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Sunday, December 19, 2010

LDS Temples and their Priesthood Assembly Rooms

There are 8 temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that have Assembly Rooms, and 7 temples whose Assembly Room is used at least once a year.  Temples with Assembly Rooms of some kind are located, in order of construction: Kirtland, Ohio; Nauvoo, Illinois; St. George, Utah; Logan, Utah; Manti, Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah; Los Angeles, California; and Washington D.C.

KIRTLAND TEMPLE: Kirland, Ohio (1833-1836)

The Kirtland Temple was constructed from the Summer of 1833 to Spring 1836.  It is the first temple to have Assembly Halls of any kind in this dispensation.  One was on the bottom floor, used for worship services.  The second was on the top floor, used for educational classes.  The lower court is pictured above.

The west pulpits are for the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the east for the Aaronic Priesthood.  This is the same in all other LDS Temples.  The lettering* on the west pulpits is as follows, reading from the top pulpits to the bottom:

M.P.C. (Melchizedek Presiding Council) – First Presidency of the Church or Stake Presidency
P.M.H. (Presiding Melchizedek High Priesthood) – Quorum of Twelve Apostles or Stake High Council
M.H.P. (Melchizedek High Priesthood) – High Priests Quorum
P.E.M. (Presiding or Presidency Elders Melchizedek) – Elders Quorum Presidency

The lettering* on the east side is thus, also from the top pulpits to the bottom:

B.P.A. (Bishop Presiding over Aaronic Priesthood) – Presiding Bishopric or local Bishopric
P.A.P. (Presiding or Presidency Aaronic Priests) – Priest’s Quorum Reps
P.T.A. (Presiding or Presidency Teachers Aaronic Priesthood) – Teachers Quorum Presidency
P.D.A. (Presiding or Presidency Deacons Aaronic Priesthood) – Deacons Quorum Presidency

*The information on the lettering were found here:  Backman Jr., Milton Vaughn, The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983, 160; Black, Harry, Kirtland Temple, Independence, Mo.: Herald House, 1958, 17–18; Cowan, Richard O., Temples to Dot the Earth, Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort Incorporated, 1997, 21–35; and Fields, Clarence L., “History of the Kirtland Temple,” master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1963, 28.

NAUVOO ILLINOIS TEMPLE: Nauvoo, Illinois (1999-2002)
The second temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lies in a town on the banks of the Mississippi River in Western Illinois.

The Nauvoo Temple originally had two large assembly halls, one above another.  General Conference was held in the Assembly Hall on the first floor in October 1845.  This is the first of only three occurrences in which a General Conference was held in a temple.  This temple was gutted by an arson fire in 1848, and then the remaining walls were destroyed by a tornado in 1850.  The temple has since been rebuilt (2002), and the first floor has an assembly hall, albeit on a smaller scale as that found in the original.  The new Assembly Room holds500 people, including in the pulpits.  

Many have wondered what the lettering on the original pulpits stated.  We have two completely different sources giving the answer.  One is J. H. Buckingham, who apparently was a non-Mormon.  He lists the following letters and meanings when he toured the Nauvoo Temple in the late 1840s (Buckingham, Papers in Illinois History and Transactions, 1937; "Illinois as Lincoln Knew It", Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Illinois, p. 172).  On the east end of the hall stood the Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits, which had, set in gilded letters, written (from the highest pulpit to the lowest):

P.H.P. - President of the High Priesthood (First Presidency of the Church)
P.S.Z. - President of the Seventies in Zion
P.H.Q. - President of the High Priests Quorum (Stake Presidency)
P.E.Q. - President of the Elders Quorum.  

The second source for the meanings of the gilded lettering of the original Nauvoo Temple pulpits comes from a Latter-day Saint who happened to be in the Temple on 1 May 1846, when it was publicly dedicated.  His testimony agrees with Mr. Buckingham.  The Mormon spoken of was James A. Scott.  He wrote in his journal the meaning of the letters (Journal of James A. Scott, p. 4, LDS Church Archives). 

