If there’s a day of the year that holds more historical significance than any other for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, surely it’s April 6. More significant events in Church history have happened on this day than perhaps any other. So why does the sixth of April hold such importance in the Church?
The significance of the date began with the legal organization of the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830, in the state of New York. The Church of Christ would eventually become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The April 6 connection to the Church’s organization date is straightforward enough—but a less clear-cut association with April 6 and Jesus’s birth resulted from a reference in the Doctrine and Covenants to the Church’s founding.
Birth of Jesus Christ?
Doctrine and Covenants 20:1, a revelation on Church organization and government, reads as follows:
“The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.”
Some have interpreted this verse as a revelation by Joseph Smith that Jesus was born precisely 1,830 years before the Church was organized, to the day—and therefore, the Savior was born on April 6, 1 BC.
These two reasons made April 6 a special date from the earliest days of the Church, and that significance continued from there.
Transfer from Liberty Jail
By coincidence, April 6, 1839, was the day Joseph and Hyrum Smith were transferred from Liberty Jail to Daviess County Jail in Galliton, Missouri, for a grand jury hearing. Nine days later, however, the men were transferred yet again, but during transport they were allowed to escape by the sheriff and guards.
Nauvoo Temple Cornerstones
Two years later, on April 6, 1841, members of the Church gathered at the Nauvoo temple site for a ceremony where the temple’s four cornerstones were laid. Each cornerstone was transported to its location under the direction of the presidents of each quorum of the priesthood. Then Joseph Smith dedicated the cornerstones and Sidney Rigdon gave a speech.
Interestingly, most temples today have a single cornerstone symbolically laid at the end of construction and during the dedication process. But for the reconstructed Nauvoo Temple, the original cornerstone-laying process was followed, with four cornerstones laid at the beginning of construction in 2000.
Salt Lake Temple Cornerstone
After the Saints were driven from Nauvoo across the plains to Utah, Brigham Young marked the location of a new temple in the Salt Lake Valley on July 28, 1847, just days after the Saints’ arrival.
Because it took many years for the Latter-day Saints to get a foothold in their new high-desert home, it wasn’t until 1853 that the temple site was officially dedicated, and the cornerstone was laid on April 6 of that year, under the direction of Brigham Young.
St. George Temple Dedication
The construction of the Salt Lake Temple would continue for decades. In the meantime, the St. George Temple was completed and dedicated on April 6, 1877. This was the only temple completed during Brigham Young’s 30 years of service as Church President.
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Salt Lake Temple Capstone
The capstone of the Salt Lake Temple was a granite sphere placed atop the main spire, on which the statue of the angel Moroni stood. On April 6, 1892, the capstone was set in place using an electric motor and switch that was operated by Wilford Woodruff. The angel Moroni was installed later that day, and with that, the exterior of the temple was completed.
A time capsule was sealed inside the capstone, which was opened 128 years later, when major renovations on the temple began.
At the capstone ceremony, President Woodruff suggested that the temple’s interior be completed in one year from that day—an ambitious goal, since it was believed that the remaining work would take three years. Just one month before that date the following year, it still was unclear whether the goal would be met. But workers made a wholehearted effort, and the temple was ready by noon on April 5, 1893—just a few hours before the deadline. That afternoon, the temple was opened for the visit of about 600 visitors before the dedication the next day.
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Salt Lake Temple Dedication
On April 6, 1893, exactly 40 years after its cornerstone was laid, the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff. Over the next three weeks, a whopping thirty-one additional dedicatory sessions were held for those who wanted to participate.
Calling of Assistants to the Twelve
A new priesthood calling was established on April 6, 1941: Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Five such assistants were called on this date; they were general authorities who were assigned by the Apostles to travel to reorganize stakes; attend and preside over stake conferences; tour missions; and help direct missionary work worldwide. The calling was discontinued in 1976.
Palmyra New York Temple Dedication
The Palmyra New York Temple was dedicated on April 6, 2000, which was the 170th anniversary of the Church’s organization. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the temple— which sits on land that was part of the Smith Farm, where Joseph Smith spent much of his childhood and which contains the Sacred Grove, the location of Joseph’s First Vision.
The temple dedication was attended by about 1,200 people, but because of the temple site’s historical significance, the dedication was also broadcast to meetinghouses throughout the United States and Canada, allowing nearly 1.5 million members to participate remotely.
April 6 is also the date of many events outside of the Church, including the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the first time explorers reached the North Pole in 1909.