This is a banner day!

This is a banner day! March 5, 2024


Kirtland Temple photo from north
The Kirtland Temple, in a fairly standard, almost iconic, view — this one from the visitor center of the Community of Christ.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

For anybody who cares about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today’s news is absolutely thrilling.  I have been hoping for these developments for a many decades:

“Responsibility and Ownership of Sacred Sites and Historic Documents Transfer to Church of Jesus Christ: Acquisitions include Kirtland Temple, historic buildings in Nauvoo and manuscripts of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible”

“Frequently Asked Questions Clarify the Transfer of Sacred Sites and Historic Documents: Appendix lists items transferred”

The Kirtland Temple belongs to the Church formerly known as RLDS
The first Latter-day Saint temple was dedicated in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836, but the Church was driven from the area shortly thereafter lost ownership of it for nearly two hundred years.
( public domain photo)

Here’s a little story that I can share that might have some slight relevance:

For its first several years, the old Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, or FARMS — the forerunner of what then became the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and, organizationally speaking, of the post-2012 Maxwell Institute — was a fairly humble little operation running on a shoestring budget.

Then we received a huge donation, several orders of magnitude greater than anything we had ever received before.

The big question was what to do with it.

One suggestion, advanced only half-seriously, was to make an offer to purchase the Kirtland Temple from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also now known as the Community of Christ.  I was the one who made the suggestion.

We knew that they were in financial difficulties, and we had watched as they had distanced themselves more and more from Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  More to the point, one of their officials — a paid employee, not one of their ecclesiastical leaders — had actually approached us for a donation to cover much-needed repairs to the building.  (He had apparently gotten wind of the huge donation.)

So I suggested, half in jest, that we offer to buy it altogether.

A prominent leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now deceased, somehow heard of that idea all the way up in Salt Lake City, and called down to tell us that it was inappropriate for a rogue band of scholars to own a temple.

But, of course, we were fully aware of that.  My idea, to the extent that it was serious at all, wasn’t that we would own it.  My thought, rather, was that the Reorganized Church might not want to sell the Kirtland Temple directly to the Utah Church, but that, as a face-saving measure, they might perhaps be willing to sell it to a third party.  And, if we were that third party, my notion (again only half serious, if that) was that we would immediately turn around the next day and transfer ownership of the temple in Kirtland to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its proper custodian.

I, too, didn’t think it appropriate for private people or a private organization to own a temple.  But, I thought, if we needed more money in order to complete the transaction, we would be able to raise the necessary sum within twenty-four to thirty-six hours at the most.  There would be such enthusiasm among the membership that it would be an easy pitch.  In fact, I doubted that a pitch would even be required at all.

Nothing came of the matter, of course.  But I’ve never lost my hope that, someday, the Kirtland Temple, where so many important events had occurred and where so many divine manifestations had been received, would again belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I’m ecstatic that the temple in Kirtland — along with several other artifacts and properties, including some in Nauvoo, Illinois — will now be back in the appropriate hands.  (That’s right.  I’m not neutral in that regard.)  I couldn’t possibly be more pleased.

The first LDS temple
The Kirtland Ohio Temple
Dedicated 27 March 1836

In the meantime, the website of the Interpreter Foundation continues to post interesting material, including the following:

Nibley Lectures: Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 11 “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”: 2 Nephi 26-30

During 1988, 1989, and 1990, Hugh Nibley taught Honors Book of Mormon classes for four semesters at Brigham Young University. The lectures were video-taped and audio cassettes and printed transcripts were made of the lectures. We believe these recordings will be interesting to listen to and valuable to your Come, Follow Me study program this year. Each week, we will include the lectures covering the Book of Mormon chapters being studied that week.

This week, we have lecture 21, “2 Nephi 25-30, Nephi’s Prophecy of Our Times” and lecture 22, “2 Nephi 29—31, Scripture and Canon.”

All 112 lectures are immediately available in PDF, audio, video, and electronic formats, as well as in paperback books that are available for purchase. Links for all of the available online sources can be found in the Complete Bibliography for Hugh Nibley at

Kirtland Temple, with film crew
Ron Romig, the former archivist for the Community of Christ who was then serving as its historic sites specialist for the Kirtland area, took this photograph of some of us in front of the Kirtland Temple when we were back there in Ohio doing some filming several years ago.  From left to right, the Heart of Darkness and his wife; Karl Ricks Anderson (aka “Mr. Kirtland”) and his wife; Mark Goodman, with his wife; and Russell Richins, with his wife.  (I follow my longstanding policy of not naming people here unless they are already more or less public figures, lest they become targets of the kind of anonymous online abuse that has been continually directed at me over the past fifteen to twenty years.)

And these two items have gone up, as well:

The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 11: “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”: 2 Nephi 26-30

For the 18 February 2024 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, Bruce Webster and Robert Boylan and Kris Frederickson joined together for a discussion of Book of Mormon lesson 11 in the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder,” covering 2 Nephi 26-30.

The other segments of the 18 February 2024 radio show can be accessed at

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard each week on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640, or you can listen live on the Internet at

Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024): Lesson 11, March 11-17: 2 Nephi 26-30 “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.



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