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Gerry Avant
President Thomas S. Monson shakes hands with Evelyn Marler while he thanks her for helping place mortar on the cornerstone of the Kansas City Missouri Temple on Sunday.

KANSAS CITY, MO. — In an area of the United States hallowed by the sacrifices of Latter-day Saints in the late 1830s, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the 137th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday.

Clay County, Mo., is one of the most heavy-laden areas of early Mormon history. It is at Liberty, Mo., some six miles slightly northeast of the Kansas City temple site, that Joseph Smith and several of his church associates were incarcerated in jail during the winter months of 1838-39.

President Monson, after arriving in Missouri, noted that 170 years have passed since those difficult days in LDS history and feelings have softened since then. He commented that a few weeks ago, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon attended the open house for the temple and referred to the event and upcoming dedication as "a time of healing."

President Monson has tender feelings pertaining to the Kansas City Missouri Temple. He announced in the October 2008 general conference that a temple would be built in "the greater Kansas City area." Ground was broken for the temple on May 8, 2010, by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the church's Presidency of the Seventy.

Having come to Clay County for the dedication of the temple, President Monson remarked that this is "an area where the Prophet Joseph Smith walked and where significant events took place in the early days following the restoration of the gospel."

Wherever President Monson went while in Kansas City, Latter-day Saints seemed to be ever aware that a prophet, once again, was walking among them.

In addition to presiding over and addressing the dedicatory sessions and a ceremony to seal in place a symbolic cornerstone, President Monson attended a program staged by LDS youth in Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium Saturday evening.

He was accompanied at that event by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Church's Temple Department.

On Sunday morning, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church's Quorum of the Twelve joined with President Monson and others for proceedings pertaining to the dedication. Patricia Holland, Diane Hallstrom and Vicki Walker accompanied their husbands.

President Monson apparently enjoyed being among Latter-day Saints while in Kansas City. After the cultural program on Saturday evening, he detoured from the car waiting for him and walked a short distance down the block to shake hands and converse with a group of people who had gathered in hopes of catching a glimpse of him.

On Sunday morning as he left the area where the cornerstone ceremony was held, he shook hands with several members. He seemed to enjoy especially interacting with young children.

After the dedication ceremonies concluded Sunday afternoon, President Monson stopped to visit with people who lined the sidewalk in hopes of getting a chance to shake his hand. He talked with several of them and exchanged "high fives" with many young children.

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