Lesson 28: The Saints Complete the Nauvoo Temple, and Many Saints Are Endowed and Sealed

“Lesson 28: The Saints Complete the Nauvoo Temple, and Many Saints Are Endowed and Sealed,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (2018)

“Lesson 28,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material

Lesson 28

The Saints Complete the Nauvoo Temple, and Many Saints Are Endowed and Sealed

Introduction and Timeline

Shortly after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Saints resumed building the Nauvoo Temple. They sacrificed and diligently worked to complete the temple. In December 1845, Church leaders and members began to administer temple endowments to other Saints in the attic of the unfinished temple. They worked tirelessly to help over 5,500 individuals receive their endowments before increasing opposition and persecution forced the Saints to leave Nauvoo. The Apostles also performed sealing ordinances to unite husbands, wives, and children for eternity. On February 4, 1846, the first group of Saints departed Nauvoo for the Salt Lake Valley.

July 8, 1844

The Saints resumed work on the Nauvoo Temple.

November 30, 1845

Brigham Young dedicated the attic story of the Nauvoo Temple.

December 10, 1845

Saints began endowment ordinance work in the attic of the Nauvoo Temple.

February 4, 1846

The first group of Saints began their exodus from Nauvoo.

April 30–May 1, 1846

The completed Nauvoo Temple was dedicated.

Student Readings

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 (2018), chapter 46

Suggestions for Teaching

The Saints continue their efforts to complete the Nauvoo Temple

Before class, write the following question on the board: What would your life be like if the blessings of the temple were not available?

Invite students to ponder their responses to this question. Consider asking one or two students to share their responses with the class.

Explain that when the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, most of the Saints had not received their temple ordinances because the Nauvoo Temple was not complete. In October 1844, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles published a letter to the Saints regarding the welfare of the Church and the importance of completing the temple.

Invite a student to read aloud the following excerpt from the letter. Ask the class to listen for what the Apostles told the Saints.

“The temple, as a great and glorious public work, immediately connected with the completion of our preparations, and ordinances, touching our salvation and exaltation, and that of our dead, necessarily claims our first, and most strict attention. …

“Let the saints now send in their young men who are strong to labor, together with money, provisions, clothing, tools, teams, and every necessary means, such as they know they will want when they arrive, for the purpose of forwarding this work” (“An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 668).

  • Why do you think working on the temple was such a high priority for the Saints at that time?

Invite a student to read aloud another excerpt from the same letter:

“Yes, brethren, we verily know and bear testimony, that a cloud of blessing, and of endowment, and of the keys of the fulness of the priesthood, and of things pertaining to eternal life, is hanging over us, and ready to burst upon us; or upon as many as live worthy of it, so soon as there is a place found on earth to receive it. … Let [nothing] … draw your minds away from this all important work” (“An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 668).

  • What blessings from God are only available in temples? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: The highest blessings from God, including eternal life, are available only through the ordinances of the temple.)

  • How does understanding this truth influence how you view the importance of the temple in your life?

The Saints sacrifice to complete the Nauvoo Temple and to receive their endowments, despite increasing persecution

Nauvoo Temple

Display the accompanying image of the Nauvoo Temple, and ask:

  • Based on your reading of chapter 46 of Saints: Volume 1, what were some of the challenges the Saints faced in building the Nauvoo Temple? (The Saints faced threats and persecution from local mobs, and time and resources were scarce.)

Explain that by the fall of 1845, local mobs began to attack Church members with greater frequency. Levi Williams, one of the men acquitted for the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith, led a mob of two hundred men in systematically burning outlying Mormon farms and homes. Church leaders asked for volunteers to help evacuate the Saints and bring them to Nauvoo.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Perrigrine Sessions, a Church member living in Nauvoo at this time:

Perrigrine Sessions

“The months of September and October were a continual scene of War and turmoil, and the labor on the Temple was almost obliged to stop, and the workmen, many of them, carried small arms with them all the time and all kept their muskets where they could put their hand on them at a moment’s warning” (Perrigrine Sessions, in Exemplary Elder: The Life and Mission Diaries of Perrigrine Sessions, 1814–1893, ed. Donna Toland Smart [2002], 88–89; spelling, punctuation, and grammar standardized).

