Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 3 Sept. 1837. Featured version copied [ca. mid-Sept. 1837] in Minute Book 1, pp. 234–238; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
JS presided over a conference on 3 September 1837, later referred to as a “re-organization of the ” in , Ohio, at which several men were removed and replaced as church leaders, including eight members of the and one of the presidents of the of the . In addition, the conference objected to and disfellowshipped three members of the and added as an assistant counselor in the church . This reorganization was undertaken to address the continuing opposition by some church leaders, including the three disfellowshipped members of the Twelve, and to reassert JS’s authority as president of the church.
Dissent among church members that had intensified in May seemed to be diminishing by July. , leader of the Twelve Apostles, had helped reconcile most of the Twelve who had become disaffected. JS, , Marsh, and others had left in late July to meet with the Saints in , and they returned in late August. , writing in late August or early September, told her sister that the Saints in “have had a terrible stir with ” and that they were “not yet able to tell where it will end.” Yet even the rebellious Parrish had reconciled with JS. noted that Parrish was restored to fellowship before the 3 September meeting, and she remarked, “I never saw him so humble as he is now.” Kimball wrote further that the general climate of dissension was improving: “There has ben serious difficulties in the church here of late, Satan has led many of our brethren captive at his will. but thanks be to God the most of them are now striveing to humble them selves.” Despite the reconciliations that had occurred, though, a few prominent church members had still not resolved their differences with JS.
The 3 September 1837 was held in the . It lasted most of the day, beginning at nine o’clock in the morning, adjourning for an hour at one in the afternoon, and then reconvening at two o’clock. JS and presented the various church leaders, including themselves, for a vote and requested that the assembled church members decide whether each individual should retain his position in the church. JS was the first to be presented to the congregation and he was unanimously accepted, thereby reaffirming his authority and leadership as church president. Of the men removed from their positions in the several quorums, some had moved away and one, , had been excommunicated. The three men removed from the Kirtland high council—, , and —appear to have lost their positions because they were involved with dissenters.
The congregation, including other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, objected to apostles , , and remaining in the quorum; however, the men were not officially removed from their positions or replaced at this meeting. According to , who was present, the “case was then poot over until another time.” A few days later, visited Kimball—whose husband, apostle , was proselytizing in —and told her about a private meeting at which he and JS met with Lyman Johnson, John F. Boynton, and possibly other dissenters. Marsh informed Vilate Kimball that “they had all become reconciled to each other” and that Lyman Johnson and Boynton “would come forward next Sunday and make their confession to the church.” Luke Johnson had not yet returned to from , but Marsh said “he thought there would be no difficulty with him when he come to find the rest all united.” Kimball added, “I feel to rejoice this day for the prospect before us. I came from meeting last Sabbath with a heavy heart; I cannot bare a thought that one of the twelve should lose their standing. many thought they would. but thanks be to God I know he will hear and answer prayer.” Luke Johnson returned during the week, and the following Sunday, 10 September, all three men publicly offered “confession to the Church” and were accepted back into full fellowship. The congregation then unanimously voted in favor of their retaining their positions in the Quorum of the Twelve.
took the minutes for the conference and recorded them into Minute Book 1, the text featured here. He also copied them into a 4 September letter addressed to and other church leaders in . Significant differences between the two sets of minutes are noted below.
In a reminiscent account of the conferenceBrigham Young described his efforts to encourage faithful church members to come early and fill the House of the Lord before the meeting. (Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 15.)
Sunday 4th 3rd Sept 1837 Minutes of a assembled in the , in committee of the whole at 9 O clock A. M. was requested by Joseph Smith Jr to take the proceedings of this meeting, The meeting was opened by prayer by who then introduced Joseph Smith Jr to the congregation to know if he should still act as their as the presiding officer of the , was chosen by a unanimous vois [voice] of the same. Pres. Smith then introduced & for councillors to Pres. Smith and together with him to constitute the three first presidents of the church, carried by a unanimous vote, Pres. Smith then introduced , [p. 234]
This is one of the earliest uses of the phrase “committee of the whole” to reference the church. In the 7 November 1837 reorganizational meeting in Far West, Missouri, both the men and women in the congregation were asked to vote on leadership positions. That may have been the case at this conference as well, though the minutes do not specify. (Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837.)