Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Building the Kingdom of God in
The Saints sought refuge in Illinois.
Missionaries sent from Nauvoo converted thousands of people.
The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the
end in righteousness.
The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo.
A study of this lesson will teach us about how the early Saints worked to
build the kingdom of God in Nauvoo and to encourage us to follow their example.
Scripture references for study:
D&C 124:1–21, 87–90, 97–110;
126; Our Heritage, pages
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 29 Handout (PDF)
A Refuge In Illinois
The move to Illinois.
After fruitless appeals to the Missouri legislature, thousands of Saints
began their exodus to Illinois.
The Saints left Missouri in poverty during the winter and spring of 1838-1839.
Numerous are the stories of suffering and sacrifice during this period. The Saints were forced to abandon homes, farms, businesses, and many possessions
during the winter and early spring. Even the Prophet's wife and children
barely escaped the mob with the assistance of Stephen Markam in February
The Church was managed by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball at this time
since the Prophet, Sydney, and Hyrum were all in jail. This was done
at the direction of the Prophet.
Brigham's energetic efforts aroused the anger of apostates and the mob. Brigham was forced to suddenly flee from Missouri for his life. Mary
Ann, was left to procure a wagon on her own, load her meager belongings,
and persuaded a brother to drive the team.
With Brigham gone from Missouri, Heber Kimball was left to direct the evacuation
By April 1839, the Missouri mobs were getting anxious to remove the remainder
of the Saints.
"Twelve men went to Elder Turkey's with loaded
rifles to shoot him. They broke seventeen clocks into match wood. They
broke tables, smashed in the windows; while Bogart (the county judge) looked
on and laughed. One Whitaker threw iron pots at Turley, one of which hit
him on the shoulder, at which Whitaker jumped and laughed like a madman.
The mob shot down cows while the girls were milking them. The mob threatened
to send the committee 'to hell jumping,' and 'put daylight through them'."
The Mob's Assault on Elder Kimball. "The
same day, previous to the breaking of the clocks, some of the same company
met Elder Kimball on the public square in Far West, and asked him if he
was a '———Mormon;' he replied, 'I am a Mormon.' 'Well,——————you, we'll
blow your brains out, you——————Mormon,' and tried to ride over him with
their horses. This was in the presence of Elias Smith, Theodore Turley,
and others of the committee." (HC, 3:322)
"The brethren gathered up what they could and
left Far West in one hour; and the mob staid until they left, then plundered
thousands of dollars' worth of property which had been left by the exiled
brethren and sisters to help the poor to remove." (HC, 3:322)
The Prophet escapes.
In April of 1839 the Prophet, and others with him, were moved from the
jail in Liberty to the jail in Gallatin, Daviess County.
On April 15 the prisoners received a change in venue from the court in
Gallatin to Boone County.
The five prisoners (Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin,
and Alexander McRae) were guarded by the sheriff and four other men. "They
started from Gallatin in the afternoon and went as far as Diahman, where
they camped for the night at Judge Morin's. The next day they went about
twenty miles where a jug of whiskey was procured, and all of the guards,
save one, got drunk and went to bed. The sheriff showed the prisoners the
mittimus and said to them that Judge Birch told him never to carry them
to Boone County, and never to show the mittimus, and, the sheriff said:
'I shall take a good drink of whiskey and go to bed, and you may do as
you are a mind to'." (Essentials In Church History, pp212-213)
The Prophet said: "This evening our guard got
intoxicated. We thought it a favorable opportunity to make our escape;
knowing that the only object of our enemies was our destruction....
We thought that it was necessary for us, inasmuch as we loved our lives,
and did not wish to die by the hand of murderers and assassins; and inasmuch
as we loved our families and friends, to deliver ourselves from our enemies,
and from that land of tyranny and oppression.... Accordingly, we took advantage
of the situation of our guard and departed, and that night we traveled
a considerable distance." (HC, 3:320)
Joseph Smith: "Monday, April 22.—We continued
on our journey, both by night and by day; and after suffering much fatigue
and hunger, I arrived in Quincy, Illinois, amidst the congratulations of
my friends, and the embraces of my family, whom I found as well as could
be expected, considering what they had been called to endure."
