How the Community of Christ and LDS Church draw upon shared heritage, work together as ‘friends’

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900013910/how-the-community-of-christ-and-lds-church-draw-upon-shared-heritage-work-together-as-friends.html

 @sydjorg

BYU assistant professor Casey Griffiths laughed as he recalled walking away from talking with former Community of Christ apostle Andrew Bolton at an interfaith dialogue in Nauvoo last September, wondering if they were still friends.

“That was never in question,” Bolton chimed in with a smile, sitting across the table from Griffiths in a religious faculty library at Brigham Young University on March 21.

 “It’s wonderful to know you can have disagreements on theological questions and have a wonderful and beautiful friendship,” said Griffiths, who teaches in the Church History Department. “I love the time that we spend together and I always learn a ton by listening to our friends of the Community of Christ.”

Bolton, his wife, Jewell, and current apostle Lachlan Mackay were among officials from the Community of Christ hosted by BYU last week for an interfaith dialogue. This is the fourth meeting of its kind, Bolton said, with this dialogue focusing on sacraments and ordinances.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ share almost 15 years of common heritage, from 1830 when the church was organized to the death of Joseph Smith Jr. in 1844. Interfaith dialogue is important to both faiths, which continue to work together and learn from their shared history.

Bolton, who served as an apostle for the Community of Christ from 2007 to 2016, said enrichment and new insights to his faith are two of the things he hopes to gain at interfaith dialogues with BYU. He said there are “treasures to discover,” like a deeper understanding of commons beliefs.

“Bob Millet (former dean of religious education at BYU) introduced me to the concept of ‘Infinite Atonement’ from the Book of Mormon,” Bolton said. “I never understood that before so that’s been a huge blessing.”

The Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that changed its name in 2001, has 250,000 members worldwide. Bolton, who was baptized in Wales over 40 years ago, said India and Haiti currently have the highest concentrations of Community of Christ members around the world and “more people speak French than English in church on a Sunday morning.”

In the U.S., nearly one-third of members reside in the Kansas City area near the church’s headquarters in Independence, Missouri, according to Mackay. As part of the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Community of Christ, Mackay oversees the Northeast USA Mission Field and serves as the historic sites director and church history lead.

About 10 percent of Community of Christ members will be called to priesthood office during their lifetime, Mackay said. The leadership organization is similar to that of the LDS Church: a pastor serves over a congregation, mission centers are similar to stakes, and apostles have responsibility over a specific geographical area of mission centers. A world conference, similar to a general conference, is held every three years.

Bolton said he admires the LDS returned missionaries who come home with international experience, as well as the resources and size of the church. Community of Christ leads mission trips too, but for shorter amounts of time.

“My dad often quoted, ‘Walk together, talk together, all ye peoples of the earth. And then, and only then, will ye have peace,’ and that’s exactly what’s happening,” Jewell Bolton said of the Community of Christ’s missionary efforts.

While there are many common threads, Bolton also talked about two distinct differences between the Community of Christ and LDS faith — ordination of women beginning in 1984 and same-sex marriage in the U.S. in 2013 — that reflect their belief in “the worth of persons” and “the soul as non-gender,” he said.

“I think Community of Christ is more nimble, smaller, so we can make change much faster,” Bolton said. “But there are mistakes to avoid. And there are things we’ve done well that (the LDS Church) can do better.”

Bolton talked about the idea of “theocratic democracy,” in which God leads and the people choose, and that God’s word is “conceptual” rather than “plenary” or absolute. He described the Community of Christ as “a people with a prophet but we’re also called to be a prophetic people. We have a responsibility to discern what God may be saying.”

Though it may be difficult to discern God’s will in the world we live in today, Mackay said he often thinks back to the culture of Joseph Smith’s time.

“Then, it was the industrial revolution that was causing all this upheaval. Today it’s the technology revolution,” he said. “It feels like it’s spinning out of control (but) my faith keeps me sane. The idea that I may be able to work with others to make life just a little better is deeply meaningful to me.”

Griffiths said those who believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Restoration, like both the Community of Christ and LDS faiths, are able to “see the world through a lens where everyone is a son or daughter of God (with) intrinsic value.”

“It’s nice to meet wonderful people like these and realize there is so much good in the world in our faith tradition and in other faith traditions,” Griffiths said. “The good people of the world should ban together and help each other and do everything they can to lift everyone around them.”

