Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 24 Sept. 1834. Featured version copied [not before 25 Feb. 1836] in Minute Book 1, pp. 74–76; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
The , Ohio, met on 24 September 1834 for two major purposes: to consider ’s position on the high council and to commission the compilation of a new church publication. Smith’s charges against JS for engaging in “criminal conduct” during the expedition had resulted in lengthy ecclesiastical hearings the previous month. At three councils—on 11, 23, and 29 August—Sylvester Smith was found “guilty of a misdemeanor unbecoming a man in his high station” and was required to make a “humble confession,” both to the high council and in print, in order to remain “a member of this church, otherwise he is expelled from the same.” In late August, Sylvester Smith acknowledged to JS and other church leaders the falsity of the complaints he had made, a confession that was deemed sufficient for him to retain his church membership. At this 24 September meeting, the high council decided Sylvester Smith would retain his office of high priest but be removed from the high council. was nominated, approved, blessed, and confirmed as his replacement. Sylvester Smith later made a public confession in a letter published in the October issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate.
The second major focus of this 24 September 1834 meeting was the publication of a new volume of authoritative texts for church governance, taken from JS’s revelations, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. Since 1831, JS had planned for the publication of a compilation of his revelations, called a “Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ.” The publication of that volume was nearly complete when violence broke out against church members in , Missouri, in July 1833; the destruction of the church’s in cut short the printing of the last portion of that volume, as well as the church's newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star. In fall 1833, , , and helped establish a new press in . Cowdery obtained new printing equipment and served as a , with Williams, over the . The press resumed printing of the Star in December 1833, with Cowdery serving as its editor.
At this 24 September meeting, the high council commissioned the publication of a new compilation for the “government of the church of Latter-Day Saints,” to be printed at the new facility in . The high council appointed JS, his two counselors in the church presidency— and —and to form a committee to select and arrange doctrinal material from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and JS’s revelations for publication in the new volume. All those in attendance at the meeting—which a later source characterized as “the whole body of the church then assembled”—ratified the committee’s appointment. The high council was likely responding to an April 1834 commandment to “print my [God’s] word, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you.” When the volume was published in 1835 as the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, its preface, written by the committee, gave several reasons why church leaders wanted to disseminate JS’s revelations and the doctrines of the church. The committee recognized that the beliefs of the church were being misrepresented by outsiders who were subverting the “way of truth.” According to the preface, the publication of the church’s “faith and principles” would combat the misrepresentations of those who considered the church “an enemy to all good order and uprightness and of those who saw the church as injurious to the peace of all governments civil and political.”
The minutes featured here also briefly note the financial troubles of and assert the high council’s exclusive jurisdiction over the ordinations of individuals to the office of . Previously, a high priest could lay his hands on another priesthood holder and confer upon him the office of high priest at a local or regional conference. However, from this time, priesthood holders being ordained to the office of high priest had to receive that from the high council in Kirtland.
The original minutes of the meeting, kept by either or , are not extant. At some point copied the minutes into Minute Book 1. Portions of these minutes were published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants; in the volume, those modified excerpts were combined with the minutes of the 17 August 1835 “General Assembly” in Kirtland that approved the compilation. Together, they focused on the history of the Doctrine and Covenants and its acceptance in the church. Significant differences between the excerpts published in that volume and the minutes featured here are noted in the annotation.
The came to order and the counsellors were called, when it was found that & were absent. After prayer the president made some appropriate remarks, when the counsellors four of their number to Speak. The case of brother was called up to inquire whether under existing circumstances he can fill the office of high counsellor. It was decided that four counsellors speak on the case.
The counsellors severally spoke in their courses, followed by , after which the assisting presidents spake, when brother Joseph proceeded to give a decision.— That stand no longer a high counsellor but that he retain the office of and cont[i]nue to lift up his voice in the name of Jesus, in preaching the Gospel. The names of the counsellors were then called and severally gave their assent to the decision when gave his own assent with thankfulness.
The council then proceeded to fill the vacancy occasioned by the removal of brother from the office of high counsellor. Brother Joseph nominated brother , to fill the vacant office, which was seconded by the clerk. The counsellors then voted for the nomination, as also the conference present. Brother Joseph then took the lead in prayer, after which he to the office of high counsellor, pronouncing the blessing of the Lord upon him in his name. After which brother proceeded to bless him also in the name of the Lord, confirming the same blessing The counsellors then appointed to fill the vacancies occasioned by the absence of brethren & . Brethren and , in this [p. 75]
In the letter he was required to publish, Sylvester Smith acknowledged, as a contrite “lover of righteousness and truth,” the conflicts he had experienced with JS and expressed his faults in accusing JS, who, Smith stated, “had conducted worthily, and adorned his profession as a man of God, while journeying to and from Missouri.” Smith closed his letter, stating, “I have received testimony from the heavens, that the work of the Lord, brought forth by means of the book of Mormon, in our day, through the instrumentality of bro. Joseph Smith jr. is eternal truth, and must stand, though the heavens and the earth pass away.” (Sylvester Smith to Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, 28 Oct. 1834, in LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:10–11.)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
The rules governing the high council state that “whenever any vacancy shall occur by death, removeal from office, for transgression, or removal from the bounds of this church government of any one of the above named counsellors, it shall be filled by the nomination of the president, or presidents and sanctioned by the voice of a general Council of high priests convened for that purpose to act in the name of the Church.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:8].)
Greene and Young served in this capacity only for this meeting. According to the minutes at the creation of the high council, at least seven standing members of the council were required to be present in order to conduct business. Seven or more members had the “power to appoint other high priests whom they may consider worthy and capable to act in the place of absent counsellors.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:7].)