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Sermons and Worship

Most Sunday services were held in homes across town where space would allow. One Thursday a month, a fast and prayer meeting would also be held in homes.

On special occasions, weather permitting, Saints would meet outdoors, typically in areas where trees provided shade. Different groves of trees were used throughout the years. In 1839, meetings were frequently near the river’s edge. In 1840 they were held in what was known as the “Jack Oak Grove.”

In 1841 the Saints began using the hillside in front of the Temple in what they called “the Grove.” Most large meetings for religious, political, and social events were held there. Benches and chairs were set on the slope of the hill facing down toward a speaker’s platform called “the stand.” Occasionally, the benches and stand would be moved to other locations, such as the Temple block, for meetings.

Unusually wet weather in the spring of 1844 made the Grove unusable. A new location, called the “East Grove,” was used instead. There, Joseph Smith gave his two most famous sermons: the King Follett Discourse (April 7, 1844), and the Sermon at the Grove (June 16, 1844). It was also there that, after the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon debated who should lead the Church (August 8, 1844), many attendees later recalling Young looked and sounded like Smith.

On October 5, 1845, meetings were held in the first floor Assembly Room of the Temple. In that General Conference, the Church voted to leave Nauvoo and go to the West. Wishing future generations to remember what the Latter-day Saints were giving up, an inscription was painted in gold letters over the east window of the Assembly Room that read:

The Lord Has Beheld Our Sacrifice: Come After Us

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