Bolton and Mackay were among guests from the Community of Christ who met with Elder J. Devn Cornish, a General Authority Seventy from the LDS Church, on Temple Square on March 23 as part of their visit to BYU. In September, BYU professors plan to go to Independence for a dialogue with the Community of Christ about Zion.

Picturing history: Burial site of William Smith, brother of the Prophet

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900007778/picturing-history-burial-site-of-william-smith-brother-of-the-prophet.html

Lucy Mack Smith bore 11 children, eight sons and three daughters. Two sons died in infancy, six of her sons lived to adulthood, but only one, William, lived to old age.

William was born at Royalton, Vermont, on March 13, 1811, making him more than five years younger than Joseph Smith. Interestingly, his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, also bore sons on March 13, 1808, and March 13, 1810, one year before William.

After the Smiths left Manchester, New York, William lived at Kingdom, New York, near Waterloo, New York. He then, for the most part, moved from place to place with the body of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served missions, participated in the School of the Prophets and served as an apostle and patriarch to the Church.

He was excommunicated from the church in 1845. Because of his volatile temper, excommunication and association with the Strangite movement, many have come to view William in a mostly negative light. In a summary of his biography on William Smith, Kyle Walker points out that Saints who went west tended to brand “him an apostate, and any mention of his name in LDS Church history decried his rebelliousness and insubordination. For that reason, most of his contributions to the building up the early Church have been lost to the reader” (see Walker’s “Joseph Smith’s Challenging Brother,” Meridian Magazine, Oct. 14, 2015). For the first time, Walker’s biography provides a more complete view of the life of this complex individual.

Osterdock, in Clayton County, Iowa, is a small village in the northeastern quadrant of the state. Except for one reason, its history would be of no particular interest to students of Latter-day Saint history: It is the burial site of William Smith, brother of the Prophet.

Kirtland Docudrama: ‘America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,’ set to premiere Sept. 24

By Chad Felton, The News-Herald

Karl and Joyce Anderson on set of “America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,” directed by Russ Holt. Karl served as a historical consultant on the film.

An hour long docudrama is set to debut about the area where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was headquartered from 1831 to 1838, after being formally organized in western New York.

The film, “America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,” produced by BYUtv, will premiere at 6 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Kirtland LDS Stake Center at 7866 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Willoughby. The event is free and open to the public.

The film, which will also stream live from the BYUtv website, will also include the story of the events surrounding the construction and dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

The docudrama’s director, Russ Holt, believes not many towns have a history compared to Kirtland’s, and he knows there was no better location to air the film.

“It’s very appropriate, as people from all over the United States and Canada uprooted to Kirtland because they wanted to be taught by who they believed to be a man of God,” Holt said, referring to Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism and the Latter-Day Saint movement. “We thought it important to tell this story of the early 1800s. It’s one of the most important stories ever told. That’s why we decided to make this film.”

Holt, who also wrote the film, first came to Kirtland as a college student.

“It was a privilege to come here and film where these great events took place, and I’ve considered it a privilege to visit every time over the years,” he said. “The (Kirtland) Temple itself is a massive building. Filming inside was a unique opportunity. It’s a marvel that it’s still there. The people then were quite poor, and they sacrificed a lot to build it.”

America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland” was financed by BYUtv and several donors who felt strongly about the project, according to Holt.

“We worked on it for over a year,” he said. “It’s been an exhilarating and inspiring project to conduct the research on the site. We felt it essential to be accurate and tell the story correctly. We are grateful to the Community of Christ, and the many residents who helped us as extras and in other capacities, to make this film a reality.”

Holt and Kirtland historian/consultant Karl Anderson will both speak at the premiere.

The film will then be shown worldwide, on BYUtv, Oct. 1, between general conference sessions from 2 to 4 p.m.

This story has been corrected to show that the docudrama will premiere Saturday Sept. 24, not Sept. 17.

Elder M. Russell Ballard lays wreath in Nauvoo cemetery

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865659936/Elder-M-Russell-Ballard-lays-wreath-in-Nauvoo-cemetery.html?pg=all

NAUVOO, ILL.

Two apostles Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Elder Lachlan Mackay of the Community of Christ (both descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith) met with more than 400 cousins in Nauvoo, Illinois, on Aug. 6 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Smith families coming together to beautify, enlarge, landscape and increase access to the Smith Family Cemetery.

