we must attend to the ordinance of washing of feet. . . . the endowment you are so anxious about you cannot comprehend now, . . . You need an endowment brethren in order that you may be prepared and able to overcome all things.

Joseph Smith

Future revelations

Wilford Woodruff was present at the Kirtland Temple dedication—and his experience seems to have prepared him to receive additional revelation refining the temple endowment.

“He continued the pattern of seeking revelation, clarifying the rites, and effecting changes based on personal experience and new revelations,” said Jennifer Mackley, author of Wilford Woodruff’s Witness: The Development of Temple Doctrine.

Book of Abraham

There appears to be a close connection between the Book of Abraham and Latter-day Saint temple work. For example, Joseph Smith administered ordinances in the unfinished Kirtland Temple shortly after commencing work on the translation. Similarly, the first Nauvoo Temple endowments were given not long after the Prophet resumed his work on the Book of Abraham.

“Thus,” said BYU’s Kerry Muhlestein, “it is not surprising to learn that the papyri Joseph Smith possessed had ancient connections to temples.”

Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple

Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple

Joseph Smith’s teachings about Christ include a record of the Lord’s appearance shortly after the Kirtland Temple dedication. A sampling of the Prophet’s journal (that also appears in D&C 110) documents the words of Jesus Christ:

Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.

For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.

The Prophet lived near the Kirtland Temple

Joseph and Emma Smith lived in a home close to the Kirtland Temple construction site. They moved into the home in 1833, and left Kirtland five years later in 1838.

In 2023, the Smith home was dedicated by Elder David A. Bednar, and added to the list of historic sites interpreted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kirtland.

Learn more about the Joseph Smith family home that was located near the Kirtland Temple construction site.

A break from contention

The Kirtland era was a time of significant stress for Joseph Smith. The Prophet experienced extreme tensions with church leaders before and after the temple dedication.

“Perhaps at no other time in Kirtland did the adversary rage in opposition as often and as long as he did during the two and a half years it took to build the Kirtland Temple,” wrote Karl Anderson.

This may have made the peace of the pentecostal week even more sublime. Elizabeth Kuehn writes in Know Brother Joseph, that you can see Joseph’s character in an 1836 letter which “highlights his joy at seeing Kirtland Church leaders, some of whom had struggled with pride and hierarchical concerns, come together in unity to prepare to dedicate the Kirtland Temple.”

Priesthood keys and revelation

Joseph received priesthood keys from the Old Testament prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah in Kirtland. Norman Gardner writes that Joseph would later explain “these keys of the priesthood empowered him to obtain future heavenly knowledge.”

However, the Prophet may not have fully understood the implications of these priesthood keys. “Over the next half-decade, he developed a deeper understanding of the blessings this power could bestow, as well as the conditions required to receive those benefits,” explains Laura Harris Hales in a book chapter about insights from the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

Keeping revelation private

The Prophet gave up an opportunity to bolster his authority at at a time when other church leaders were rising up against him. Rather than tell others about his experience receiving priesthood keys from Moses, Elias, and Eljiah, Joseph appears to have kept the experience largely to himself. It aligns with his preference to keep sacred experiences (including the First Vision) private.

“While the experience is recorded in his private journal . . . there is no evidence that he publicized the fantastic and marvelous encounter except perhaps to a handful of the faithful,” wrote Ronald O. Barney in Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources.

Kirtland councils

Joseph’s understanding of the role of councils grew in association with the Kirtland Temple. In preparation for the dedication, Joseph convened a council to settle upon rules that would govern the temple’s use. Unfortunately, it could have gone better.

“Joseph expressed dissatisfaction with how some of the men had conducted themselves during the deliberations,” said Matt Grow and R. Eric Smith in a book chapter about church councils:

In such settings, Joseph said, each person should “speak in his turn, and in his place” to ensure “perfect order.” Moreover, before objecting to any proposal, council members should ‘be sure that they can throw light upon the subject rather than spread darkness, and that [their] objections be founded in righteousness which may be done by applying ourselves closely to study the, mind and will of the Lord.”

Matt Grow and R. Eric Smith, quoting Joseph Smith

Kirtland Temple and Pioneer Latter-day Saints

A heritage of sacrifice

“The building of the Kirtland Temple came at the remarkable sacrifice of time, labor, talent, and whatever little means the Saints possessed,” explained historian Richard E. Bennett. “The motivation to sacrifice for building the Kirtland Temple owed much to the promised ‘endowment’ which the Prophet Joseph Smith promised would be poured out upon the faithful Saints.”