Above these pulpits, in gilded letters, were the words, The Lord Has Seen Our Sacrifice - Come After Us.

The pulpits on the west were for the Aaronic Priesthood.  The lettering thereon was, according to

P.A.P - President of the Aaronic Priesthood (President Bishopric)
P.P.Q - President of the Priest's Quorum (local Bishopric)
P.T.Q - President of the Teacher's Quorum
P.D.Q - President of the Deacon's Quorum

These initial do not appear in the current Assembly Room's pulpits, unfortunately.  When the temple was dedicated on 27 June 2002 Presidents Hinckley and Monson sat on the brown bench at the lowest West (Aaronic) pulpits, which are the pulpits closest to the reader in the below picture. (Lisle Brown, "Dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple",

ST. GEORGE UTAH TEMPLE: St. George, Utah (1871-1877)
This temple was built from 1871 to 1877.  It was here in 1877 that a second General Conference of the Church was held in a temple, where on 6 April 1877 it was dedicated by President Daniel H. Wells of the First Presidency.
Aaronic Priesthood Pulpits

LOGAN UTAH TEMPLE: Logan, Utah (1877-1884)

This temple was constructed from 1877 to 1884.  There have been numerous Solemn Assemblies held in this Assembly Room.  In one such Assembly, President David O. McKay developed "Every Member a Missionary!", his trademark phrase.  The Solemn Assembly was given on 21 September 1953.  Also present at this Solemn Assembly were: 1,500 Melchizedek Priesthood holders, Presidents Stephen L. Richards, and Clark; and Elders Joseph Fielding Smith, Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Petersen, Cowley, Moyle, Stapley, Romney, LeGrand Richards, Bennion, Morris, Evans, and McConkie (The Logan Temple: The First 100 Years, p. 196-197).

Two more Solemn Assemblies of note took place in this House of the Lord.  On 4 May 1967 all Returned Missionaries attending Utah State University and then-Weber State College met in the Assembly Room and were instructed by then-Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder Hugh B. Brown (Ibid.).

The final Solemn Assembly held in the Logan Temple was on 6 December 1975, wherein 1,340 Priesthood leaders in the Logan Temple District heard sermons from Presidents Kimball, Tanner, and Romney, as well as from Elders Benson and Petersen (Ibid.).

I also have a friend who served in the Utah Ogden Mission in the early 2000s.  He told me that he had the opportunity of having two Zone Conferences in the Assembly Room of the Logan Temple, during which all the missionaries sang "The Spirit of God".

MANTI UTAH TEMPLE: Manti, Utah (1877-1888)
The House of the Lord at Manti was announced in 1875.  I went through this temple for the first time in the summer of 2008.  While there, I asked a temple worker how often they use the Assembly Room.  She told me that the Assembly Room is used at least once a year for a devotional with all the temple workers.

SALT LAKE TEMPLE: Salt Lake City, Utah (1853-1893)
The flagship temple in the LDS Church, the Salt Lake Temple was built between 1853 to 1893, being dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff on 6 April 1893.  From, we read, "July 2 [1899] — A solemn assembly was held in the Salt Lake Temple, attended by the Church's 26 General Authorities, presidencies of the 40 stakes, and bishops of the 478 wards of the Church. The assembly accepted the resolution that tithing is the 'word and will of the Lord unto us.'"  During the April General Conference of 1942, "Conference sessions were held in . . . the assembly room of the Salt Lake Temple."  Also, when my father was in the Mission Home in Salt Lake City in 1973, he was instructed by President Spencer W. Kimball in this Assembly Room.  Also, semi-annually, a devotional occurs in this room for all the temple workers.  All General Authorities meet in this room monthly.

LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA TEMPLE: Los Angeles, California (1951-1956)
Built from 1951 to 1956, the Los Angeles California Temple was the first temple in California, and the tenth in the Church.  Originally it was the largest temple in the Church, but the Salt Lake Temple has had additions that make the LA Temple now number two in size.

