By John McCort
In February of 1976, Jady Copeland, Donald Vaughan, and I made a trip to Independence, Missouri to see the three Mormon visitor centers. The city of Independence (a suburb of Kansas City) and the surrounding area is rich in Mormon history. The three centers- are located almost in the heart of Independence. On one street corner is the RLDS Auditorium which houses the world headquarters for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. On the opposite street corner, directly to the east of the RLDS Auditorium, is the Salt Lake City Mormon visitors center. Directly across the street, to the north of the RLDS center, is the Temple Lot Church of Christ which is a faction of the Mormon church more commonly known as the Hedrickites.
We began by making a tour of the RLDS Auditorium. During our tour we were shown some “conference rooms.” The RLDS church has many different “quorums” such as the “First Presidency,” the “Presiding Bishopric,” the “Council of Twelve,” etc. One of the functions of these quorums is to discuss and vote on the validity of the revelations of divine truth the President-Prophet has received from God through the Holy Spirit. The revelations are then submitted to the membership delegates ,to be voted on during the bi-annual world conference. If the membership delegates approve the revelations they are then incorporated into the Doctrines And Covenants of the RLDS church. Strangely enough the membership cannot in any way amend these revelations. They can reject them but they cannot change them in any way. The President-Prophet is supposed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and yet the quorums and membership must decide if and when the Holy Spirit revealed something to the President. The membership delegates must also be inspired by the Holy Spirit to make a decision like that because surely mere man could not determine what revelations were divine and what were mere figments of the President’s imagination. The votes at these bi-annual world conferences are very close at times. I have wondered if the Holy Spirit votes against himself at these conferences?
The Salt Lake City Mormon Visitors Center is a very beautiful structure. During our tour of that center (which turned out to be instant chloroform) our tour guide made the claim that the Book of Mormon had been “proved” by modern archaeology to be true. That was a very strange statement to make in view of the fact that the chief Mormon archaeologists claim that archaeology has neither proved or disproved the Book of Mormon. Mormon archaeologists state that not enough is known about the time periods supposedly discussed in the Book of Mormon to verify or discount Mormon claims. (For further information see my article on Mormon Archaeology which was published earlier this year.)
We ended our tour by going through the Temple Lot Church of Christ. They have a small church building located directly north of the RLDS Auditorium. The church is so named because it is built upon the two and three-quarter acre plot that Joseph Smith designated as the lot the temple would be built upon. That lot was set aside as the temple lot August 3, 1831. Shortly thereafter the Mormons were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri. In 1864 Granville Hedrick supposedly received a revelation from God to return to Jackson County, Missouri to begin the regathering of the saints and eventually to rebuild the temple. Hendrick never had aligned himself with the Salt Lake Mormons and thus he was an independent Mormon. Hedrick and about 100 others returned in 1867 and began purchasing the temple lot in 1869. In 1929 they began excavating the site to build the temple. In the process they dug up two markers apparently set by Joseph Smith which designated the ground as being the temple lot. Shortly thereafter the depression ended their efforts to rebuild the temple.
The presence of the Temple Lot Church of Christ (no connection with the Lord’s church) represents a monumental embarrassment to both the Salt Lake and RLDS Mormons. The little Temple Lot Church of Christ claims to be the original Mormon church and has possession of the temple lot to back up their claim. Both the RLDS and Salt Lake groups have unofficially tried to purchase the temple lot for huge sums of money. This little group has steadfastly resisted any efforts to buy the land or force them off of it.
If you are ever in Kansas City, you need to visit these centers. It will be a very educational experience. Avoid the guided tours if possible. They are very boring and time consuming.
Truth Magazine XXI: 42, p. 658
October 27, 1977