Artemus Millet

Truman G. Madsen recounts the participation of Artemus Millet as a Canadian convert who he said supervised construction. Many other stories are told about Millet, such as his conversion by Brigham Young and subsequent mission call to Kirtland—along with a request to bring $1,000 for the temple.

An angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith.

While not every uplifting detail can be verified by the historical record, Millet suffered several injuries during the temple construction—and remains an an inspiring figure:

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from the life of Artemus Millet is that he accepted the gospel and lived faithful to its teachings throughout his life. The years in Kirtland were filled with apostasy and disillusionment, spiritual maladies that afflicted even the highest councils of the Church. It is discouraging that those who stood with the Prophet and experienced miraculous manifestations of divine power could fall away. At the same time, it is inspiring that Artemus Millet and so many others could withstand such turbulent times.

Benjamin Brown

A rare contemporaneous account of the Kirtland Temple dedication was discovered in 2002. The account of Benjamin Brown sheds light on the world of 1830s Kirtland, and includes Brown’s remark that the spiritual outpouring associated with the dedication was “even greater than at the day of Pente[cost].”

Edward Partridge

Edward Partridge was closely involved with monumental events associated with Kirtland’s pentecostal period. His record includes a statement documented on 27 March 1836:

Met again in the evening that is the authorities of the church. many spoke in tongues some saw visions &c. Doct. F. G. Williams saw an angel <or rather the Savior> during the forenoon service.

Edward Partridge

George A. Smith

George A. Smith spoke during an evening meeting in the temple that included over 400 priesthood bearers. After he began to prophesy, historian Richard Cowan records:

A noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation.

Heber C. Kimball and the Kirtland Temple

Heber C. Kimball records the visitation of an angel during the Kirtland Temple dedication:

During the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith, sen., and Frederick G. Williams, so that they had a fair view of his person. He was a very tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication.

Hyrum Smith

The contributions of Hyrum Smith to the Kirtland Temple have largely been overlooked by historians. For example, the Prophet’s older brother “was assigned to supervise construction, raise funds, and promote unity and spirituality among the Kirtland Saints in preparation for the solemn assembly to be held at the dedication of the temple.”

That babe joined in the shout.

Brigham Young

It’s surprisingly difficult to find accounts of Brigham Young and the Kirtland Temple. The temple’s dedication isn’t mentioned in the Brigham Young Journals, although the future prophet’s manuscript history does include a summary of his participation in the Kirtland solemn assembly:

I attended the solemn assembly, and, with my brethren of the Twelve, received my washings and anointings, and was privileged to listen to the teachings and administrations of the Prophet of God. We also attended to the washing of feet, which ordinance was administered to me by the Prophet Joseph.

Manuscript History of Brigham Young, p. 13.

Joseph Smith Sr.

The Prophet’s father was in attendance at the Kirtland Temple dedication. Eliza R. Snow wrote that Joseph Smith Sr. promised a mother that her six-week-old child would remain silent during the dedication. The baby remained quiet. However, “when the congregation shouted hosanna, that babe joined in the shout.”

Zera Pulsipher also recorded that Father Smith looked like an angel when he entered the temple.

Oliver Cowdery

Oliver Cowdery kept detailed notes from the Kirtland Temple dedication in a private “Sketch Book,” and penned the Church’s official account in the Messenger & Advocate. While his grandiose statements are well-known, he also made an interesting observation that almost no one left their seats during a 15-minute dedicatory intermission.

Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon is famous for speech at the dedication ceremony for the Kirtland Temple that lasted over two hours. Minutes from the dedication indicate that Rigdon spoke about Matthew 8:18–20 in “his usual, forcible and logical manner,” and that the congregation felt awed rather than annoyed by the length of his sermon (“to say that he did exceeding well; would be only halting praise”).

Historian Richard O. Cowan summarized that Rigdon declared “the temple was unique among all the buildings erected for the worship of God, having been ‘built by divine revelation.’” We also know that Rigdon read Psalm 24 and Psalm 96.

Stephen Post

Stephen Post came to Kirtland from New York shortly after his baptism. He kept journals throughout his life, resulting in a 12-volume treasure and a description of Post as “one of the best chroniclers of the Restoration.” His contemporaneous account of the Kirtland Temple dedication includes the following:

President F. G. Williams arose & testified that in the A. M. an angel of God came into the window (at the back of the pulpit) while Pt. Rigdon at prayer & took his seat between him & Father Joseph Smith Sen. & remained there during the prayer.

Stephen Post

Truman O. Angell and the Kirtland Temple

Truman Angell moved to Ohio two years after being baptized, and soon began contributing to temple construction projects. He served as first foreman, and also assisted the architect William Weeks.

