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.)
then arose, & made an address of conciderable length, showing the starting point or cause of all the difficulty of & , he allso cautioned all the Elders, concrning leaving their calling to persue any occupation derogatory to that calling, assuring them that if persued, God would let them run themselves into difficulties, that he may stop them in their career, that salvation may come unto them, then arose and still attributed his difficulties & conduct to the failure of the , stating that the bank he understood was instituted by the will & revilations of God, & he had been told that it never would fail let men do what they pleased, Pres. Smith then arose, and stated that if this had been published, it was without authority, at least from him, he stated that he allways said that unless the institution was conducted upon righteous principles it could not stand, The was then called upon to know whether they were sattisfied with the confession of , Voted in the negative Adjourned for one hour.
Congregation assembled at 2 O clock P.M. & called to order by the Pres. & meeting opened by prayer, by , the Pres. then arose and said he should next call upon the church to know if they were satisfied with the & next proceeded to name them individually [p. 236]
Rigdon may be referring to the mercantile store run by Boynton and Lyman Johnson as an “occupation derogatory” to their calling in the Twelve. According to Heber C. Kimball and Ira Ames, Boynton and Johnson borrowed “considerable money” from Saints in Boston including Polly Vose, and purchased thousands of dollars’ worth of goods for their Kirtland store, which they were never able to repay. (Kimball, “History,” ; Ames, Autobiography and Journal, .)
Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.
Ames, Ira. Autobiography and Journal, 1858. CHL. MS 6055.
Disparaging newspaper articles printed in 1837 and Warren Parrish writing in 1838 echoed the claim that the society had been established by revelation and, therefore, should have been incapable of failure. Dissenters and detractors used the failure of the society to further question JS’s prophetic role. (“How Have the Mighty Fallen!!,” Western Reserve Chronicle [Warren, OH], 7 Feb. 1837, ; “About Matters in Kirtland,” Ohio Observer [Hudson], 2 Mar. 1837, ; Warren Parrish, Kirtland, OH, 5 Feb. 1838, Letter to the Editor, Painesville [OH] Republican, 15 Feb. 1838, .)
In contrast to Boynton’s insistence, other extant statements from JS about the bank are more conditional. Wilford Woodruff wrote on 6 January 1837 that JS told him and others assembled in the Safety Society office that he “had receieved that morning the Word of the Lord upon the Subject of the Kirtland Safety Society.” According to Woodruff, “He did not tell us at that time what the Lord said upon the subject but remarked that if we would give heed to the Commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well.” Mary Fielding wrote in June 1837 that “so many of the Bank directors are become unfaithful that Brother J. S says he does not know that it will rise again.” (Woodruff, Journal, 6 Jan. 1837; Mary Fielding, Kirtland, OH, to Mercy Fielding, [Upper Canada], ca. June 1837, Mary Fielding Smith, Collection, CHL.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Smith, Mary Fielding. Collection, ca. 1832–1848. CHL. MS 2779.