Elder Mackay, a great-great-great-grandson of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Elder Ballard, a great-great-grandson of the Prophets brother Hyrum, laid wreaths on the graves of Joseph Smith Sr., Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith, Emma Hale Smith and Hyrum Smith. They were assisted by Anina Luff, Elder Mackays mother; and Katie Clayton, one of Elder Ballards granddaughters. Elder Ballard said that two of Josephs other brothers, Don Carlos Smith and Samuel Smith, are buried in the cemetery but the exact location of their graves isnt known.

During the ceremony, the family also placed a marker to honor Lewis C. Bidamon, Emmas second husband and the last to be buried in the cemetery. Elder Mackay spoke of Bidamons welcoming generosity, his humor and his caring of Emmas sons. For raising [Joseph Smith Jr.s] children I will be eternally grateful. I am just thrilled we are finally able to mark Lewis grave, Elder Mackay said.

Continue reading “Elder M. Russell Ballard lays wreath in Nauvoo cemetery”

Emma Smiths copy of the 1841 Book of Mormon found

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865639100/Emma-Smith7s-copy-of-the-1841-Book-of-Mormon-found.html

Lynn and Tanya Bascom, an LDS couple from Bountiful, Utah, went on vacation this past June, touring some of the nations historical sites in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. At the home of John Quincy Adams, they found an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon that originally belonged to someone very special in Church history Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

We went back East for a wedding in Nantucket, said Lynn Bascom. My wife was born in Cape Cod, and we love to visit the New England area. While they were there, Brother and Sister Bascom decided to visit some historical sites associated with the family of John Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The final stop on the Adams historical sites tour is the Old House at Peacefield, the home of John Quincy Adams. In his will, John Quincy Adams requested that his library of books be preserved in a fireproof structure, said Brother Bascom. The library is actually a quaint little cottage that is a separate stone building [housing] more than 14,000 volumes. They put in sky lights so you can see the vast array of books there.

The National Park Service oversees the tour of the Adams historic homes and a park ranger led the tour that the Bascoms attended. The guide doing the tour asked us where we were from, and we told him we were from Utah, said Tanya Bascom. He asked us if we would be interested in seeing a copy of the early edition of the Book of Mormon and directed us to a table in the library that contained several books. About six feet away from us was an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon given to Charles Francis Adams by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

My wife asked if we could touch the Book of Mormon but we were told no, said Brother Bascom. There was also no photography allowed in the home. It was nice the guide threw it out there that the book existed. There was a large table of books that were out for display, and we could see it just a few feet away. We had taken this tour before and never noticed the Book of Mormon.

The story might have ended there without the help of Utah historian Ron Fox, a member of the Salt Lake 14th Ward. The Bascoms shared their experience with him when they returned home from their vacation and then he went to work trying to find out more. Working with the National Park Service, he obtained photos of the Book of Mormon. The results were astonishing.

The photos showed the spine of the book, indicating that it had been Emma Smiths personal copy. A few of the copies of the 1841 Book of Mormon, the first to be published in England, were engraved with the names of early Church leaders, said Brother Fox. Joseph, Emma and Hyrum all had their own copies, as well as the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and their wives. No one knew where Emma’s copy was until now. Now I wonder where Joseph Smiths copy is. Somebody might have an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon with the name Joseph Smith engraved on it and not realize it was his personal copy.

The photos also revealed that Joseph Smith had personally signed the book and Adams had documented the receipt on the same page underneath Joseph Smiths name. Adams wrote in the Book of Mormon he received, The above is the autograph of the chief of the Mormons who gave me this book at Nauvoo on the 15th of May 1844. It was signed C. F. Adams.

Joseph Smith did not sign more than a handful of copies of the Book of Mormon, said Brother Fox. This signature and the fact that it was Emmas copy means the book would be worth a great deal if it were on the public market, probably in excess of a million dollars or more.

To understand the significance of this discovery, it is important to substantiate the historical accuracy with the journal accounts of the two men who visited Nauvoo in May of 1844. Charles Francis Adams Sr. was the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams. He was serving in the Massachusetts State Senate at the time of his visit and would later become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His traveling companion was Josiah Quincy Jr. He was serving as a member of the Boston city council at the time of his visit and was elected the mayor of Boston the following year in 1845. They decided to make a stop in Nauvoo. Both of them recorded separate experiences in their journals.

