Minutes, 24 September 1834
- Source Note
The , Ohio, met on 24 September 1834 for two major purposes: to consider ’s position on the high council and to commission the compilation of a new church publication. Smith’s charges against JS for engaging in “criminal conduct” during the expedition had resulted in lengthy ecclesiastical hearings the previous month. At three councils—on 11, 23, and 29 August—Sylvester Smith was found “guilty of a misdemeanor unbecoming a man in his high station” and was required to make a “humble confession,” both to the high council and in print, in order to remain “a member of this church, otherwise he is expelled from the same.” In late August, Sylvester Smith acknowledged to JS and other church leaders the falsity of the complaints he had made, a confession that was deemed sufficient for him to retain his church membership. At this 24 September meeting, the high council decided Sylvester Smith would retain his office of high priest but be removed from the high council. was nominated, approved, blessed, and confirmed as his replacement. Sylvester Smith later made a public confession in a letter published in the October issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate.The second major focus of this 24 September 1834 meeting was the publication of a new volume of authoritative texts for church governance, taken from JS’s revelations, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. Since 1831, JS had planned for the publication of a compilation of his revelations, called a “Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ.” The publication of that volume was nearly complete when violence broke out against church members in , Missouri, in July 1833; the destruction of the church’s in cut short the printing of the last portion of that volume, as well as the church's newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star. In fall 1833, , , and helped establish a new press in . Cowdery obtained new printing equipment and served as a , with Williams, over the . The press resumed printing of the Star in December 1833, with Cowdery serving as its editor.At this 24 September meeting, the high council commissioned the publication of a new compilation for the “government of the church of Latter-Day Saints,” to be printed at the new facility in . The high council appointed JS, his two counselors in the church presidency— and —and to form a committee to select and arrange doctrinal material from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and JS’s revelations for publication in the new volume. All those in attendance at the meeting—which a later source characterized as “the whole body of the church then assembled”—ratified the committee’s appointment. The high council was likely responding to an April 1834 commandment to “print my [God’s] word, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you.” When the volume was published in 1835 as the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, its preface, written by the committee, gave several reasons why church leaders wanted to disseminate JS’s revelations and the doctrines of the church. The committee recognized that the beliefs of the church were being misrepresented by outsiders who were subverting the “way of truth.” According to the preface, the publication of the church’s “faith and principles” would combat the misrepresentations of those who considered the church “an enemy to all good order and uprightness and of those who saw the church as injurious to the peace of all governments civil and political.”The minutes featured here also briefly note the financial troubles of and assert the high council’s exclusive jurisdiction over the ordinations of individuals to the office of . Previously, a high priest could lay his hands on another priesthood holder and confer upon him the office of high priest at a local or regional conference. However, from this time, priesthood holders being ordained to the office of high priest had to receive that from the high council in Kirtland.The original minutes of the meeting, kept by either or , are not extant. At some point copied the minutes into Minute Book 1. Portions of these minutes were published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants; in the volume, those modified excerpts were combined with the minutes of the 17 August 1835 “General Assembly” in Kirtland that approved the compilation. Together, they focused on the history of the Doctrine and Covenants and its acceptance in the church. Significant differences between the excerpts published in that volume and the minutes featured here are noted in the annotation.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
F. G. Williams & Co. Account Book, 1833–1835. CHL. In Patience Cowdery, Diary, 1849–1851. CHL. MS 3493.