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Nauvoo News

Nauvoo News & Events features stories shared from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world.  This includes official Church news releases and contributed articles by Latter-day Saint authors - as well as events & stories from YOU.

2018 First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional Announced

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the date and time of the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional.

The First Presidency invites Church members and their friends to participate in the First Presidency’s Christmas devotional broadcast on Sunday, December 2, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. mountain standard time.

The program, originating from the Conference Center, will include Christmas messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the Church.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will provide the music.

View live

The following options are available for viewing the devotional live:

Various other stations and internet sites throughout the world will also carry the devotional. Check local program listings for availability in your area.

Stake technology specialists

Stake technology specialists should refer to the Church broadcast schedule when it becomes available approximately three weeks before the event.

Tickets to live event

The event at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is free but tickets are required for admission. For ticket information, see the Temple Square Events page.

Social media sharing

To participate in conversations about the Christmas devotional on Twitter and other social media channels, use #ChristmasDevo.

Visit Nauvoo News on Facebook at:

NAUVOO: Church News Staff Got to Work in Times and Seasons Newspaper Building

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - This story is a looking back piece from the Church News. It covers an experience related to the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple.

Church News: I covered many temple dedications during my Church News career. Usually, I worked solo. I had double duties as reporter and photographer, but on one assignment three Church News staff members and a Deseret Newsphotographer accompanied me: Shaun Stahle, Scott Lloyd, Jason Swensen, and Jeffrey D. Allred.

We went to Nauvoo, Illinois, several days before the dedication of the temple there June 27–30, 2002. In addition to covering the dedication, we were to participate in a marketing campaign for the paper. However, after we arrived in Nauvoo, the project was cancelled.

The cancellation gave us the opportunity to work out of the Printing Office, home of the Times and Seasons newspaper, at the corner of Main and Kimball Streets in Old Nauvoo.

Most people who go to the building do so as visitors who want to learn about life there in the 1840s and, in particular, how newspapers of that time were published. Missionary tour guides explain the intricacies that went into publishing a newspaper back then. They point to an old press, cases of type, and racks where newspaper pages hung to dry. When John Taylor—who became the third President of the Church—was editor of the Times and Seasons, this must have seemed like state-of-the-art machinery and technique.


Like to Perform? Apply Now - 2019 Young Performing Missionary in Nauvoo

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Nauvoo Productions, under the direction of the Church’s Historical Department, is now accepting applications for the summer 2019 Young Performing Missionary (YPM) program in Nauvoo, Illinois.

The YPM opportunity is open to all single adult members ages 18 to 25. Each year, 24 singing missionaries, 4–6 tech missionaries, and 16–18 brass band missionaries are selected through a rigorous audition process and will receive a 4-month Church-service mission call to the Illinois Nauvoo Mission, assigned to serve in Nauvoo. Applications for summer 2019 (May 1 through August 14, 2019) are now being accepted and processed through November 30, 2018.


The Nauvoo singers sing, dance, and act in seven separate productions in addition to entertaining on the streets of historic Nauvoo. They also participate as dancers for the Nauvoo Pageant during the month of July.


The brass band performs as the show band in stage shows and daily concerts and participates in the Nauvoo Pageant. Members of the brass band also perform on a horse-drawn bandwagon throughout the streets of Nauvoo.


The Nauvoo techs are responsible for stage management, setting and running lighting and sound, assisting with costuming, and overseeing all technical aspects of each performance.

All YPMs must be in excellent physical and mental health, as they are required to consistently put in 12- to 14-hour performance days, 7 days a week for the entire season, with little downtime. Applicants are asked to submit a full audition application, including an audition video. Between 300 and 400 applications are received each year. From these initial applications, applicants may be invited to participate in a full-day call-back audition, at the conclusion of which the final YPM candidates will be selected for the summer 2019 season.

All YPMs are called as Church-service missionaries. Once they are selected, they must obtain an ecclesiastical recommend and complete all service missionary application documents. During their missionary service they are expected to live in mission companionships, abide by all mission rules, and provide their own financial support (outside of travel, which is provided).

Interested applicants can find more information, as well as the application, online at

Sunday Church Services Now Two-Hours - Conference Announcement

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the faith’s 188th Semiannual General Conference by announcing a “new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.” It is part of an effort “to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship,” he said.

“As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home,” he continued. “We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for home-centered church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”

Immediately following President Nelson’s Saturday morning remarks, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed the global audience and provided details of the forthcoming adjustments.

“The Sunday meeting schedule will be adjusted in the following ways, beginning in January 2019,” Elder Cook said. “The Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages. After time for transition to classes, Church members will attend a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday. Sunday School will be held on the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, and Young Women meetings will be held on the second and fourth Sundays. Meetings on the fifth Sunday will be under the direction of the bishop. Primary will be held each week during this same 50-minute period and will include singing time and classes.”

Four purposes and blessings associated with this and other recent changes were given:

  • Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them.

  • Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.

  • Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.

  • Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and receiving ordinances and covenants and the blessings of the temple.

A First Presidency letter outlining the changes is being sent to local leaders of the Church’s 30,000-plus congregations worldwide, along with supplementary material.

An enclosure to the letter provides answers to 12 questions, including:

  • How will we enhance gospel learning and living at home and in our personal lives?

  • What is the format for sacrament meetings?

  • What is the Sunday schedule for multiple wards or branches sharing a meetinghouse?

  • Do we hold optional courses during church on Sunday?

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are confident Latter-day Saints “will be blessed in extraordinary ways” by this change, said Elder Cook. “Sunday can be a day of gospel learning and teaching at church and in the home. As individuals and families engage in family councils, family history, ministering, service, personal worship, and joyful family time, the Sabbath day will truly be a delight.”

The Church’s current format of three consecutive hours of Sunday worship services began in 1980. Prior to that, Church meetings were held throughout the Sabbath day and during the week.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Changes Its Name

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - After more than 100 years, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir is changing its name to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.” The name modification, which drops the long-standing word "Mormon," follows an August 2018 statement by President Russell M. Nelson requesting the use of the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the choir’s sponsoring organization.

“A new name for the Tabernacle Choir will represent a change after so many years,” said Ron Jarrett, president of the choir. “The name may change, but everything that people know and love about the choir will not only be the same but will get better and better.”

To coincide with the choir’s new name, its website address will be changed to and its Facebook and YouTube pages can now be found at and The choir can also be found on Twitter at 

Jarrett said, “We have always been a forward-looking people, and we are focused on what is not changing: the world-class musicianship, the inspiring arrangements and programming, and our weekly ‘Music and the Spoken Word’ broadcast, continuing a tradition begun 90 years ago.”

The Tabernacle Choir’s new name preserves the heritage of its home in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Since 1867, choir members have sung in the Tabernacle, a building known for its one-of-a-kind signature sound.

The historic Tabernacle was built during a time with no amplifiers or electronics and was designed so all attendees could hear the speaker’s voice from any seat in the hall. In fact, the Tabernacle building is still used as a recording studio for the choir today.

Launched in 1929, the landmark “Music and the Spoken Word” program is now in its 90th year of weekly broadcasts, making it the longest-running continuous network broadcast in history. The nondenominational program features musical selections by the choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, accompanied by the Tabernacle organ, with a short inspirational message.

Music director Mack Wilberg said the program’s audience continues to grow: “Among the many reasons ‘Music and the Spoken Word’ continues to be relevant worldwide is it conveys hope, joy, and comfort through inspirational music and messages. [In] each broadcast, the choir and orchestra stand on the shoulders of the many who came before them to bring audiences the highest quality of music and inspiration.”

The first airing of “Music and the Spoken Word” on July 15, 1929, was makeshift at best. That summer day, a local radio crew ran a wire from its control room to an amplifier in the Tabernacle nearly a block away. The technicians put the station’s sole microphone on a ladder not only to capture the music of the choir, but also so an announcer could introduce each number. Nineteen-year-old Ted Kimball — son of the Tabernacle organist and the designated announcer — perched on the ladder for the duration of the program so those listening could hear his words.

Today the choir’s weekly broadcast is carried on radio, television and cable networks across the United States and around the world. The choir’s music is also available live on its YouTube channel.

“Music and the Spoken Word” has been inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Sister Ballard, Wife of President M. Russell Ballard, Dies at 86

Nauvoo News

After a life of dedicated service to her family and the Church, Sister Barbara Bowen Ballard died peacefully Monday, October 1, 2018, at her home in Salt Lake City, surrounded by her family. She was 86.

