Home » LDS Church buys Kirtland temple, other historic buildings, from Community of Christ

LDS Church buys Kirtland temple, other historic buildings, from Community of Christ

by Marko Florentino
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the historic Kirtland Temple, the first LDS temple built, along with other historical buildings and artifacts, from the Community of Christ, another Latter Day Saint denomination, the two groups announced in a joint statement last week.

“The responsibility and ownership for the Kirtland Temple, several historic buildings in Nauvoo, and various manuscripts and artifacts officially transferred from Community of Christ to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an agreed-upon amount,” said the March 5 statement, which was unsigned. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints paid the Community of Christ $192.5 million “without assigning specific values to the properties and items,” said its website.

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The Kirtland Temple is located in Kirtland, Ohio

Nauvoo, another city that is important to adherents of the LDS faith, is located in Illinois. 

“Together, we share an interest in and reverence for these historic sites and items and are committed to preserving them for future generations,” the statement also noted, adding that the process behind the sale began back in June 2021. 

kirtland temple picture

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the Kirtland Temple, the first LDS temple, from the Community of Christ as part of a nearly $200 million sale. (Val Brinkerhoff)

“This exchange of assets is significant for our church,” said Stephen M. Veazey, president of Community of Christ. 

“Through funding from increased endowments, Community of Christ will have greater capacity to pursue our mission priorities around the world, including continuing to fulfill the divinely envisioned purposes for our Temple in Independence, Missouri.” 

The Community of Christ, known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) until the year 2001, dates back to Joseph Smith’s creation of the Church of Christ in 1830, its website indicates. 

Following Smith’s death, the RLDS believed that his eldest son, Joseph Smith III, was to lead the Latter Day Saint movement, rather than Brigham Young. 

“Community of Christ will have greater capacity to pursue our mission priorities around the world, including continuing to fulfill the divinely envisioned purposes for our Temple in Independence, Missouri.”

There are about 250,000 members of the Community of Christ around the world, says its website, making it the second-largest Latter Day Saint denomination. 

“Joseph [Smith] III conveyed Kirtland Temple to us. The Nauvoo properties are the Smith family properties. The paintings came from the Smith family; the New Translation manuscripts came from the Smith family, the Finney Bible came from the Smith family,” said Community of Christ Apostle Lachlan Mackay in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. 

“So the proceeds from the sale, at some level, are an extraordinarily generous gift from them, that will sustain us [financially] into the future,” said Mackay. 

Washington DC Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presently operates 188 dedicated temples. The Community of Christ, another Latter Day Saint denomination, operates a temple in Independence, Missouri.  (EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, formerly known as Mormons, expressed gratitude for the work the Community of Christ did over the last century to maintain the buildings and artifacts. 

“We are deeply honored to assume the stewardship of these sacred places, documents and artifacts,” said Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a statement. 

 “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,” he said. 

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The Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836, is now open for tours and is home to the “Spiritual Formation Center,” says its website. 

There are no immediate plans to transform the Kirtland Temple into a modern-day LDS temple, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said on its website. 

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a religious text used by members of various Latter Day Saint denominations, including the Community of Christ. (Pascal Deloche/Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Kirtland Temple “will remain a historic building” and members of the Community of Christ will continue to have access to the building “for special meetings and gatherings over the coming years.” 

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to reopen it March 25, 2024, for public tours at no charge,” the organization said. 

“Likewise, in Nauvoo, the Smith Family Homestead, the Mansion House, and the Red Brick Store will also reopen on March 25, 2024, for year-round public tours at no charge.” 

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In a statement published on its own website, the Community of Christ said the sale was necessary to allow for the church to continue its ministry. 

“The current and future needs of the church, coupled with discerning God’s continuing call to pursue Christ’s peace in all its dimensions, created a compelling case for decisive action,” said the Community of Christ. 

“The current and future needs of the church, coupled with discerning God’s continuing call to pursue Christ’s peace in all its dimensions, created a compelling case for decisive action.”

“Leaders came to understand that letting go of these physical assets — as painful as it was —would generate financial resources that will make a significant difference in our ability to respond to that future,” the group said. 

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The ability to honor the denomination’s history “is not dependent on ownership of properties or items,” said the Community of Christ. 

“The Historic Sites Foundation will continue to be a valued partner in telling and sharing the sacred story of Community of Christ. A shared memory of our past and an informed understanding of its meaning prepare us to courageously move into the future.”

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