The Saints fled toward Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, during
the months the Prophet was in jail.
They were received kindly by the people in this area.
When the Prophet arrived in Quincy, no plan for settlement of the Saints
yet existed. Some thought the Saints might go back to Ohio or up
The Church began purchasing land near Commerce, Illinois (about 35 miles
north of Quincy on the Mississippi), much of which was swampland.
These purchases became the foundation for the city Nauvoo.
Additional lands were purchased across the river in Iowa.
The Twelve In England
According to prophecy (D&C 118:5), five members of the Twelve and
Saints gathered at the temple site in Far West to take leave for their
missions to England.
Brigham Young and the other brethren met Heber C. Kimball and a few of
the Saints at Tenney's Grove, Missouri.
According to these Saints, a mob had ridden into Far West six days earlier
and jeered at them about the revelation that the Twelve would take leave
of their mission from Far West on April 26.
Captain Samuel Bogart had warned Theodore Turley, "The
Twelve are now scattered all over creation; let them come here if they
dare; if they do, they will be murdered." (HC, 3:307)
The Twelve met shortly after midnight on April 26 to avoid being seen by
their Missouri enemies.
Alpheus Cutler resumed laying the foundation of the Lord's House, in accordance
with revelation, by rolling a large stone adjacent to the southeast corner.
He then said, "In consequence of the peculiar
situation of the saints, it is deemed prudent to discontinue further labor
on the House until the Lord should open the way for its completion."
Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith were ordained apostles to fill the
vacancies left by apostasy. This then made seven apostles present, thus
having a majority of the quorum present.
"As the saints were passing away from the meeting,
Brother Turley said to Elders Page and Woodruff, 'Stop a bit, while I bid
Isaac Russell goodbye.' and knocking at the door, called Brother Russell."
Isaac Russell had been excommunicated.
"His wife answered, 'Come in, it is Brother Turley.'
Russell replied, 'it is not; he left here two weeks ago,' and appeared
quite alarmed; but on finding it was Brother Turley, asked him to sit down;
but the latter replied. 'I cannot, I shall lose my company.' 'Who is your
company?' enquired Russell. 'The twelve.' 'The twelve!' 'Yes, don't you
know that this is the twenty-sixth, and the day the twelve were to take
leave of their friends on the foundation of the Lord's House, to go to
the islands of the sea? The revelation is now fulfilled, and I am going
with them.' Russell was speechless, and Turley bid him farewell." (CHMR,
The Twelve did not actually leave from Illinois for their missions until
later that summer due to sickness and the efforts of settling their families in
George A. Smith left his family in Plains, Illinois, and went to Commerce
expecting to begin his mission to England. Wrote George A:
"I found great numbers of the brethren lying sick" (Men With A Mission,
The Saints had been living in tents, wagons, and other temporary structures. The Twelve were anxious to find something more permanent for their families
before departing for England.
Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt all moved
their families into the old log barracks of an abandoned military post
at Fort Des Moines, in Montrose, Iowa.
Heber C. Kimball built a 14 foot by 16 foot cabin in Commerce.
Can you imagine calling such a cabin a permanent home. 14' by 16'
is smaller than my bedroom and we complain about not having enough room.
George A. Smith, his father, and brother John moved into 12 foot by 12 foot
stable, put a new shake roof on it, and made that
a home. After moving in, the three of them became sick and George
A. remained that way until his departure for England.
August 8 (1839): Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor were the first
to depart for England. Wilford had been suffering from chills and
fever for days. He left Montrose and was rowed across the Mississippi
in a canoe by Brigham Young.
"On landing, he lay down to rest on a side of
sole leather, near the post office. The Prophet came along and said: 'Well,
Brother Woodruff, you have started on your mission?' 'Yes, but I feel and
look more like a subject for the dissecting room than a missionary,' was
the reply. 'What did you say that for?' asked Joseph, 'Get up and go along,
all will be well with you'." (CHC, 2:23)
September 14: The Prophet wrote, "President
Brigham Young started from his home at Montrose, for England. His health
was very poor; he was unable to go thirty rods to the river without assistance.
