Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Further Reflections on the Loss of the Kirtland Temple: A Historic Change in Ownership

The recent sale of the Kirtland Temple to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has stirred a mixture of emotions within me. As someone who feels a special fondness for the Community of Christ, the denomination that has owned and maintained this historic building for decades, I can't help but feel a sense of loss.

The Kirtland Temple holds immense historical and spiritual significance. It's not just a building; it's a symbol of faith, sacrifice, and community. For years, the Community of Christ has generously shared this sacred space with other Latter-day Saint denominations and visitors from around the world. Their approach was always irenic, focusing on the rich history of the temple rather than using it as a tool for proselytization.

However, with the LDS Church now in possession of the temple, I fear that the approach to sharing this space may change. The LDS Church's history of using their properties for evangelistic purposes raises concerns that the Kirtland Temple's inclusive and historical focus may shift towards promoting specific religious beliefs and practices.

While I understand the practical reasons behind the sale, particularly the financial burdens of maintaining an old building, the loss is profound for the Community of Christ and those who have benefited from their stewardship. The temple's open doors to various groups, including Restoration Branch churches, exemplified a spirit of ecumenical kindness that I hope will not be lost under the new ownership.

As the Community of Christ navigates this transition, I also worry about the future use of the substantial funds received from the sale. With over $190 million at their disposal, the choices they make in investing this money will be crucial for their mission and growth. My hope is that these funds will be used wisely, not just as a temporary lifeline, but as a means to further their spiritual and community goals.

In the end, the sale of the Kirtland Temple is a reminder of the ever-changing landscape of religious communities. While change is inevitable, preserving the spirit and intentions of sacred spaces is essential for maintaining their historical and spiritual significance.