From the journal of Charles Francis Adams, May 14, 1844: As we went on it became very necessary that we should settle upon our course. Quincy [Josiah Quincy Jr., Adams’ traveling companion] wished to stop at Nauvoo, the city of the Mormons and see something of Joe Smith, the prophet.

Traveling on the Steamer boat Amaranth, the two stopped in Nauvoo. At the door of a two-story wooden house with a sign post before it, we stopped and were introduced to the celebrated Joe Smith, writes Adams. A middle-aged man with a shrewd but rather ordinary expression of countenance, unshaved and in clothes neither very choice nor neat. The whole air of the man was that of frank but not coarse vulgarity. He received us civilly and forthwith introduced us into his house. (In the early 19th century, “vulgar” meant “common, but not necessarily disgusting” [A Guide to Eighteenth-Century English Vocabulary, Jack Lynch, 14 April 2006, p. 21])

While in Nauvoo, the prophet Joseph Smith entertained, housed and fed them. They visited the construction site of the Nauvoo Temple, discussed religion and politics and Adams and Quincy both saw the Egyptian mummies and manuscript Joseph had procured. Adams writes, He then took us down into his mother’s chamber and showed us four Egyptian mummies stripped and then undertook to explain the contents of a chart or manuscript which he said had been taken from the bosom of one of them.

I think it important to note that Joseph was happy to meet with these men, said Brother Fox. They were important in their time, a son of the president of Harvard and son and grandson of the president [of the United States], and at the time President John Quincy Adams was still alive. These were both elected officials and I believe Joseph was looking to build the creditability of the Church in the East and to get help for the Church from the attacks of its enemies.

The possibility that two copies of the Book of Mormon were given out, one to each visitor, is hinted at in the book Figures of the Past From the Leaves of Old Journals by Josiah Quincy Jr. He writes, I have before me some relics of my visit to Nauvoo. Here is the Book of Mormon, bearing the autograph which its alleged discoverer and translator wrote, at my request.

Quincy also shared his impressions about his visit with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He had already traversed the roughest part of the way to that coveted position, he wrote. Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book-learning and with the homeliest of all human names, he had made himself at the age of thirty-nine a power upon earth. Of the multitudinous family of Smith, from Adam down (Adam of the “Wealth of Nations,” I mean), none had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet.

Its thrilling that there is a copy of the Book of Mormon out there with such a wonderful background, said Brother Bascom. Its fascinating to think that it is part of the Quincy Library and interesting how it fits his diary. Establishing these historical moments with historical artifacts dispels a lot of the misconceptions out there that Joseph Smith was not real or Mormonism is fiction.

Sister Bascom said, From the whole experience I was left with this thought: John Adams and his family were part of bringing new freedoms to the people of the United States. Through freedom of religion, the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ were allowed to flourish. This is a token of what Adams fought for and therefore he passed the blessing of the restoration of the gospel on to us. Not a lot of people know how much they have been blessed by his efforts. This is one of the hidden gems about this historical tour.

rmorgenegg@desnews.com

The LDS Church News is an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The publication’s content supports the doctrines, principles and practices of the Church.

Family News – September 27, 2015

http://josephsmithsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/9_27_15_EmailNews.pdf

The First Smith Family Podcast Is Here

A great time to sit and watch the Smith Family Podcast would be during family night or General Conference weekend.

Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association members along with Dr. LeRoy Wirthlin and his wife, Mary, at the Smith home in Norwich, Vermont. Left to right: Daniel & LuAnn Adams, Steve & Frances Orton, Mary & LeRoy Wirthlin, Rosemarie & Dan Larsen, Michael Kennedy, Joyce & Karl Anderson, Julie Maddox, and Laura & Don Blanchard. Picture by Elder Michael Lantz
Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association members along with Dr. LeRoy Wirthlin
and his wife, Mary, at the Smith home in Norwich, Vermont. Left to right:
Daniel & LuAnn Adams, Steve & Frances Orton, Mary & LeRoy Wirthlin,
Rosemarie & Dan Larsen, Michael Kennedy, Joyce & Karl Anderson, Julie
Maddox, and Laura & Don Blanchard. Picture by Elder Michael Lantz

Elder M. Russell Ballard and Wallace B. Smith, Co-Chairs of the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association desire that the younger generation know the faith-promoting stories of their ancestors.

The Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Family Association presents this podcast to the family and ask you to watch this short ten-minute video during a family night to help build faith in the work of our ancestors and recognize the sacrifices and commitment that fill our heritage.

Share the podcasts with your friends. Use social media to promote these wonderful stories. Our family and friends need to see these messages of faith and determination.


raceJoseph Smith Miracle Scholarship

Since the last email newsletter, the Smith familys efforts have been featured on the Church News and Events page of LDS.org.

Please encourage your friends and neighbors to view this article and others described below. It is our hope that this can be a perpetual scholarship. You can donate here:

donate-here

Our roots come from New England and what a wonderful way to promote Josephs name for good in New England.

To read more about this see the, Deseret News article written by Smith descendant, Julie Maddox.

Check out the Valley News report, Gift Honors Surgery That Saved Religious Leaders Leg. The Geisel News Center issued a press release that explained, Descendants of Joseph Smith,founder of the Mormon Church, have created a scholarship at the Geisel School of Medicine to honor and give thanks for a pioneering surgery that Dartmouths Dr. Nathan Smith performed on young Joseph. To read the full press release.


Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family
c/o Steve and Frances Orton
381 W 3700 N, Provo UT 84604
Phone: (801) 226?6054 Fax: (801) 452?6567
Email: ortonfrances@gmail.com
Website: http://josephsmithsr.org/

Defending the Faith: Did Book of Mormon witnesses simply see the golden plates with their ‘spiritual eyes’?

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865629099/The-plates-of-the-Book-of-Mormon-As-material-as-anything-can-be.html

By Daniel Peterson , For the Deseret News
Published: Saturday, May 23 2015 2:27 p.m. MDT

I continually encounter the confident declaration that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon didnt really see or touch anything at all and didnt actually claim to have seen or touched anything. They only saw the plates with their spiritual eyes, Im assured, and spiritual eyes, to them, meant in their imaginations.

I responded to this assertion in a column published five years ago (see “Book of Mormon witness testimonies” published May 25, 2010). However, since the claim continues to be made, and given the fundamental importance of this issue, I address it yet again, in somewhat different fashion.

Ill leave aside the question of whether its even remotely plausible that the witnesses sacrificed so very much for something they recognized as merely imaginary. Lets look at their explicit verbal testimonies. Several of the 11 official witnesses were obviously confronted during their lifetimes with accusations that they had merely hallucinated, and they repeatedly rejected such proposed explanations.

In fact, David Whitmer, one of the initial Three Witnesses, could easily have been addressing todays skeptics when he declared I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!

Its difficult to imagine how he could have been any clearer.

In this column, though, Ill focus on the experience of the Eight Witnesses, which seems to have included no explicitly supernatural elements but, rather, to have been a wholly matter-of-fact event.

In late 1839, Hyrum Smith wrote an account for the Times and Seasons newspaper covering, among other things, his four months of hungry and cold imprisonment in Missouris Liberty Jail, under recurring threats of execution, while his family and fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were being driven from their homes during the wintertime:

I thank God, he told the Saints, that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to. I can assure my beloved brethren that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life.

One might dismiss this declaration of willingness to die for his testimony as an empty boast, mere retrospective bravado, were it not for the fact that, less than five years later in Illinois, fully understanding the risk, he did in fact go voluntarily to Carthage Jail. There, with his prophet-brother, he died as a martyr which, in ancient Greek, means witness in a hail of bullets.

The accounts left behind by the Eight Witnesses are replete not only with claims to have seen and hefted the plates, to have turned their individual leaves and examined their engravings, but also with estimates of their weight, descriptions of their physical form and the rings that bound them, and reports of their approximate dimensions as well.

Wilhelm Poulsons 1878 interview with John Whitmer provides an excellent summary:

I Did you handle the plates with your hands? He I did so!

“I Then they were a material substance? He Yes, as material as anything can be.

“I They were heavy to lift? He Yes, and you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

“I How big were the leaves? He So far as I can recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

“I Were the leaves thick? He Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

“I How were the leaves joined together? He In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the centre. …

“I Did you see them covered with a cloth? He No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

William Smith, who knew the Eight Witnesses well his father and two of his brothers were among them explained they not only saw with their eyes but handled with their hands the said record. Daniel Tyler heard Samuel Smith testify that He knew his brother Joseph had the plates, for the prophet had shown them to him, and he had handled them and seen the engravings thereon.

