Revelation, 26 April 1838 [D&C 115]
Revelation,Far West, MO, 26 Apr. 1838; in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, pp. 32–34; handwriting of
Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...More Info
JS dictated a revelation on 26 April 1838 stating that the city of Far West, Missouri, “should be built up” by the gathering of the Saints and that they should build a temple there. Since the creation of Caldwell County in 1836, Latter-day Saints in Missouri and elsewhere had been gathering in Far West, the county’s principal Mormon community, and in surrounding settlements. In early 1837, about a year before JS’s arrival, Zion presidency members William W. Phelps and John Whitmer drew a plan for a temple and appointed a committee to superintend construction of the temple in Far West’s central lot. In April 1837, the high council questioned the Zion presidency’s authority to appoint such a committee and even to select the site for the city. This problem was somewhat resolved, and several hundred Saints assembled to begin excavating for the temple foundation in July. When JS and Sidney Rigdon visited Far West in November, they participated in a council meeting wherein the members resolved to expand the size of the existing city plat. This resolution suggests that JS and the other council members approved the location of the city and its central lot. Moreover, the council members apparently authorized the plan to build a temple and approved the location, but it was decided to suspend any construction work “till the Lord shall reveal it to be his will to be commenced.”After JS moved to Caldwell County in March 1838 and helped root dissension out of the church, he and the high council turned their attention to developing Far West as the church’s gathering center. On 21 April, they passed several resolutions to build the community, including improving the schoolhouse used for community meetings, building one or more storehouses, and reestablishing the church press. By this time, thousands of Saints were living in Far West and its vicinity and hundreds more were expected from Kirtland within the next few months. The gathering of the Saints, especially with heavy migration from Ohio, would eventually require settlement beyond the bounds of Far West, and church leaders had already begun efforts to locate other sites for settlement.JS’s revelation of 26 April 1838 spoke to these recent developments. The revelation was addressed to JS, other church leaders, and all other members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”—which the revelation specified was the new official name of the church. The revelation enjoined the church’s leaders and members to continue gathering to Far West, to sanctify the city through consecrated living, and to build the temple. The Saints were instructed to begin work on the temple on 4 July and to build it according to a pattern that would be revealed to the First Presidency. When church members resided in Clay County earlier in the 1830s, no revelations had instructed the Saints to establish a city of gathering or to construct a temple there. The plan for the Saints in Missouri up until this time had been one of temporary settlement while waiting for a return to the “centre place” of Zion in Jackson County. The 26 April 1838 revelation marked a change in Mormon plans in Missouri. Though the Latter-day Saints were not in Zion’s “centre place” at Independence and were not building “the City of Zion,” they were commanded to build up a city of Zion with a temple. The revelation concluded with a commandment to the Saints to build up Far West and to establish other communities “in the regions round about” as directed by their prophet.The revelation was probably dictated orally and written down by a scribe, as was typical with JS’s revelations. George W. Robinson copied the revelation into JS’s “Scriptory Book,” apparently around the time JS dictated the revelation. The Latter-day Saints followed the direction of the revelation by laying the cornerstones of the temple on 4 July 1838, whereupon Rigdon gave a speech in which he vigorously asserted the rights of the Latter-day Saints to settle wherever they pleased.