After he had crossed the ferry he got Brother Israel Barlow to carry him
on his horse behind him to Heber C. Kimball's where he remained sick until
the 18th. He left his wife sick with a babe only ten days old, and all
his children sick, unable to wait upon each other." (HC, 4:9)
September 17: Brigham's wife, Mary Ann, enlisted a boy to take her
in his wagon to the Kimball home, that she might nurse and comfort Brigham
prior to starting on his mission.
September 18: Brigham Young and Heber Kimball depart for England:
Heber wrote: "Charles Hubbard sent his boy
with a wagon and span of horses to my house; our trunks were put into the
wagon by some brethren; I went to my bed and shook hands with my wife who
was then shaking with a chill, having two children lying sick by her side;
I embraced her and my children, and bade them farewell. My only well child
was little Heber P., and it was with difficulty he could carry a couple
of quarts of water at a time, to assist in quenching their thirst.
"It was with difficulty
we got into the wagon, and started down the hill about ten rods; it appeared
to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at leaving my
family in such a condition, as it were almost in the arms of death. I felt
as though I could not endure it. I asked the teamster to stop, and said
to Brother Brigham, 'This is pretty tough, isn't it; let's rise up and
give them a cheer.' We arose, and swinging our hats three times over our
heads, shouted: 'Hurrah, hurrah for Israel.' Vilate, hearing the noise,
arose from her bed and came to the door. She had a smile on her face. Vilate
and Mary Ann Young cried out to us: 'Goodbye, God bless you.' We returned
the compliment, and then told the driver to go ahead. After this I felt
a spirit of joy and gratitude, having had the satisfaction of seeing my
wife standing upon her feet, instead of leaving her in bed, knowing well
that I should not see them again for two or three years." (Life
of Heber C. Kimball, pp265-266)
Brigham and Heber then laid down in the wagon where they continued their
journey in sickness and without purse or script.
September 21: George A. Smith left his cabin and began his journey
by horseback. He stopped at the Prophet's home where his uncle, Joseph
Sr., was propped up in a chair in ill health. When Joseph Sr. saw
George he burst into laughter and asked, "Who's been robbing the burying
yard?" George replied, "I am determined to go to England." The Prophet's
father gave George a blessing promising that he would go to England and
his health would be restored.
Each of these missionaries left for their missions in adverse circumstances. They were sick. Their families were sick. They left families
in poverty and in shelter that was little more than a roof over their heads. They left with little or no money in their pockets. These were men
of faith who were determined to fulfill the commandment to serve this mission
to England. Though every roadblock had been placed in their path,
they continued forward with a will and determination that is remarkable.
Heber C. Kimball wrote of their journey eastward: "Brother
Brigham had one York shilling left, and on looking over our expenses we
found we had paid out over $87.00 out of the $13.50 we had at Pleasant
Garden, which is all the money we had to pay our passages with. We had
traveled over 400 miles by stage, for which we paid from 8 to 10 cents
a mile, and had eaten three meals a day, for each of which we were charged
fifty cents, also fifty cents for our lodgings. Brother Brigham often suspected
that I put the money in his trunk, or clothes; thinking that I had a purse
of money which I had not acquainted him with, but this was not so; the
money could only have been put in his trunk by some heavenly messenger,
who thus administered to our necessities daily as he knew we needed."
(Life of Heber C. Kimball, p273)
John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff arrived in England in January 1840. Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, Parley Pratt, Orson, Pratt, and George A.
Smith arrived the following April after a stormy passage.
On April 14, the first council meeting of the Twelve was held in Preston. At that time Willard Richards was ordained an apostle and Brigham Young
was sustained as president of the Quorum.
Shortly after arriving in England, Wilford Woodruff and Theodore Turley
went to Staffordshire where they found much interest and baptized many. While there, the Lord manifested
to Elder Woodruff that he was to leave that
part of the country and go to the south.
On March 3 Elder Woodruff left for the farming communities of Herefordshire
and stopped at the home of Mr. John Benbow. Wilford introduced himself
and said he was an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
and that he had come to preach the gospel.
John Benbow said there were over 600 people who had broken
off from the Methodist Church, called themselves the United Brethren,
and they were searching for light and truth.
Mr. Benbow sent word out and many came to his home to listen to this
missionary from America.
