Church of Christ (Temple Lot)

A distinct Latter Day Saint movement denomination known for its historic claim to the Temple Lot and rejection of traditional LDS doctrines.

The Church of Christ (Temple Lot), often informally referred to as the Hedrickites after Granville Hedrick, who became its leader in July 1863, stands as a unique denomination within the Latter Day Saint movement. Headquartered in Independence, Missouri, on a piece of land known as the Temple Lot, this church distinguishes itself from other Latter Day Saint factions through several doctrinal and organizational characteristics.

Origins and Historical Development

The roots of the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) trace back to the tumultuous period following the assassination of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, in 1844. Amidst the ensuing succession crisis, several groups emerged, each led by different claimants to Smith’s prophetic mantle. The Temple Lot church’s origins are intertwined with those early schisms, with its formal establishment as a separate entity occurring in the winter of 1852. Granville Hedrick and other leaders claimed to represent the sole legitimate continuation of the original Church of Christ established by Smith in 1830.

Doctrinal Distinctions

Unlike the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and the Community of Christ, the Temple Lot church does not have a president or a prophet leading it. Governance is instead provided by a Quorum of Twelve Apostles, with all members considered equal in authority. This structure reflects the church’s belief in adhering closely to the New Testament Christian Church’s original organizational blueprint.

Key to the church’s identity is its assertion as the only true church, dismissing all other Christian denominations as aberrations. It strictly adheres to the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon as its scriptural foundations, explicitly rejecting other Latter Day Saint movement texts such as the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Notably, the church also repudiates several doctrines associated with mainstream Mormonism, including baptism for the dead, celestial marriage, plural marriage, and the concept of exaltation.

The Temple Lot

Central to the Church of Christ (Temple Lot)’s beliefs is the significance of its headquarters’ location. The Temple Lot is deemed the destined site for a future temple as prophesied in Latter Day Saint scripture. Despite the absence of a temple on the lot to date, the church maintains its claim to the land and believes in its crucial role in future divine plans.

Membership and Global Presence

As of 2013, the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) claimed a membership of 7,310 individuals, with congregations in 11 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, India, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. This global footprint, albeit modest compared to larger Latter Day Saint denominations, underscores the church’s missionary zeal and commitment to spreading its interpretation of Christ’s gospel worldwide.

Divisions and Schisms

The church’s history has not been without internal conflict, notably the split in 1929 over the acceptance of “messages” purportedly from John the Baptist to Otto Fetting, an apostle within the church. Disagreements over these messages led to further divisions, spawning several offshoot groups, each claiming adherence to aspects of Fetting’s teachings or rejecting them in favor of other leaders’ revelations. These schisms highlight the dynamic and contested nature of doctrinal authority within the broader Latter Day Saint restorationist tradition.