The new Kansas City Mormon temple, which is nearing completion in Clay County, will open in April.
An open house, during which non-church members will be able to tour the 32,000-square foot structure, will begin April 7 and run through April 21, excluding Sundays.
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Formal dedication ceremonies have been scheduled for May 6.
An announcement of the opening appeared Thursday on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website.
“We are thrilled. We have been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Don Deshler, LDS elder in the Kansas City area.
The temple, built on eight acres at 7001 Searcy Creek Parkway, will serve about 30,000 LDS church members across the Kansas City area.
Latter-day Saint temples differ from the church’s meeting houses, where members meet for Sunday worship services. A Mormon temple is considered a “House of the Lord” in which Jesus Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through specific ordinances, or sacraments, including marriage and baptism.
“We often say that ‘All roads lead to the temple,’” said Deshler.
Previously, area LDS members who wanted to attend a temple service had to travel to temples several hours away, such as those in Omaha or St. Louis County. The Kansas City temple will serve Kansas City area church members as well as those living in central Kansas and southwest Missouri.
“We would like everyone in the greater Kansas City area to take the opportunity to see what the inside of a Mormon temple looks like,” said Jeremiah Morgan, president of the Liberty LDS Stake, or district. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
After the temple’s open house and dedication, the building will be open only to church members considered in good standing.
The new temple will represent a landmark event in the western Missouri history of the Mormon Church. The facility stands not far from Liberty, where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith Jr. was incarcerated in the winter of 1838-39.
Followers of Smith had arrived in Jackson County in the early 1830s. Tensions between them and other settlers led to hostilities, with early church members being driven north across the Missouri River. By 1839, thousands had been expelled from western Missouri in what today is known as the Missouri Mormon War.
Today the LDS Church maintains a visitors center on the Liberty site where Smith was detained. It includes a partial reconstruction of the basement jail cell shared by Smith and others.
“The building of any new temple is significant,” said Morgan. “But certainly it is close to where Joseph Smith was incarcerated and where many of our 19th century ancestors lived and walked. At minimum, the new temple is an acknowledgement that the community is much different now than it was at that time, and we are grateful to be welcome.”
The LDS Church, which has about 14 million members and is based in Salt Lake City, is separate from the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Community of Christ, with its headquarters in Independence, has about 250,000 members.
Information about open house reservations soon will be available at kansascitymormontemple.org.