On March 8, a local constable showed up to arrest Elder Woodruff for "preaching
to the people." The parish rector had made a complaint.
Elder Woodruff stated that he had a license to preach and asked the constable
to take a chair until the meeting was completed. Elder Woodruff preached
a sermon on the first principles of the gospel and at the end issued an
invitation to be baptized. Four preachers came forward and requested
baptism, along with the constable.
The constable returned to the rector and told him if he wanted Mr. Woodruff
arrested he would have to go and serve the writ himself. The constable said
that he had listened to the only true Gospel sermon he had ever
The rector then sent two clerks of the Church of England as spies and
they were both baptized. The rector decided not to send anyone else.
A petition was then sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury requesting Parliament
to pass a law prohibiting the "Mormons" from preaching in the British nation.
The Archbishop replied to the petitioners that if they had the "worth of
souls at heart as much as they valued ground where hares, foxes and hounds
ran, they would not lose so many of their flock" (Essentials in Church
Within 30 days after Elder Woodruff's arrival in Herefordshire, he had
baptized 45 preachers and 160 members of the United Brethren, and the
success continued. John Taylor wrote in a letter, "Elder
Woodruff, has lately left the Potteries where he was and has gone to another
neighborhood, and is making Methodist preachers scarce" (Times
& Seasons, Vol 1 No 7, p110)
After the arrival of Brigham Young's and the Twelve in England, the brethren
went to the following areas:
Scotland - Orson Pratt.
Liverpool - John Taylor.
Manchester - Parley P. Pratt.
Staffordshire - George A. Smith.
Herefordshire - Brigham Young and Willard Richards went to assist Wilford
Heber C. Kimball went out and visited the branches he had organized
during his previous mission.
After teaching the gospel in Liverpool for a time, John Taylor crossed
the Irish Sea with James McGuffie, a recent convert and an Irishman. After reaching Newry, County Down, John Taylor first preached the gospel
in Ireland. The success in Ireland was not as great as in England,
but many honest in heart were baptized and branches were organized.
In the fall of 1840, Heber Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith
traveled to London and began preaching the gospel. George A. Smith
wrote, "We proceeded to London, where we met with
much difficulty in introducing the fulness of the gospel; the hearts of
the people seemed barred against the truth, but the Lord blessed our labours
and we succeeded in establishing a branch of the church there"
(Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p465)
Among those that joined the Church was the Reverend James Albion. He invited the Elders to preach to his congregation. He also recommended
that his congregation follow him into the waters of baptism, some of which did so.
The mission of the Twelve to England lasted just over one year.
Brigham Young and others of the Twelve departed from England on April 20,
1841, along with 130 Saints. Parley P. Pratt remained to continue
publication of the Millennial Star and to direct mission activities.
Between 7,000 and 8,000 people were baptized during this period and
about 1,000 emigrated to Nauvoo. It was a remarkable mission and
many good and faithful British Saints strengthened the Church. The
seeds were planted and this remarkable harvest of souls continued. By 1852, the number of converts from the British Isles reached 57,000.
Nauvoo - The City Beautiful
Joseph and Sidney visit Washington, D.C.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were appointed by the Church to make an
appeal for redress from the President and Congress.
On October 29, 1839, along with Judge Elias Higbee, they left in a carriage
with Orrin Porter Rockwell as driver.
By the time they arrived in Columbus, Ohio, Sidney was too sick to continue.
The Prophet and Judge Higbee continued to Washington were they made their
appeal to President Martin Van Buren and several representatives of Congress.
The Prophet said of many of the representatives they met, "There
is a great deal of wind blown off" and "an
itching disposition to display their oratory on the most trivial occasions."
They had little success with Congress and in a second visit to the President
Martin Van Buren, the president stated: "Gentlemen,
your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.... If I take up for you
I shall lose the vote of Missouri." (HC, 4:80)
The Mormons lobbied the Illinois state legislature for approval of a charter
for the city of Nauvoo.
One of those who fiercely lobbied for the charter was a man by the name
of John C. Bennett, quartermaster for the state of Illinois.
Bennett had moved to Nauvoo in 1840 and was baptized shortly thereafter.
The charter was passed and the city was incorporated in February 1841.