WASHINGTON D.C. TEMPLE: Washington D.C (1968-1974)
The temple in which I was endowed, this massive temple is the tallest in the Church, standing 306 feet tall to the top of the Angel Moroni, which Angel Moroni is 18 feet tall.  It is one of five Angel Moroni statues holding the Gold Plates.  It is the last temple in the Church to have an Assembly Room.

Proof of God

For those who want physical proof that God exists, I will give it them.

Above is a picture of firemen inside the Provo Tabernacle, which burned down on 17 December 2010.  They are holding a painting by Harry Anderson titled "The Second Comiing".  The only thing remaining is Jesus Christ.  This picture hung in the Tabernacle for 14 hours straight whilst the Tabernacle burned, the roof collapsed (taking with it the balcony section), and the building continued to burn.  It is a statistical impossibility that anything would remain intact after 14 hours in flames, except God protect it, as He did this image of His Son.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The "Myth" Un-"Mythed"

In an article by Lauren Green (see article here), mention is made of an ad campaign by American Atheists.  One of the ads state, "You know it’s a myth.  This season, celebrate reason."  The American Atheists major question is whether or not Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God or whether Jesus is a myth.  In this article, we will examine the Messiahship of Jesus.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,  

How do you prove the resurrection?  As we are going to see, you prove it by testimony. . . . How do you prove spiritual truths? . . . The way Peter and the ancients proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore that the gospel which he taught was the plan of salvation, was to establish that he rose from the dead.  And the way you prove that a man rises from the dead, because it’s in the spiritual realm, is to bear witness by the power of the Spirit of knowledge that is personal and real and literal to you. (Ensign, Dec. 1980, p. 11)

It all centers on witnesses.  In our courts of law, witnesses testify to the guit or innocence of a man.  So in the Gospel of Jesus Christ do witnesses testiry to the validity of the resurrected Son of Deity.

 Mary is the first of all mortals to see her Risen Lord.  The event is heralded in the Gospel of John in these words:

"But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcure, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?  She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.  And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?  She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.  Jesus saith unto her, Mary.  She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master (John 20:11-16)."

Before the close of the New Testament, it is marked down that the Savior appears to Paul, Stephen, the Eleven Apostles, and lastly to 500 bretheren.  John, on the Isle of Patmos, gives a moving description of the Redeemer of the world.  He said,  

"The Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. . . . His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Rev. 1:13-16)."  

So far, that is 514 people who still know that Jesus is not a myth.  

We turn now to the pages of the Book of Mormon, and let it establish a witness of the Son of God.  In that holy Book we learn that 2,500 people saw, conversed with, learned from, and felt the wounds of the Messiah risen again from the dead.  This included the Twelve whom Messiah called on the American continent who were also there.  We also have knowledge of both Mormon and Moroni seeing the Risen Lord.  Of these two special witnesses, the words of Mormon reverberate through the sidereal heavens.  Saith he, "And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus (Moroni 1:15)."  What a powerful but precise testimony!  Included with the 514 people in the New Testament, we now have 3,016 people who knew Jesus is not a myth!

In modern times the witnesses who have left us accounts either by their own hand or spoke these accounts to their children and were thereby recorded, we have at least the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Lorenzo Snow.  The risen Lord appeared in the Kirtland Temple to accept of the edifice.  It is written,  

"The veil was taken from our minds, and the eye of our understanding were opened.  We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.  His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah (D&C 110:1-3) . . ."  

We also have an account of President Lorenzo Snow seeing Jesus after praying in the Salt Lake Temple for revelation on when to reorganize the First Presidency after the death of President Woodruff on 2 September 1898.  The account reads thus,  

"I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff. . . . He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold. . . . [I] actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face (Improvement Era, Sep. 1933. p. 677)."
The hallway in which this event occured is pictured below:

Presidents Smith and Snow knew Jesus was not a myth!  I also know that Jesus Christ is not a myth.  

Thus let it be known that I know that there is no myth of Jesus - He is a reality.  He is the Son of God and all people's Savior, even if they say there is not a God in heaven and that they can pove it.  I know God lives and restored His Church through Joseph Smith.  I know the scriptures testify of Jesus as a reality and that He is real.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.