22 January 2015
The Kansas City Missouri Temple stands in a quiet, forested area of northern Kansas City. It is the 137th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the second temple built in Missouri. This majestic edifice symbolizes peace and religious commitment for the Mormons who worship there.
In the 1830s, Mormon settlers built homes in western Missouri as they sought to create a community based on their religious ideals. Building a temple where members could worship God was an imperative from the earliest days of the Church. In 1831, Joseph Smith, through whom the Mormon Church was restored, dedicated the Church’s first temple site in Independence, Missouri, about nine miles east of the current site of the Kansas City Missouri Temple. Church leaders dedicated two other temple sites—one at Far West, Missouri, in Caldwell County, and one at Adam-ondi-Ahman, about 70 miles north of Kansas City. Temples were never constructed on these sites, however, since Latter-day Saints abandoned their Missouri settlements because of religious and political persecution and unrest.
In the 20th century, Church membership grew in the Midwest once again, and the first stake, or group of congregations, was formed in the Kansas City area in 1956. The St. Louis Missouri Temple was dedicated in June 1997, but another temple was soon needed in the area as Church membership continued to grow. By 2008, when President Thomas S. Monson announced construction of the Kansas City Missouri Temple, about 100,000 members resided in Missouri and Kansas. A temple built so near Independence, Missouri, marks a significant return of the Church to the area.
The temple’s 32,000-square-foot structure has a two-spire design, and the exterior is made of white, precast concrete. The temple’s interior features limestone and accent stone from Mexico, India and Pakistan, as well as dark wood imported from Africa and beautiful white oak harvested from Adam-ondi-Ahman, a site owned by the Church. Of the materials used, William R. Walker, executive director of the Temple Department for the Church, said, “Just as the ancient Israelites did, as detailed in First Kings in the Old Testament, we try to build a temple as a tribute to our God that is beautiful, with fine workmanship and fine materials.”1
A unifying motif in the temple’s design is the olive branch, a symbol of peace. Olive branches adorn interior decorations and furnishings such as sculpted carpets, plush furniture, and glass panels throughout the temple. Stained-glass and etched-glass windows with olive tree motifs stand behind the temple entrance desk, and similar panels frame the chapel doorway.
The temple’s groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 8, 2010. On March 24, 2011, crowds gathered to watch the gold-leafed angel Moroni statue being placed on top of the east tower. When the temple was completed, it was open to the public from April 7 to April 28, 2012. More than 90,000 people from 47 states and 11 countries, and from many different faiths, attended the open house. An Episcopal priest wrote that she was interested in visiting the temple because she knew of the early Church members’ struggle in this area of Missouri. Of her open house experience, she wrote that she had a moment in which she personally felt close to God: “The silences and peace I felt reminded me of the many times I’ve felt close to God. … I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.”2
On April 5, 2012, following a tour of the temple, Missouri governor Jay Nixon and Kansas governor Sam Brownback presented official proclamations to the Church. The proclamations acknowledged the past and present contributions of Church members in their respective states and commended the members for their religious convictions and dedication. Both proclamations declared that the Kansas City Missouri Temple “stands as a shadow by day and a pillar by night to all who are defenders of religious liberty and further witnesses that the rights of conviction and conscience are central to the fabric of society and essential to peace.”3 Considering the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Missouri, the fellowship extended by the governors’ visits and commendations was both historic and meaningful.In his dedicatory prayer, Church President Thomas S. Monson said,
“It is a special occasion, for this temple stands on ground hallowed by the sacrifice and suffering of stalwart Saints who walked here long years ago. Today Thy Church shines forth in the sunlight of good will. During the weeks preceding this dedication, thousands of visitors came to see this sacred edifice. They departed with feelings of respect and a sense of appreciation. May Thy blessings attend all who felt the spirit of this Holy house. May that spirit continue with them.”4
3 Read both proclamations here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormons-kansas-city-missouri-temple-governors-proclamations#C2.