Vermont's connection to the Mormon Church - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont's connection to the Mormon Church

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For Christians, the Christmas holiday is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In South Royalton, Vt., the birth of another man is memorialized year-round.

"Joseph was born on this site, December 23rd, 1805," said Elder Brian Schuck, the memorial director.

Joseph Smith was born in a small farmhouse where a stone plaque now rests. A few feet away, a granite monument towers over the hillside to pay tribute to Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-- commonly known as the Mormon Church.

"While he prayed, a pillar of light came down out of heaven, two personages appeared to him and one of them called him by name and said Joseph, this is my beloved son, hear him. He realized he was talked to God, the father, and his son Jesus Christ," Schuck said.

Books about Smith, his family tree, and maps of the property are all on display at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

"When people come, we tell them about his history, about his life and we have an hour-long film in the theater that people can watch that also shows his life," Schuck said.

"It has a special spirit here, it has a great atmosphere and the people of Vermont is an added bonus," said Bob Dunkle, a church member.

Another bonus, every holiday season, is the annual Christmas light display. Taking a quiet drive around the 400-acre property, the festive feeling of the holiday is impossible to miss, including a covered bridge made entirely of lights. There are 160,000 in all.

"I'm glad for the amount of work that they put in to these lights, it takes them a couple months for them to put them all up, and it is certainly worth coming up to see," Dunkle said.

"We are proud of who we are and we want people to be able to learn more about us," Schuck said. "There are a lot of misconceptions about members of the church in this country and we want to help inform people of who we are and where our origins are and why we are what we are."

A church shining bright this holiday season, whose founder is a hometown boy.

The lights will be up for public viewing through the end of the year.

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