The Community of Christ Church, which was known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 1872 to 2001, is an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the LDS or "Mormon" Church. The two groups split after the death of the man considered the founder of both churches, Joseph Smith, Jr. The LDS church chose Brigham Young as their next leader, and those who did not support that choice eventually chose Joseph Smith III, who was 12 years old at the time of his father's death, to be their next leader. For years there was some animosity between the two groups, but recently their relationship has greatly improved.
Plans to build the temple were announced in 1984,groundbreaking took place on April 6, 1990, and the edifice was dedicated April 17, 1994. The cost was approximately $35 million.
I had seen photos of the building, and its strange twisting spire reminded me of some futuristic structure, perhaps a building out of The Jetsons or Star Wars. However, in person I found it quite striking. The twisting-turning steel and glass steeple looks like an ever-narrowing pathway that leads to heaven. The building was designed by an award-winning architect from Missouri named Gyo Obata, who also designed the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
A short walk from the temple is the U.N. Peace Plaza with this fountain topped by a statue of a young girl releasing a dove (Sculptor: Tom Corbin):
A plaque at the site states that this plaza was established by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the United Nation's Association to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. It notes that on June 27th, 1945, in the nearby Community of Christ Auditorium (covered in a later post), President Truman formally announced that the United States was a signatory to the UN. His words are included: "History has bestowed on us a solemn responsibility. We failed before to give a genuine peace. We dare not fail this time. We must not repeat the blunders of the past."
The glass was equally beautiful looking out from the Sanctuary walk towards the lobby:
A path lined with eclectic pieces of art leads towards the Temple's heart, the sanctuary. I like this etching. Is it a father reaching out to his prodigal son, or is it Christ reaching out to any of us?
A Tree of Life springs out from the wall, its shadow giving it added depth:
A fountain reminds visitors that Christ is living water:
There is an impressively imposing 60-stop, 102-rank, 5,685-pipe organ at the front of the room:
Community of Christ website notes: "The room's shape and its spiral, which ascends to 195 feet above the floor, contribute to an extraordinary acoustic with four seconds' reverberation, providing bloom and grandeur to the organ tone and music, and drama to the spoken word." I would love to hear an organ concert here.
|Nautilus shell, picture from Wikipedia|
The view from the inside is very striking: a fifty-square-foot window made up of 192 separate panes of glass:
The rest of the building is filled with additional pieces of religious art:
The Community of Christ has an active ministry in countries throughout Africa, and that is reflected in the art on the upper floor of the Temple:
Every year since 1993 the church has given an International Peace Award. According to the CofC website, the award includes a $20,000 grant that is donated to the charitable peace, justice, or environmental organization designated by the recipient.
Offices for the church's leaders are in this building:
View of the entrance and lobby from the upper floor:
We returned to the main floor and entered a prayer room where guests can write down the names of those who need special prayers in a special Prayer Book, not unlike the Prayer Rolls in LDS temples:
This room is dedicated to the eight sacraments of the Community of Christ:
BLESSING OF CHILDREN
THE LORD'S SUPPER
BLESSING OF THE SICK
EVANGELIST'S BLESSING (Perhaps like a Patriarchal Blessing?)
An enclosed outdoor area for meditation can be seen through large windows:
There is a lot of focus on children, which I liked:
|Child of Peace by Marlene Williams Mourey|
We made one final stop in a room that houses historical artifacts, and we were impressed by the friendliness, openness, and honesty of the people working in the gift shop area.