Palmyra New York Mormon Temple
The site for the Palmyra New York Temple, atop a wooded hill in pastoral western New York, holds a special place in the hearts of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To the west, in a grove of trees, is where founder and first prophet Joseph Smith had a vision in which he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.
At the groundbreaking ceremony President Hinckley said, “This is where the First Vision occurred and I think it appropriate that we build a House of the Lord on this ground. I regard this temple as perhaps the most significant, in one respect, in the entire Church. It was right here in the Sacred Grove where it all began.”1
President Hinckley also commented on the incredible growth of the Church saying, “From the First Vision this work has spread over the earth to more than 160 nations with more than 10 million people who are members of this Church. Who could ever have imagined it when that boy [Joseph Smith] walked into the grove, that the consequences of that event would become what we see today.” 2
The Palmyra, New York, area is steeped in Church history. The temple sits on ground owned by the Church adjacent to the Sacred Grove, where Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision. Also on the grounds is the Smith log cabin where Joseph Smith received visitations from angel Moroni. Near the temple site is the Hill Cumorah where the gold plates were buried, which Joseph Smith later translated to the Book of Mormon. About thirty miles away is the Peter Whitmer Farm where the Church was first organized.
Local reaction to the new temple has been positive and more than 30,700 visitors toured the new temple before its dedication. The temple will serve about 18,000 members within seven stakes.
Mormon temples are different from local meetinghouses in which Sunday services are held. Temples are considered houses of the Lord. Within temples teachings of Jesus Christ are realized through marriage, baptism, and other sacred ordinances, which unite families for eternity.
The Palmyra New York Temple is approximately 10,700 square feet. The exterior is white marble. Forty art glass windows inside the temple depict Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the surrounding Sacred Grove. A gold statue of the angel Moroni tops the single spire. Beautiful carved cherry wood railings, wainscoting, and moldings line the halls, along with hand-sculpted carpeting.
The new Mormon temple was dedicated on 6 April 2000, the 170th anniversary of the organization of the Church. While only about 1,200 members attended the dedicatory sessions within the temple itself, nearly 1.5 million members took part through media broadcasts throughout the United States and Canada.
The day before the Palmyra New York Temple dedication snow fell, and the morning of April 6th began with heavy rain and chill. But as President Hinckley and others went out to lay the cornerstone of the temple, bright sunshine broke through the clouds. After the cornerstone ceremony the storm continued, “leaving representatives of the news media commenting on the timing of the temporary calm and sunshine.” 3 Members of the Mormon Church were not surprised.
During the dedication President Hinckley said: “We have scarcely seen the beginning of what shall come to pass. These are the days of God’s great work in the earth.” 4
2720 Temple Rd
Palmyra, NY 14522-9574
P.O. Box 189
Palmyra, New York 14522-0189
(1) Church News, 29 May 1999
(2) Church News, 29 May 1999
(3) “News of the Church,” Ensign, May 2000, 107
(4) Church News, 29 May 1999