It was a liberal charter that gave to the city many powers including public
education, judicial, and the ability to organize a military body, which
became known as the Nauvoo Legion.
On February 1, 1841 an election was held and John C. Bennett was elected
Mayor Bennett urged the organization of the University of the City of Nauvoo.
The Nauvoo community grew quickly. In July, 1841, Heber C. Kimball
wrote a letter to Parley P. Pratt describing the growth of the city:
we got in sight of Nauvoo we were surprised to see what improvements had
been made since we left home. You know there were not more than thirty
buildings in the city when we left about two years ago, but at this time
there are twelve hundred, and hundreds of others in progress which will
be finished soon" (Life of Heber C. Kimball, p313).
A letter addressed to the editor of the New York Herald (May 18, 1842),
by an officer of the U.S. artillery, described Nauvoo:
"Yesterday was a great day among the Mormons.
Their legion, to the number of two thousand men, was paraded by Generals
Smith, Bennett, and others, and certainly made a very noble and imposing
appearance. The evolutions of the troops directed by Major General Bennett,
would do honour to any body of armed militia in any of the states, and
approximates very closely to our regular forces."
"These Mormons are accumulating like a snowball
rolling down an inclined plane, which in the end becomes an avalanche."
Speaking of the university: "Ecclesiastical
history presents no parallel to this people, inasmuch as they are establishing
their religion on a learned footing. All the sciences are taught, and to
be taught in their colleges, with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian,
Spanish, &c., &c. The mathematical sciences, pure and mixed, are
now in successful operation, under an extremly able professor of the name
of Pratt, and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, is president of their
"The city of Nauvoo contains about ten thousand
souls, and is rapidly increasing. It is well laid out, and the municipal
affairs appear to be well conducted. The adjoining country is a beautiful
prairie.—Who will say that the Mormon prophet is not among the great spirits
of the age?" (Millennial Star, 3:83-84)
D&C 124 - Instructions
By the time Section 124 was given to the Prophet on January 19, 1841, Nauvoo
had become the center of the Church and about 3,000 people were living
D&C 124:2-3, 7-8.
An official proclamation by the Twelve was issued in 1845.
It appears that this proclamation was issued in compliance with this revelation. There is no evidence that the Prophet issued such a declaration prior to
his death. It was written and issued by the Twelve since they were
the presiding authority of the Church at this time.
The Proclamation begins: "PROCLAMATION of
the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"To all the King's of the
"To the President of the
United States of America;
"To the Governors of the
"And to the Rulers and
People of all Nations:
"KNOW YE-THAT the kingdom
of God has come: as has been predicted by ancient prophets, and prayed
for in all ages; even that kingdom which shall fill the whole earth, and
shall stand for ever.
"The great Eloheim Jehovah
has been pleased once more to speak from the heavens: and also to commune
with man upon the earth, by means of open visions, and by the ministration
of HOLY MESSENGERS.
"By this means the great
and eternal High Priesthood, after the Order of his Son, even the Apostleship,
has been restored; or, returned to the earth.
"This High Priesthood,
or Apostleship, holds the keys of the kingdom of God, and power to bind
on earth that which shall be bound in heaven; and to loose on earth that
which shall be loosed in heaven. And, in fine, to do, and to administer
in all things pertaining to the ordinances, organization, government and
direction of the kingdom of God.
"Being established in these
last days for the restoration of all things spoken by the prophets since
the world began; and in order to prepare the way for the coming of the
Son of Man.
"And we now bear witness
that his coming is near at hand; and not many years hence, the nations
and their kings shall see him coming in the clouds of heaven with power
and great glory.
"In order to meet this
great event there must needs be a preparation. Therefore we send unto you
with authority from on high, and command you all to repent and humble yourselves
as little children, before the majesty of the Holy One; and come unto Jesus
with a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and be baptized in his name,
for the remission of sins (that is, be buried in the water in the likeness
of his burial and rise again to newness of life, in the likeness of his
resurrection), and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through
the laying on of the hands of the Apostles and elders, of this great and
last dispensation of mercy to man." (The full text of this proclamation can be found in Messages of the First
Presidency, compiled by James R. Clark, Volume 1, pages 252-265)
This declaration was reaffirmed by President Benson in 1975, then President
of the Twelve.
