KANSAS CITY - It took more than 180 years, but a new Mormon temple is finally in place where Joseph Smith intended to build it. Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His teachings led followers to Independence, Missouri in 1831. Over the next several years, the church grew into parts of Jackson and Clay County. Members tried to build a temple to worship, but were forced from the area for their radical beliefs. Today there are 45,000 Mormons in the Kansas City area, and the Church hopes a new temple will serve their spiritual needs and educate the general public about this often misunderstood religion.
Mormons attend meeting houses on a weekly basis. These building are open to the public and can be found throughout Columbia and Mid-Missouri. Temples are open Tuesday through Saturday, to attract members to visit the meeting house on Sunday.
The Kansas City temple opened April 7, 2012. It is the second in the state and 137th worldwide. The Church dedicated the temple almost one month after it opened, on May 6. Upon dedication, only worthy members are allowed to enter the temple.
"Not all members are allowed to go in the temple," said Steve Lambson, Second Councilman in the Columbia Stake Presidency. "We have to have a certain level of worithiness to do that, to abide by the promises and covenants you made, including the 10 commandments."
Lambson does not intend for temples to be secret, but instead the most sacred places on earth. The Church believes members must have a certain level of purity and knowledge before entering the temple for worship. Liberty Stake President Jeremiah Morgan encouraged the general public to visit the temple during the open house, the first two weeks it was open.
"We want people to see the temple and how it's important to us," Morgan said.
Visitors were given tours by local church members. The tour began with a short video, giving visitors information about the history of the Church. After the video, two members of the local congregation led visitors through a guided tour of the Kansas City Temple.
Tours began at the reception desk and proceeded to the baptismal font. The tour then lead visitors to the women's changing room, where members of the Church change into all white before worship in the temple. Tour guides then took visitors to the two instruction rooms, followed by the celestial room. The celestial room symbolizes life and eternity with Jesus Christ. The tour ended in the sealing room where members of the church are married, and families are sealed together.
Carolyn Alger, member of the Highland Columbia meeting house, will be working at the St. Louis Temple throughout May.
"I received a request to come and talk to the (St. Louis) temple President, knowing what he was going to be requiring," Alger said. "Many people that worked before in the St. Louis Temple, are going to be working in the Kansas City Temple."
Alger will direct temple patrons from room to room. She is excited to serve the Church and spend time in the temple.
"I go to the temple very often," Alger said. "I go and participate, so this will just be an opportunity to serve."
Check out the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website for more information on the Church and answers to frequently asked questions.