Those who seek to dismiss the testimony of the Eight Witnesses must, on the whole, flatly brush aside what they actually, and very forcefully, said.

For further evidence and analysis on this topic, see Richard Lloyd Andersons 2005 article Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses online at publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu.


Daniel Peterson teaches Arabic studies, founded BYUs Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, directs MormonScholarsTestify.org, chairs mormoninterpreter.com, blogs daily at patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson, and speaks only for himself.

‘You found the key to Grandma’s house’: Archaeological dig searches for Joseph Smith home

http://www.whig.com/story/25778351/you-found-the-key-to-grandmas-house-archaeological-dig-searches-for-joseph-smith-home

Posted:Jun 14, 2014 3:35 PM MDT
Updated:Jun 14, 2014 10:27 PM MDT

By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

NAUVOO, Ill. — Michelle Murri held a key to history in the palm of her hand.

The small house key, carefully teased from the soil, could open doors to an even better understanding of Nauvoo’s past.

An archaeological dig is underway to find the location of the home built for Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife Lucy Mack in Nauvoo. Recent discoveries led to a possible site just south of the Joseph and Emma Smith Mansion House.

“You found the key to Grandma’s house,” Bob Smith, the dig site host and a great-great-great-grandson of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, said. “Working on the site, holding something they might have held before, making that connection is a positive thing.”

Volunteers are discovering what appears to be a pier support, a structural support for the house, which research says was a double log cabin.

“Young Joseph talks about having a breezeway between the two structures and a roof over the whole area which was used for storage,” Smith said. “We found walkway all along here. You can see remnants.”

It’s history both for Nauvoo and for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Joseph Smith Sr. was the patriarch of the church. This is the house where he gave his patriarchal blessings to his kids,” Smith said. “This is a special spot.”

It’s special for Murri, a volunteer from LeVerkin, Utah, who just graduated from Utah State University.

“I’ve never been to Nauvoo. This was a perfect opportunity to visit and get some professional experience,” she said. “It’s taught me a lot about the history of Nauvoo and my own family history, and it’s also taught me a lot of skills that I can use in my further archaeology jobs.”

Archaeologist Paul DeBarthe heads a team of volunteers carefully digging into the past, screening buckets of soil and preserving their finds from bits of pottery to window glass, metal and buttons.

“Fundamentally, what we have here is a site that in the last three years has produced 10,000 pieces,” DeBarthe said.

“Anytime you can touch something, it just makes you more aware of history,” said longtime volunteer Synthia DeBarthe, whose husband Thomas is a cousin to Paul DeBarthe. “It gets into your heart and your soul, and you never forget it.”

The Joseph Smith Historic Site along with the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association, the Hyrum Smith Family Association, the Joseph Smith Jr. Historical Society and the Samuel H. Smith Foundation sponsor the digs.

The work brings together Smith, a Mormon, with DeBarthe, a member of the Community of Christ, along with volunteers of many faiths.

“To discover, preserve and share. That’s what we’re about,” Smith said. “Religion doesn’t matter.”

DeBarthe has done archeological work in Nauvoo since 1971. Most of the work was done from 1975 to 1984, then resumed three years ago when Smith and DeBarthe met.

“We’ve got enough Smith family sites to keep us busy for 10 years,” Smith said.

Among the finds are projectile points dating back 10,000 years to the age of the hairy mammoths, more points used by bison hunters 6,000 years ago, pottery from the Early Woodland period and a burial site from the Middle Woodland period some 2,000 years ago not far from the Smith’s own family plots.

“People come here to pilgrimage to the Joseph Smith burial site and home site. Mormons in particular come for about five years of Mormon history, 1839-1844,” he said. “For us to come looking for five years of history and find 10,000 years is really gratifying.”

Replacing the wooden steps at the Mansion House with historically-accurate stone steps led to even more pieces of the past.

Volunteer Rebecca Esplin found a piece of what DeBarthe said was cord-marked, grit-tempered pottery. Working at the site was a perfect fit for Esplin, who just graduated from Utah State University.

“I’ve always loved Nauvoo, and I like historical archaeology as well,” she said. “Finding things makes it a lot more exciting than just digging and not finding anything.”

