Congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are organized into specific geographic areas called "stakes" (a Biblical reference to what strengthens the tent of Zion; see Isaiah 54:2 KJV). The Nauvoo Stake sits in a largely rural area. Since stakes are comprised of individual congregations, their territorial boundaries can be very large in rural areas. The Nauvoo stake covers LDS congregations (called "wards" or "branches," according to size) in western Illinois, southeastern Iowa, and northern Missouri. Each stake in the LDS Church is also assigned to a particular "mission," and Nauvoo is assigned to a mission headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Nauvoo stake comprises 12 different congregations: one in Macomb, IL; two in Quincy, IL; two in Nauvoo, IL; two in Kirksville, MO; one in Hannibal, MO; and one each in the Iowa cities of Keokuk, Burlington, Ft. Madison, and Mt. Pleasant.
Approximate Members in Stake
Volunteer missionaries serving as guides at Historic Nauvoo
Latter-day Saint Temple
The Nauvoo stake is also home to Historic Nauvoo, founded in 1839 by Mormon refugees from Missouri and immigrants from Europe. Nauvoo became home to more than 11,000 Mormons by 1846, making it one of the largest cities in Illinois. Fearing economic, political, and religious power the Mormons might wield, residents of surrounding towns banded together to drive Mormons out of Illinois and into the Iowa Territory. This began the Mormon Exodus that would eventually take more than 70,000 pioneers to the valleys of Utah, which was then not part of the United States.
Mormons were forced to leave Nauvoo in February 1846. They faced difficult weather conditions and other privations in Iowa for several months until they could regroup along the Missouri River, near present-day Council Bluffs, until their westward migration in 1847 and beyond. Nauvoo was taken over by others, including later utopian groups such as the Icarians, and eventually fell into disrepair. It was a small town of about 1,000 residents in 1999, when plans were announced to rebuild the Mormon temple that had been destroyed by mobs, wind, and fire after the Mormons left. That announcement followed decades of historical restoration of pioneer-era homes, shops, and other buildings in what became Historic Nauvoo. Volunteers from across the world live full-time on-site for up to 18 months to provide free tours of the sites, wearing period clothing and sharing the 1839-1846 history of the area. Tens of thousands of visitors tour Historic Nauvoo each year, many arriving in July for the annual Nauvoo Pageant and British Pageant.