Community of Christ transfers sacred sites, articles to the Church

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Ownership of sacred sites transferred from the Community of Christ to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a $192 million sale.

“I hadn’t envisioned something this all encompassing,” Casey Griffiths, BYU associate professor of Church History and Doctrine, said.

Griffiths shared some of his thoughts on the recent transfer of stewardship over several more sacred sites and articles from early Church history.

“The Kirtland temple is obviously the headline,” Griffith said. “But essentially what we acquired is almost every historic site owned by the Community of Christ.”

Damon Barr and his wife led Kirtland temple tours after getting to know members of the Community of Christ. He is grateful the Community of Christ has preserved that sacred site.

“There would be, in my opinion, no Kirtland Temple without the Reorganized Church, aka, the Community of Christ taking such good care of it,” Barr said.

All of the sacred sites acquired have been available for anyone to view for years on the Joseph Smith Papers website. Still, Griffiths said there is one item he is particularly excited about in the transfer of custody.

“Oh! There are no surprises here! What I am most excited about is the Joseph Smith Translation,” Griffiths said. “I don’t think you can overestimate how much that affected our church. The ‘Caractors’ document is another thing that I really love too.”

This transfer of stewardship has been met with a mix of emotions from members of other restoration churches.

“These places have been my home for almost my entire adult life,” Community of Christ apostle, Lachlan Mackay said.

Griffiths and Barr encouraged people to be sensitive to the loss many may be feeling.

”Let’s don’t adopt a ‘we won, they lost,’” Griffiths said. “Hopefully the way these buildings are going to be handled is going to be a win-win for everyone … and allow everyone to continue to use them as sacred spaces.”

Read more about the transfer at newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. 

The Kirtland temple will remain a public historic site. After being closed for a few weeks, the temple re-opened for tours on March 25.

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