This week in Church history

175 years ago

The first high council of the Church was organized at the home of Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, on Feb. 17, 1834, as recorded in Section 102 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The section contains the minutes of the meeting in which the organization occurred.

Verse 2 states: “The high council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of setting important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church or the bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties.”

Verse 3 continues: “Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were acknowledged presidents by the voice of the council; and Joseph Smith, Sen., John Smith, Joseph Coe, John Johnson, Martin Harris, John S. Carter, Jared Carter, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Hyde, Sylvester Smith, and Luke Johnson, high priests, were chosen to be a standing council for the church, by the unanimous voice of the council.”

“Essentials in Church History” by Joseph Fielding Smith quoted Joseph Smith saying: “No man is capable of judging a matter in council unless his own heart is pure.” The book then adds: “Ancient councils were conducted with strict propriety; no one was permitted to whisper, leave the room, or think of anything but the matter before them for consideration. If the presiding officer could stay, others were expected to do the same, until the Spirit was obtained and a righteous decision was reached.

“There were a number of cases awaiting the action of the high council as soon as it was organized, and within a day or two several trials were held and matters of discipline passed upon.”