This charge is yet only partially fulfilled. Few world leaders have
been taught the gospel. Several have been given Book of Mormons. There have been negotiations with government leaders for opening missionary
work, but this charge still remains largely unfulfilled.
WHAT TRAITS DID THE LORD PRAISE IN HYRUM?
His integrity and love for that which is right.
HOW CAN WE DEVELOP GREATER LOVE FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE RIGHT SO THAT WE
SERVE THE LORD WILLINGLY?
D&C 124:16-17. John C. Bennett counseled to stand
by the Prophet.
WHO WAS JOHN C BENNETT?
Joined the Saints in Nauvoo in 1840. He rose to the position of assistant president
to Joseph Smith, mayor of Nauvoo, and he was instrumental in securing the
Excommunicated in May 1842 and became one of the bitterest enemies of the
WHAT HAPPENED TO JOHN C BENNETT?
John Taylor says: "I was well acquainted with him. At one time he was
a good man, but fell into adultery, and was cut off from the Church for
his iniquity." (HC, 5:81)
JOHN C. BENNETT RECEIVED GREAT PROMISES FROM THE LORD. LATER IN THIS SECTION
WILLIAM LAW ALSO RECEIVED GREAT PROMISES (87-90, 97-102), BUT BOTH FELL
INTO APOSTASY. WHAT THINGS IN OUR LIVES MIGHT CAUSE US TO LOSE THE
BLESSINGS WE HAVE BEEN PROMISED?
WHAT ATTITUDES OR PRACTICES HAVE HELPED YOU IN ENDURING TO THE END
D&C 124:22-23. Command to build the Nauvoo
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE LORD COMMANDED THE BUILDING OF A HOTEL?
"And let the name of that house be called Nauvoo
House; and let it be a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place
for the weary traveler, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion, and
the glory of this, the corner-stone thereof; That he may receive also the counsel from
those whom I have set to be as plants of renown, and as watchmen upon her walls."
The Nauvoo House was begun in the spring of 1841. When the Saints left
Nauvoo in 1846 the walls were above the windows on the second story. It
was planned to be the most magnificent hotel in the west at that time.
WHAT DO THESE VERSES TEACH ABOUT HOW THE LORD WANTS US TO TREAT ALL PEOPLE?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OTHERS FEEL WELCOME AMONG US?
D&C 124: 84-118 the Spirit of Revelation speaks to various individuals
giving counsel, instructions, encouragement or warning, and reproof, as
each case may require.
D&C 124:84. Almon W Babbit chastened.
It appears that Almon's chief ambition was to make money. As the
Saints left Nauvoo, he was involved in numerous real estate transactions
where it appears he made of with a great deal of money.
Clearly, he had the wrong focus in life.
Verses 87-90, 97-102 contain counsel to William Law. Had he hearkened
to the counsel of the Lord he most certainly would not have fallen from
his high position in the Church.
Verses 91-96: Hyrum to hold the keys of patriarchal blessings. He
was previously ordained by his father, to succeed him in this position.
He was also appointed Assistant President of the Church, the office Oliver
Cowdery had held.
WHY DOESN'T THE OFFICE OF ASSISTANT PRESIDENT EXIST ANY LONGER?
Bruce R. McConkie: "When these two joint Presidents
of the Church sealed their testimonies with their blood, the full operation
of the keys of the kingdom rested with the Twelve, and Brigham Young, the
senior apostle became the ranking officer of the Church. Since the
kingdom was then fully established and the two witnesses had left a binding
testimony, it was no longer necessary to continue the office of Assistant
President." (Mormon Doctrine, p56)
Verses 103-110: Counsel given to Sydney Rigdon. His health
suffered following Liberty Jail. In verse 104 the Lord promised Sydney that he would be healed if he would follow the Lord's counsel as contained
in this revelation.
Verses 123-145: Various officers in the Church identified and appointed.
Hyrum appointed as Patriarch (v124).
Joseph again appointed as Prophet: "I give unto you my
servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a
revelator, a seer, and prophet" (v125).
Sydney Rigdon and William Law appointed counselors to Joseph to form the Quorum
of the First Presidency (v126).
