The winter of 1835–1836 was a time of meetings and instruction in , Ohio, as the prepared for the forthcoming in the and for the divine of power long promised to be received there. On the afternoon of 21 January 1836, JS and the church met in the council room above the to take another step in preparation for the endowment. Following biblical precedent, these church leaders their bodies with water and perfumed themselves with a sweet-smelling wash “preparatory to the with the holy oil.” At sunset the church presidency and several others, including JS’s scribe and the of and Kirtland, met on the third floor of the Kirtland House of the Lord in the “president’s room,” also called the “west school room,” to administer the anointing . The Kirtland and Missouri also came to the House of the Lord, but they “waited in prayer” separately until after the first anointings. According to , the members of the church presidency were “annointed with the same kind of oil and in the man[ner] that were Moses and Aaron, and those who stood before the Lord in ancient days.” The presidency first anointed church ’s head with consecrated oil and gave him a blessing. The patriarch then anointed the church’s presidents in the order of their ages. When Joseph Smith Sr. anointed the head of JS, he “sealed upon [him], the blessings, of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days.”
After the blessed his son, JS received blessings and prophecies under the hands of “all of the presidency,” after which the “heavens were opened” and JS and others beheld “visions and revelations.” recorded JS’s narrative of those heavenly manifestations, including a description of the and the individuals who would dwell therein, in JS’s journal; that text is featured here. This vision of the celestial kingdom added details to JS’s 1832 vision that depicted the separation of the afterlife into three kingdoms of heavenly glory: celestial, , and .
recorded that a number of others present at the evening meeting also saw visions. JS’s journal notes that “some of them saw the face of the Saviour, and others were ministered unto by holy angels,” and also that “the power of the highest rested upon, us the house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanah to God and the Lamb.” The next morning, instead of studying as usual, JS and others “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired” the evening before.
demurred to record the details of the evening’s events in his journal. “The glorious scene is too great to be described in this book,” he wrote, “therefore, I only say, that the heavens were opened to many, and great and marvelous things were shown.” JS’s journal reports additional visionary experiences that were had during the week following 21 January 1836. Between 21 January and 6 February, JS and other senior church leaders gave instruction and performed washings, anointings, and other blessings as the solemn assembly neared.
died with[out] a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it, if they had been permited to tarry, shall be heirs of the of God— also all that shall die henseforth, with<out> a knowledge of it, who would have received it, with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I the Lord <will> judge all men according to their works according to the desires of their hearts— and againIalsobeheldtheTerrestialkingdom I also beheld that all children who die before they arive to the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven— I saw the of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth who hold the of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle much fatiegued, with their clothes tattered and feet swolen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus <standing> in their midst, and they did not behold him, he the Saviour looked upon them and wept— I also beheld in the south, standing upon a hill surrounded with a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him, supported by his crutches, he threw them down at his word, and leaped as an heart [hart] by the mighty power of God
Also standing in a strange land, in the far southwest, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of colour, who, appeared hostile [p. 137]
Following biblical precedent, JS designated the Twelve as a “traveling high council,” responsible for “presid[ing] over all the churches of the Saints among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established.” The Twelve were also to hold “the keys of this ministry—to unlock the door of the kingdom of heaven unto all nations and preach the Gospel unto every creation.” (Minutes and Discourses, 27 Feb. 1835; see also Mark 16:15; and Luke 9:1–2, 6.)
In April 1836 McLellin journeyed south and eventually reached Kentucky on a proselytizing mission. (McLellin, Journal, 9 Apr. 1836–7 June 1836; Shipps and Welch, Journals of William E. McLellin, 320–321.)
McLellin, William E. Journal, Apr.–June 1836. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 6. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
Shipps, Jan, and John W. Welch, eds. The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836. Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.