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The church has completed the first phase of a 25-year plan to improve its historic sites in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Over the weekend, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated a new Nauvoo Temple historic district that includes West Grove, one of three large groves where Joseph Smith and other early church leaders held mass outdoor meetings for members who sat on split log benches.

Those leaders used a portable speaker’s stand in West Grove that they called the “temple stand.”

Now the church is rebuilding the grove. Small, native trees have been planted to grow into a grove that again will be like the one the Latter-day Saints enjoyed in the 1840s.

The grove is one several sites that are part of a new historic area named the Nauvoo Temple District. Elder Cook dedicated the historic district on Saturday.

The church plans to improve more of the city and area by 2039, the bicentennial of the Saints settling Nauvoo in 1839. The goal is to improve the authenticity of the guest experience, the sites’ core messages and the region’s historical landscapes.

The first-phase locations now are available for in-person and virtual tours and include five restored homes and a wayside marker for Eliza R. Snow’s poem, “My Father in Heaven,” which became the Latter-day Saint hymn “O, My Father,” an affirmation of church doctrine of a mother in heaven.

To schedule a virtual or in-person tour, visit NauvooHistoricSites.org.

Here is a list provided by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., the Church Historian and Recorder and a General Authority Seventy, of three noteworthy sermons taught in West Grove:

• On September 4, 1842, William Clayton, at Joseph Smith’s request, read a letter (now known as Doctrine and Covenants 127) to the assembled Saints from Joseph about baptism for one’s deceased ancestors.

• On August 12, 1841, Joseph Smith and others met with many members of the Sac and Fox Native Americans. He relayed the promises in the Book of Mormon concerning them and other Native Americans. He encouraged peace. Chief Keokuk said that he believed Joseph to be “a great and good man,” and acknowledged their kinship as both being sons of “the Great Spirit.” He pledged his people’s commitment to live harmoniously with others.

• The West Grove was also the site of Church conferences where missionaries were sent out and an important discourse by Joseph Smith on the Godhead and the gathering of the Jews.

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A fudge recipe on a headstone? Yep, this Latter-day Saint couple printed the directions for Kay’s Fudge on their gravestone.

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OK, get this: Someone just bought a Babe Ruth baseball card worth nearly $6 million, but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford it yourself. See, he’s going to sell shares of the card for $3 each, so you soon will be able to go to Collectable and buy a piece of the most-expensive baseball card in history. Well, so far. The prices of rare cards are skyrocketing, so some other card likely will leapfrog this one for the record soon enough.

The pandemic ruling that redefined the First Amendment: My colleague at the Deseret News, Kelsey Dallas, published an analysis this week saying that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in April removed limits on the First Amendment’s clause about the free exercise of religion. “Government regulations are not neutral and generally applicable ... whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorable than religious exercise,” the justices wrote in the ruling. Worth a read about a key development in U.S. law regarding religion.

If you love baseball like I do, you should read Roger Angell’s essays on the game in the New Yorker, or the books that are collections of those essays. Here’s a new ESPN article that relives the subject of one of Angell’s classics about an 11-inning no-hitter.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is an excellent writer, thinker and reporter. She has a new piece in Deseret Magazine on free-range parenting.

Behind the scenes

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary, look at a Nauvoo Temple model.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary, visit a new exhibit about the Nauvoo Temple at the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center in Historic Nauvoo on Saturday, May 29, 2021. | Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News
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