Will 'New Jerusalem' get one of the planned Mormon temples?

Hugh S. Welsh

Independence – which Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith called Zion or New Jerusalem – is not a likely location for a temple being planned for the Kansas City area, according to Manuel Medina, president of the Independence Missouri Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“My strong guess is that it will not be in Independence,” said Medina, citing the elaborate complex of temples planned by Smith to go there.

The church announced over the weekend that it will build five new temples, including one in the Kansas City area.

Medina said the church owns a lot of property in the Kansas City area, meaning the temple could be constructed in Kansas City limits, the Liberty/Kearney area, Lee’s Summit or Overland Park – to name a few.

Once its location is announced (which will occur in several weeks), it will take approximately three years for the temple’s construction, Medina said.

Gerald Tedrow, director of the Mormon Visitor Center in Independence, said the temple will blend in with its surroundings.

“The goal isn’t to make it stand out,” Tedrow said, “but for it to blend in with the culture and community.”

At present, the church’s closest temple is in St. Louis.

“We’re real excited about having (a temple) in Kansas City,” Tedrow said. “ It used to be that you had to travel quite a ways, but the membership of the church is sufficient enough now to support it.”

Temples are integral to the lives of Latter-day Saints. Reserved for special forms of worship – including proxy baptisms and wedding ceremonies known as sealings – temples are restricted to worthy members only. The first temple was dedicated in 1836.

“We believe very strongly that families must be strung together for the eternities,” Tedrow said.

There are currently 128 temples in operation around the world.

At its General Conference over the weekend, church president Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of four other temples in addition to the one in Kansas City. They are planned for Rome; Calgary, Canada; Cordoba, Argentina; and Philadelphia. The Rome temple will be the church’s first in the Mediterranean region.

In other business, Medina said the church is in the process of acquiring property to build a chapel in eastern Independence by 2010.


The Community of  Christ Temple, on River Boulevard, was built in 1994 by the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) following a revelation by then church president Wallace Smith. Like the Mormon church, the Community of Christ traces it founding to Joseph Smith Jr.

The Community of Christ regards Joseph Smith III, the eldest son of Smith Jr., to have been his legitimate successor, whereas the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views Smith Jr.’s successor as Brigham Young.

The Examiner