Stirring Things Up in Nauvoo

Nauvoo, Illinois is an important place in both Mormon history and in the faith of today’s Latter-day Saints. After being displaced from their homes in Missouri in 1839, the Mormons settled on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River and built the town of Nauvoo. While LDS Church headquarters resided in Nauvoo from 1839 to 1846 many distinctive doctrines of Mormonism were developed and introduced. Joseph Smith preached his famous King Follett Discourse in the western grove of Nauvoo in 1844 and died in nearby Carthage, Illinois a few weeks later. A majority of the Mormons left Nauvoo in 1846 to settle in the Great Basin, what is today known as Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, Nauvoo as a town continued; but until fairly recently it had been a small farming community virtually unknown outside of the surrounding area. That changed when the LDS Church began renovating and rebuilding the old Mormon properties in Nauvoo. Today the town is a tourist attraction. It has been called the Williamsburg of the West, though I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Most of the tourists coming to Nauvoo are Mormons trying to connect with the history of their faith, wanting to experience a faith-promoting vacation with their spouses or families. However, there is definitely an element of planned proselytizing in the restored areas of the town. The LDS Church views Nauvoo as a missionary tool with over 100 missionaries serving the area at any given time.

So back in 1987 a group of Christians sent their own missionary to Nauvoo for the express purpose of providing tourists with the “other side of the story”—to share the good news of freedom in Christ. Colleen Ralson built a ministry there on the main street of Nauvoo, a visitors center. Colleen provided historic and spiritual information which shed light on the carefully-crafted but deficient message being given to tourists at the LDS sites. As you can imagine, she and her ministry were not welcome by the Mormons. But she kept a fairly low profile and was therefore tolerated—this is America.

Last fall Colleen Ralson retired from her Nauvoo mission and moved to Texas. She turned over the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center to new directors, Rocky and Helen Hulse. Rocky and Helen don’t plan to keep a low profile as they continue the work Colleen has begun. This became evident in a recent newspaper report out of Burlington, Iowa.

On 23 January 2006 The Hawk Eye wrote about the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center in Billboard’s authors hope it brings attention to the debate. It seems the Hulses have set up a new billboard 4 miles south of Burlington, on the main highway to Nauvoo (another 20 miles distant). According to Rocky Hulse the purpose for the billboard is two-fold: 1. To let people know there is a Christian Visitors Center in Nauvoo; and 2. To alert people to the fact that there is tension between Mormonism and historic Christianity.

When The Hawk Eye contacted the LDS public affairs office for a statement, LDS spokesman Jon Larson said, “I think he [Hulse] is trying to stir things up…If he wants a billboard, that’s OK.”

Nauvoo’s LDS Visitors Center maintains 24 billboards in the area of southeastern Iowa promoting the LDS sites in restored Nauvoo.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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3 Responses to Stirring Things Up in Nauvoo

  1. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see there are some people out there who are unafraid to confront Mormonism head-on. I didn’t see weather there was a link to this ministry on your page, but I hope I cn contact them and give them a pat on the back”. My parents took us to Nauvoo to the Carthage jail as kids and we were told all the usual lies about Joseph Smith being a martyr and going like a lamb to the slaughter. If only someone would have tried to tell me the truth, I think even back then I would have been interested in hearng them. At least it would have planted a seed.

  2. peter says:

    Good to see how many anti mormons who are out there not preaching the gospel of christ but preaching about mormons,all that is being done to demonise mormonism is only a seed planted to introduce mormonsim into many people.Keep up the good job, for mormons, its work as ussual, we love the savour jesus christ and we love antimormons very much.

  3. Peter, if you’re in Nauvoo the first part of August, look me up. I’d be glad to talk to you about the Gospel.

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