The Church Buys Historic Properties in Missouri and Ohio
I follow a lot of different Mormons online. One of them is this guy who is a member of the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A couple of weeks ago he posted this letter he got via email from the Community of Christ’s Mission Center Offices. The letter is from the President of the Community Christ Church, a man whom they consider to be their prophet, and their Church’s Presiding Bishop. The letter read:
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
From the earliest days of our faith movement, members and jurisdictions contributed and acquired land to bless the future mission of the church. These purposes are serving the church even today. To continue our support in moving Christ’s mission forward throughout the world, we have decided to sell some undeveloped properties associated with church history and farmlands.
This sale will also allow us to provide long-term support for our primary historic sites—including Kirtland, Nauvoo, Liberty Hall, and Plano—while freeing funds to support Mission Initiatives. We remain fully committed to pursuing Christ’s mission in the world and will continue to honor our heritage and learn from our sacred journey with God.
Community of Christ was originally approached by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, about purchasing property more than a year ago. As relationships have developed between leaders in Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), we reached an agreement that will lead to care and development of some properties associated with church history that are important to the entire Restoration movement. It will also benefit the mission of Community of Christ.
Sites being purchased by subsidiaries of the LDS Church from Community of Christ are Haun’s Mill and the Far West Burying Ground in Caldwell County, Missouri; the Joseph Smith Sr. home and William Smith lot, including the non-historic home on the lot in Kirtland, Ohio; and 6,000 acres of farmland in northern Jackson County, Missouri. This sale will not impact the Harmony Development of 4,000 acres owned by Community of Christ in eastern Jackson County, Missouri.
Ongoing preservation is our paramount concern for Haun’s Mill, the Far West Burying Ground, and the Smith Sr. home in particular. These sites are undeveloped and Community of Christ had no plans for development. Farm operations will continue on the acreage in Jackson County for the foreseeable future along with care and maintenance of Haun’s Mill, the Far West Burying Ground, and the Smith Sr. home.
Thank you for your valued ministry and service as together we pursue Christ’s mission in the world.
When I first saw it two weeks ago I got super stoked! And I instantly wanted to post a blog about what the Church was doing in Missouri. However, I realized that the Church was probably waiting until this weekend and the dedication of the Kansas City Temple to make a big announcement and get everyone excited. So when I got online a few moments ago and saw the the Church had officially made an announcement, I thought I’d share in on the joy.
So what are the details of the land purchase? Well according to the official statement tonight I just read, the email I saw posted online two weeks ago was entirely correct in its facts. The Church has acquired operating farmland and several other non-farmland properties located in Missouri and Ohio from the Community of Christ. Non-farm sites include the Haun’s Mill and the Far West Burying Ground in Missouri as well as the Joseph Smith Sr. home in Kirtland, Ohio. The farm land includes six thousand acres which are a few miles south of the new Kansas City Temple.
Haun’s Mill is sacred space to Latter-day Saints, a place where segments of the Missouri militia attacked 30 to 40 Mormon families without warning. The Oct. 30, 1838, episode left 17 Mormons and one friendly outsider dead, and another 13 wounded, including a woman and a 10-year-old boy.
“Because the attack was unprovoked in a time of truce, had no specific authorization, and was made by a vastly superior force with unusual brutality,” according to an essay in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “it has come to be known as “The Haun’s Mill Massacre.’ ”
What an exciting time for the Saints in Missouri, and truly throughout the Church. As Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for the Church, wrote earlier this week in the Washington Post, “For Mormons in Missouri, [it’s] a time of healing.”
Healing and growth in the Church. What a beautiful thing.
– Stan Way