Brigham Young to be President of the Twelve (V127).
Presidency of the Seventies named (v138).
Organizing the Church in Nauvoo at LDS.org for additional background
The Relief Society Organized
In 1842, Sarah Kimball offered to furnish material if the seamstress, Miss
Cook, would make shirts for the workmen at the Nauvoo Temple. Other
women became interested in the project and suggested that they organize
a society for this purpose. Eliza R. Snow was asked to draft a constitution
and by-laws which would be submitted to the Prophet for approval.
When it was presented to the Prophet he stated that it was the best he
had ever seen. "But this is not what you
want. Tell the sisters their efforts are accepted of the Lord, but He has
something better for them than a written constitution. Invite them all
to meet me and a few of the brethren in the Masonic Hall over at my store
next Thursday afternoon, and I will organize the sisters under the priesthood
after the pattern of the priesthood. This church will never be perfectly
organized until the women are thus organized." (Remarkable Stories
From the Lives of Latter-day Saint Women, 2:142)
March 17, 1842: Eighteen women gathered in the room over the Prophet's
brick store and he organized them into a society. The Prophet was
assisted by John Taylor and Willard Richards. Among the women present
were Emma Smith, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Sarah Kimball, and Eliza R. Snow.
The Prophet counseled the women to "provoke the
brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor, searching after
objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—[and] to assist,
by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the community."
(Story of the Latter-day Saints, p175)
The Prophet proposed that the sisters elect a presiding officer and let
her choose two counselors. Emma Smith was unanimously elected president. She chose Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as counselors.
After some discussion on a name, it was decided that the organization would
be called the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.
In a latter meeting of the society, Joseph Smith counseled the sisters:
"Let this Society teach women how to behave towards
their husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection. When a man is
borne down with troubles, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty,
if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or murmur, if he can meet
with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when
a mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness.
You will receive instructions through the order of the Priesthood which
God has established through the medium of those appointed to lead, guide
and direct the affairs of the Church in this last dispensation; and I now
turn the key in your behalf in the name of the Lord, and this Society shall
rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time
henceforth; this is the beginning of better days to the poor and needy,
who shall be made to rejoice and pour forth blessings on your heads."
(Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p507)
"The Relief Society was immediately popular. Attendance
became too large for a single meeting, so under Emma Smith's direction
sessions were rotated through each of the city's four ecclesiastical wards.
Membership by September 1842 was 1,142, and enrollment increased by another
200 during the next eighteen months. At these meetings, Emma Smith emphasized
the society's charge to improve community morals by teaching sexual purity.
Her counselors, Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, typically
addressed the need to seek out the poor, widows, and the sick. At each
meeting, the sisters would donate to a central store of goods for use by
the presidency in clothing and feeding those in need. Recipients of such
compassionate service were identified during these same Relief Society
gatherings in reports from those who had been assigned to visit the homes.
The meetings also included reminders of the need to develop personal spirituality
by studying the scriptures, praying, and living the commandments. The Nauvoo
Relief Society was discontinued in the spring or early summer of 1844,
but the organization was later revived in the Salt Lake Valley."
(Story of the Latter-day Saints, pp175-176)
In 1995, when interviewed by Mike Wallace, President Hinckley made the following
statement: "Women have a tremendous place
in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842
by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial
purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be the
largest women's organization in the world, with a membership of more than
three million. They have their own officers, their own presidency, their
own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere
in the world." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p545)
Something Better: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo at LDS.org for
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the remarkable events discussed in
this lesson. What things can you do to help build up the kingdom of God?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Church History and Modern Revelation by Joseph Fielding
Essentials In Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith.
History of the Church (HC).
Joseph Smith and the Restoration by Ivan J. Barrett.
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Men With A Mission, 1837-1841: The Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles in the British Isles by James B. Allen, David J. Whittaker,
and Ronald K. Esplin.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Messages of the First Presidency, Volume 1, compiled by James R. Clark.
Remarkable Stories From the Lives of Latter-day Saint Women by Leon R.
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley.
The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star.
The Story of the Latter-day Saints by James B. Allen
and Glen M. Leonard.
Times & Seasons.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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22 May 2017