Minutes, , MO, 4 Aug. 1831. Featured version copied [between ca. 6 Apr. and 19 June 1838] in Minute Book 2, pp. 4–5; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 2.
A revelation dated 1 August 1831 directed that “a meeting be called,” in accordance with a June 1831 revelation stating that the next conference of would convene in . On 4 August 1831, a group of elders convened that conference at the home of and Margaret Kelsey Lewis in , about eight miles west of . The Lewises had been converted the previous winter by the missionaries sent to preach to the American Indians. Having just reached Kaw Township, members of a congregation, who had migrated from , New York, to before moving on to Missouri, also joined the conference. The 1 August revelation identified at least one item of business for the conference: taking away “that which has been bestowed upon ,” likely the office of elder, so that he would only “stand as a member in the Church,” and no longer as an elder. Neither the revelation nor the minutes specify why action had to be taken against Peterson but, according to other sources, the offense may have been related to Peterson’s breaking an engagement to marry. In addition to hearing Peterson’s confession of his “transgressions,” this “first conference in the land of ” provided opportunities for worship and exhortation.
, clerk of the conference, kept the minutes, which copied into Minute Book 2 in 1838.
Whitmer, History, 31–32; Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 28–31; JS History, vol. A-1, 139. Soon after the conclusion of this conference, the Colesville Saints moved to Brush Creek, two miles south of the Lewis home. (Berrett, Sacred Places, 4:109, 117–118.)
Knight, Newel. Autobiography and Journal, ca. 1846. CHL. MS 767.
Berrett, LaMar C., ed. Sacred Places: A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites. 6 vols. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999–2007.
The opened by singing “Glorious things &c.[”] Prayer by br. , Exhortation to obedience to the requisition of Heaven by delivering a charge in the name of theLord Christ to the , Rulers & members of the planted in their in the land of , by br. .
Confession of br. of his transgressions which were satisfactory to the Church as appeared by unanimous vote.
E[x]hortation by br. Joseph Smith jr. to acts of righteousness and keeping the of the Lord with promise of blessing<s>.
Thirty-one members present, who, with the Elders partook of the
Booth indicated in a November 1831 letter that he never attended a conference in Missouri: “We expected to assemble together in conference according to commandment, and the Lord would signally display his power, for the confirmation of our faith; but we commenced our journey home, before most of the Elders arrived. It is true, a conference was held, but it was considered so unimportant, that myself and another man were permitted to be absent, for the purpose of procuring the means of conveyance down the river.” (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. V,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 10 Nov. 1831, .)
Probably the traditional hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” written by John Newton, an English evangelical. The hymn discusses the biblical Zion, building on Psalm 87:2–3: “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” Psalm 87 may have had particular significance to the conference because it was read aloud at the dedication of the temple site the day before. (Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 11; Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, 75–76; JS History, vol. A-1, 139.)
Hicks, Michael. Mormonism and Music: A History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.
Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL. MS 5873.
Three days before this conference, a revelation expressed this same theme of blessings granted in return for obedience to commandments and insisted that God’s laws “shall be kept on this land.” John Whitmer wrote that on 2 August 1831, Rigdon asked the Saints, “Do you pledge yourselves to keep the laws of God on this land, which you have never have kept in your own land?” When the Saints voiced their assent, Rigdon pronounced the land “consecrated and dedicated to the Lord for a possession and inheritance for the Saints.” (Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:2, 19]; Whitmer, History, 31–32.)
These “members” are probably in addition to the fourteen elders listed as attending. Peter Whitmer Jr. indicated that he, Cowdery, Peterson, and Williams had baptized seven individuals in the vicinity of Independence. The group of Saints from Colesville, New York, which consisted of about twenty families, numbered roughly sixty people, more than half of whom were probably children. (Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, ; see Ira Jones Willes, “The Names of the Colesville Church,” Willes Family Papers, CHL; and News Item, Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 28 June 1831, .)
Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL. MS 5873.
The “Articles and Covenants” instructed members to “meet together oft to partake bread & wine in Rememberance of the Lord Jesus.” Although the offering of the Lord’s Supper is not recorded in the minutes of earlier conferences, it probably occurred. For example, a later JS history recounts that the sacrament was administered at the first conference, held in June 1830. Three days after this 4 August 1831 conference, JS dictated a revelation stating that those “whose feet stand upon the land of Zion” should “go to the house of prayer & offer up . . . sacraments upon my holy day,” apparently prescribing the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelation Book 1, p. 57 [D&C 20:75]; see also JS History, vol. A-1, 41; Minutes, 9 June 1830; and Revelation, 7 Aug. 1831 [D&C 59:3, 9].)