Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 17 Feb. 1834. Featured version copied [ca. 17 Feb. 1834] in Minute Book 1, pp. 29–31; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
The following minutes of a 17 February 1834 meeting record the initial organization of a standing “Presidents Church Council” in , Ohio—later known as the “ of the ,” or the Kirtland high council. The minutes also document the rules the council should follow when judging a church member accused of a transgression. Before 17 February, such issues had been judged by “” or “councils” of priesthood holders (with other church members often in attendance). Who composed these conferences and councils varied with location and the availability of potential attendees. Revelations dictated by JS in August and November 1831 also provided for a to hear such cases, as well as for an appellate “court of the church before the .” The November revelation also empowered the president to call twelve available to assist in adjudicating a case. The new standing council in Kirtland was to serve as “an ensample” for similar, temporary councils organized as occasions demanded in outlying areas and also as an appellate court placed between lower disciplinary councils and the presidency of the high priesthood.
According to the minutes featured here, JS stated that he organized the high council on the same principles that governed the “order of Councils in ancient days.” Five days earlier JS had discussed this ancient order in a council of and high priests, where he focused his remarks on the qualifications and conduct required of individual members of such councils. An earlier reference in Minute Book 1 to educating elders on “the ancient manner of conducting meetings” indicates the topic had been on JS’s mind as early as 1831 and suggests that the 17 February 1834 meeting represents an important milestone in JS’s ongoing effort to restore the ancient gospel, as he understood it, to the earth.
Pursuant to the instructions recorded near the end of the document featured here, JS “laboured . . . with all the strength and wisdom that he had” the following day to correct these minutes. On 19 February, JS presented the corrected minutes to the council, which, after hearing the revised minutes read three times and suggesting at least one additional correction, unanimously voted to accept them “for a form, and constitution of the high Council of the Church of Christ hereafter.” JS then reported that “the Council was organized according to the ancient order, and also according to the mind of the Lord.”
This day, Feb. 17 1834, a of assembled at in at the House of bro. Joseph Smith Jur. They proceeded to organize the , Consisting of twelve high priests, and this according to the law of God. The names of those who were chosen asCounsellors, were Joseph Smith Junr. and Presidents. , , , , , , , , , , , and , Counsellors. Bro. Joseph opened the Council by solem prayer. He then arose and called upon the high priests, , , and that were present who had not been nominated as Counsellors to pass their vote whether they were satisfied with the appointment or nomination of the twelve to Compose the Church Council. It was the unanimous voice of all present that those who had been nominated, as above, should compose a standing Council in . It was also voted that when any one <or more> of the standing Counsellors was were absent, their vacancy should be filled by any high priests whom the majority of the Council should nominate or choose,
Provideing that no Council shall be held unless seven of the above named Counsellors are present, or their successors. The above named Counsellors all manifested a willingness to act according to their appointment, the Lord being their helper. Bro acted in the place of . There were nine high priests present and acted in the appointment of the above named Counsellors, also seventeen Elders, and four priests with thirteen private members. Bro Joseph then said he would show the order of Councils in ancient days (see 27 & 28 pages) as shown to [p. 29]
These pages of the minute book contain the minutes of the 12 February 1834 meeting of high priests and elders at which JS spoke about the conduct and personal worthiness expected of council members in ancient and modern times. (Minutes, 12 Feb. 1834.)