7. Joseph Smith Nauvoo Temple

The Nauvoo Mormon Temple was the second temple constructed by the small but growing Mormon Church. In 1839, the Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes in Missouri by mobs. They sought refuge in Illinois and were given a charter to build a city on the banks of the Mississippi. The land was a swamp, and the people labored to drain the land and build a city. In 1841, the prophet and leader of the Church, Joseph Smith announced that a temple should again be built. He received revelation from the Lord that said “but I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me…And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it.”1 Through revelation from God Joseph Smith helped establish a pattern where the members of the Church would build a temple wherever they went so that they could carry out the ordinances needed for eternal life.The task of building the temple was daunting; most of the members had lost everything when they were driven from their homes in Missouri. Some donated all of their life savings to the building of the Nauvoo temple; others donated their time to help build it. 1,200 men worked in the stone quarries to cut giant limestone blocks out the ground. The women were asked to donate their pennies to the temple fund as well as time sewing clothing and preparing meals for the men working on the temple. The Twelve Apostles recorded the effort made by the saints to build the temple, “many have volunteered to labor continually, and the brethren generally are giving one-tenth part of their time, or one-tenth part of their income, according to circumstances; while … sisters … are knitting socks and mittens, and preparing garments for the laborers, so that they may be made as comfortable as possible during the coming winter.”Mercy Fielding Thompson told how the sister began donating their pennies, “At one time after seeking earnestly to know from the Lord if there was anything that I could do for the building up of the Kingdom of God, a most pleasant sensation came over me with the following words. Try to get the Sisters to subscribe one cent per week for the purpose of buying glass and nails for the Temple.mormon temple Nauvoo IllinoisI went immediately to Brother Joseph. … He told me to go ahead and the Lord would bless me.” More than one million dollars was donated to the temple fund by the time the temple was completed.By 1844, Nauvoo rivaled Chicago as Illinois’ largest city. Neighbors felt threatened by the large numbers of Mormons and began to demand the Saints leave Nauvoo. Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob, and it was obvious that the Saints would not be allowed to stay in Nauvoo. The temple was not completed until May 1846, but by this time many of the Saints had left Nauvoo because of persecution. Individual rooms of the temple were dedicated as they were finished. This allowed nearly five thousand saints to receive sacred temple covenants before they were forced to leave. Only two years after its completion, the temple was almost completely destroyed by arsonists, and in 1850 a tornado toppled most of what remained of the temple. Over time stones were taken from the temple to be used on houses and other buildings.Don L. Searle an editor for the Ensign Church Magazine said, “As Latter-day Saint pioneers left Nauvoo in 1846, many looked back longingly at the temple they left behind. For some, the sight of the temple on the hill above the Mississippi River may have been their last mental picture of their beautiful city. If they could gaze on the same spot today, they would recognize the temple that stands there now. The new Nauvoo Illinois Temple has been made to look like the first one.” The Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt and today signifies the sacrifice that those early saints made to build a beautiful temple to God.

See the next page in the timeline series.

Other Links:

1 Section 124:31, 43. Doctrine and Covenants.

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