Pieces from the archaeological digs near the Mansion House come into the lab in the basement of the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo for classifying, authenticating and tabulating. From there, Synthia DeBarthe’s job is to “try to put things back together again.”

She carefully glues together pieces, including a butter churn one day last week, adding masking tape for support until they dry.

“What we’re interested in doing is putting together enough pieces so we can create a museum over in the visitor center for people to get an idea of the times and how they lived here in Nauvoo,” she said.

Synthia DeBarthe says she gets everything from stone to bone to glass, nails, ceramics and stoneware. The finds tell about early family life in Nauvoo.

“They had a lot of things,” she said. They weren’t poor, but they weren’t rich. It appears they were comfortable.”

Work done three years ago tried to explore the legend that the Smith homestead was built in 1805 as a trading post.

“We found 5,000-year-old stuff, 2,000-year-old stuff, but we didn’t find very much attributed to a trading post in 1800,” DeBarthe said. “In the meantime, across the street, we’re finding some possible trade beads. Where was the trading post? That’s one question we’d like to answer.”

dhusar@whig.com/221-3379

HOW TO HELP

Volunteers can spend an hour, a day or a week at the archeological dig sites in Nauvoo. Work continues through Friday, June 27. More information is available by contacting dig site hosts Bob and Becky Smith at 801-471-7253 orhost@idignauvoo.com.

Digging in Nauvoo by ‘archaeologists’ of many faiths

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/63851/Digging-in-Nauvoo-by-archaeologists-of-many-faiths.html

By Lucy Schouten
Church News staff writer
and Darlyn Britt Church News contributor

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013

NAUVOO, ILL.

People with varied religious backgrounds from all over the country made a “pioneer trek” to Nauvoo, Ill., to participate in the first excavation of “I Dig Nauvoo” throughout the month of June.

Teams of workers in the “I Dig Nauvoo” project scraped the earth with trowels in search of artifacts from the site of the small cabin where Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith once lived.

“It’s a wonderfully exciting time in the life of the site,” said Lachlan Mackay, great-great-great-grandson of Joseph Smith Jr. and director of historical sites for Community of Christ. “It’s been many years since we’ve had an active archaeology program in Nauvoo, so to see people excavating brings the research part of the story back to life again. I’m incredibly excited to see us working together for this common heritage.”

The “I Dig Nauvoo” project was organized by the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association and sponsored by the Community of Christ. More than 400 volunteer archaeologists including Smith family descendants, Community of Christ members, LDS missionaries and Nauvoo Pageant volunteers worked together to uncover history and build unity. Locals and visitors to Nauvoo stopped by to help, and several Boy Scouts earned their archaeology merit badges.

The “I Dig Nauvoo” volunteers documented everything they found within the assigned 10-foot squares. More than 10,000 artifacts, including household dishes and objects and window glass were washed, cataloged and preserved. The team even uncovered several lines of cut stone, which revealed a man-made structure. They are hoping to uncover more of this in the future, but they have already found two of the stone piers that pioneers often used instead of foundations.

The dig site is directly across the street from the existing cabin known as “The Homestead” where Joseph Sr. and his wife, Lucy, also lived for a time. The Homestead was a bustling place, serving at times as the unofficial headquarters of the Church, a hospital and a place for travelers to stay. Robert Smith, a Samuel Smith descendant and project host, came to believe that the second cabin was built to give Father Smith peace and quiet so he could give patriarchal blessings.

Records indicate that, as the first patriarch of the Church, Joseph Smith Sr. gave at least 32 patriarchal blessings in Nauvoo. Some of these might have been performed at the dig site residence.

Scholars believe that the same cabin was also the place where Joseph Sr. pronounced blessings upon his posterity before he died. Joseph Sr. promised the Prophet, “You shall live to finish your work.” In response, Joseph cried out, “Oh father, shall I?”

To Hyrum, Father Smith said, “You shall have a season of peace so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you.” He promised Samuel, “By your faithfulness you have brought many into the Church. The Lord has seen your faithfulness and you are blessed but He has called you home to rest.”

Many diggers heard these stories and relished gaining new insights into both archeology and early Mormon history.

