Friday, May 13, 2011

Historic Kirtland - Part 1

Posted this once, but it stayed for one day and then disappeared! ????

Had to get online today at the FM office as part of our responsibilities in order to order sprinkler parts. So, prepared this post last night to upload while I was at it. Still working on resolving our personal phone and internet access problem.

We are having a wonderful experience here in Kirtland. We are coming to think of Kirtland as the cradle of the Church. Much transpired here to build and strengthen that new organization (as we very briefly touched upon in our May 5th post).

Wednesday of this week, we spent much of the morning with Karl Anderson. Brother Anderson wrote a book called, “Joseph Smith’s Kirtland”, having been asked to do so by the Church. Brother Anderson has served as a Stake President, a Regional Representative and is currently a Patriarch. He was wonderful and we really enjoyed our time with him. He is the one in the middle of the picture between the two Sister Missionaries.

We began in the Kirtland Temple with him and the director of the Community of Christ Visitors Center (Ron) as our guides. The Community of Christ is, of course, the current owner of the temple here. And Ron was wonderful and very cordial. Needless to say, our time in that temple was as wonderful as it likely sounds to you as we try to write of it here. It is a temple and we felt the spirit there very much.

Brother Anderson shook hands with all of us as we stood inside the temple in what was called the outer court (we might call it a foyer). Then, Ron (our Community of Christ guide) spoke. He started but then went over to the stairs so he could climb up them a ways. He said he wanted to see us all better. Brother Anderson scoffed and said, “They aren’t worth it, Ron. I’ve already seen them all!”

Brother Anderson is extremely knowledgeable, not only about the history of the area, but also about the Lord’s dealings with this area and the early members who lived here, who built the temple and who lived and worked in the historic sites we are caring for. And we learned many things from him about this place and how special it is.

As the saints were forced out of Kirtland in the late 1830's, the Lord apparently placed a scourge on the ‘inhabitants of Kirtland’ (D & C 124:83). Writing of that scourge, Hyrum Smith (the Prophet’s brother) wrote: “Thus saith the Lord, . . . [Kirtland] shall . . . be scourged with a sore scourge; yet your children may posses [Kirtland] . . But not until many years shall pass away; . . . and then I [the Lord] will send forth [brother Anderson suggest we insert our names at this point] and build up Kirtland, and it shall be polished and refined according to my word. (Emphasis added: History of the Church 4: 443-44)

Part of that scourge may have been that Kirtland would not prosper after the saints were driven out, and it did not. But the major and more important portion of the ‘scourge’ was likely that it would be left without a Prophet or the Gospel.

In 1840 after the saints had all left Kirtland, Joseph Smith said, “[Kirtland] will yet see good and glorious days.” (History of the Church 4:226)   Then, the night before his martyrdom, he found himself in vision. Says he, “[I] was back in Kirtland, Ohio . . . and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it.” (History of the Church 6:609)  He apparently considered it a future event as he contemplated this during the final hours of his life.

Earlier, Joseph also said, “ . . . that it [the Kirtland Stake] would be one of the principle ones in Zion . . . and its inhabitants should be the posterity of those now composing that city.” (Quoted in a letter by Joseph Young Sr. To Lewis Harvey, November 16, 1880)

In 1979, Elder Benson (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve) came to Kirtland by assignment to dedicate the new Stake Center here - something the Twelve do not usually do today and did not usually do then, either. But he came. Karl Anderson was the Stake President. Elder Benson asked President Anderson if the scourge spoken of in the 124th section, had ever been lifted. President Anderson answered that he did not think so. Elder Benson asked if President Anderson thought he should lift that scourge during his dedication of the building. President said he thought that would be great.  So he did so.

At the time, the Church owned virtually none of the historic sites in Kirtland itself and was not a strong presence here. That is changing. And the part of section 124 verse 83 which reads “. . . I the Lord, will build up Kirtland, . . .” is now happening. And we feel very privileged to be a part of it.

We will try to write more about our time with Brother Anderson in Part 2. Presuming we can come up with another Internet connection again!