The wife of President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Ballard will be remembered for her characteristic grace, sense of humor, loving smile, and lack of guile.

A loving wife, mother and grandmother, Sister Ballard faced many health issues in recent years, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Barbara Bowen was born January 5, 1932, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to James Russell Bowen and Afton Wilkins Bowen. She was a student body officer at South High School in Salt Lake City, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. She also attended the University of Utah and studied English.

Just three days after Russell Ballard returned home from his mission in the British Isles, he met his future wife at a Hello Day dance.

“A friend of mine thought I ought to meet her, so he tagged in to dance with her, danced over to where I was, introduced me, and I danced with her 30 seconds before I was tagged out,” President Ballard recalled later. “That was the beginning of a courtship of 11 months.”

Year later, President Ballard said that “getting her to agree to marry me was the greatest sales job I ever did.”

”She was not only beautiful but had a sparkling personality,“ he said.

The couple married August 28, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple, and had two sons and five daughters.

Shortly thereafter, he was called to serve in a bishopric of the Monument Park 13th Ward in Salt Lake City. Later, he would serve as bishop of the ward.

The couple moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1974, where President Ballard presided over the Canada Toronto Mission until 1977. It was during that service that he was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 3, 1976, continuing his duties as mission president until the term of service was up.

During their time in Ontario, Sister Ballard made many cherished connections with the missionaries, Church members and community members.

President Ballard often acknowledged Sister Ballard's support in their family’s success. “I married the right daughter of God,” he said. “Without the help and direction of Barbara, our family relationships would not have been as happy and fulfilling as they were. Barbara is a treasure for our family forever. We honor her for her constant love, good judgment, and counsel.”

On March 28, 2002, Sister Ballard was honored as the Exemplary Woman of the Year at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

In her remarks, Sister Ballard spoke on the theme, ”Standing in Holy Places.“ She affirmed that a woman can make every home a holy place by the standards that she keeps and the grace that she shows. She encouraged women to make good choices and develop their talents.

During a devotional address on March 13, 2001, Elder Ballard spoke of his 50-year marriage to Sister Ballard.

“The greatest day in my life was the day I met Barbara Bowen,” he said. “My greatest accomplishment was convincing her that I was the only true and living returned missionary among all of those she was dating. It was a most important day when we were married in the Salt Lake Temple.”

Sister Ballard served faithfully in many Church callings. She taught classes and served in presidencies of the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society. She found great joy as she befriended and fellowshipped others.

For 15 years Sister Ballard served as a caregiver to her mother, Afton Bowen—who came to live with the Ballards in her later years. Sister Ballard often commented on her gratitude for the time she spent with her mother during that time. Together they shared a love of laughter and created cherished family memories.

According to her family, Sister Ballard’s greatest desire was to be a loving mother to her children—Clark (Leanna) Ballard, Holly (Paul) Clayton, Meleea (David) Roper, Tammy (Brad) Brower, Stacey (Hal) Murdock, Brynn (Peter) Huntsman, and Craig (Melissa) Ballard—43 grandchildren and 90 great-grandchildren.

Walking the “Trail of Hope” in Nauvoo

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - During the closing moments of the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple on June 30, 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley noted it was “a very hot day” in Nauvoo. Nevertheless, he asked that those attending the dedication in Nauvoo to take a few minutes to “walk down Parley Street to the waterfront,” the landing on the Mississippi River from which the early Saints departed Nauvoo and crossed into Iowa on their westward trek.

He asked members to leave behind the comfort of their air-conditioned cars to walk and take time to read plaques along what is designated as the Trail of Hope and read about those who left behind the beautiful temple and the “city of Joseph” they had built in just six and a half years.

“Look across to Iowa,” President Hinckley said, inviting the members to ponder on those past events. He asked they imagine it not as a hot day in June but a day of bitter cold in February, the month when the first company of Saints left Nauvoo under dire circumstances in 1846.

When the dedicatory session concluded, the temple’s doors opened. What happened next was a sight to behold. More than a thousand members exited the temple, some by its front doors from which they could see the late afternoon sun glistening on the Mississippi River. Hundreds who watched the dedication in the nearby Nauvoo Illinois Stake Center joined the throng walking down the hill. I fell in with them. With the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple to our backs, it wasn’t hard to imagine the scene as earlier Saints left the original temple for the last time.

What unfolded on that late afternoon/early evening on June 30, 2002, was as a spiritual snapshot, the capturing of a moment to remember forever. Church members heeded a prophet’s voice. It was 95 degrees Fahrenheit, as humidity readings hovered in the 90s. The distance covered, approximately a mile, wasn’t significant, but the walk itself was.

I walked with a mixture of emotions. Daylight was in its last moments; getting proper film exposures was difficult. Besides the fading light, I had trouble looking through the viewfinder because tears often blurred my vision. I felt spiritually elevated and emotionally drained.

Parents pushed baby strollers and carried infants in their arms and toddlers on their shoulders. Some members went to the waterfront in conventional or motorized wheelchairs. Some walked with the aid of crutches or canes. Mike Larsen, originally from Blackfoot, Idaho, who then lived in Iowa City, Iowa, made his way down the route on crutches. “It’s nothing compared to what the pioneers did,” he told me.

Mary Hart of the Garden Park Ward in Salt Lake City and a descendant of two of Nauvoo’s original settlers, James and Drusilla Hendricks, walked as far as she could while using crutches, but eventually resigned to sitting in a wheelchair pushed by a young relative, LeAnn Hord of Mesa, Arizona. Every bump along the uneven verge caused pain. Still, Sister Hart persisted in going the distance.

Until after dark, a steady stream of people walked to and from the river. It was a beautiful, yet rather somber, occasion. The mood was contemplative. Many members stopped to read some or all of the 28 markers along the Trail of Hope.

One marker bore a statement by Newel Knight: “Here we all halted & took a farewell view of our delightful City. … We also beheld the magnificent Temple rearing its lofty tower towards the heavens. … My heart did swell within me.”

There we were, 156 years later, gazing at a similar scene, feeling some of the same emotions.

The marker bearing words of Bathsheba Smith touched many: “My last act set in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotion in my heart … I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future; faced it with faith in God.”

President Hinckley surely knew what that walk would mean to those who attended the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. He had gone on that walk many times during earlier visits to Nauvoo. I was privileged to take along my camera as he walked down Parley Street to the water’s edge on one of those visits several years earlier.

New Security Changes Ahead of General Conference

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS: Those who attend the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will notice some changes designed to improve security and enhance the patron experience at the Conference Center.

“We're taking all precautions necessary for a large venue,” said Charles Andersen, managing director of the Church’s Headquarters Facilities. “This is very typical of any large venue, whether it's a stadium or an arena.” 

“Obviously, when you're dealing with 60,000 people on Saturday and another 40,000 people on Sunday of general conference weekend, we're trying to keep everybody as safe as possible and move them through as quickly as possible,” explained David Miles, director of Events and Support Services for the Church. 

The fall sessions of general conference are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, 2018, on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. 

"There's no immediate threat or any new information that's come forward; we're just trying to get consistent with what's happening around the country as far as how to secure our buildings,” said Miles. “All events will have the same security process.”

“We have a team of 700 volunteer … service missionaries who are tasked with searching every bag,” he added. “We're just trying to stay with these small items. Every purse, every bag will be opened and checked by our security team, and so this expedites that process.” 

Here are the changes:

  • The Conference Center will be closed to the public beginning Monday prior to general conference weekend.

  • Water bottles must be clear. Metal containers are not allowed inside the Conference Center.

  • Attendees can bring small bags and umbrellas with them inside the building. Large bags are not allowed.

  • Any personal items such as large purses, backpacks, shopping bags, suitcases and food items will no longer be stored on Church property.

  • North Temple will be closed between West Temple and Main Street two hours before each session, allowing pedestrians to cross the street in crosswalks and other designated locations within the restricted area. The street will be blocked off with moveable barriers.

  • North Temple will reopen with limited access during each session and each day approximately two hours after general conference sessions end.

  • People are encouraged to walk through Temple Square and the Church plaza to get to the Conference Center.

  • Conference goers are encouraged to arrive early to provide adequate time to attend the event.     

LDS General Conference Mormon.jpg

General Sessions

Members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other general authorities and general officers of the global Church will deliver messages of inspiration and guidance in five sessions.

