On Tuesday, April 6th, 1830, in a small log cabin belonging to Peter Whitmer Sr, Joseph Smith Jr and five other men* organized the Church—a little more than 50 men and women, total, were in attendance.
Joseph later recorded:
“Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote.”
History of the Church 1:78
It was a momentous occasion. Not only for the Kingdom of God on Earth… but for 24 year old Joseph Smith. It was both the culmination of the work of his life to-date and the start of a work that would only end in his death, a mere 14 years later. That same day, Joseph would look on as his father—a stubbornly areligious man—was baptized nearby.
During the meeting, Joseph received a revelation that would become D&C Section 21, where the Lord calls Joseph a prophet, seer, translator, apostle of Jesus Christ, and an Elder of the Church.
Sidney Rigdon remembered the events of that day, saying:
“I met the whole church of Christ in a little old log house about 20 feet square, near Waterloo, N.Y. and we began to talk about the kingdom of God as if we had the world at our command; we talked with great confidence, … although we were not many people; … we saw by vision, the church of God, a thousand times larger; … the world being entirely ignorant of the testimony of the prophets and without knowledge of what God was about to do.”
Times & Seasons,1 May 1844, 522–23
Today, 187 years—and literally millions of baptisms later—that little Church continues… Sometimes thriving, sometimes struggling, sometimes faced with utter destruction.
In the study guide for Lesson 9, students are asked:
How might your life be different if the Church had not been restored or if you were not a member of the Church?
As I think over my life and think of those who influenced me—my mom, a lapsed conservative Lutheran; my classmates, many of whom were deeply religious—I can’t help but think that I would have most likely joined the Catholic church, by way of dalliances with various evangelical movements.
As I came to understand my orientation, but without the spiritual courage afforded me by my Mormon faith, I would have likely drifted from the faith or taken my own life, convinced of my worthlessness in the eyes of God.
It’s a sobering thought.