RELIGION

‘Definitely memorable’: Utahns travel to Kirtland for temple reopening

Mar 25, 2024, 5:30 PM | Updated: Mar 26, 2024, 7:55 am

KIRTLAND, Ohio — For Kyle and Robyn Johnson, changing their plans was a no-brainer.

The Provo couple scheduled a road trip across the U.S. to visit historic sites with their 6-year-old daughter, Amelie. When they learned The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had acquired the Kirtland Temple and was reopening it for public tours, they wanted to be there.

“We immediately decided to change and extend our trip,” Robyn Johnson said. “We knew to go in this historic building … that it would be a memory forever we could share, and we could share with our daughter.”

The Johnsons were part of the first tour group Monday morning to visit the nearly 200-year-old temple, which was dedicated in 1836 and was the first one built by Latter-day Saint pioneers.

For more than 100 years, it has been owned by the Community of Christ.

Visitors inside the Kirtland Temple during a tour.

Visitors inside the Kirtland Temple during a tour. (Meghan Thackrey, KSL TV)

In early March, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Utah, announced it had paid $192.5 million to acquire the temple and other properties and documents from the Community of Christ.

“I’m just like breathtaken by it all,” said Kyle Johnson after he and his family finished the temple tour. “I really felt the Spirit testify to me that this is the house of the Lord.”

Nathan Johnson, who leads Latter-day Saint congregations in the Kirtland area, praised the Community of Christ for taking care of the temple.

“The fact that it’s been preserved, that it’s still here, is amazing,” Nathan Johnson said. “It’s a miracle.”

An aerial view of the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio.

An aerial view of the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio. (Meghan Thackrey, KSL TV)

Nearly 250 visitors came from all over to tour the temple on Monday. Kurt Iverson and his family, from Preston, Idaho, also rearranged their trip to make sure they could be in Ohio for the temple reopening.

“We had to stay an extra day, and it was fantastic,” said Iverson, calling the tour a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

John and Diane Wilcox, senior missionaries serving in Utah, came to Kirtland to celebrate their 47th anniversary. Their ancestors helped build the temple.

“It was a very spiritual experience for me,” Diane Wilcox said. “You could feel the Spirit very strong as it testified of the things that happened here.”

Visitors exiting the Kirtland Temple, heading to their next destination.

Visitors exiting the Kirtland Temple, heading to their next destination. (Meghan Thackrey, KSL TV)

Elder Kyle S. McKay, who serves as the Church historian, said the Kirtland Temple is a connection to a time long ago.

“Those memories and those people and their voices still echo within those halls,” McKay said.

The Johnsons are glad they were able to walk those halls and witness the new beginning of a place that is sacred to them.

“Just historic to be on the very first tour when it’s very first open,” Robyn Johnson said. “Definitely memorable.”

Public tours of the Kirtland Temple are free and last about an hour. They run Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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‘Definitely memorable’: Utahns travel to Kirtland for temple reopening