Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 3 Sept. 1837. Featured version copied [ca. mid-Sept. 1837] in Minute Book 1, pp. 234–238; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
JS presided over a conference on 3 September 1837, later referred to as a “re-organization of the ” in , Ohio, at which several men were removed and replaced as church leaders, including eight members of the and one of the presidents of the of the . In addition, the conference objected to and disfellowshipped three members of the and added as an assistant counselor in the church . This reorganization was undertaken to address the continuing opposition by some church leaders, including the three disfellowshipped members of the Twelve, and to reassert JS’s authority as president of the church.
Dissent among church members that had intensified in May seemed to be diminishing by July. , leader of the Twelve Apostles, had helped reconcile most of the Twelve who had become disaffected. JS, , Marsh, and others had left in late July to meet with the Saints in , and they returned in late August. , writing in late August or early September, told her sister that the Saints in “have had a terrible stir with ” and that they were “not yet able to tell where it will end.” Yet even the rebellious Parrish had reconciled with JS. noted that Parrish was restored to fellowship before the 3 September meeting, and she remarked, “I never saw him so humble as he is now.” Kimball wrote further that the general climate of dissension was improving: “There has ben serious difficulties in the church here of late, Satan has led many of our brethren captive at his will. but thanks be to God the most of them are now striveing to humble them selves.” Despite the reconciliations that had occurred, though, a few prominent church members had still not resolved their differences with JS.
The 3 September 1837 was held in the . It lasted most of the day, beginning at nine o’clock in the morning, adjourning for an hour at one in the afternoon, and then reconvening at two o’clock. JS and presented the various church leaders, including themselves, for a vote and requested that the assembled church members decide whether each individual should retain his position in the church. JS was the first to be presented to the congregation and he was unanimously accepted, thereby reaffirming his authority and leadership as church president. Of the men removed from their positions in the several quorums, some had moved away and one, , had been excommunicated. The three men removed from the Kirtland high council—, , and —appear to have lost their positions because they were involved with dissenters.
The congregation, including other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, objected to apostles , , and remaining in the quorum; however, the men were not officially removed from their positions or replaced at this meeting. According to , who was present, the “case was then poot over until another time.” A few days later, visited Kimball—whose husband, apostle , was proselytizing in —and told her about a private meeting at which he and JS met with Lyman Johnson, John F. Boynton, and possibly other dissenters. Marsh informed Vilate Kimball that “they had all become reconciled to each other” and that Lyman Johnson and Boynton “would come forward next Sunday and make their confession to the church.” Luke Johnson had not yet returned to from , but Marsh said “he thought there would be no difficulty with him when he come to find the rest all united.” Kimball added, “I feel to rejoice this day for the prospect before us. I came from meeting last Sabbath with a heavy heart; I cannot bare a thought that one of the twelve should lose their standing. many thought they would. but thanks be to God I know he will hear and answer prayer.” Luke Johnson returned during the week, and the following Sunday, 10 September, all three men publicly offered “confession to the Church” and were accepted back into full fellowship. The congregation then unanimously voted in favor of their retaining their positions in the Quorum of the Twelve.
took the minutes for the conference and recorded them into Minute Book 1, the text featured here. He also copied them into a 4 September letter addressed to and other church leaders in . Significant differences between the two sets of minutes are noted below.
In a reminiscent account of the conferenceBrigham Young described his efforts to encourage faithful church members to come early and fill the House of the Lord before the meeting. (Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 15.)
& for assistant councillors & carried by a unanimous voice of the church these last four are allso, together with the first three to be concidered the heads of the Church Voted that continue to act as of this church in Voted that & be , The question was then asked the church if the should hold their office of They were named by the President individually Voted that should retain their office of apostleship; , , were rejected from serving in that office Privilege was given to those that were rejected of making their confession if they had any to make. which was the onley one present at the time arose and parsailly [partially] confessed his sins and partly justifying his conduct by reason of the failure of the , his acknowledgments appeared not to be satisfactory, his conduct was strongly protested against, by in a plain and energetick manner stating various reasons why he could not receive him into fellowship untill a hearty repentance was manifested, the was followed by who acquiesed in testimony, and allso disfellowshiped the conduct of [p. 235]
Despite their earlier discontent, both Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt had reconciled their differences with JS by this time and were in full fellowship and proselytizing in New York. Orson Hyde, who may have had some involvement with dissenters, had repented before leaving to preach in England with Heber C. Kimball. Although William E. McLellin was elected here, he was absent from Kirtland and would later claim that he was disaffected from the church at this time. (Julia Smith and Mary Jane Smith, Kirtland, OH, to Elias Smith, Shinnston, VA, Aug. 1837, Elias Smith Correspondence, CHL; V. Kimball to H. Kimball, ca. 10 Sept. 1837; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, 23 July 1837 [D&C 112].)
Smith, Elias. Correspondence, 1834–1839. In Elias Smith, Papers, 1834–1846. CHL.
Kimball, Heber C. Collection, 1837–1898. CHL. MS 12476.