Summarized by Kent Larsen
Scholars of Missouri Mormon History Meet Today in Independence
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI -- A group of scholars that study Mormon history in
Missouri will meet today at the Independence LDS stake center for the
Missouri Mormon Heritage Conference. The conference, the third held in the
past four years, represents the open attitude most scholars have to the
subject, which has in the past been a source of debate between LDS and RLDS
scholars. The conference also comes at a time when the city of Independence
has become more open to the Mormon events in its history, making Mormonism
one of four pillars of its recent tourism program.
The conference is sponsored by the Missouri Mormon Frontier Association, a
non-denominational group started in 1992. The group demonstrates the ability
of RLDS and LDS scholars to talk and cooperate on Mormon history. The
Association is particularly important to RLDS scholars, because the RLDS
Church and its history are centered around Independence.
The city of Independence has also seen an opening to the discussion of
Mormon history. As recently as 1976, one historian encountered opposition to
placing markers in the city at the sites of atrocities against Mormons. As
part of the US Bicentennial, Bill Curtis sought to have markers placed at
Mormon history sites in Independence, but was told, "Independence wasn't
ready for that."
City officials have decided in recent years that Independence is now ready.
The city's 1998 tourism plan calls Mormonism one of the four pillars in its
history base, along with former US President Harry Truman, Independence
Square and the pioneer trails that passed through the city. Independence has
already financed a Missouri Mormon walking tour, dedicated in May, and
featuring 14 sites marked with bronze plaques, including several atrocities.
Independence Mayor Ron Stewart says that the city must recognize its
history, both good and bad. "The Mormon story is a story that needs to be
told," Steward said, "and when people come to Independence, be they Mormon
or non-Mormon, they need to experience the complete story."
Church scholars unite to explore a common faith
Kansas City KS Star 14Sep00 N1
By Brian Burnes: Kansas City Star