This was the first time Abby Slik, a high school senior and member of the Spring Creek 7th Ward, Springville Utah Spring Creek Stake, participated in a project like this. She and several neighbors made the 24-hour drive to Nauvoo to help dig. “My family lineage does not go back to the pioneers, but I felt close to them as I worked each day, discovering new pieces of history,” she said. “I would do this again in a heartbeat.”

Christian Moody, a young man from the Hobble Creek 11th Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek Stake, echoed her sentiments. “I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to become part of an archeological legacy,” he said. “I loved learning about the Church’s history and feeling the same spirit that the pioneers felt.”

Robert Smith, great-great-great-grandson of Samuel Smith and one of the hosts of the “I Dig Nauvoo” project, spent three weeks digging at the site. He noticed a feeling of kinship as the legacy of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith seemed to knit strangers together during their short time in Nauvoo. “I was impressed by the excitement of the volunteers whenever they found an artifact,” he said. “But more heartwarming was the fact that no matter their religious backgrounds, the participants were able to connect with Father and Mother Smith and share in the legacy of the Smith family.”

The Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association plans to organize a second dig May 26-June 27, 2014. Visitors to Nauvoo in the meantime can see the current progress at the dig site.

“I’m excited to take my family there and show them what I was a part of,” said James Johnson, a Springville, Utah, resident who called the dig an unforgettable experience. “It’s such a great feeling to be a part of restoring Nauvoo. I will never forget that experience as long as I live!”

Registration for the second dig begins Sept. 1, 2013 at www.idignauvoo.com.

lucy@deseretnews.com

LDS apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard addresses historic gathering of Smith descendants

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865584098/LDS-apostle-Elder-M-Russell-Ballard-addresses-historic-gathering-of-Smith-descendants.html?pg=all

By Lucy Schouten
For the Deseret News

Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith met in greater force than ever before to both renew family ties and remember history at a reunion in Salt Lake City Aug. 1-4.

Roughly 1,100 Smith descendants from Hyrum, Joseph Jr. and Samuel Smiths lines came to This Is The Place Heritage Park for the reunion.

We need to work together as a family to gather our family, said Michael Kennedy, a Joseph Smith Jr. descendant who has dedicated his life to finding his fellow Joseph Smith Jr. descendants, who are scattered worldwide.

About 200 of the Smith descendants came just to participate in Josephs Miracle Run, a 5K race on Aug. 3 that celebrated the 1813 experimental surgery that saved young Josephs leg.

This topic was further explored later that day by Roy Wirthlin, who presented some of his newly discovered research on the work of the doctor who performed the surgery, Nathan Smith.

The honored guest at the reunion was David Longcope, who is a seventh generation doctor in an unbroken line from Joseph Smiths surgeon. He and his family participated in the race and especially enjoyed Wirthlins lecture. They were presented with the family history work of Nathan Smith as a gift from the family.

While the adults learned more about the courage and love of the Smith family from Wirthlin, their children were experiencing Zions Camp. The children made swords, learned a pioneer song and tried walking on wooden crutches like Joseph Smith would have needed after his surgery.

Don Lee, a descendant of Hyrum Smith, was the proud maker of the crutches. His wife, Gwen Lee explained, It just seems like if children have a very firm foundation and know that in their blood they carry this faith in God they can have the courage to go forth and be modern pioneers.

Meanwhile, the teenagers made a small wreath with 11 red roses, one for each of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smiths children

The wreath adorned the pulpit where, that evening, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to the gathered family. Elder Ballard is a Hyrum descendant, and when he thanked the reunions organizers for their hard work, he remarked, [Organizing] the Smiths is kind of like herding cats sometimes.

He shared his testimony with the family and told them that they could best honor the legacy of the remarkable Smith family by being good missionaries.

We owe our forefathers our loyalty and our willingness to do whatever is necessary in the building up of the kingdom of God, he said.

The Smith descendants were recognized on the morning of Aug. 4 at the live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word at the Conference Center.

Other music over the weekend included a concert on the evening of Aug. 2, where Nathan Osmond, among others, performed. The emcee for the evening was Rick Macy, who has portrayed Joseph Smith Sr. in several films.

Referring to the blend of faith-based history and family time that characterized the reunion, Nathan Adams, a reunion organizer, said, Only in the Smith family do you get to do things like this.

Lucy Schouten is an Arizona native studying journalism and Middle Eastern studies at Brigham Young University. Contact her atlucy@deseretnews.com.