Revised Minutes, 18–19 February 1834 [D&C 102]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

The above items have been corrected according to the resolution passed <​in the same​>, and the following is the correction.—— [p. 31]
Feb 17. 1834.
This day a <​general​> of <​24​> assembled at the house of Joseph Smith Junr. <​by revelation​> and proceeded to organize the of the , which is <​was​> to consist of twelve high priests, and one, or three presidents, as the case may <​might​> require. This <​high​> council is <​was​> appointed by revelation, for the purpose of settleing important difficulties which may <​might​> arise in the church, which cannot <​could not​> be settled by the Church, or the to the satisfaction of the parties
Joseph Smith Junr.
were acknowledged presidents, by the voice of the council; and
high priests, were chosen to be a standing council for the Church, by the unanimous voice of the council.
The above named counsellors were then asked whether they accepted their appointments, and whether they would act in that office according to the law of Heaven: to which they all answered, that they accepted their several appointments, and would fill their offices according to the grace of God bestowed upon them.
The numbers composeing the council, who voted in the name, and for the church in appointing the above named counsellors, were forty three; As follows: Nine high priests, Seventeen , four , and thirteen members.
Voted, that this <​the high​> council cannot have power to act without seven of the above named counsellors, or their regularly appointed successors, are present; these seven shall have power to appoint other high priests whom they may consider worthy and capable to act in the place of absent counsellors. [p. 32]
Voted, that whenever any vacancy shall occur by the death, removeal from office, for transgression, or removal from the bounds of this goverment of any one of the above named counsellors, it shall be filled by the nomination of the president, or presidents and sanctioned by the voice of a general Conference <​ of ​> convened for that purpose to act in the name of the Church.
The , who is also the president of the council, is appointed by the voice of the Saviour, and acknowledged in his administration, by the voice of the Church; and it is according to the dignity of his office that he should preside over the of the Church; and it is his privilege to be assisted by two other presidents, appointed after the same manner that he himself was appointed; and in case of the abscence of one or both of those who are appointed to assist him, he has power to preside over the council without an assistant: and in case that he himself is abscent, the other presidents have power to preside in his stead, both or either of them.
Whenever a high council of the Church of Christ, is regularly organized according to the foregoing pattern, it shall be the duty of the twelve counsellors to cast lots by numbers and thereby ascertain who of the twelve shall speak first, commenceing with Number One, and so in succession to number twelve
Whenever this council convenes to act upon any case; in the Church, the twelve counsellors shall consider whether it is a difficult one or not; If it is not, two <​only​> of the Counsellors shall speak upon it according to the form above written; but if it is thought to be more <​a​> difficult, <​one​> four shall be appointed, and if still more difficult, six: but in no case not over that number shall <​shall be more than six be​> be appointed to speak. The accused in all cases has a right to one half of the council to prevent insult or injustice; and the counsellors appointed to speak before the council, are to present the case after the evidence is examined, in its true light before the Council, and every man is to speak according to equity [p. 33] and justice.
Those counsellors who draw even numbers, that is, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12, are the individuals who are to stand up <​in​> the behalf of the accused and prevent insult or injustice.
In all cases the accuser and the accused shall have a privilege of speaking for themselves before the , after the evidences are heared, and the Counsellors who are appointed to speak on the case, have finished their remarks.
After the evidences are heared; the counsellors, accuser and <​the​> accused, have spoken, the president shall give a decision according to the understanding which he shall have of the case, and call upon the twelve Counsellors to sanction the same by their voices.
But should the remaining Counsellors who have not spoken*, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an error in the descision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing; and if after a careful rehearing, any additional light is thrown upon the case, the descision shall be altered accordingly; but in case no additional light is given, the first decision shall stand; the majority of the Council haveing power to determine the same.
In cases of difficulty respecting doctrine, or principle; if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the mind of the Council, the president may inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation.
The , when abroad, have power to call and organize a after the manner of the foregoing, to settle difficulties when the parties, or either of them shall request it, <​and the said council of high priests shall have power to appoint one of their own number to preside over such council​> by appointing or chooseing one of their number to preside over the council for the time being.
It shall be the duty of said Council to transmit, immediately, a copy of their proceedings, with a full statement of the testimony with <​accompanying​> their decision, to the high council [p. 34] at the seat of the government of the .
Should the parties, or either of them, be dissatisfied with the decision of said , they may appeal to the at the seat of the general government of the Church, and have a re-hearing, which case shall there be conducted according to the former pattern written, as though no such descision had been passed <​made​>.
This Council of abroad, is only to be called on the most difficult cases of Church matters; and no common or ordinary case is to be sufficient to call such Councils. The travelling or located high priests abroad, have the power to say whether it is necessary to call such a Council or not.
*The twelve counsellors then proceeded to cast lots or ballot, to ascertain who should speak first, and the following was the result, viz:
drew No. 1 drew No 7
—— " " 2 " " 8
——" " 3 " " 9
——" " 4 " 10
—— " " 5 " " 11
—— " " 6 " " 12
Council then adjourned to meet on wednesday the 19th. Inst. at 10 Oclk A.M.
*Resolved, that the presidents or presidents at the seat of general church government, shall have power to determine whether any such case as may be appealed, is justly entitled to a re-hearing after examineing the appeal and the evidences and statements accompanying it. [p. 35]


  1. 1

    The resolution referred to here was passed in the 17 February 1834 meeting. (Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834.)  

  2. 2

    This wording suggests that the duties of the high council would be limited to hearing appeals of decisions made by other councils on disciplinary matters. However, on several occasions—including the first case it heard—the high council appears to have functioned as the court of original jurisdiction.a In practice, the council’s duties extended well beyond “settleing important difficulties” between different parties and included determining church policy, assigning missionaries to their fields of labor, and making plans to help church members in Missouri who had been driven from their homes in Jackson County.b At the 19 February meeting in which these revised minutes were accepted, JS blessed the members of the high council with “wisdom and power to counsel in righteousness upon all subjects that might be laid before them,” suggesting that JS understood that the council’s responsibilities would include more than overseeing church discipline.c  

    (aSee, for example, Minutes, 19 Feb. 1834; and Minute Book 1, 28–29 Aug. 1834; 10, 18, and 19 Aug. 1835.bSee, for example, Minutes, 20 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 24 Feb. 1834; and Minute Book 1, 18 Jan. and 24 Aug. 1835.cMinutes, 19 Feb. 1834.)
  3. 3

    The appointment of JS, Rigdon, and Williams as presidents of the council was separate from the three men’s earlier appointment to the presidency of the high priesthood.  

  4. 4

    These nine individuals were the high priests at the meeting who had not been selected to serve as a president or counselor in the newly formed high council.  

  5. 5

    These elders, priests, and other church members composed the larger council who voted “in the name, and for the church” in favor of organizing the standing council of twelve high priests and were separate from the council of twenty-four high priests from which the fifteen-man high council and its presidency were drawn.  

  6. 6

    In preparing these minutes for publication in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, Oliver Cowdery, who was present at this meeting, changed both instances of “at the seat of the government of the Church” to “of the seat of the first Presidency of the church.” (Revelation Book 2, pp. 114–115 [D&C 102:27, 33].)  

  7. 7

    Although it is not clear why the first asterisk in this document (located on manuscript page 34) was inserted, the asterisk here apparently indicated a desire to move the final paragraph, also marked by an asterisk, to this point. When this document was published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the final paragraph was moved to the location of this asterisk. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 5:14, 1835 ed. [D&C 102:33].)