PALMYRA, N.Y. — Two apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited one of the earliest historic sites of the Church this weekend, but the small city is home to many places that remain central to LDS beliefs.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold reverence for the quiet community in upstate New York because of many events they believe occurred in Palmyra nearly two centuries ago.
Among these events that eventually led to the establishment of the LDS Church was the First Vision, in which church founder Joseph Smith said God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in April 1820, when he was 14 years old.
On Saturday, the Sacred Grove was the backdrop for an online Face to Face discussion with President Henry B. Eyring, second councelor in the church's First Presidency, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Beyond the Sacred Grove and the Smith family farm, where Joseph Smith grew up, Latter-day Saints also look a few miles down the road to the Hill Cumorah, where they believe Joseph Smith received gold plates from an angel. Those plates, church members believe, were translated into the Book of Mormon, which was first printed in Palmyra in a building that still stands today.
Each year, thousands of LDS Church members visit Palmyra, where it is evident that faith is still at the heart of the community. And this weekend, Church leaders thanked community members for always welcoming Latter-day Saints to their city.
"(Church members) come here because they feel a love for this area; and when they come here, it's not casual for them," President Eyring said.
"We know we can be kind of conspicuous neighbors sometimes, particularly when the (Hill Cumorah) pageant is on," Elder Holland said. "But for all the events, tourists and people and senior citizens who come to this comunity and this upstate New York area, I thank everyone for understanding and knowing how strongly we feel about this."
It's a place where the roots of what has become a worldwide religion had its humble beginnings.
For more information on the historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the upstate New York area, visit the Church's Hill Cumorah Visitors Center website.