Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Temple Plan Part of Big Rebuilding Effort Mormons to Regain Nauvoo Monument

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Temple Plan Part of Big Rebuilding Effort Mormons to Regain Nauvoo Monument

Article excerpt

SALT LAKE CITY -- Mormon church President Gordon B. Hinckley remembers his father's attempt 60 years ago to persuade church leaders to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple overlooking the Mississippi River.

"The church didn't have a lot of money in those days. That was just coming out of the Depression. . . . They declined it," said Hinckley, overseer of a temple-building program unprecedented in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He never forgot his father's desire as a Chicago mission president to rebuild the temple amid the Illinois farmlands about 150 miles upriver from St. Louis.

The gleaming edifice was nearing completion in 1846 when Brigham Young led the Mormons on their exodus to the West. Their welcome in Illinois had worn out amid complaints about Mormons' theocratic views and about polygamy practiced by some members. The temple was set ablaze after they left.

In his surprise announcement on Easter that Nauvoo would regain its temple, Hinckley was fulfilling his late father's wish. He also was striking a chord of longing within the Utah-based church to right a historical wrong.

"The rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple will bring back a clear and vivid reminder of what Nauvoo was. Nauvoo was a prosperous and great city," Hinckley said in a recent interview, noting that the new temple will closely resemble the grand original.

As president of the 10.4 millionmember church since 1995, Hinckley has worked to double the number of temples where Mormons in good standing perform sacred ordinances considered essential to the faith's concept of eternal progression.

Indeed, Hinckley's innovation to build smaller-scale temples in more places means most Mormons won't have to travel daunting distances to a temple.

So far, the church has 57 operating temples and 55 in some stage of planning or construction. Forty-seven are of the smaller type.

"Every temple that this church has built has, in effect, stood as a monument to our belief in the immortality of the human soul, that this phase of mortal life through which we pass is but one . . . part of a continuous upward climb, so to speak. And that as certain as there's life here, there will be life there," he said.

The temple, Hinckley said, serves as a bridge between mortality and immortality. As envisioned by church founder Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, temple rituals would embrace "the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days."

Springing nimbly from his chair, Hinckley, who will turn 89 next month, retrieved a small model of the Nauvoo Temple from atop a cabinet in his office and placed it before a visitor.

"This building was the finest in Illinois. It was the crowning phase of their belief, the crowning objective of their worship and there were many people who worked on it," he said. …

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