In September 1846, the last of more than 12,000 residents of Nauvoo, Ill., were forced to leave their homes -- and the temple for which they had sacrificed so much since construction had commenced in 1841.
More than 150 years later, award-winning filmmaker Lee Groberg has documented both the original construction and reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This hour-long film has recently been accepted by American Public Television (APT) and will begin airing on PBS stations around the country beginning in March 2003. The documentary was produced in conjunction with KBYU-TV.
In response to widespread interest in the film, KBYU-TV (Channel 11) has scheduled an additional airing on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 4:30 p.m. Those interested in air times in other markets throughout the United States can visit for information on local listings.
"We are excited that people across the United States will be able to share in this remarkable story of faith," said John Reim, general manager of KBYU-TV. "In addition, 'Sacred Stone' helps to explain the nature and purposes of sacred edifices, both anciently and in modern times."
"When President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple in 1999," Groberg said, "I was compelled to begin pursuing this film, and I never looked back."
Having completed the documentary "American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith" that same year, Groberg explained that it was not his intention to begin working so soon on another historical film depicting the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ.
But, he added, "Very simply, I felt that somebody needed to tell this story. All of us who worked on the film are thrilled that it is now being offered nationally through APT."
"Sacred Stone" combines the history of the Nauvoo Temple with the trials and persecutions of the early Latter-day Saints, provides insight into the ancient and modern construction of temples and gives a unique view of the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple, which was dedicated in April of this year.
Narrated by Hal Holbrook, "Sacred Stone" is the third documentary Groberg has produced on LDS Church history, the first being the award-winning "Trail of Hope: The Story of the Mormon Trail," which aired nationally on PBS in 1997.
This latest film combines historical accounts and images of the temple's original construction with modern-day interviews and footage shot in eight different states and seven different countries. A companion volume, written by Heidi S. Swinton, provides a complementary account of the historic Nauvoo Temple.
"The story contained in this film is far more than a study of bricks and mortar," Swinton adds. "It speaks of a people whose journey to find God began by embracing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and was extended by their absolute dedication to building a temple on the banks of the Mississippi."