Latter-day Saint Life

Why isn’t the Kirtland Temple being turned into a dedicated temple?

The Kirtland Ohio Temple on Saturday, June 2, 2023.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

On March 5, 2024, the Church announced it had purchased the Kirtland Temple in Ohio. This historic news was exciting for members of the Church, and left many wondering, will the temple be renovated and dedicated for sacred ordinance work?

On the day the announcement was made, a Church webpage stated that the “Kirtland Temple will be maintained and presented as a historic building that is open to the public.” In a recent interview on the All In podcast, Elder Kyle S. McKay offered a bit more insight on this decision.

Elder McKay is a General Authority Seventy of the Church and is the Church Historian and Recorder and Executive Director of the Church History Department.

In the All In episode, he said, “[The Kirtland Temple] was never a functioning temple in the way we view them now. We didn’t perform the ordinances in that temple that we do in all of our current operating temples.”

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He went on to explain that the Kirtland Temple has been described as a “restoration temple” because heavenly messengers appeared in the temple to restore the priesthood keys needed to establish the kingdom of God on earth.

“So with the significance of the Restoration in mind, we’re going to keep this as a historic site. And that decision was made by President Nelson and the First Presidency,” Elder McKay says. “And I’m delighted that it will stay that way. We want to keep it old. We want to keep it authentic. We want it to be safe, but we want that old temple to be with us and to remind us of what happened.”

Elder McKay isn’t the only one happy about this decision.

On an episode of the Church News podcast, Church historian Matt Grow added,

“We’re so excited that the Kirtland Temple will be preserved, as it long has been. And for those of us who work in Church history and care for the Church’s historic sites across the United States, the Kirtland Temple is just going to be such a special site. Our historic sites both celebrate how Latter-day Saints have lived through time, but they also celebrate those moments when heaven and earth came together in really spectacular ways.

“And so the Kirtland Temple is akin to the Sacred Grove, where God the Father and Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Joseph Smith. It was in the Kirtland Temple in a very similar way that Jesus Christ appears to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and then additional prophetic messengers restoring authority. And so, for us to be able to interpret and give access to this holy site, the Kirtland Temple will do so much good in building faith in Latter-day Saints as a historic site than it probably could as a functioning modern temple.”

Find the full All In episode with Elder McKay here or wherever you stream your podcasts.

▶ You may also like: A quick look (with photos) at the historical treasures acquired with the Kirtland Temple

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