This is the second time President Russell M. Nelson will preside over general conference since becoming the 17th president of the global Church in January.

Church membership is now more than 16 million men, women and children in 188 countries, nations and territories.

The general sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain daylight time. The general women’s session for women, young women and girls ages eight and older will be held on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. The general priesthood session for the men and young men of the Church is held in the spring.

Those of other faiths are welcome to participate in general conference.

All sessions will be streamed live on the home page of They are also available via the Church satellite system, Mormon Channel, radio, television, satellite and other digital channels.

Attending in Person

Complimentary tickets are required for admission to all sessions in the Conference Center, which seats 21,000 people. For visitors from outside the United States and Canada, tickets will no longer be distributed at the Conference Center Ticket Office. International visitors must request tickets through their local leaders.

A standby line for those without tickets will begin at the north gate of Temple Square.

Additional seating will be available at locations on Temple Square. Tickets are not required for the overflow locations, including the Assembly Hall, where the sessions can be heard in Spanish.

Conference attendees are encouraged to carpool or use public transportation to relieve local traffic congestion. Visit for parking information.

The Nauvoo Temple - A Beautiful Photo Tour

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - View the beautiful interior of the Nauvoo Temple and see a 170 years off Nauvoo Temple art. Plans to reconstruct the Nauvoo Temple were announced on April 4th 1999, in a session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On October 24th of that same year Church leaders broke ground and commenced construction. Church PresidentGordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Nauvoo Illinois Temple on June 27, 2002. Today the Nauvoo Temple serves Latter-day Saints in western Illinois and eastern Iowa and greets visitors from across the globe.




 The Nauvoo Temple was reconstructed to almost exact specifications as the original Temple. Original building drawings done by William Weeks were used to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple.

The Nauvoo Temple was reconstructed to almost exact specifications as the original Temple. Original building drawings done by William Weeks were used to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple.












How a small BYU group redefined Mormon art in the '60s

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS: About 50 years ago, three young students and one art professor at Brigham Young University met to discuss a new vision for Mormon art.

Little did they know this discussion would ignite a spark that would spread like wildfire across the BYU campus to become what is now known as the Mormon Art and Belief Movement.

This movement is the subject of a new exhibition at the Springville Museum of Art titled “Beginnings,” which explores these artists’ ideas and work in the 1960s-’70s and how they affected future art in the Utah and LDS arts communities.

“This will just be a picture of a historical moment that had great influence, and we want to recognize that, honor that importance in especially our religious art traditions here and just reintroduce it, so that we get visitors and artists rethinking their own sense of belief, whatever it is, and how they explore that in their creation,” museum director Rita Wright said.

Curator Emily Larsen Boothe said the discussion in this group — which included students Dennis Smith, Gary Ernest Smith and Trevor Southey as well as professor Dale Fletcher — centered on questions like, “What is Mormon art?” and how they could use their artistic talents to build the kingdom of God.


Nauvoo Scarecrow Festival is Underway Again

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS: The 2nd annual Nauvoo Scarecrow Festival gets underway again next week, leading the way to the annual Nauvoo Pumpkin Walk .

“Over twenty-five scarecrows will be on display along the Mulholland Street business district’ say organizers which includes the Nauvoo Betterment Association. “Awards will be given to the top 3 entries during the Nauvoo Scarecrow Stroll held on October 6. Following the stroll event, the scarecrows will remain on display through the annual “Boo-ti-ful” Nauvoo Pumpkin Walk, which will be held on October 27, 2018.”

Organizers want everyone to know that a new “photo frame” feature will be added this year. “It will be opportunity to have memories captured using your cell phone or camera”

The second annual Nauvoo Scarecrow Festival is sponsored by the Nauvoo Betterment Association, a group dedicated to promoting and encouraging improvements to the quality of life in Nauvoo.

Church Leaders Urge Utah Legislature to Legalize Medical Marijuana - BREAKING NEWS

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Breaking News: Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints want the Utah Legislature to legalize medical marijuana in a special session by the end of 2018.

"We'd like to see it done this year, in a special session this year," said Marty Stephens, the church's director of community and governmental relations. "We'd like to see these people that have needs — truly medical needs — we'd like to see them be able to get access to these medications in an appropriate, safe manner."

But the church does not believe the medical marijuana initiative on November's ballot is the right way to make medical marijuana legal.

The church has joined a broad coalition of medical, law enforcement, educational, religious and other leaders who are urging Utahns to go to the ballot on Nov. 6 to reject Proposition 2. That medical marijuana initiative doesn't protect children, they say. They also say it doesn't resolve unintended consequences that have afflicted medical marijuana programs in other states like Washington and Colorado.

Read the Rest of The Article: Deseret News

Nauvoo Hotels and Lodging Options - Historically Speaking

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Finding an available hotel room in Nauvoo in July can be tricky if you wait too long to reserve one. But your visit to Nauvoo might not be complete without the added experience of staying in an historic Nauvoo hotel. Here’s our review of just such a hotel:

The Woodruff Hotel is not only a Nauvoo Hotel landmark but a physical landmark as well, since its located directly across the street from the Nauvoo Temple. Situated in the Historic Downtown District the Woodruff Hotel is in the original 1871 Temple House building. Recognized in the National Registry of Historic Places, and standing high among the city's revered landmarks, this special Nauvoo hotel is named after one of Nauvoo's early distinguished and beloved residents. . . Wilford Woodruff.  

The building where the hotel is located has long been a recognizable place in the history of Nauvoo.  As depicted in an early photo of the original Nauvoo Temple, the beginnings of the hotel can be seen as early as 1847.  As the small city grappled with the sudden exodus of almost all her citizens, many buildings quickly fell into severe dis-repair or were vandalized by mobs of those who didn't build them and therefore didn't love them.  In 1871 John Engler took up the cause to beautify Nauvoo and commissioned Michael Baumert Sr. to salvage what he could and build what would come to be called the Temple House . . . So named because of its matching unique round-topped gothic windows, which were seen on the clock tower of the original Nauvoo Temple.  These windows are still in the hotel today.  In the 1800's the word "house" was used for hotels and other large public buildings such as a schoolhouse, publishing house, or carriage house.  A hotel in Nashville became famous for its brewed coffee . . . The Maxwell House.  Other early hotels in Nauvoo lodging were the Mansion House & the Nauvoo House.

Once construction was complete the advertisements for the new hotel went out: "This house is now neatly fitted up and in first-class condition.  Customers and travelers will find it an excellent stopping place."  While the Temple House served hotel guests upstairs, the main floor was used for various businesses such as the printing office for the Nauvoo Independent Newspaper and a General Store.  Travelling salesmen had a reserved area where they could show their goods.  The larger northeast room was once used as Nauvoo's first and only indoor roller skating rink! 

Eventually Mr. Baumert’s son purchased the building and portions of it were converted into much needed small family apartments. Mr. Baumert and his wife, Estella Clark Baumert, lived in one of the apartments in the rear of the hotel. Estella's father was one of the chief stone cutters on the original Nauvoo Temple and it is believed that it is he who built and installed the windows.  

Over its 140 year history the Temple House building has been cared for tenderly and repaired when it could be afforded.  In 1983, while some wanted to demolish it, Robert Cook purchased the old, tired hotel with the intention to keep it from faltering to progress.  Thanks to his love and tireless efforts the building was saved and placed on the National Historic Register. 

The hotel closed its doors in 2007 for major renovations.  The Woodruff Hotel emerged with stunning ambiance while maintaining its history firmly intact. In the grand celebration that marked its re-opening, the Nauvoo Brass Band played patriotic songs while the mayor and other city officials cut the ribbon.  The hotel was then "open for business" to the delight of hundreds of citizens.  The Woodruff Hotel is situated on nearly two acres of huge 100 year shade trees and boasts a Pioneer Village, the flagship Zions Mercantile General Store, and the world class Temple House Art Gallery. The Woodruff Hotel in Nauvoo welcomes guests from around the world as they enjoy the wonderful history and ambiance, as well as the unmatched views from the historic windows of the beautiful Temple House building.

Woodruff Hotel:

Nauvoo Hotels and Lodging Options - Historically Speaking

Nauvoo Bagpipe Band - The Pipers of Nauvoo

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - There are many traditions associated with Nauvoo — and young bagpipers are one of the new traditions strongly linked to the Nauvoo Pageant.

