The Past and Future of the Temple Lot in Jackson County, MissouriR. Jean Addams
The 2020 Temple on Mount Zion Conference
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Sponsored by The Interpreter Foundation and Brigham Young University College of Humanities
Fifteen months after the Church of Christ’s inception in April 1830, the young prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation indicating that Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, was to be the “center-place” of Zion and a “spot for a temple is lying westward, upon a lot that is not far from the court-house.” Dedication of this spot for the millennial temple soon followed on August 3, 1831, by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. A building sketch was prepared in Kirtland, Ohio, and sent to church leaders in Independence in June 1833. Smith also forwarded his plat for the City of Zion, showing 24 temples at its center and giving an explanation for their use. Tragically, the church was driven en masse out of Jackson County only months later. Reclaiming the original Partridge purchase of 63 1/4 acres (which, of course, included the dedicated millennial temple site) in December 1831, and known as the Temple Lot became an early driving force for the membership of the church.
A physical effort to reclaim the saints land and possessions in Jackson County was organized in 1834 by Joseph Smith and became known as “Zion’s Camp.” After traveling 900 miles from Kirtland, Ohio, and poised on the north bank of the Missouri River looking toward Jackson County, Smith’s two hundred armed men were unable to proceed for various reasons. While contemplating what to do, given the reality of their situation, Smith received a revelation to “wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion.” That poignant phrase – “the redemption of Zion” – became a tenet of the church thereafter. In the years following the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith (1844) and the subsequent “Scattering of the Saints,” three independent Expressions of the Restoration returned to Independence to reclaim or redeem the Temple Lot in fulfillment of latter-day scripture. The first church to re-establishment a physical presence in Jackson County was the Church of Christ in 1867, followed by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) in 1877, and later by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1900. Indeed, the “Redemption of Zion” was undertaken in a most literal sense. Over the years the Temple Lot Property was re-purchased, lot-by-lot, by these three churches as opportunities presented themselves, and over time they began building facilities on their acquired property. We shall examine each of their efforts to build the House of the Lord.
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