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The Kirtland Temple was the first temple members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built in this dispensation. The project was initiated by a divine mandate (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119), which was followed by a second command six months later (Doctrine and Covenant 95:1-3). Architectural historian Elwin Robison notes the physical structure “is a mixture of Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Gothic elements.”

Although it is called a temple, the Kirtland Temple was not used as temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are today. During the time when the Prophet Joseph Smith was there, it was a multi-use building used for religious, civic and educational purposes. The building had strict rules but could be accessed by most people, depending on particular circumstances.

The temple was used for some preliminary-type ordinances in which some of the leaders participated. The endowment and other temple ordinances were not introduced into the Church until 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois. The most significant event of the Kirtland Temple in Joseph Smith’s day was the reception of priesthood keys, given by heavenly messengers to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (Doctrine and Covenants 110).

Presently, the Kirtland Temple is owned and maintained by Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its tours of the temple are informative and thoughtful. The Kirtland Temple is a must see for any visitors to Kirtland interested in Latter-day Saint history.

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