  • What do you think motivated the Saints to continue building the temple despite this persecution?

Explain that in October 1845 the Saints negotiated with local government officials and agreed to leave Nauvoo within six months. At a Church conference on October 6, Brigham Young announced the Saints would leave Nauvoo and head west. Despite the Saints’ decision to move west, they worked diligently to complete the temple so they could be endowed before their departure.

Divide the class into groups of two or three. Give each of the groups one of the accompanying handouts. Ask the groups to read their handout together and discuss their responses to the questions on their handout.

Handout 1: Saints Sacrificed to Build the Temple

The Saints in Nauvoo chose to make great sacrifices to complete the Nauvoo Temple.

Church member Louisa Barnes Pratt recalled:

Louisa Barnes Pratt

“Our hands and hearts were employed to hasten the completion of the Temple. The sisters even resolved to pay fifty cents each towards buying the nails and glass. By strict economy I obtained the amount. I started in good faith to go to the Temple office to bestow my offering. Suddenly as I was wending my way, a temptation came over me. I paused. I turned over in my mind, how many things I needed for family use, and that money would relieve my present necessities. In an instant more I resisted. Said I, ‘if I have no more than a crust of bread each day for a week, I will pay this money into the treasury.’

“I went forward with hasty steps, paid over the money and returned feeling a secret satisfaction. The next morning as I was sitting near my front door, a brother passed along and threw a silver dollar on my carpet. … I felt seriously grateful. I went to the store and purchased the articles I very much needed” (Louisa Barnes Pratt, in The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt, ed. S. George Ellsworth [1998], 72–73).

Church member Elizabeth Kirby Heward wrote the following:

“I could not think of anything that would grieve me to part with in my possession, except [my deceased husband’s] watch. So, I gave it to help build the Nauvoo Temple and everything else that I could possibly spare and the last few dollars that I had in the world, which altogether amounted to nearly $50” (Elizabeth Kirby Heward, in Carol Cornwall Madsen, In Their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo [1994], 180).

Church leaders and the temple committee were often concerned that the work on the temple would be hindered by a lack of funds. President Brigham Young (1801–77) later recalled the following experience concerning Joseph Toronto, a former sailor from Italy who was baptized in 1843:

Brigham Young

“We [had] done a good deal of work at that time on the temple, and it was difficult to get bread for the hands to eat. I told the … committee who had charge of the temple m[eans] to deal out all the flour they had and God would give them more, and they did so, and it was but a short time before Brother Toronto came and brought me twenty-five-hundred dollars in gold. … I said [to the Bishop], ‘Now, go and buy flour for the workmen on that temple, and don’t distrust the Lord any more, for we will have what we need’” (Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, ed. Scott G. Kenney [1984], 5:19–20; spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar standardized).

  • Why do you think these individuals were willing to sacrifice so much for the building of the Nauvoo Temple?

  • What can we learn about sacrifice from these accounts?

Handout 1: Saints Sacrifice to Build the Temple

Handout 2: Saints Sacrificed to Help Each Other Receive the Endowment

On November 30, 1845, Brigham Young dedicated the attic of the Nauvoo Temple, and on December 10, 1845, temple endowments began to be administered.

Erastus Snow recalled: “On the twelfth of December, myself and [my] wife, Artimesia, received the first ordinance of endowments, and were called to labor and administer in the temple from that time forth; and I departed not from the temple, day or night, but continued in the labors and duties thereof—with the twelve and others selected for this purpose—about six weeks. Mrs Snow continued … about a month” (“From Nauvoo to Salt Lake in the Van of the Pioneers: The Original Diary of Erastus Snow,” ed. Moroni Snow, Improvement Era, Feb. 1911, 285).