As far as 10 miles down the Mississippi River you hear them. The music of the Nauvoo bagpipe Band pierces the humid summer air, keeping cadence with the rhythmic tap, tap, tap of a snare drum. Soon a crowd gathers around red, purple, yellow, green, and orange banners as an impromptu parade follows the bagpipers, signaling that the Nauvoo Pageant is about to begin.

The bagpipe band involves youth from around the United States, but it has a special significance to members of the Hezseltine family of Murray, Utah. Each summer for the past three years, Hezseltines have played in the band. Calum and Thomas, 17 and 20, and their dad, Paul, chose to master this unique instrument because it’s part of their family heritage; Brother Hezseltine was born in England and raised in Scotland. “Playing the bagpipes takes you to a lot of places,” says Calum. For example, he’s performed in New York, at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, and for the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Bagpipers in the Nauvoo Pageant band volunteer for an average of two weeks, performing in the pre-show, daily vignettes (15-minute “mini-plays”), and the pageant itself. It’s an opportunity for them to develop their talent, make friends, experience old Nauvoo, learn about early Church history, draw closer as a family, build testimony, and share the gospel.

“Playing in the Nauvoo Pageant really helped strengthen my testimony of Joseph Smith and appreciation of the pioneers,” says Austin McDonough, 19. Ben Furner agrees. He is currently in the Philippines and, like many Nauvoo bagpipe band alumni, is serving a full-time mission. “In Nauvoo there were a lot of awesome chances to share small messages about the gospel with people after we’d stop playing,” he says. “The Nauvoo bagpipes really set the tone and helped the visitors get ready to feel and understand the guidance of the Spirit.”

Connecting Family

Remember those lullabies your parents would softly sing to you as a child? When Calum and Thomas think bedtime, they think bagpipes. “I wanted to learn to play the bagpipes because as a kid I heard my dad play all the time. It might be hard to believe, but it is what I used to fall asleep to,” says Thomas, now a missionary in Paraguay. Over the years the Hezseltines have marched in parades and performed at concerts and funerals. “The best part is spending time together with my sons before we play,” says Brother Hezseltine. “We have so few opportunities nowadays to spend time together as a family. At Nauvoo, especially, we were constantly together, day after day. That was priceless.”

Several Nauvoo bagpipers have similar family ties. Christopher Putnam, 17, played the snare drum in the Nauvoo bagpipe band alongside his father, Barry, a bagpiper. “Our family was able to bond and become closer than we usually are,” says Christopher of his Nauvoo experience. “We were able to keep it up when we got home. We are more kind to each other.”

His dad also believes their pageant participation strengthened their family. “It has brought new meaning into our family,” he says. “There’s added happiness in the home because of it.”

Michael Morgan, 14, and his mom, Cheri, also played the bagpipes at Nauvoo. They both learned how to play four years ago as a tribute to Michael’s grandfather, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “He really liked the bagpipes,” explains Michael. “So my mom thought, why not let him listen to them before he dies and not just have them played at his funeral.” After hearing the bagpiper play at his grandfather’s bedside, Michael and his mom decided to take lessons together. Now they are part of a bagpipe band that tours the country. “Developing a talent together as a family is great,” says Sister Morgan. “When you spend so much time together, you can’t help but communicate; you are close because you are together.” Michael agrees and adds, “It’s fun to be unique.”

Instruments of Power

Bagpipes were once called war pipes because they were played to both rally the troops and terrify the enemy. Their tunes were even used to help command fighters on the field. The pipes are still a worldwide symbol of power, strength, freedom, and honor.

And there’s no question the bagpipes can be an intimidating instrument to learn. Beginning pipers start on a practice chanter for 6 to 12 months before they move to the bagpipes. “You have to retrain your fingers to move independently, and in the right way,” says Elder Furner. “Every piper has his or her own rhythm and their own way of breathing. It’s finding your own way that seems to take up most of your practice time.”

“It takes a year just to build up your lungs,” says Calum. Before playing the first note, pipers take several deep breaths to fill up the bag with air. “It is hard to keep from blacking out when practicing sometimes,” says Drew Babcock, 17.

“The toughest part about learning the bagpipes was sticking it out,” says Austin, who has been playing for four years. Tyler Abeyta, a former Nauvoo band member currently serving a mission in Sacramento, California, agrees. “I was 13, and after a month of trying to learn the bagpipes, I quit. My good friend was also taking lessons, and he encouraged me to start again. I knew with all my heart if I were to even come close to learning the pipes, I would need the help of my Heavenly Father. So I kneeled down one night. I asked Him for His help and His blessing to be upon me as I continued to learn. When I started again, I definitely knew that the Spirit was with me and helped me along the way.”

Playing the bagpipes isn’t without its hazards. “They have a lot of bugs—big bugs—in Nauvoo,” says Garrett Weixler, 16. “One night when we were playing on the stage a bug flew into my mouth. I swallowed it and kept on playing.”

Michael Morgan admits he sometimes gets ribbed by his friends about the traditional costume he wears when performing. “A lot of people make the mistake that it’s a skirt. It’s not; it’s a kilt! Some of my friends say, ‘Nice dress,’ but it’s all in fun.”

Christopher Putnam can relate. “Kilts have a long and proud history in Scotland. They were faster to move around in on the highlands and dried faster in the damp climate,” Christopher explains. Michael says the six yards of plaid wool can get pretty hot, especially in the middle of a Nauvoo summer. “But in winter it’s nice.”

The Salt in the Oatmeal

Ean Shelley, 17, was surprised when Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approached him after a performance in Nauvoo. Elder Oaks told Ean, “The Nauvoo bagpipers are the salt in the oatmeal.” When Ean asked him what he meant, Elder Oaks explained that you have to put a little bit of salt into the oatmeal to make it taste just right. The Nauvoo bagpipers add that flavor to the experience.

“I think bagpipes can portray any human emotion,” says Elder Furner. Many Nauvoo bagpipers agree that the notes they play convey joy, peace, grief and sorrow all at once. “Despite the loudness of the pipes,” says Drew, “they bring the Spirit with force and power. They can pierce hearts and bring people to tears.”

Perhaps that’s why bagpipers are associated not only with parades and weddings, but with funerals. Calum and Thomas have played at several funerals with their dad, including their grandfather’s. “We usually escort the coffin to the grave,” explains Brother Hezseltine. “It is the last bit of respect you can give someone on this earth.”

Michael Morgan also believes the bagpipes can provide a salve for aching souls. “We practice in front of our house,” explains Michael. “One day I played ‘Abide with Me,’ and my neighbor came out and said, ‘Thanks, I really needed to hear that.’ It’s nice to be able to do that for someone.”

Instruments of the Spirit

The sun hovers just above the horizon as the parade of pipers leads the crowd to their seats. The Nauvoo bagpipe Band enter the stage, and their final notes linger above the audience, preparing them to hear the story of old Nauvoo. Behind them up a steep, grassy hill, the dwindling sunlight shines on the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple. “It was such a great honor to play the pipes in Nauvoo,” Elder Abeyta remembers. “The Spirit of the Lord is there in abundance. You can almost feel the early Saints by your side.”

Piping at the Pageant

“Playing at Nauvoo definitely improved my piping,” says Elder Ben Furner, who played in the Nauvoo Pageant bagpipe band in 2005. “And most importantly, it was the best preparation I could ever have had before my mission. I got used to being away from home. It got me used to talking with people I didn’t know. I loved every minute of it.”

“The Nauvoo bagpipe Band are a significant part of the spirit and missionary efforts of the Nauvoo Pageant,” says pageant administrator Bonnie Ashby. “Visitors are drawn to their distinctive sound, and the pipes represent the heritage of so many British converts who immigrated to Nauvoo in the 1840s.”

If you play the bagpipes and are interested in applying for the Nauvoo Pageant bagpipe band, visit the Nauvoo Pageant Web site at

If you’d like to hear the Nauvoo Pageant bagpipe band music, visit the New Era Web site at

Photographs by R. Lawrence Porter, except as noted; inset photo by Erica Sonne Morgan

Playing the bagpipes has given Calum Hezseltine many opportunities for travel and to spend time with his brother and father, who also play.

Photograph by Heidi Lewis

(Far left) Drew Babcock believes bagpipe music can “bring the Spirit with force and power.”

For Michael Morgan (above) the best thing about playing in the Nauvoo Pageant was talking with people after the show. “Some didn’t know a lot about the Church,” he says. “We were able to explain it to them.” The Nauvoo bagpipe band changes each year with the addition of new people.

