Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 21 April 1833
JS, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to “Brethren in Zion,” [, MO], 21 Apr. 1833. Retained copy, [ca. 21 Apr. 1833], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 32–36; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
Beginning in the summer of 1831, when a JS revelation placed the location of in , tensions arose between church leaders in Missouri and those approximately one thousand miles to the northeast, in , Ohio. The process of establishing Zion, which included actions ranging from deciding matters of ecclesiastical governance to resolving temporal concerns about the allocation of land and money, occasionally resulted in conflict among leaders in the two areas.
In the spring of 1832, JS visited with , , and “to comfort the Saints and Setle som[e] little dificulties, and regulate the church and affairs concerning it.” According to , the Missouri members “had a pleasant visit with them and they returned again in peace.” However, if the relationship between church leaders in and those in Missouri seemed peaceful at the time of parting, it soon deteriorated once again. A series of letters exchanged by Kirtland and Missouri leaders between June 1832 and March 1833 reveal the discord: After JS returned to Kirtland in June 1832, he received a letter from , a counselor to Missouri . JS described the letter as an indictment of him for purportedly seeking after “Monarchal power and authority.” JS stated that Corrill’s letter demonstrated “that the devel had set to work” among the church leaders in Missouri “by stirring up [their] hearts . . . by raking up evry fault, which those eyes that are filled with beams could see in looking for motes.” , the church’s agent in Missouri, penned another missive on 10 December 1832, which, according to Kirtland church leaders, also charged JS with seeking “Kingly power.” A January 1833 found these accusations to be “low, dark, & blind,” and the conference directed and to write a response to the Missouri leaders. In their letter, Hyde and Smith encouraged Gilbert to “do his business in the spirit of the Lord,” to repent, and to do the work of him. Kirtland church leaders sent the letter in mid-January 1833 along with a letter from JS to and a copy of a recent revelation known as the “olive leaf.” According to the letter featured below, these materials produced the “desired effect.”
, , and had been embroiled off and on in tensions with JS and church leaders for more than a year and a half when, on 26 February 1833, they called a “special council of ” in to resolve the conflict. The previous December, Partridge had “appointed a in all the , which was to be held as a day of confession, and repentance.” Partridge and other leaders “went from branch to branch exorting, until he had gone through them all.” At this February 1833 session of high priests, Partridge “laid before the council the effect of the proceedings of the Solemn assemblies as held throughout Zion.” Satisfied with the results of those solemn assemblies and in order “to effect a perfect harmony between” them and their “brethren in ,” the Missouri high priests appointed a committee, which comprised , , and John Corrill, to write an epistle reporting the widespread repentance in Missouri and confessing their previous error of challenging and criticizing JS and other Ohio leaders. The three men wrote the letter, asking for forgiveness and seeking unity with the church in Kirtland, that same day. The council accepted it, and the letter was dispatched immediately to church leaders in Ohio. In the letter featured here, written on behalf of the Kirtland leadership, JS accepted the sentiments expressed in that February missive.
Aside from acknowledging the resolution of conflict among church leaders, the document is typical of many letters that JS sent to church leaders in . It responds to specific questions, communicates the contents of a recently dictated revelation, describes developments in , and offers general counsel. In this and subsequent letters, JS continued to advise and implore church leaders and members in Missouri to repent and to be obedient and humble. How the Missouri leaders reacted to this letter is unknown; the only extant record that mentions the letter, briefly and without commentary, is the June 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star.
The Evening and the Morning Star mentioned the letter only to refer to Sidney Rigdon’s proselytizing efforts in Medina County, Ohio, which are discussed near the end of the missive. ([William W. Phelps], “The Progress of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1833, 100.)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
of his goodness in preserving our unprofitable lives to the present time and the health and other blessing which we now enjoy through his mercies— With Joy we received your letter general epistle writen the 26 of Feby which contained the conffescion of our brethren concerned all of which was to our entire satisfaction it was read by the Brethren in with feelings of the deepest interest knowing as we did that the anger of the Lord was kindled against you and [no]thing but repentance of of the greatest humility would turn it away and I will assure you that expressions of Joy beemed on evry countenance when they saw that our epistle and the revelation was received by our brethren in & it had its desired effect
For your satisfaction I insert here a revelation given to the 15th of March 1833 constituting him a member of the ——
Verely thus saith the Lord I give unto the united firm (organized agreeable to the previously given) a revelation and commandment concerning my servant that ye shall receive him into the firm, what I say unto one I say unto all, and again I say unto you my my servant thou shalt be a lively member in this firm and inasmuch as thou art faithful in keeping all former commandments thou shalt be blessed for ever Amen
With respect to s letter of the 10 Dec I would say to him as follows firstly we received the letter with this [p. 33]