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Mormon History, Kirtland

Kirtland Ohio: 1831-1838

After the organization of the Mormon Church many Saints sacrificed and left their homes in New York to join the Saints in Kirtland, confident that they were following the will of the Lord. But Mormon history will show that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were just beginning their migration west.

The prophet Joseph Smith received many revelations while the Saints lived in Kirtland. These revelations included the Word of Wisdom, instructions about Mormon missionary work, moral conduct, tithing, the three degrees of glory, the Second Coming of Christ, the law of consecration, and other topics.

During the Kirtland period a group of Saints also lived in Missouri. In 1834, the Saints in Missouri were facing extreme persecution and Joseph Smith organized a group of men, called Zion's Camp, to go and help the Missouri Saints. The group of 207 men marched over 1,000 miles under extreme conditions. Food was scarce and they suffered hunger and fatigue.

When Zion's Camp reached Missouri they were informed that their trek was in vain the governor would not restore the Mormons property. This was the final test and many members of the camp openly rebelled. Although the Saints' property was not restored the purpose of the march had been achieved. Joseph Smith explained, "God did not want you to fight. He could not organize his kingdom with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham." 2 The leaders of the Mormon Church were called from those who were faithful on the march.

It was in 1833 that the Saints began construction of the first Mormon temple. The Saints were few in number and had little in monetary value. But the Lord provided the necessary means and the Kirtland temple was completed and dedicated three years later. During the dedicatory session the Lord poured out blessings upon the Saints, many saw visions and were ministered to by angels.

Within the Kirtland temple the Savior Himself appeared and told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery "I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here."3 Other heavenly messengers visited and additional priesthood keys were restored. "Moses bestowed the keys of the gathering of Israel, Elias committed to Joseph and Oliver the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, and Elijah restored the keys of sealing." 5

In 1837 a crisis arose with the Church. Some members, even leaders, left the Church because of trials and persecutions. The prophet Joseph Smith was severely criticized. To solve the problem the Lord commanded Mormon missionaries to go to England. During the next few years the apostles helped a thousand members come to America, which buoyed up the Church. 

Bitter ex-members of the Church engaged in organized persecution and combined with violent mob action of the local community Joseph Smith was forced to flee Kirtland. During 1838 most of the faithful Saints were forced to leave as well. But "they left behind a monument of faith, consecration, and sacrifice in the Mormon temple built to God." 5

(1) Our Heritage, 3: Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio, Strengthening of the Priesthood.

(2) Joseph Young Sr., History of the Organization of the Seventies (1878), 14.

(3) Doctrine and Covenants 110:7

(4) Our Heritage, 3: Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio, The Kirtland Temple.

(5) Our Heritage, 3: Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio, Exodus from Kirtland.

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