“New Visitors’ Facilities in New York, Ohio,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 78
On 1 July, following the Nauvoo temple dedication, President Hinckley traveled to Palmyra, New York, to dedicate the newly completed Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center.
President Hinckley spoke fondly of visiting the Hill Cumorah as a returning missionary 67 years earlier and of watching President Heber J. Grant and other Church leaders unveil the statue of the angel Moroni on the hilltop. He also spoke of how intrigued he is by the events that occurred there.
President Hinckley bore testimony of the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He then challenged members in the audience to be true and faithful to the restored gospel and to stand ready to declare the truth of that divine gift. “I know that the Church that came out of these events and others that followed is true,” President Hinckley said.
In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley prayed that the Spirit of the Lord would touch the hearts and minds of the people who would visit the center and that they would come away with a greater appreciation of the events that transpired there.
One week earlier, on 24 June, the Church opened the doors of another new visitors’ center in Kirtland, Ohio, along with two other historic structures, one rebuilt and the other restored.
The Historic Kirtland Visitors’ Center is designed to resemble the gristmill that Church members saw when they arrived in the area in the 1830s. The years 1831 to 1838 were “a defining period for the Church,” said David Brown, visitors’ center director. “During the Kirtland era, we believe God revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the essential organization and much of the doctrine of the Church that is still in place today. Kirtland was the site of the first Latter-day Saint temple and the Church’s first implementation of the welfare, Church education, and international missionary programs.”
Church leaders hope to dedicate other restored and reconstructed sites in historic Kirtland by summer 2003 as part of the Ohio bicentennial celebration. These sites include the John Johnson Inn, the Newel K. Whitney Store and Home, an 1819 schoolhouse, a 170-year-old sawmill, and an ashery.