I finally achieved a long-term goal of mine. For years, I’ve been trying to talk my wife into going out on a Church History pilgrimage, with the Kirtland Temple being one of the highlights of the trip we’ve been talking about, but it hasn’t happened until now. Well, it kind of happened, anyway. You see, a couple days ago, I took a tour of the Kirtland Temple from the comfort of my basement via Zoom.
As part of the Community of Christ’s response to the current pandemic, the Kirtland Temple has remained closed to in-person visitors, but they have started offering online tours on weekdays at 2 p.m. EST. For the small price of $10 per screen, you get as close of an experience to an in-person tour as you can without actually being there. It is possible for many people to register for each tour, but in my case, there was only one other group that had registered beforehand, and they didn’t show up, so it was just my wife and me going through the house of the Lord with the tour guide (who also happened to be the site director).
The tour was a neat experience for me. We started out in the entryway space of the building (the vestibule), talked there for a minute as we got going, then worked our way through the building—going the court (or assembly hall) on the second floor, looking into the crawl space between floors, wandering through the rooms of the attic level, and then going down to the court on the first floor. We stopped for a bit at each place, discussing what the room was designed for, how it was used by the early Latter Day Saints, and some of the events that happened there in our shared sacred history. As the person at the temple traveled between floors, another off-site employee showed and discussed images and videos about the temple, such as schematics of the building to give a feel for where we were at and where we were going to inside the building, images of the crawl space above the barrel vaulted ceilings of the courts, a video of what the sparkling glass-filled stucco exterior of the temple looked like before the current white concrete exterior was put in place (as well as what the rockwork looks like beneath the covering we see from outside today), etc. The tour was designed to be 45 minutes, but I was enjoying talking with Seth Bryant, the Kirtland Temple Director, about the history of the space and some other topics, so it went a little over that time frame.
I really appreciated the opportunity to tour the temple this way. With the ongoing pandemic, a small child, and a limited budget, it’s unlikely that I will make it there in person anytime soon. Yet, I have read so much about the space that being able to see what it looked like was something that gave more context and reality to the experiences I’ve read about. This was particularly true for the attic space, which I’ve read about with things like the vision of Alvin in the Celestial Kingdom or a few occasions when Joseph Smith met with various quorums of the priesthood in that space (such as on 28 January 1836 or 6 February 1836), but never really had a good feel for the physical location they were talking about. With the tour, I was able to gain a stronger feeling of appreciation for the temple and a better grasp of where the important events in Church history took place within its walls.
So, if you have any interest in the Kirtland Temple, I recommend taking the chance to schedule a tour. The fee goes towards preserving the temple and it’s a great opportunity to have an experience with the space there if you’re like me and have limited opportunities to visit the site.