Elizabeth Ann Whitney wrote: “I gave myself, my time and attention to that mission. I worked in the Temple every day without cessation until it was closed” (“A Leaf from an Autobiography,” Woman’s Exponent, Feb. 15, 1879, 191).

Mercy Fielding Thompson recorded that she “was called by President Young to take up my abode there [in the temple] to assist in the female department, which I did, laboring night and day, keeping my child with me” (in Matthew S. McBride, A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple [2007], 285).

President Brigham Young recalled: “Such was the anxiety manifested by the Saints to receive the ordinances of endowments, and no less on our part to have them [receive them], that I gave myself up entirely to the work of the Lord in the Temple. Almost night and Day have I spent [in the temple], not taking more than four hours upon an average out of 24 to sleep—and but seldom ever allowing myself the time and opportunity of going home once in a week” (Brigham Young office files, Journal, Sept. 28, 1844–Feb. 3, 1846, 101–2, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; spelling and punctuation standardized).

  • Why do you think these individuals were willing to sacrifice so much to help others receive their endowment?

  • What can we learn about sacrifice from these accounts?

Handout 2: Saints Sacrifice to Help Each Other Receive the Endowment

After sufficient time, ask two students who read handout 1 and two students who read handout 2 to summarize for the class the accounts they read on their handout.

  • What truths about sacrifice can we identify from these examples? (Students may give several correct responses. After they respond, write the following truths on the board: When we recognize the importance of temple ordinances, we will make whatever sacrifice is necessary to obtain them. The Lord will bless us as we make sacrifices to do His will.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018):

Thomas S. Monson

“Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 92).

  • What are some sacrifices that people today might need to make to obtain the blessings of the temple?

  • How have you been blessed as you have made sacrifices to receive temple ordinances and to worship the Lord in the temple?

Invite students to write in their study journal something they might sacrifice to more fully obtain and enjoy the eternal blessings of the temple. Encourage students to act on what they wrote.

The Saints leave Nauvoo

Ask students to locate chapter 46 of Saints: Volume 1. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from page 582, starting with the paragraph that begins “On February 2 …” and concluding with the paragraph on page 583 that begins “Over the coming days and weeks …”

Instead of reading from chapter 46 of Saints: Volume 1, consider showing part of the video “Endowed with Power” (12:17), which depicts Brigham Young’s efforts to endow the Saints prior to their departure from Nauvoo. Show the video from time code 0:00 to 4:13. This video is available on

  • What stands out to you in this account?

  • In what ways do you think the covenants the Saints made in Nauvoo prepared them for their long journey to the West?

Explain that on February 4, 1846, the first wagons of Saints left Nauvoo. Invite a student to read aloud the following account by Church member Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich. Ask the class to listen for what the temple blessings enabled her to do.

Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich

“Many were the blessings we had received in the house of the Lord which has caused us joy and comfort in the midst of all our sorrows and enabled us to have faith in God knowing He would guide us and sustain us in the unknown journey that lay before us” (Sarah P. Rich, Autobiography and journal, 1885–1890, 66, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; capitalization standardized).

  • Based on Sarah’s account, how did the blessings of the temple prepare the Saints for their journey west?

  • What truth about temple ordinances and covenants can we identify from Sarah’s statement? (Although students’ words may vary, they should identify a truth similar to the following: Temple ordinances and covenants can help us experience joy, comfort, and increased faith in God during challenging circumstances.)

  • How has worshipping in the temple given you joy, comfort, and increased faith to bear your trials?

Testify that temple ordinances and covenants can help us experience joy, comfort, and increased faith during our trials. Review the truths you have discussed in this lesson, and encourage students to act on these truths.

Handout 1: Saints Sacrifice to Build the Temple
Handout 2: Saints Sacrifice to Help Each Other Receive the Endowment