But the temple was more than a professional accomplishment. According to Paul L. Anderson, “Angell’s “autobiography records several spiritual events that made a deep impression on the young carpenter.”

Many Latter-day Saint pioneers intersect with the history of the Kirtland Temple, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, and Truman O. Angell. Credit: “Kirtland at a Distance” by Al Rounds. Used by permission.

William W. Phelps

William Wines Phelps came with other Missouri Latter-day Saints to receive an endowment of power in Kirtland. Steven C. Harper said that a letter Phelps wrote to his wife “is perhaps the most detailed yet succinct summary of all that transpired in the temple during the week of the solemn assembly.”

Phelps’ letter includes a description of the second Kirtland Temple dedicatory service:

It was a sublime scene, surpassing the first in sublimity and solemnity as well as in order. The Addresses were the best that could be and majesty exceeded anything I have witnessed in the last days.

W. W. Phelps to Sally Phelps, 1 April 1836.

Zion’s Camp and the Kirtland Temple

Joseph received revelation in D&C 105 for Zion’s Camp to return to Kirtland in order to receive an endowment. The blessing was fulfilled during the temple’s dedication. Unfortunately, not everyone received that blessing.

Alexander Baugh writes:

While most of the camp acknowledged and accepted the directives given in the revelation, a few men were disappointed. George A Smith wrote that soon after the revelation was given “several of the brethren apostatized, because they were not going to have the privilege of fighting.”

Alexander Baugh, “The Camp of Israel in Clay County, Missouri.”

Kirtland Temple Miscellany

Historic landmark

The Kirtland Temple is an official national historic landmark on the US National Register of Historic Places. It was also identified by Patheos in 2023 as one of the “100 most holy places on earth.”

Kirtland Temple pulpit

There are two sets of unique pulpits in the temple, each representing either the Melchizedek or Aaronic Priesthoods. The Kirtland pulpits are engraved with gold lettering, and have the following meanings, according to Kip Sperry:

Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits

  • M.P.C. Melchizedek Presiding Council (First Presidency of the Church or Stake)
  • P.M.H. Presiding Melchizedek High Priesthood (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or Stake High Council)
  • M.H.P. Melchizedek High Priesthood (High Priests Quorum)
  • P.E.M. Presiding (Presidency) Elders Melchizedek (representing Elders Quorum)

Aaronic Priesthood pulpits

  • B.P.A. Bishop Presiding over Aaronic Priesthood
  • P.A.P. Presiding (Presidency) Aaronic Priests
  • P.T.A. Presiding (Presidency) Teachers, Aaronic
  • P.D.A. Presiding (Presidency) Deacons, Aaronic

Truman G. Madsen lectures

Many Latter-day Saints are familiar with the Kirtland Temple lecture published by Truman G. Madsen as part of his 8-part Joseph Smith Lecture series. What may be less-commonly known is that Madsen also produced an on-site video sequel to the lecture several decades later.

A plan for two temples

Joseph Smith and his advisors considered building two temples (one in Kirtland and one on the temple lot in Missouri) after receiving D&C 84, which included the following:

[The New Jerusalem] shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:3–4

FAQ: Transfer of sacred sites

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a list of frequently asked questions about the transfer of sacred sites and manuscripts from the Community of Christ. The news release includes answers to the following 13 questions:

  1. What was included in the transaction?
  2. What are the most significant items?
  3. How did Community of Christ acquire these materials?
  4. Why did Community of Christ sell these materials now?
  5. Why did The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchase these materials?
  6. What is the relationship between the two churches?
  7. Have there been previous transactions of historic materials between the two churches?
  8. What was paid for the properties, artifacts, and documents?
  9. Will the historic sites be open to the public?
  10. Will admission be charged to visit the sites?
  11. Will members of Community of Christ continue to have access to the sites?
  12. Will the Kirtland Temple be converted into a functioning Latter-day Saint temple?
  13. Will the Church continue to pursue development of its proposed new visitors’ center near the Nauvoo Temple?

Three floors

According to the Historic Site and Spiritual Formation Center of the Community of Christ, the Kirtland Temple is comprised of three floors with specific themes:

  • 1st Floor (“A House of Prayer”). Joseph Smith prayed on the main floor and asked the Lord to accept the Kirtland Temple during dedicatory services on 27 March 1836.
  • 2nd Floor (“A House of Learning”). The temple’s second floor looks almost identical to the first, but “was devoted to training the church’s priesthood in what was called ‘The School of the Prophets.'”
  • 3rd Floor (“A House of Order”). The temple’s top floor “provided administrative space for . . . church leaders.” The third floor was used by High Priests on Mondays, Seventies on Tuesdays, and Elders on Wednesdays. Additionally, Joseph Smith Jr. had a private office on the third floor.

