May 13, 2022

St. Louis Missouri Temple Dedication Healing the Past

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In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints there were major problems between the members of The Church of Jesus Christ and the people in Missouri. Missouri was the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at one point in history, and a time of intense persecution for the Saints.

When building the St. Louis Missouri Temple the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about how meaningful is it to now have a temple in the Missouri after all that had happened to the Saints in the 1800’s. President Hinckley said it was a ”sign of healing.”

First Latter-Day Saint Temple Completed In St. Louis Missouri

The St. Louis Missouri Temple was the first temple completed of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Missouri. The early members of the Church had dedicated multiple sites for temples but had to leave each area because of persecution. The areas where the temples were going to be built were Independence Missouri, Far West Missouri and Adam-ondi-Ahman.

You can read more about the Independence Missouri Temple here:

In the 1800’s the city of St. Louis was welcoming to the Saints, this was contrary to other areas of the state of Missouri where there was much persecution for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is interesting that St. Louis was a place of refuge for the early Saints and 150 years later it became the place for the first temple to be built in Missouri.

This same spirit of acceptance was present when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints building committee presented the building plans to the city for building plans. Everything was approved unanimously, without any problems.

"I think we have not put up a temple where there has been better cooperation from community officials and from the people in general," said President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve. "There has been an almost unprecedented welcome."President Packer hosted government dignitaries, area clergy, news reporters and others in VIP tours April 23-25, beginning a four-week open house in which the public is invited to view the interior of the sacred edifice.

Mormon Extermination Oder Rescinded

On Oct. 27, 1838, the Governor of the State of Missouri issued an executive order saying Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(Mormons)"must be exterminated, or driven from the state, if necessary." What followed was the forced exodus of the body of the Church from Missouri into Illinois, where the headquarters city, Nauvoo, was founded the next year.”

The craziest thing is that Extermination Order remained a part of Missouri law until 1976! This law was on the books in the state of Missouri for 138 years!! In 1976 the Governor of Missouri, Governor Bond finally took it on himself to change the Missouri Law, and issued an executive order rescinding it.

The Church New said: ”The act was publicized as a memorable event that year when the United States celebrated its Bicentennial. Later, Gov. Bond would go on to represent his state in the U.S. Senate.

Before a crowd of more than 400 on the steps of the capitol, Sen. Bond asserted: "Treatment of the people of the Mormon Church in Missouri during the late 1830s and beyond was barbaric. Women were raped and tortured. Men were killed by mobs or driven out of the state. Their property was stolen. The lucky ones were the ones who were left alive with nothing and were forced to make their way into a more hospitable state.

"What makes it so difficult to understand is that this barbarism was state-sanctioned and even state-ordered. Gov. Lilburn Boggs issued the extermination order making it legal to kill anyone who belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The governor claimed that his action was 'necessary' to curb Mormon outrages and keep the public peace."

Sen. Bond said it seems impossible today that such events could happen in a nation founded on religious freedom. Drawing chuckles from the audience, he said, "What surprised me was that as late as 1976, the law was still on the books, though, thankfully, not enforced for many years."

Senator Bond came and walked through the St. Louis Missouri Temple open house in 1997.

Latter-Day Saint Temple in Missouri

159 years after the member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint left Missouri they got their first temple in the state! At the time of the St. Louis Temple being built there were 56,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Missouri.

When dedicating the St. Louis Missouri Temple President Hinckley spoke about the early Saints in Missouri and the healing that has taken place.

“We are reminded that this temple stands on the soil of the state of Missouri where the Prophet and his associates suffered so much, and were finally banished by a cruel and illegal order of extermination. Terrible were their losses, terrible their suffering. We are grateful that the extermination order has been revoked and the persecution is long since gone. Today Thy Church basks in the sunlight of good will. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have come to view this Thy holy house. They have left with respect and appreciation.”

St. Louis Temple a place of peace

The stories of how accepting and excited the people of St. Louis Missouri were for the Latter-Day Saint Temple to come to their area is so inspiring. People treating people well just makes for a better world. The Church News said this at the conclusion of the St. Louis Temple dedication:

“While the Church had a stormy history in Missouri in the 19th Century, residents of St. Louis were more tolerant toward the Latter-day Saints. People in St. Louis never participated in persecution, and the city gave protection to Mormons who fled the turmoil in western Missouri in the 1830s and to refugees from Illinois mobs in the 1840s. Beginning in 1841 and lasting through the Nauvoo and into the Salt Lake City periods, European converts to the Church passed through St. Louis when immigrating to Zion.”


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