Minutes and Discourse, 2 May 1835, as Reported by William E. McLellin–A
Minutes and Discourse, , Geauga Co., OH, 2 May 1835. Featured version copied [not before 25 Feb. 1836] in Minute Book 1, pp. 187–192; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
On 12 March 1835, JS and the met and decided that before the departed on their mission to the eastern and , they would hold their first in , Ohio, on 2 May 1835. According to one version of the minutes of this 2 May meeting, the conference was a “grand council.” recorded that it consisted of “a large assembly of the officers of the church,” including the , the Twelve Apostles, and most of those who had been called to the . After an adjournment, these officers were joined by the Kirtland , and his counselors, and Bishop and his counselors. Pratt wrote in his journal that “many other officers of the church” also attended.
The council provided instruction to the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy, especially regarding their relationship to other administrative bodies in the church, such as the high council and the high council in (). By the time of this council, the instruction “on Priesthood” that was later published in the Doctrine and Covenants in September 1835 had likely been created; JS may have taken the opportunity to present the document at this conference. The instruction declared that there were “presiding offices growing out of, or appointed of, or from among those who are ordained to the several offices” in the . These presiding offices were the presidency of the high priesthood, the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, and the high councils of Zion and of the of Zion. Each of these groups, the instruction explained, formed a quorum equal in authority to the other bodies, but with different responsibilities. The Twelve Apostles constituted “a travelling, presiding high council” that operated “under the direction of the presidency of the church . . . to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same, in all nations.” The Seventy were to assist the Twelve with this responsibility. The instruction also noted that standing high councils in the stakes of Zion formed “a quorum equal in authority, in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the quorum of the presidency, or to the travelling high council,” while the high council in Zion was equal in authority “to the councils of the twelve at the stakes of Zion.” However, the instruction did not clearly outline how all these bodies would work together. JS provided related information in this 2 May 1835 meeting, stating that the standing high councils in Kirtland and Zion were responsible for regulating the church in those areas, while the Twelve Apostles were responsible for regulating church branches outside of Zion and its stakes. The , meanwhile, was to oversee the church in general.
At the council, JS also gave specific direction to the Twelve, instructing them, among other things, to order themselves in their councils from the oldest to the youngest. The Seventy likewise received additional instruction; JS informed them that up to 144,000 seventies could be called by the seven presidents of the Seventy, if the work so required. A number of men were ordained to the Seventy during the meeting, and many seventies were told to hold themselves in readiness to preach when required. Many of these men subsequently preached throughout the country during the following months. The council also considered the circumstances of the in , presumably in connection with their availability to preach, and assigned and Amos Orton to help preach to the remnants of Joseph, or the American Indians.
In addition, JS discussed the anticipated deliverance of Zion, whereby church members would be able to move back to their , Missouri, lands, and he moved that the officers of the church “never give up the struggle” until Zion was redeemed or until they died. His comments about redeeming Zion during a council largely dedicated to instructing the Twelve and the Seventy suggest that these groups’ assignments were necessary components in Zion’s redemption. According to a June 1834 revelation, before Zion could be redeemed, church members must be “taught more perfectly, and have experience and know more perfectly concerning their duty.” This was certainly one aspect of the Twelve’s mission to church branches in the eastern . Likewise, preaching by the Seventy was characterized in January 1836 as helping “gather up the elect of God out of every nation,” thereby allowing Zion to “be builded, a holy city.”
served as clerk of the meeting and took the minutes. His original minutes are not extant, but two versions of the minutes were recorded. recorded an extensive account of the meeting in Minute Book 1, explaining JS’s instructions during the meeting and detailing the duties of individual members of the Seventy. also entered a version into the Record of the Twelve that he and McLellin were keeping. Hyde’s version focuses on the instruction that JS gave the Twelve Apostles, with few other details about the conference. Both sets of minutes appear to be based on the original minutes that McLellin recorded and, as such, use similar language when describing the same events.
Sylvester Smith reported that the Seventy had completed a “mighty work of God” during “the past season.” “They have traveled, through the assisting grace of God,” he continued, “and preached the fulness of the everlasting gospel in various States and generally with good success,” baptizing 175 individuals. (Sylvester Smith, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Jan. 1836, 2:253.)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
According to appointment the , the a part of the , and some other of the met in this morning in order to consult the affairs of the church. &c. Conference was opened by Elder by prayer. President J. Smith Junr presiding. After conference was opened and the Twelve took their seats. he stated that it would be the duty of the twelve to appoint the oldest one of their number to preside in their councils, beginning at the oldest and so on until the youngest has presided and then beginning at the oldest again. &c. The Twelve took their seats regularly according to their ages as follows. . , , & . The president then stated that the Twelve will have no right to go into or any of its and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing . But it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all matters relative to the different of the Church. When the Twelve are together, or a of them in any Church, they will have authority to act independently and make decisions, and those decisions, and those decissions are valid. But where there is not a quorum they will have to do business by the voice of the Church. No standing high council has authority his to go into the churches abroad and regulate the matters thereof, for this belongs to the Twelve. No High Council will ever be established only in Zion or one of its Stakes. When the twelve pass a decision it is in the name of the church, Therefore, it is valid. No individual has a right to go into any church [p. 187]
Although it was believed at the time that Thomas B. Marsh’s birthday was 1 November 1799, making him older than David W. Patten, who was born 17 November 1799, Marsh was actually born on 1 November 1800, making him younger than Patten. This discovery was apparently not made before Patten’s death in October 1838. (Whiting, David W. Patten, 1; Vital Records of Acton, Massachusetts, 81; Anderson, “Thomas B. Marsh,” 129, 145.)
Whiting, Linda Shelley. David W. Patten: Apostle and Martyr. Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2003.
Vital Records of Acton, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1923.
Anderson, A. Gary. “Thomas B. Marsh: The Preparation and Conversion of the Emerging Apostle.” In Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: New York, edited by Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman Jr., and Susan Easton Black, 129–148. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1992.