What was the reaction when you announced the
rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple during the
Church’s April 1999 general conference?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: There was an audible
gasp; people hadn’t expected it. It was a total
surprise, and I think a very welcome surprise.
INTERVIEWER: Why do you think there
was that reaction?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Well, because there is a
great interest in Nauvoo. There always has been,
there always will be, on the part of our people. The
thousands who lived in Nauvoo have become tens of
thousands in their descendants. They look back on
their people with affection and remembrance and with
a great desire to honor them and respect them. And
besides that, Nauvoo is the summit of the Prophet
Joseph’s experience. The temple which he began and
saw pretty well to its conclusion was a great high
watermark for him. His death in 1844 accentuated
that interest, and the destruction of the temple
after our people left all tended to make for a great
interest in Nauvoo.
INTERVIEWER: What impact will the
temple have on the town of Nauvoo?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Well, of course,
Nauvoo’s a small place and to have thousands and
hundreds of thousands of people move in there, look
at it, move through, is going to have a tremendous
impact. We realize that, the town officials realize
that. The mayor and the city council have been very
cooperative. We have worked with them in an effort
to do everything we can to ameliorate any problems
that might arise.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me what that process
has been like the last couple of years, because of
the major construction project. What has been the
relationship with the people of the town and the
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Well, they’ve all
looked on with interest and concern. They are very
much interested in seeing the temple go up and are
deeply concerned about what might happen there when
thousands upon thousands of people come in there.
Now, there will be a great crowd of people for the
public showing and for the dedication. We think
there will be crowds of people all through the
summer. We assume that will slow down considerably
during the winter. But unquestionably the
reconstruction of the temple will have a tremendous
effect upon the city, the community, really
everything that goes on there.
INTERVIEWER: Is it fair to say, now
that we’ve reached the end of this construction
project, that Nauvoo is a success story, in that
different groups have come together and worked
together in ways that they might not have before?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Oh, I think so. I think
there’s been a spirit of neighborliness, a spirit
of cooperation. I hope that when people gather there
for the public showing and for the dedication and
subsequent to that, that there will be an attitude
of courtesy and forbearance, respect and kindness
one toward another. Inevitably when you bring that
many people together you have some inconvenience. I
hope that we all rise above it, that we will be
neighborly and good, and treat one another with the
greatest deference as we gather together in this
historic city on the Mississippi River.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me a little bit
about what you will be feeling, personally, when you
go back to dedicate this building. What will go
through your mind?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: What will go through my
mind? A great feeling of gratitude. I’m so happy
that it’s happened. My father was mission
president in 1939, the 100th anniversary of the
beginnings of Nauvoo. He proposed then that the
temple be rebuilt. But there were obstacles; nothing
could happen, nothing did happen. And now, 60 years
later it is happening, and to me it’s a source of
great satisfaction. My grandfather was there as a
young man, my father was there as a mission
president, and mine has been the opportunity to move
forward the reconstruction of that temple.
INTERVIEWER: Can you explain to me a
little about the effort that went into making this
building as historically accurate as possible?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Well, we’ve tried to be
as faithful to what happened before as we can be. Of
course, we live in a different time. Building codes
are different from what they were when the temple
was built, if there were any — I don’t suppose
there were any. But we’ve had to comply with those
codes and that’s a good thing. On the exterior the
temple will be a faithful reproduction of the temple
as it was in 1846. On the interior, some things will
be the same to the degree that we can make them, but
in order to make the temple useful — a working
temple — there have had to be some modifications.
But they’ve all been done with an effort to keep
the style, the essence of the architecture and so
on, as harmonious as possible with that which
prevailed at the time the building was first
constructed. The building will be built on the same
site identically, the outside dimensions will be the
same as they were, the view from the temple down
across the city and out across the Mississippi to
Iowa will be largely as it once was. We’ve tried
to create this great new monument to the tremendous
faith and efforts of the past.
INTERVIEWER: You’ve talked about the
impact on the town and being good neighbors. What
would you say to Church members who are making plans
now to make their way to Nauvoo?
PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: We hope that everybody
who’d like to be there won’t try to go! They
simply can’t be accommodated. Nauvoo is not an
easy place to get to. If you fly there you have to
go to St. Louis or Chicago and take a shuttle flight
up. But it’s an important place and their interest
lies there. Many will come. We hope that courtesy
will prevail in everything that goes on, that there
will be respect and appreciation one for another,
patience. All of these qualities will be required
and we hope that they will shine forth.