This article is shared from The New Era - copyright belongs to and remains with the New Era

Deseret Book - A Brief History of Mormon Publishing

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Shortly after the initial publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830 and the formal establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that same year, Joseph Smith, in a conference with Church members, authorized William W. Phelps to purchase a printing press and type as he traveled with other members to Missouri. In 1832, Phelps inaugurated that press with the publication of the first issue of the first Church periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star.

Thus began a long and continuous history of publishing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the Grandin press to Deseret Book this is a brief look at the publishing companies of the Church.

Joseph Smith, the founder and first president of the Church, felt the importance of a church “voice,” a means by which doctrine, revelation and even pertinent instructions could be shared with members of the newly organized Church, regardless of their individual locations.

From that original Missouri publication to the present day, vital and instructional information continues to be published in a variety of formats.

During the early days of the Church, nearly every region had its own individual publication, some areas with more than one. In the 1830’s Church members in Kirtland, Ohio read The L.D.S. Messenger and Advocate, and The Elder’s Journal. Those in Philadelphia read The Gospel Reflector and in New York, The Prophet.

Nauvoo Mormons read the news in the Times and Seasons, while members in Great Britain followed the Millennial Star. Many, traveling west across the United States in wagon trains, for a time, relied on the Frontier Guardian, published in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

In 1850, when larger groups of settlers arrived in Utah, a general newspaper, The Deseret News, began publication.

As the Church expanded in numbers and organizations, additional publications were added, beginning with the Juvenile Instructor in 1866. Branded chiefly as a children’s magazine, it was adopted by the Sunday School and eventually, in 1930, became the Instructor.  

The Women’s Exponent, The Contributor, Historical Record and Young Women’s Journal, published in Utah in the second half of the 19th Century,were all important fore-runners to today’s Church publications.

By 1929 separate magazines for young men and young women merged to become the Improvement Era, while the women of the Church published the Relief Society MagazineTheChildren’s Friend, prepared by the Primary (children’s organization) began in 1902.

Beginning in January 1971, all regional and Church-wide magazines were discontinued and three basic publications were instigated: the Ensign, geared to adult members; the New Era, focused on teenagers; and The Friend, for children. A magazine for Church members in international areas, the Liahona, is currently published in more than 50 languages each month. The Liahona also includes articles for youth and children.

Subsidiaries of the Church have also long been involved in the publication of books, though, until now, the Church has never claimed its own imprint.

George Q. Cannon, the original publisher of the Juvenile Instructor, also opened a territorial bookstore in 1867, a store intended to sell his magazine and other “uplifting” publications. The store shared ties with the Deseret News and the newspaper press printed Cannon’s original publications. Cannon sold the bookstore to the Church in 1900. Following a 1920 merger of the Deseret Sunday School Union Bookstore with Cannon’s company, Deseret Book came into existence. Though this publishing house, which still operates, is owned by the Church, it is editorially independent.

Initially charged with publishing lesson manuals, Deseret Book also produced significant titles in Church literature including Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage and a 1930 six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by B. H. Roberts.

The Deseret News Press and part of the Deseret Sunday School Union Bookstore have become the Printing Services and Distribution Services of the Materials Management Department of the Church, the official publisher of the Church. Deseret Book selling both books and other LDS gifts remains an important feature in that landscape. Deseret Book also carries LDS art and LDS gifts.

From the beginning of the Church in 1830, the printed word has played a crucial role in teaching and sharing the significant messages of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Publications have claimed a vital part in the establishment and maintenance of the Church. Some publications were long lived; others were published briefly as the needs and the circumstances of the Church changed throughout the years.

President Nelson Shares Life Lessons in Pacific Northwest

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - “We are living in the most crucial era in the history of the world,” said President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “As a Church we need to be doing what the Savior wishes us to do. And as a people we need to be looking and acting like true followers of Jesus Christ.”

The prophet of the worldwide Church addressed more than 49,000 people at a devotional at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, Saturday, September 15, 2018.

President Nelson was accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.

“We have never spoken at a baseball field before,” said President Nelson, who celebrated his 94th birthday last Sunday. “We are grateful to each of you for coming to this devotional. We express deep gratitude to all who have helped to make this historic event possible.”

There are more than 288,000 Latter-day Saints in the state of Washington.

“Our privilege to hear the word of God from a living prophet is one of the great joys of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said President Eyring. “As the Church moves to every nation and people, and in the last days, we can expect and take joy in new messages coming from God through the prophet.”

President Nelson focused on five lessons he has learned throughout his life as a heart surgeon, general authority and father. “I have been reflecting on other things I have learned during these many decades on this earth.”

The senior leader of the more than 16 million member global Church shared a story of a rafting experience that he had with his family on the Colorado River. He was thrown out of the raft when he wasn’t hanging on.

President Nelson said, “If I have learned anything in my life, it is that our ultimate security and our only enduring happiness lies in holding on to the iron rod of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, complete with its covenants and ordinances. When we do so, we can safely navigate through rough waters because we have access to God’s power.”

The second lesson he said he has learned is that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. “I renew a promise I made in general conference nearly a year ago, that if you will prayerfully read from the Book of Mormon each day, you will be immunized against the evils of the day and be drawn closer to the Lord.”

Third, President Nelson encouraged Latter-day Saints to focus on eternal life and less on “the honors of men” that “fade into oblivion compared to what the Lord has in store for His covenant-keeping children.”

“I realized that there are actually very few things in this world that have eternal significance. Having received and honored essential ordinances and sacred temple covenants meant everything,” he said.

President Nelson continued, “I plead with you not to let the temptations of the world — including the time-consuming allurements of your employment — distract you from the real reason you are here on earth.”

Fourth, he taught that the “Lord often uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible.”

President Nelson recalled an assignment he received from President Ezra Taft Benson in 1985 to open the countries of Eastern Europe for missionary work. “I set out to do what seemed utterly impossible. … In the year 1992, I was able to report to President Benson that the Church was now established in every country in Eastern Europe.”

“The Lord likes effort. Then He blesses our best efforts,” he said.

Finally, President Nelson spoke to the audience about service. “We are happiest when we are thinking about someone other than ourselves.”

He explained, “This is why at the last general conference we emphasized ministering as a higher, holier way of taking care of each other. This is also why the Church actively engages in humanitarian service around the globe.”

President Nelson said the Church partners with agencies such as the Red Cross, Catholic Charities and Islamic Relief for much of its humanitarian work.

“Whether we are digging wells in Africa, providing wheelchairs to those in need in Peru, or among the first to respond after natural disasters anywhere in the world, our efforts are designed to help all mankind. No shipments are labeled ‘For Latter-day Saints only,’” he said.

President Nelson has been ministering to Latter-day Saints around the world since he became the 17th president of the Church in January. His recent travels have taken him to Europe, Africa, Asia, Canada, the Caribbean and locations within the United States.

The Nelsons and President Eyring travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a devotional on Sunday, September 16, before returning to Salt Lake City.

Nauvoo News

LDS Art - Gospel Art and Mormon Art Collections

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - LDS Art is really what kind of art? Art with an LDS theme or any art or painting by a Latter-day Saint. In his Deseret News article review of an LDS Art exhibit in Salt Lake City, reporter Jerry Johnston titled his article “What makes Mormon art Mormon?” He then starts off his review with an interesting take on, not LDS art but - all religious art:

“One of the first religious artists we learn about was Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet. He built models of the temple at Jerusalem, then tore them down. He sewed locks of hair into his robe. People found his displays so provocative, in fact, that God came to him and said, in essence: “People love your work, but they’re not getting the message behind it.”And such has been the plight of the religious artist ever since.”

There certainly has been a development of LDS art and artists over the past century. From C.C.A. Christiansen’s folk art paintings done on the old canvas coverings from the Mormon handcarts and wagons that crossed the plains - to James Kirk Richards’ works that seem to gently, beautifully blend the overlapping edges of LDS art and masters works like Rembrandt.

The recent admonition from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson regarding the preferred use of the full name of the Church and more importantly the discouragement of the terms LDS and Mormon when referring to the name of church leaves this genre of LDS art and artists wondering what to do. LDS art already falls into a very small but potent niche. On the one hand referring to LDS art as ‘LDS’ is not intended to be the name of the Church, but there is no other reference for LDS art and artists that seems to apply. There is Catholic Art, Budhist Art. There is modern art, contemporary art - there is even elephant art and clown art ( art done by elephants and clowns)

In thinking about this issue and wondering where LDS art and artists go from here - I looked online and found the article in the Deseret News - What makes Mormon art Mormon? I think its worth a read and it certainly asks a very thoughtful question.