Video reactions: Church buys Kirtland Temple

The transfer of the Kirtland Temple from Community of Christ to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elicited quick takes, many of which can still be seen on video. These reactions encompass several emotions, including surprise, heartbreak, and excitement:

  • Glen Rawson Reaction: “To be able to go into that building and say, ‘It happened right there. . .”
  • Lachlan MacKay: “I spent 15 years living literally in the shadow of Kirtland Temple.”
  • ScripturePlus: “I don’t think most people realize just how much of a sacrifice this was for the Community of Christ.”
  • 52 Churches in 52 Weeks: “From a church history perspective, this is monumental. . . for the Latter-day Saint movement.”

Kirtland Temple FAQ

Has the LDS Church bought the Kirtland Temple?

Yes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in March 2024 that it had purchased the pioneer Kirtland edifice from the Community of Christ, along with several other builds and manuscripts.

How much was the Kirtland Temple sold for?

The temple sold for $192.5 million in a grouping with several other historic buildings and artifacts. However, the selling price of each individual item has never been released by either the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Community of Christ.

Who did Joseph Smith see in the Kirtland Temple?

The Prophet saw several heavenly figures in the temple, including Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah.

Did they do endowments in Kirtland?

Pioneer Latter-day Saints received the “Kirtland endowment” in 1836. However, using the word “endowment” can be confusing since it differed significantly from today’s temple ceremony.

What revelation was received in the Kirtland?

Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants (also called the “Olive Leaf”) was received in Kirtland in 1832–33. Many charges given to the Latter-day Saints in this revelation were fulfilled by the time of the temple’s dedication in 1836.

Latter-day Saint historian Brent Rodgers discusses revelations received directing the construction of the Kirtland Temple.

Who saved the Kirtland Temple?

John Tanner donated several thousand dollars to prevent foreclosure on the Kirtland Temple land. “He was said to have singlehandedly saved the Kirtland Temple,” explains a Deseret News article about the T. C. Christensen film memorializing Tanner.

What religion did Joseph Smith found?

Joseph Smith, Jr. founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes erroneously called the “Mormon Church”) in 1830. The pioneer prophet lived in several places prior to his murder, including Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo.

What was the first Mormon temple?

The Kirtland Temple was the first temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was dedicated in 1836, was built at considerable sacrifice, and resulted in a spiritual outpouring sometimes called the “Kirtland Endowment.”

Which keys were restored in the Kirtland Temple?

Heavenly messengers restored ancient priesthood keys in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, including the keys to the gathering of Israel.

What day did Elijah come to the Kirtland Temple

Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on 3 April 1836. The sacred event occurred at roughly the same time as the Jewish Passover. However, Stephen D. Ricks says that this claims warrants “further elucidation and modest chronological correction.”

Will the Kirtland Temple become a dedicated Latter-day Saint temple?

No. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in March 2024 that the temple will remain a historical building rather than be converted into a functioning Latter-day Saint temple. “We hope to keep it old, but safe,” safe Church Historian Kyle S. McKay, in a Deseret News article.

Sign up to be notified when we publish new content!

Further reading

Kirtland Temple resources


Aaron L. West. “Learning Eternal Truths in Joseph and Emma Smith’s Restored Kirtland Home.” (Link)

Alexander L. Baugh, “The Camp of Israel in Clay County, Missouri.” (Link)

Anne R. Berryhill. “Truman Angell: From Apprentice to Church Architect.” (Link)

Benjamin Pacini. “M. Russell Ballard: The Entrepreneur Who Became An Apostle.”

Bruce A. Van Orden. “We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps.”

Casey Griffiths. “Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 109.” (Link)

Chad Nielsen. “Wilford Woodruff and the Development of Temple Doctrine.”

Community of Christ. “Spiritual Formation Center.” (Link)

Community of Christ. “The Sites.” (Link)

Craig K. Manscill. “Hyrum Smith’s Building of the Kirtland Temple.” (Link)

Doctrine and Covenants Central. “KnoWhy #619: Why Is the ‘Pentecostal’ Season in Kirtland Believable?” (Link)

Elden Jay Watson. “Manuscript History of Brigham Young.” (Link)

Eliza R. Snow, in Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom [New York, 1877], 94–95.

