Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Lesson 12
“The Gathering of My People”

Lesson Highlights

A study of this lesson will help us understand how latter-day Israel was gathered in the early days of the Church, how it is being gathered today, and how we can participate in this gathering.

A study of this lesson will

Scripture references for study:  Doctrine and Covenants 29:1–8; 33:3–7; 37; 38:24–41; 52:2–5, 42–43; 57:1–3; 110:11; Articles of Faith 1:10; Our Heritage, pages 16–23, 37–39.
    Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at and will open in a new window.

Lesson 12 Handout (PDF)

The Gathering of Israel

The Tenth Article of Faith begins:  "We believe in the literal gathering of Israel".

As spoken by the Lord, and through the words of the prophets, the gathering of Israel is an important doctrine of the gospel.



On April 3, 1836, important priesthood keys were given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Among them were the keys for gathering Israel.

The Latter-Day Gathering Begins

Joseph returned to Harmony after his trials in South Bainbridge and Colesville.

On September 26, 1830, the second conference of the Church convened in the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York.

Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson left on their mission to the west on October 15.

"And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together at the Ohio" (D&C 37:3).

After the Fayette conference in January 1831, the Saints returned to their homes to make preparations for their move westward to Ohio.

Newel Knight and Lucy Mack Smith led the Saints west from New York to Ohio. Joseph Smith, Emma, and Joseph Sr. had already gone ahead to Ohio.

The Bible and Book of Mormon prophesy of a latter-day New Jerusalem or Zion (see Isaiah 2:2-3; 3 Nephi 20:22; 3 Nephi 21:22-28; Ether 13:2-12; Moses 7:61-62).

After joining the Church, a man by the name of Leman Copley (a former Shaker), consecrated his land near Thompson, Ohio, to Bishop Partridge.

The gathering of the Colesville Saints in Missouri was just the beginning of the growth of the Church in Missouri. The Church continued to grow in Independence and the surrounding area until the Saints were driven out of Jackson County in 1833. During this period the Saints gathered in both Missouri and Ohio.  
    A few years later the Saints were given permission to gather in Caldwell and Daviess Counties, Missouri. By 1838 the Saints were abandoning Kirtland and this area became the sole gathering place for the Saints, until they were driven out of the state later that year by the Missouri mobs. After the Missouri persecutions Nauvoo became the gathering place for the Saints for a season until they ultimately moved to the Great Basin.
    Consider the faithful Saints that joined the Church in Colesville, New York. What a challenge it must have been to have given up their comfortable homes in New York to migrate to Ohio. No sooner had they begun to establish homes and farms in Ohio, when they packed up again and moved to the borders of the western wilderness. Over the next several years they were driven out of Jackson County, asked to leave Clay County, driven out of Caldwell and Daviess Counties, and ultimately left Nauvoo for a home in the wilderness. The call to gather is not easy. Many of the early Saints left or were driven from home after home. Yet most remained faithful, always following the counsel of the Lord to gather. Their sacrifice established a base from which the Church was able to grow and gain strength. They laid the foundation for the great work of the Church that continues to expand in our time.

For additional historical information see "Go to the Ohio" at

The Gathering Continues In Our Day

The gathering to Utah continued throughout the 19th Century. The Perpetual Emigration fund was established by Brigham Young to assist the Saints in gathering to the west. Emigration became much simpler after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. By 1900 the emphasis to gather in a single location had changed.

One purpose of gathering to a central location during the pioneering phase of the Church was so members could strengthen each other and find refuge and protection from the world.

As noted earlier in this lesson, Elder McConkie stated that one of the purposes of gathering Israel is, "To enable the gathered remnants of the chosen lineage to build temples and perform the ordinances of salvation and exaltation for their Israelitish ancestors who lived when the gospel was not had on earth."

At some future time, a physical gathering to Zion will resume. In 1948, Elder Harold B. Lee stated:  "The Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfillment of all God's promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority." (CR, Apr 1948)

Gospel Doctrine Notebook

Record your thoughts on the gathering of the Lord's people. What is your role in that gathering? How can you help strengthen our place of gathering, the stakes of Zion?

Resources Used In This Lesson

Answer To Your Questions About the Doctrine and Covenants by Richard O. Cowan.

Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage.

Church News.

Conference Reports (CR).


History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith.

History of the Church (HC).

Joseph Smith and the Restoration by Ivan J. Barrett.

Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.

Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).

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Changes last made on:  23 January 2017