Link to the article Deseret News -

Nauvoo Pageant Housing - A Resource for Pageant Cast & Crew Housing In Nauvoo

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - Finding Nauvoo Pageant housing can be a little daunting. Once a family has been informed they are going to be in the Nauvoo Pageant, the next step is often to find housing. Below is some information about Nauvoo Pageant housing and other resources for looking for a place to stay in Nauvoo.

Stay in Nauvoo

Being a member of the Nauvoo Pageant cast and crew can be a lot of work. Staying in right Nauvoo is likely your best option. You’ll need to be close to the pageant grounds and things that are going on, so staying in another town and driving into Nauvoo several times a day might not end up working very well.

The Nauvoo pageant official website says “ Once you know you’ll be performing in the Nauvoo Pageant, Nauvoo Pageant participants are responsible for their own housing. The majority of participants are able to find convenient housing options in Nauvoo when arrangements are made just after they receive notice of acceptance.”

Find Nauvoo Pageant housing & hotel options below:

Woodruff Hotel -

Hotel Nauvoo -

Nauvoo Tourism -

The Nauvoo pageant official website says “ Nauvoo Pageant participants may request space at the Nauvoo Restoration, Incorporated (NRI) RV Park. Full electrical, water and sewer hook-ups are available. A shower house and laundry facilities are also available for park residents. No soft-sided tents permitted and no animals allowed. RV sites are available on a first come, first served basis and must be reserved through the Nauvoo Pageant office. Cost per day is $20.00. ”

Nauvoo Pageant housing and lodging is available throughout Nauvoo and you should be able to find it without a problem if you look early. For more information about Nauvoo Pageant housing or the Nauvoo Pageant schedule visit

The Nauvoo Pageant has Become the Nauvoo Pageant Experience

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - The Nauvoo pageant is a performance based on actual records, accounts, and journals from the early days of the Restoration. Many of the characters portrayed in the Nauvoo pageant are real people, some of whom have names that are recognizable to Latter-day Saints. Other characters are composites of the experiences of several Saints of the time.

Visitors who haven’t been to Nauvoo in the last few years might have missed the debut of a new major performance: Truth Will Prevail, often simply called the British Pageant. This newer pageant was created by Church members in the United Kingdom, who performed it in Chorley, England, in 2013. This story of Church members in the British Isles was soon adopted into the Nauvoo pageant schedule in Nauvoo as well, and the two pageants, Truth Will Prevail and Nauvoo, are now performed there on alternating nights.

When the Nauvoo Pageant was first performed in 2005, replacing the original City of Joseph pageant, Jack Renhouf, then the president of the pageant, talked about how the new performance was intended to be only one part of a wider endeavor. “In a general sense,” he told the Church News at that time, “the Nauvoo Pageant becomes the Nauvoo Pageant experience.” Thus, the pageants are only part of what the Church offers in the city.

Both performances are preceded by the “country fair,” where members of the family cast host a variety of activities for visitors, including dancing, sack racing, pulling handcarts, games, and crafts.

Young performing missionaries also put on a variety of shows and events, and some of them participate in the pageants as well. The core cast members of the Nauvoo pageant also put on a set of historical vignettes, reprising their roles from the pageant. These shorter performances give visitors an opportunity to experience certain significant parts of Nauvoo’s history in greater depth than they are shown in the pageants.

The vignettes include a retelling of the early history of the Relief Society, readings from letters exchanged between Joseph and Emma Smith, an excerpt of the Prophet Joseph’s sermon at the funeral of his friend King Follett, and stories of the missionary experiences of some of the early Apostles of this dispensation.

Missionaries, including senior missionaries, host many activities and events around Nauvoo as well, including cart rides pulled by horses and oxen, teaching about the old-fashioned blacksmithing or brickmaking methods in re-created or preserved buildings of Old Nauvoo, and even a musical performance.

For more information on the Nauvoo Pageant Schedule please visit

Nauvoo Pageant Performed in a Setting of Great Church History

Nauvoo News

NAUVOO NEWS - The Nauvoo Pageant is performed each night in the midst of a very meaningful historic place in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Below is a brief history of Nauvoo and the makings of the Nauvoo Pageant story.

The Latter-day Saints who made their way to Illinois received a warm welcome from generous citizens in the town of Quincy. Following the return of the Prophet Joseph Smith from his confinement in Liberty Jail, the Saints moved north up the Mississippi River about 35 miles. There they drained the large swamps in the area and began to build the city of Nauvoo beside a bend in the river. The city was soon a bustle of activity and commerce as Saints gathered there from all parts of the United States, Canada, and England. Within four years, Nauvoo had become one of the largest cities in Illinois.

Church members lived in relative peace, secure in the fact that a prophet walked and labored among them. Hundreds of missionaries called by the Prophet left Nauvoo to proclaim the gospel. A temple was constructed, the temple endowment was received, wards were created for the first time, stakes were established, the Relief Society was organized, the book of Abraham was published, and significant revelations were received. For more than six years, the Saints displayed a remarkable degree of unity, faith, and happiness as their city became a beacon of industry and truth.

Sacrifices of Nauvoo Missionaries

The Nauvoo Pageant includes stories of the early settlers and missionaries in Nauvoo:

As the Saints began to construct homes and plant crops, many of them became ill with the ague, an infectious disease that included fever and chills. The sick included most of the Twelve and Joseph Smith himself. On 22 July 1839 the Prophet arose from his bed of sickness with the power of God resting upon him. Using the power of the priesthood, he healed himself and the sick in his own house, then commanded those camping in tents in his dooryard to be made whole. Many people were healed. The Prophet went from tent to tent and from house to house, blessing everyone. It was one of the great days of faith and healing in Church history.

During this period, the Prophet called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to go to England on missions. Elder Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was sent to Jerusalem to dedicate Palestine for the gathering of the Jewish people and other children of Abraham. Missionaries were sent to preach throughout the United States and eastern Canada, and Addison Pratt and others received calls to go to the Pacific Islands.

These brethren made great sacrifices as they left their homes and families to respond to their calls to serve the Lord. Many members of the Twelve were struck with the ague as they prepared to depart for England. Wilford Woodruff, who was very ill, left his wife, Phoebe, almost without food and the necessities of life. George A. Smith, the youngest Apostle, was so sick that he had to be carried to the wagon, and a man who saw him asked the driver if they had been robbing the graveyard. Only Parley P. Pratt, who took his wife and children with him, his brother Orson Pratt, and John Taylor were free from disease as they left Nauvoo, although Elder Taylor later became terribly ill and almost died as they traveled to New York City.

Brigham Young was so ill that he was unable to walk even a short distance without assistance, and his companion, Heber C. Kimball, was no better. Their wives and families, too, lay suffering. When the Apostles reached the crest of a hill a short distance from their homes, both lying in a wagon, they felt as though they could not endure leaving their families in so pitiful a condition. At Heber’s suggestion, they struggled to their feet, waved their hats over their heads, and shouted three times, “Hurrah, Hurrah, for Israel.” Their wives, Mary Ann and Vilate, gained strength enough to stand and, leaning against the door frame, they cried out, “Good-bye, God bless you.” The two men returned to their wagon beds with a spirit of joy and satisfaction at seeing their wives standing instead of lying sick in bed.

The families remaining behind demonstrated their faith as they sacrificed to support those who had accepted mission calls. When Addison Pratt was called to a mission in the Sandwich Islands, his wife, Louisa Barnes Pratt, explained: “My four children had to be schooled and clothed, and no money would be left with me. … My heart felt weak at the first, but I determined to trust in the Lord, and stand bravely before the ills of life, and rejoice that my husband was counted worthy to preach the gospel.”