Elizabeth Kuehn. “The Character of Joseph Smith.” (Link)

Frederick G. Williams. “‘An Angel or Rather the Savior’ at the Kirtland Temple Dedication: The Vision of Frederick G. Williams.” (Link)

George A. Smith. “Memoirs of George A. Smith, Circa 1860–1882.” (Link)

Historic Site and Spiritual Formation Center. “History.” (Link)

Joseph Smith Papers. “Historical Note, Journal, 1835–1836.” (Link)

Joseph Smith Papers. Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 27 Mar. 1836. Featured version published in “Kirtland, Ohio, March 27th 1836,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Mar. 1836, 2:274–281. (Link)

Kip Sperry. “Appendix: Kirtland Temple Pulpits.” (Link)

Justin Crandall. “‘Treasure in Heaven’ Helps LDS Discover Hero of Early Church.” (Link)

Lyndon Cook. “The Apostle Peter and the Kirtland Temple.” (Link)

Karl Ricks Anderson. “The Savior in Kirtland: Personal Accounts of Divine Manifestation.” (Link)

Keith A. Erekson and Lloyd D. Newell. “The Conversion of Artemus Millet and His Call to Ohio.” (Link)

Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v. Williams, Record T, 1880, p. 488, Court of Common Pleas, Lake County Courthouse, Painesville, Ohio.

Kurt Manwaring. “Historian Matt Godfrey Talks About Joseph Smith, Brigham Young.”

Kurt Manwaring. “Know Brother Joseph: Q&A with the Editors.”

Kurt Manwaring. “Meet Archivist Sharalyn Howcroft.”

Kurt Manwaring. “Temples Rising: A Heritage of Sacrifice.”

Kurt Manwaring. “Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses.”

Kurt Manwaring. “Was William W. Phelps a Ghostwriter for Joseph Smith?

Kurt Manwaring. “What Did Joseph Smith Teach About Christ?

Kurt Manwaring. “What Egyptian Papyri Did Joseph Smith Possess?

Kurt Manwaring. “What Is the Relationship Between Freemasonry and the Temple Endowment?

Laura Harris Hales. “Joseph Smith and the Creation of Eternal Families.” (Link)

Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft. “Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Early Major Sources.”

Matthew C. Godfrey, “Zion’s Camp 1834: March of Faith.” (Link)

Matthew J. Grow and R. Eric Smith. “Joseph Smith and Councils.” (Link)

Norman W. Gardner. “‘I Saw . . . My Brother Alvin’: The Restoration of the Doctrine of the Redemption for the Dead.” (Link)

Paul L. Anderson. “Truman O. Angell: Architect and Saint.” (Link)

Religious Studies Center. “The Brigham Young Journals: Volume 1, April 1832–February 1846.”

Richard O. Cowan. “Faith and Devotion in Building the Kirtland Temple.” (Link)

Roger D. Launius. “Joseph Smith III and the Kirtland Temple Suit.” (Link)

Ronald O. Barney. “Joseph Smith and the Conspicuous Scarcity of Early Mormon Documentation.” (Link)

Sarah Jane Weaver. “Church Purchases Kirtland Temple, Other Historic Buildings and Artifacts From Community of Christ.” (Link)

Stephen D. Ricks. “The Appearance of Elijah and Moses in the Kirtland Temple and the Jewish Passover.” (Link)

Steven C. Harper. “Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple, 1836.” (Link)

Steven C. Harper. “Pentecost Continued: A Contemporaneous Account of the Kirtland Temple Dedication.” (Link)

Tad Walch. “180 Years Ago Today in the Kirtland Temple, Visits by Jesus Christ, Moses, Elijah, and Elias.” (Link)

Tad Walch. “After Buying Kirtland Temple, Church Hopes to Keep It ‘Old.'” (Link)

Tad Walch. “Church Announces Purchase of Historic Kirtland Temple, Other Historic Sites and Manuscripts.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Church History Topics: Kirtland Temple.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Elder Bednar Dedicates Joseph and Emma Smith’s Restored Home in Kirtland, Ohio.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “Frequently Asked Questions Clarify the Transfer of Sacred Sites and Historic Documents.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Places to Visit in Historic Kirtland.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Sources for a Prophet and a Temple in Kirtland, Ohio.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The Smith Home Near the Temple.” (Link)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Community of Christ. “Joint Statement.” (Link)

Travis Henry. “The 100 Most Holy Places on Earth.” (Link)

Truman G. Madsen. “Joseph Smith Lecture 5: Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple.” (Link)

Truman G. Madsen. “On Sacred Ground: Reflections on Joseph Smith by Truman G. Madsen.” (Link)

Washington County Historical Society. “Artemus Millet Sr: Early Resident of Shunesburg.” (Link)

By Kurt Manwaring

Writer. History nerd. Latter-day Saint.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exit mobile version