Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

Chicago area Mormons, Presbyterians visit Nauvoo together

Chicago area Mormons, Presbyterians visit Nauvoo together
Author: Jill Brim
Source: For Mormon Times
24 September 2010 5:30am

WHEATON, Ill. — This summer, the Wheaton Ward of the Naperville Illinois Stake hosted the First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton on a tour of the historic sites in Nauvoo and Carthage, Ill. Departing from the Naperville Stake Center, Bishop Reed Nuttall and the Rev. Dr. Jay Moses greeted 91 participants from both congregations as they travelled 250 miles from the Chicago suburbs to Nauvoo.

To become better acquainted before the trip, members of the Wheaton Ward invited the First Presbyterian Church members to the LDS chapel for a fireside and social on May 6. Presentations on life in 1840s Nauvoo were given, followed by a 19th-century stick-pulling demonstration and refreshments typical of the pioneer era. Conversations that evening revealed that one guest had attended dances in Nauvoo as a young girl. Presbyterians Bob and Marge Stevens had lived in Ogden, Utah, and met LDS neighbors who shared bread-making techniques. Former schoolteacher, Pam Ballard, had taught a Wheaton Ward family’s autistic son, developing a close bond with the family.

The joint group was welcomed to Nauvoo upon arrival by public affairs missionaries Elder Dean Hughes and Sister Kathleen Hughes as all strolled together through the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center and Monuments to Women Garden. Elder Hughes began by placing the story of the Latter-day Saints in the context of the 1840s midwest history.

In the evening, the group walked down the Trail of Hope along Parley Street, retracing the steps of the Mormon pioneers as they left their beloved city of Nauvoo, in the bitter cold of February 1846. The Rev. Moses was particularly moved by the plaques along the trail with journal quotes of several Nauvoo residents who were forced to leave their homes and temple in order to avoid further persecution.

At the Mississippi River’s edge, Taylor Phillips, a Laurel in the Wheaton Ward’s Young Women, told the moving story of her pioneer family’s attempt to secure provisions for the destitute Saints while risking personal safety.

The next morning, the bus arrived at the Nauvoo Temple grounds where Sister Hughes explained the significance of temple worship to families worldwide. She explained President Hinckley’s vision of the Nauvoo Temple and the Salt Lake Temple standing as two bookends facing one another. In the Old Burying Grounds on the outskirts of Nauvoo, Joe Bell, high priests group leader from the Wheaton Ward, described the sacrifices of his pioneer ancestors as they arrived in Nauvoo. Reese Nuttall, a priest in the Young Men, told the story of his ancestral family and their contributions to the growth of the 1840s church. Members of both congregations walked through the pioneer cemetery, reading headstones and sharing feelings of the sacrifices required of one’s faith.

The group then traveled to Carthage Jail, site of the shooting of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27, 1844. Again, the senior missionary couples gave thought-provoking insights into the events leading up to the martyrdom, the tensions in Hancock County, and the impact of the lives of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

At the conclusion of the trip, several participants from both congregations expressed what the Nauvoo trip had meant to them personally.

Celeste Colton, Relief Society president of the Wheaton Ward, said, “As we literally sat shoulder to shoulder in the Seventies Hall together, the Spirit was manifest and my testimony was strengthened.”

Mimi Hill added, “I loved the perspective that the First Presbyterian church members provided. I was able to see and experience Nauvoo and its historic sites as if for the first time.”

Ed Ballard of First Presbyterian Church in Wheaton remarked, “What a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and learn about the importance of Nauvoo to the Mormon faith. The places we visited and the people who shared their faith and their history with us brought the Mormon experience to life.”

The Rev. Moses and Bob Stevens composed a page on the First Presbyterian Church website with pictures and commentary on the Nauvoo trip. The Rev. Moses wrote, “It is imperative that we enter into each other’s sacred spaces and places, into each other’s tragedies and joys, if we truly seek to know each other as we seek to be known: that is as children of God. Nauvoo is a symbol for the intersection of both of these occurrences in a community life, joy and tragedy.”

Bishop Nuttall concluded, “In Nauvoo, we felt a kinship with our forebears, while making new friends of the Presbyterian congregation, walking the streets of Nauvoo together. We hope to continue interfaith activities, including joint service projects, in our community to build relationships of faith.”

Jill Brim is the assistant public affairs director for the Naperville Illinois Stake.

Original Article: http://www.mormontimes.com/article/17339/Chicago-area-Mormons-Presbyterians-visit-Nauvoo-together?s_cid=newsline

Photos from First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton: http://www.firstpreswheaton.org/news/Nauvoo0510.shtml

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