March 24, 2022

History of Small Temples, Palmyra New York Temple

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The member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, love their temples. These buildings are very special to the members because of the belief that the Temples are God's dwelling place, on Earth. The promises the members of the Church make with God in these special buildings can be life changing and remind the members of their Eternal Goals while on Earth. The leadership of the Church has wanted to make temple attendance more accessible to all but Temple building is very expensive. Temples are built with the very best materials the world can offer and cost can be challenging. Even after the initial building cost, the maintenance of each temple adds up. Balancing the cost, with the need for members to have the blessings, is what leadership has struggled with for a long time. The temple building process was relatively slow in the 1900's. It had taken 166 years to get the first 50 temples built and running, and President Hinckley received revelation on how more temples could be built for more members.

Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, prayed to know how to get the blessings of the Temples to all members of the Church worldwide, and he received a revelation on small temples, and this changed the course of Temple building in the 90's. Gordon B. Hinckley became known “the temple building prophet” because so many temples were built under his direction. The Palmyra Temple was one of the "small temples" announced by President Hinckley. There were not enough members in the Palmyra area to justify a temple, but with the revelation of small temples, the way for the Palmyra Temple was paved!

Temple Building in the 90's

Merrill J. Batemen, the President of Brigham Young University in 1996, recalled speaking to President Hinckley about how temple building was going for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He recalled President Hinckley saying that he hopes to have 100 temples built before his time as prophet is over.

In 1996, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was just getting ready to dedicate their 50th temple. Again, it had taken 166 years to get the first 50 temples of The Church up and running. The goal of building 50 more temples, when President Hinckley was eighty-six years old was quite the goal.

It was only six months after the conversation with Merrill J. Bateman, President Hinckley announced the concept of smaller temple. President Hinckley said that he had visited with the temple building committee and they had informed the prophet that it did seem possible that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints could have a hundred temples operating by the year 2000(only four years in the future).

The Stake President of the Rochester New York Stake was David L. Cook, at the time of the announcement of the Palmyra Temple. David recalled a phone call from President Hinckley saying “President Cook, it’s time to build a temple in the area where it all started. What do you think of that?” The Stake President was, of course, excited for the idea and they got to work!

Selecting the Land for the Palmyra Temple

President Hinckley went to the area and personally selected the land where the Palmyra Temple was to be built. They held a fireside for the members in the Palmyra area and then, shortly after, President Hinckley announced the plans to build the Palmyra temple to the rest of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Most Significant Temple Palmyra

"I regard this temple as perhaps the most significant, in one respect, in the entire Church," President Hinckley said. "It was right here in the Sacred Grove where it all began."

"I marvel at what has happened here," President Hinckley continued. "From the First Vision this work has spread over the earth to more than 160 nations with more than 10 million people who are members of this Church. Who could ever have imagined it when that boy [Joseph Smith] walked into the grove, that the consequences of that event would become what we see today."

Everything about the Palmyra Temple points to the Sacred Grove, which ultimately points to God, The Eternal Father and His Son, Savior Jesus Christ. The windows of the Palmyra Temple are made to look like trees from the Sacred Grove, like you are entering your own sacred grove, as you are entering the Temple. The Palmyra Temple is the ONLY Temple that has a clear window and this clear Window of the Palmyra Temple that looks out to the actual Sacred Grove where God and Jesus Christ spoke to Joseph Smith, initiating the return of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Earth again(you can read more about the clear window here).

The Palmyra Temple is beautiful with the extra symbolism of the Sacred Grove as a reminder of the love of God for His children, knowing that God so loved the world that He gave His son, and both God and Jesus Christ returned to call a young boy, at the age of 14 to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to Earth again, it is simply beautiful.

More Blog Posts:

Uplifting Stories from the Palmyra, Temple

Only Temple With a Clear Glass Window Palmyra, New York Temple

Palmyra, New York Temple Windows are pretty spectacular

11 Awesome Facts about the Palmyra, New York Temple

Places to Visit in Palmyra, New York:

Smith Family Home

Erie Canal

Martin Harris Home

Hill Cumorah

Alvin Smith’s grave

Palmyra Cemetery

Grandin Building


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