Zion high council and bishopric, Minutes, , Caldwell Co., MO, 15 Mar. 1838. Featured version copied [between 1 Oct. 1842 and 14 Sept. 1843] in Minute Book 2, pp. 108–109; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 2.
On 15 March 1838, JS met with the and . Several developments had occurred since November 1837, when they had last met together. Most significantly, the rift between the of the church in and the rest of the church leaders there had widened. By early February 1838, the presidency had been removed from office and replaced by and . On 10 March, former presidency members and were excommunicated. Then, on 14 March JS arrived in , where he intended to take up residence. After fleeing amid dissent and turmoil, he was determined to root dissent out of the church. The day after his arrival, JS met in council with Missouri church leaders to address matters relevant to the problem of dissent. In the first session of the meeting, JS reviewed the minutes of previous council meetings. In the second session, the council members considered the conduct of , who was the ’s and “keeper of the Lord’s .” The clerk for the meeting, , produced a brief overview of the proceedings. His original minutes are apparently not extant; the featured version was recorded in Minute Book 2 by in in 1842 or 1843.
The of , together with the met in , on Saturday Thursday March the 15th 1838, agreeable to appointment and was organized as follows. President Joseph Smith jr took the charge of the Council
The Council opened by singing “This earth was once a garden place &c.” and prayer by Prest Joseph Smith jr.
The minutes of some previous Councils were read by the
First, The minutes of a Council held on Saturday the 24th of February 1838, when it was voted— First
That the 6th article of the said minutes be null & void & also, that a new article be put in the place of it (which was done)—
President Joseph Smith jr gave a history of the of , which took place in July 1834, to be a leader, or a prophet to this , which (ordination) was on conditions that he (J. Smith jr) did not live to God himself.
President J. Smith jr approved of the proceedings of the High Council, after hearing the minutes of the former Councils.
The Council ajourned for one hour.
7-o’clock P.M. The Council and Bishoprick convened agreeably to adjournment and was [p. 108]
During the council meeting held on 24 February 1838, those present passed resolutions to regulate “the several Branches with in the bounds of this Stake.” These measures were apparently designed to stop the former members of the Zionpresidency and those who sympathized with them from taking charge of any of the settlements around Far West. (Minute Book 2, 24 Feb. 1838.)
Article 6 recommended that all high priests, elders, and priests in the settlements around Far West “take the lead of all meetings” in their settlements. This article was replaced by the third resolution, which stated that high priests, elders, and priests were not to take the lead of meetings without the “invitation or consent of the Presiding officer of that branch,” who was the branch-appointed teacher. The third resolution further stipulated that the presiding teacher had authority to object to any church officer “who may come among them, to officiate, who is not in good standing or a friend to the true cause of Christ” and that the presiding teacher should report to the high council anyone who was “unruly” or teaching “corrupt doctrine” in the settlement. (Far West Stake High Council Minutes, 24 Feb. 1838; Minute Book 2, 24 Feb. 1838.)
Far West Stake High Council Minutes, Dec. 1837–Mar. 1838. CHL.
In February 1831, JS dictated a revelation for church members regarding his authority: “This ye shall know asshuredly that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments & Revelations untill he be taken if he abide in me. but Verily Verily I say unto you that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.”a JS ordainedWhitmer the president of the church in Zion in 1834. Whitmer and others later recounted that JS had also ordained Whitmer as JS’s successor,b and some of the dissidents in Kirtland sought to replace JS with Whitmer as church president. The minutes of the 10 March 1838 high council meeting, which JS was probably reviewing in this 15 March meeting, included a letter from Whitmer and his former counselors, which they signed as the Zion presidency, thus rejecting the decision of the 5–9 February general assembly that removed them from office. Furthermore, the letter rejected as illegal the actions planned for the 10 March high council meeting, including the excommunication of Phelps and John Whitmer.c