Louisa and her children went to the dock to bid farewell to their husband and father. After they returned home, Louisa reported that “sadness took possession of our minds. It was not long till loud thunders began to roar. A family, living across the street, had a leaky house; frail and uncertain. Soon they all came over for safety through the storm. Thankful we were to see them come in; they talked comforting to us, sang hymns, and the brother prayed with us, and stayed till the storm was over.”1

Not long after Addison’s departure, his young daughter contracted smallpox. The disease was so contagious that there was real danger to any priesthood brother who might come to the Pratts, so Louisa prayed with faith and “rebuked the fever.” Eleven little pimples came out on her daughter’s body, but the disease never developed. In a few days the fever was gone. Louisa wrote, “I showed the child to one acquainted with that disease; he said it was an attack; that I had conquered it by faith.”2

Those missionaries who left Nauvoo at such sacrifice brought thousands into the Church. Many of those who were converted also displayed remarkable faith and courage. Mary Ann Weston lived in England with the William Jenkins family while learning dressmaking. Brother Jenkins was converted to the gospel, and Wilford Woodruff came to the house to visit the family. Only Mary Ann was home at the time. Wilford sat by the fire and sang, “Shall I for fear of feeble man, the Spirit’s course in me restrain.” Mary Ann watched him as he sang and remembered that “he looked so peaceful and happy, I thought he must be a good man, and the Gospel he preached must be true.”3

Through her association with Church members, Mary Ann was soon converted and baptized—the only member of her family to respond to the message of the restored gospel. She married a member of the Church, who died four months later, due in part to a beating he received at the hands of a mob intent on disrupting a Church gathering. All alone, she boarded a ship filled with other Latter-day Saints bound for Nauvoo, leaving her home, her friends, and her unbelieving parents. She never saw her family again.

Her courage and commitment eventually blessed the lives of many people. She married Peter Maughan, a widower, who settled Cache Valley in northern Utah. There she raised a large, faithful family, who honored both the Church and her name.

The Standard Works

The Nauvoo Pageant makes scripture and following the commandments of God a central theme:

During the Nauvoo period, some of the writings that later became the Pearl of Great Price were published. This book contains selections from the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, an extract from the testimony of Matthew, excerpts from Joseph Smith’s history, and the Articles of Faith. These documents were written or translated by Joseph Smith under the direction of the Lord.

The Saints now had the scriptures that would become the standard works of the Church: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These books are of inestimable value to the children of God, for they teach the fundamental truths of the gospel and bring the honest seeker to the knowledge of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Additional revelations have been added to the modern-day scriptures as directed by the Lord through his prophets.

The Nauvoo Temple

The Nauvoo Pageant has as its central story the building of the Nauvoo Temple:

Only 15 months after founding Nauvoo, the First Presidency, obedient to revelation, announced that the time had now come “to erect a house of prayer, a house of order, a house for the worship of our God, where the ordinances can be attended to agreeable to His divine will.”4 Though poor and struggling to provide for their own families, Latter-day Saints responded to their leaders’ call and began donating time and means toward constructing a temple. More than 1,000 men donated every tenth day in labor. Louisa Decker, a young girl, was impressed that her mother sold her china dishes and a fine bed quilt as her temple contribution.5 Other Latter-day Saints gave horses, wagons, cows, pork, and grain to aid in the temple’s construction. The women of Nauvoo were asked to contribute their dimes and pennies for the temple fund.

Caroline Butler had no pennies or dimes to contribute, but she wanted very much to give something. One day while going to the city in a wagon, she saw two dead buffalo. Suddenly she knew what her temple gift could be. She and her children pulled the long hair from the buffaloes’ manes and took it home with them. They washed and carded the hair and spun it into coarse yarn, then knitted eight pairs of heavy mittens that were given to the rock cutters working on the temple in the bitter winter cold.6

Mary Fielding Smith, wife of Hyrum Smith, wrote to Latter-day Saint women in England, who within a year gathered 50,000 pennies, weighing 434 pounds, that were shipped to Nauvoo. Farmers donated teams and wagons; others sold some of their land and donated the money to the building committee. Many watches and guns were contributed. The Saints in Norway, Illinois, sent 100 sheep to Nauvoo to be used by the temple committee.

Brigham Young remembered: “We did much hard labor on the Nauvoo temple, during which time it was difficult to get bread and other provisions for the workmen to eat.” Still, President Young counseled those in charge of temple funds to give out all the flour they had, confident that the Lord would provide. Within a short time Joseph Toronto, a recent convert to the Church from Sicily, arrived in Nauvoo, bringing with him $2,500 in gold, which he laid at the feet of the Brethren.7 These life savings of Brother Toronto were used to replenish the flour and to purchase other much needed supplies.

Shortly after the Saints arrived in Nauvoo, the Lord revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith that baptisms could be performed for dead ancestors who had not heard the gospel (see D&C 124:29–39). Many Saints took great comfort in the promise that the dead might have the same blessings as those who accept the gospel here on earth.

The Prophet also received an important revelation concerning the teachings, covenants, and blessings that are now called the temple endowment. This sacred ordinance was to enable the Saints “to secure the fullness of those blessings” that would prepare them to “come up and abide in the presence of … Eloheim in the eternal worlds.”8 After receiving the endowment, husbands and wives could be sealed together by the power of the priesthood for time and all eternity. Joseph Smith realized that his time on earth was short, so while the temple was still under construction, he began giving the endowment to selected faithful followers in the upstairs room of his red brick store.

Even after the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith, when the Saints realized they must shortly leave Nauvoo, they increased their commitment to completing the temple. The attic of the unfinished temple was dedicated as a part of the structure where the endowment would be administered. The Saints were so anxious to receive this sacred ordinance that Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others of the Twelve Apostles remained in the temple both day and night, sleeping no more than about four hours a night. Mercy Fielding Thompson had charge of the washing and ironing of temple clothes, as well as overseeing the cooking. She too lived in the temple, sometimes working throughout the night to have everything ready for the next day. Other members were just as devoted.

Why would these Saints work so hard to complete a building they would soon leave behind? Almost 6,000 Latter-day Saints received their endowments before leaving Nauvoo. As they turned their eyes toward their western migration, they were bolstered in faith and secure in the knowledge that their families were eternally sealed together. Tear-stained faces, ready to move on after burying a child or spouse on America’s vast prairie, were resolute largely because of the assurances contained in the ordinances they had received in the temple.

The Relief Society

The Nauvoo Pageant includes the story of the formation of the Nauvoo Relief Society:

While the Nauvoo Temple was under construction, Sarah Granger Kimball, wife of Hiram Kimball, one of the city’s wealthiest citizens, hired a seamstress named Margaret A. Cooke. Desiring to further the Lord’s work, Sarah donated cloth to make shirts for the men working on the temple, and Margaret agreed to do the sewing. Shortly thereafter, some of Sarah’s neighbors also desired to participate in the shirt making. The sisters met in the Kimball parlor and decided to formally organize. Eliza R. Snow was asked to write a constitution and bylaws for the new society.

Eliza presented the completed document to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared it was the best constitution he had seen. But he felt impressed to enlarge the vision of the women concerning what they could accomplish. He asked the women to attend another meeting, where he organized them into the Nauvoo Female Relief Society. Emma Smith, the Prophet’s wife, became the society’s first president.

Joseph told the sisters that they would receive “instruction through the order which God has established through the medium of those appointed to lead—and I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time—this is the beginning of better days to this Society.”9

Soon after the society came into existence, a committee visited all of Nauvoo’s poor, assessed their needs, and solicited donations to help them. Cash donations and proceeds from the sale of food and bedding provided schooling for needy children. Flax, wool, yarn, shingles, soap, candles, tinware, jewelry, baskets, quilts, blankets, onions, apples, flour, bread, crackers, and meat were donated to help those in need.

Besides helping the poor, Relief Society sisters worshiped together. Eliza R. Snow reported that in one meeting “nearly all present arose and spoke, and the spirit of the Lord like a purifying stream, refreshed every heart.”10 These sisters prayed for each other, strengthened each other’s faith, and consecrated their lives and resources to help further the cause of Zion.

The Martyrdom

The Nauvoo Pageant has a touching scene that plays out the pain and confusion that came from the news of Joseph Smith’s and his brother’s death:

While the years in Nauvoo provided many happy times for the Saints, persecution soon began again, culminating in the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. This was a dark and mournful time never to be forgotten. Recording her feelings upon hearing of the martyrdom, Louisa Barnes Pratt wrote: “It was a still night, and the moon was at the full. A night of death it seemed, and everything conspired to make it solemn! The voices of the officers were heard calling the men together and coming in the distance made it fall on the heart like a funeral knell. The women were assembled in groups, weeping and praying, some wishing terrible punishment on the murderers, others acknowledging the hand of God in the event.”11

Like Louisa Barnes Pratt, many Latter-day Saints remembered the events of 27 June 1844 as a time of tears and broken hearts. The martyrdom was the most tragic event in the Church’s early history. However, it was not unexpected.

