Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 2 May 1833. Featured version copied [between 3 and ca. 4 June 1833] in Minute Book 1, p. 13; handwriting of ; signatures of JS, , and ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
The following minutes detail the proceedings of a council meeting held in , Ohio, sometime before 2 May 1833. By 1831, the had sent missionaries to Medina County—an area approximately fifty miles south of , Ohio. , for instance, labored there in the winter of 1831–1832. He was joined in proselytizing by county residents and , two of the four men discussed in the 2 May minutes featured here. Sometime after 23 March 1833, also began a proselytizing mission in and around Medina County. By early May, he had sixteen people.
During his mission, , who was a by this time, presided over a council meeting in , Medina County, which declared that the of four men were “illegal,” or invalid. Although absent from the council, JS and , the other two presidents of the high priesthood, personally signed the 2 May 1833 minutes, which document the decision of Rigdon and the Medina County council, in Minute Book 1, possibly to endorse the action. No contemporary documents explain why the ordinations were questioned, nor did the church’s governing rules at the time specify explicitly under what circumstances an ordination could be declared invalid.
Nevertheless, earlier revelations and proceedings offer some insight into the developing policies concerning ordination. The Church of Christ’s founding “Articles and Covenants,” for example, instructed that “every , , , or , is to be ordained according to the gifts and calling of God unto them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains them.” The Articles and Covenants also called for —documentation attesting to an individual’s office and authority—to be issued to men ordained to the office of priest or teacher. In February 1831, a JS revelation stated that no one was to “go forth to preach my gospel or to build up my church except they be ordained by some one that hath authority & it is known to the church that he hath authority & have been regularly ordained by the leaders of the church.” At a 9 November 1831 church conference in , Ohio, two men sought ordination in order to serve proselytizing missions, and participants at the conference, which included JS and , decided that the two individuals should “be ordained according to the voice of the church in which they live.” These revelations and conference minutes reveal an evolving policy regarding ordination and proof of authority. By the end of 1831, ordination by “some one that hath authority” and authorization by “the voice of the church” apparently became key in determining the validity of an ordination.
may have thus deemed the ordinations of these four men invalid if he learned that the or branches to which the men belonged had not voted or were not given the opportunity to vote to authorize their ordinations. Perhaps he requested a license or proof of authority from the men that they could not provide. Whatever the case, immediately upon his return to , Rigdon reported the results of the council proceedings to JS and , who affirmed the decision on 2 May 1833.
It is possible that the examination into the four men’s ordinations stemmed from principles set forth in the 9 November 1831 conference, which were amended and added to the for the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The addition stated, “No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church; but the presiding elders, traveling , high counselors, high priests, and elders, may have the privilege of ordaining, where there is no branch of the church, that a vote may be called.” The decision reached by , and confirmed by JS and , therefore may have reflected a changing feature of administrative policy that was not codified by the church’s governing articles until 1835.
A p[r]esiding held in Madina [Medina] County Ohio presided after examination into the standing of —— Hays and it was decided that their was illegal and that the churches should not receive them as Elders nor as peist [priest] recorded in the above date by the decision of the whole
Micah Baldwin Welton appears to also have been known as Baldwin Welton. Welton was ordained a priest at a conference in Orange, Ohio, on 26 October 1831. According to Reynolds Cahoon, Welton and Eden Smith were ordained as elders on 19 November 1831. No extant records suggest, however, that Eden Smith’s ordination to the office of elder was ever considered invalid. In December 1831 and January 1832, Welton joined Eden Smith on a regional proselytizing mission in Chippewa, in nearby Wayne County, Ohio, and in Wadsworth, Medina County. At a conference in Amherst, Ohio, on 25 January 1832, JS dictated a revelation that appointed Welton to preach with Eden Smith; it is unclear, however, if Welton journeyed alone or if the two men went together. When Welton became an elder again is unknown, but he was listed as an elder in the minutes of an 1835 conference held at New Portage, Ohio. (Minutes, 25–26 Oct. 1831; Cahoon, Diary, 19 Nov. 1831; Eden Smith, Journal, 10 Dec. 1831 and 14 Jan. 1832; Revelation, 25 Jan. 1832–B [D&C 75:36]; Minute Book 1, 6–7 June 1835.)
Cahoon, Reynolds. Diaries, 1831–1832. CHL. MS 1115.
Smith, Eden. Journal, Sept. 1831–Aug. 1832. CHL. MS 1940.
According to the 8 January 1832 entry in Eden Smith’s journal, Aaron Smith was a priest residing in Medina County, where he and Eden “fel in Company” together during Eden’s missionary travels. Later that year the two went to nearby Green Township, where they preached and baptized at least one person into the Church of Christ. It is unclear when or by whom Aaron’s ordination as an elder, the one declared “illegal” here, was performed. According to Zebedee Coltrin’s journal, however, Aaron was later reordained to the office of elder at a conference in Medina County on 3 February 1834. (Eden Smith, Journal, 8 Jan. 1832; 20 May 1832; 3 June 1832; Coltrin, Diary and Notebook, 3 Feb. 1834.)
Smith, Eden. Journal, Sept. 1831–Aug. 1832. CHL. MS 1940.
Coltrin, Zebedee. Diary and Notebook, 1832–1833. Zebedee Coltrin, Diaries, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 1443, fd. 2.