Minutes, 16 June 1836
- Source Note
On 16 June 1836, JS met with members of the of , Ohio, to consider accusations he had made against two members, and , for “a want of benevolence to the poor and charity to the church.” Since he himself had brought the charges, JS may have recused himself from presiding at this meeting, though he actively participated. The council first considered Harris’s case and then, after adjourning for an hour, returned and considered McWithy’s case.The cases heard on 16 June highlight two concerns church leaders had at the time: providing for the destitute Saints in and supporting the church in —that is, . testified in both cases that the men had contributed very little to the poor, and he concluded that neither had borne an appropriate portion of the financial burden of caring for impoverished Kirtland church members. and were also tried for their reluctance to financially support church endeavors, including construction of the in Kirtland and purchasing land in Zion. In the trials, JS specifically mentioned Harris’s and McWithy’s refusals to send money or move to Zion; stated that such unwillingness had forced church leaders into debt. reminded those present of the need to consecrate all they had to building Zion, adding that if they refused, they were “unworthy of the fellowship of the Saints.”During the meeting, the charges against were deemed fully sustained and he was disfellowshipped. defended himself against the accusations, claiming he had acted charitably, and asked the council for forgiveness. No verdict was recorded in the minutes for McWithy’s case. Harris appears to have been unwilling to change his conduct; he accepted the council’s decision and left the church. Although the extant minutes do not officially disfellowship McWithy, he also seems to have distanced himself from the church after this trial.Throughout summer and fall 1836, JS and his fellow church leaders grappled with the competing priorities of providing for the poor Saints in while raising money and support for . Both concerns would again be addressed in December 1836, when a conference was held for the church leadership in Kirtland to consider the difficulties of additional impoverished church members moving there.