President Benson Presides at Ohio Groundbreaking
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“President Benson Presides at Ohio Groundbreaking,” Ensign, May 1986, 107

President Benson Presides at Ohio Groundbreaking

President Ezra Taft Benson presided March 22 at groundbreaking ceremonies for a new branch chapel on the historic John Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio.

The farm is where Joseph Smith received several revelations now published in the Doctrine and Covenants, including section 1 and section 76.

The day before the groundbreaking, President Benson visited nearby Kirtland and addressed a group of Saints gathered in the room above the restored Newel K. Whitney store where the School of Prophets was held in the 1830s. He also visited the Kirtland Temple, now owned by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in company with a small group of local LDS leaders and RLDS representatives.

In the temple, President Benson offered a prayer of gratitude for the great manifestations that have occurred there, including the appearances of the Savior, Moses, Elias, and Elijah.

To members gathered in the rooms and hallway above the Whitney store, President Benson spoke of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings on missionary work. “I know this is the most important work in this world. Contemplate the great responsibility that rests on the Church today to carry the message to the entire world. I cannot think of a greater responsibility.”

During groundbreaking ceremonies for the new chapel, President Benson quoted extensively from section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, pointing out that as the divinely designated preface to the book, it includes “an invitation to all mankind, especially members of his Church, to heed the revelations, for the ‘voice of warning’ shall be unto all people.” (See D&C 1:1–6)

President Benson emphasized that “the author of the Doctrine and Covenants is the Lord Jesus Christ, through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

The revelation that is now section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants was received in the Johnson home during a special conference of elders 1 November 1831.

The site for the new chapel is just west of the Johnson home.

About 1,500 people attended the groundbreaking. Among them were Karl Ricks Anderson, regional representative for the Columbus and Cleveland Ohio regions; several public officials; and group of local representatives of families who were tied to the Church in Kirtland in the 1830s. Many of these local residents have joined the Church in recent years. Their surnames—Smith, Young, Woodruff, Snow, Rigdon, Cowdery, Whitney, and Kimball, for example—are like echoes of the Church’s past.