On at least 19 different occasions, beginning as early as 1829, Joseph Smith told the Saints that he would probably not leave this life peacefully.12 While he felt that his enemies would one day take his life, he did not know when. As the spring of 1844 became summer, enemies both within and without the Church worked toward Joseph’s destruction. Thomas Sharp, editor of a nearby newspaper and a leader in Hancock County’s anti-Mormon political party, openly called for the Prophet’s murder. Citizens’ groups, apostates, and civic leaders conspired to destroy the Church by destroying its prophet.

The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, wrote to Joseph Smith, insisting that the city council members stand trial before a non-Mormon jury on a charge of causing a civil disturbance. He said that only such a trial would satisfy the people. He promised the men complete protection, although the Prophet did not believe he could fulfill his pledge. When it appeared that there were no other alternatives, the Prophet, his brother Hyrum, John Taylor, and others submitted to arrest, fully aware that they were guilty of no crimes.

As the Prophet prepared to leave Nauvoo for the county seat of Carthage, about 20 miles away, he knew that he was seeing his family and friends for the last time. He prophesied, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer’s morning.”13

As the Prophet started out, B. Rogers, who had worked on Joseph’s farm for more than three years, and two other boys hiked across the fields and sat on the rail fence waiting for their friend and leader to pass by. Joseph stopped his horse beside the boys and said to the militiamen who were with him: “Gentlemen, this is my farm and these are my boys. They like me, and I like them.” After shaking each boy’s hand, he mounted his horse and rode on to his rendezvous with death.14

Dan Jones, a Welsh convert, joined the Prophet in the Carthage Jail. On 26 June 1844, the last night of his life, Joseph heard a gun fire, left the bed, and lay on the floor near Jones. The Prophet whispered, “Are you afraid to die?” “Engaged in such a cause I do not think that death would have many terrors,” Jones replied. “You will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed you before you die,” Joseph prophesied.15 Thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints enjoy the blessings of the Church today because Dan Jones later served an honorable and successful mission to Wales.

Shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon of 27 June 1844, a mob of about 200 men with painted faces stormed the Carthage Jail, shot and killed Joseph and his brother Hyrum, and seriously wounded John Taylor. Only Willard Richards remained unharmed. Upon hearing shouts of “the Mormons are coming,” the mob fled, as did most of Carthage’s residents. Willard Richards cared for the wounded John Taylor, both of them mourning their slain leaders. Hyrum’s body was inside the jail, while Joseph, who had fallen from a window, lay beside the outside well.

One of the first Latter-day Saints to arrive on the scene was the dead martyrs’ brother Samuel. He and others helped Willard Richards prepare the bodies for the long, sorrowful journey back to Nauvoo.

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, Illinois, the James Cowley family, who were members of the Church, prepared for their evening meal. Fourteen-year-old Matthias heard about some unusual excitement in town and joined a gathering crowd. The principal speaker saw young Cowley and ordered him to go home to his mother. Boys who were not Church members followed, pelting him with rubbish before he escaped by running through a neighbor’s yard.

Believing that things had quieted down, Matthias started for the river to get a pail of water. Members of the mob spotted him and paid a drunken tailor to throw him into the river. When Matthias stopped to dip the water, the tailor caught him by the back of his neck and said, “You … little Mormon, I’ll drown you.” Matthias said, “I asked him why he would drown me, and if I ever did any harm to him? No, says he, ‘I won’t drown you. … You’re a good boy, you may go home.’” That night mobsters unsuccessfully attempted three times to set fire to the Cowley home, but through faith and prayers the family was protected.16 Matthias Cowley grew and remained faithful in the Church; his son Matthias and grandson Matthew later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Illinois Governor Thomas Ford wrote of the martyrdom: “The murder of the Smiths, instead of putting an end to … the Mormons and dispersing them, as many believed it would, only bound them together closer than ever, gave them new confidence in their faith.”17 Ford also wrote, “Some gifted man like Paul, some splendid orator who will be able by his eloquence to attract crowds of the thousands, … may succeed in breathing a new life into [the Mormon church] and make the name of the martyred Joseph ring … loud and stir the souls of men.” Ford lived with a fear that this would happen and that his own name would, like the names of Pilate and Herod, be “dragged down to posterity.”18 Ford’s fear came true.

President John Taylor recovered from his wounds and later wrote a tribute to the slain leaders that is now section 135 of the Doctrine and Covenants. He said: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. … He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated! … They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward” (D&C 135:3, 6).

Succession in the Presidency

The Nauvoo Pageant includes the story of the saints after the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and how the saints continued to do the work set our for them. One of the great iconic moments of the Nauvoo Pageant is the raising of the completed Nauvoo Temple.

When the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage Jail, many of the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders were serving missions and were absent from Nauvoo. Several days passed before these men learned of the deaths. When Brigham Young heard the news, he knew that the keys of priesthood leadership were still with the Church, for these keys had been given to the Quorum of the Twelve. However, not all Church members understood who would replace Joseph Smith as the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator.

Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 3 August 1844. In the year before this time, he had begun taking a course contrary to the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith and had become estranged from the Church. He refused to meet with the three members of the Twelve already in Nauvoo and instead spoke to a large group of the Saints assembled for their Sunday worship service. He told them of a vision he had received in which he had learned that no one could replace Joseph Smith. He said that a guardian to the Church should be appointed and that guardian should be Sidney Rigdon. Few Saints supported him.

Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, did not return to Nauvoo until 6 August 1844. He declared that he wanted only to know “what God says” about who should lead the Church.19 The Twelve called a meeting for Thursday, 8 August 1844. Sidney Rigdon spoke in the morning session for more than one hour. He won few if any adherents to his position.

Brigham Young then spoke briefly, comforting the hearts of the Saints. As Brigham spoke, George Q. Cannon remembered, “it was the voice of Joseph himself,” and “it seemed in the eyes of the people as if it were the very person of Joseph which stood before them.”20 William C. Staines testified that Brigham Young spoke like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. “I thought it was he,” Staines said, “and so did thousands who heard it.”21 Wilford Woodruff also recalled that wonderful moment and wrote, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith, and anyone can testify to this who was acquainted with these two men.”22 This miraculous manifestation, seen by many, made clear to the Saints that the Lord had chosen Brigham Young to succeed Joseph Smith as leader of the Church.

In the afternoon session, Brigham Young again spoke, testifying that the Prophet Joseph had ordained the Apostles to hold the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world. He prophesied that those who did not follow the Twelve would not prosper and that only the Apostles would be victorious in building up the kingdom of God.

Following his talk, President Young asked Sidney Rigdon to talk, but he chose not to. Following remarks by William W. Phelps and Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young spoke again. He talked of completing the Nauvoo Temple, obtaining the endowment before going into the wilderness, and the importance of the scriptures. He spoke of his love for Joseph Smith and his affection for the Prophet’s family. The Saints then voted unanimously in favor of the Twelve Apostles as leaders of the Church.

While a few others would claim a right to the Presidency of the Church, for most Latter-day Saints the succession crisis was over. Brigham Young, the senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the man God had chosen to lead his people, and the people had united to sustain him.

The Nauvoo Pageant

Discover more about the restored gospel, the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith, and the legacy of early Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo. Enjoy historical vignettes in Old Nauvoo throughout the day and the 1840s Frontier Country Fair pre-show activities at the pageant site before the pageant begins each night. While in the Nauvoo area, drop in at the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center. For more sites in this area, see the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center.

A cast and crew of more than 1,100 volunteers will bring early Mormon history in the US and England to life in two musical productions—the Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays feature the Nauvoo Pageant, which tells the story of early Latter-day Saint Church members who, in 1839, fled to Nauvoo to escape religious persecution. The British Pageant, “Truth Will Prevail,” performed Wednesdays and Fridays, tells the history of early Mormonism in the British Isles. Both pageants feature scripts based on actual journals and historic records from the 1800s, as well as traditional and original music. Presenting both the Nauvoo and British pageants will allow audiences to view the close and continuing relationship between Mormons in the British Isles and the United States. The faith, devotion, and sacrifice of the nineteenth-century British Church helped make possible the flourishing religious community that was established in Nauvoo.

For more information about the Nauvoo Pageant or the History of the City of Nauvoo please visit