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LDS Church to reopen, dedicate site where priesthood was restored

LDS Church to reopen, dedicate site where priesthood was restored

(Kenneth R. Mays)


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OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Penn. — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is reopening and dedicating the site where the priesthood was restored.

The site, sitting in what used to be Harmony, Pennsylvania, will be opened to the public Aug. 29 and dedicated Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. ET, according to LDS.org.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will offer the dedicatory prayer.

Ticket-holders may attend the on-site dedication in person, but others can view it live on the LDS Church satellite system or on LDS.org where it will also be archived.

Construction of the site included relocating state highway 171 and installing an underpass so pedestrians can more safely access the site, according to LDS.org.

At the 2011 announcement of the project, then Church Historian and Recorder Elder Marlin K. Jensen said it is a sacred ground for Latter-day Saints.

"Our hope is that by restoring the historic buildings and making the area more accessible, visitors of all faiths will be able to enjoy the beauty of the site and learn more about the restoration of the priesthood and the translation of the Book of Mormon," Jensen said in a statement.

Visitors to the site will see a meetinghouse and visitors' center, Joseph and Emma Smith's reconstructed home, the woods John the Baptist restored the priesthood in, the baptismal site of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and more, LDS.org reported.

During their visit to the 90-acre site, guests can watch a 22-minute video about historic events in Harmony, including a scene portraying Joseph and Oliver baptizing each other.

Directed by T.C. Christensen, the film was shot in Pennsylvania and Provo.

To escape persecution, the Smiths moved to Harmony in 1827 and lived with Emma's parents and Isaac and Elizabeth Hale until they purchased their own home. Their home ultimately burned down in 1919, long after they moved, according to LDS.org.

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Cowdery became Joseph Smith's scribe in 1829. The two entered the woods to pray for guidance regarding baptism during the time they were translating the Book of Mormon.

According to LDS.org, the resurrected John the Baptist visited them and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood before commanding them to baptize each other in the Susquehanna River.

Also near the area, the two received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Jesus Christ's apostles, Peter James and John.

Reid Neilson, Church History Department managing director, said in a news conference that most of the Book of Mormon was translated in Harmony, LDS.org reported.

Joseph Smith received 15 divine revelations while in Harmony, and they are included in the Doctrine and Covenants.

The LDS Church welcomes anyone interested to visit the site near Susquehanna Depot, which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The site is located just off Pennsylvania Route 171.

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Megan Marsden Christensen

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