The Birth, Progress and Destiny of the
Reorganized Church

Patrick S. McKay Sr.

    Following the death of Joseph the seer, the Saints of latter-day Israel were scattered and fragmented. Brigham Young and the Twelve were both able and disposed to exploit the Council of Fifty to lead a large contingent of Saints to the Great Salt Lake Basin and build an empire in the land of Deseret.

   On 10 January, 1848, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a special conference was held by those who had been members of the church during the lifetime of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at the home of an Elder by the name of Thomas Tourtillott. Elder Tourtillott presided over this conference. One action of this conference is discovered in the following:

   "Resolved, that whereas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has suffered much from the imposition of men professing to be prophets and leaders of the church, and have led their followers into sin and iniquities of the grossest kind, and have thereby brought the principles of our holy religion into disrepute before the world.  Therefore,

   Resolved, That we deem it expedient that some measures be adopted for the speedy relief and redemption of the Saints, and that a statement be made of the principle causes that have led to this evil in the church, and brought so much suffering upon the innocent, whereby many are now scattered to and fro in the earth, like sheep having no shepherd.  And whereas, we believe that the Lord has not deprived this people of a prophet. Therefore,

   Resolved, That a committee of six men be appointed to write a proclamation to all the Saints, setting forth the true order of the church, according to the law of God.

   Whereupon, Thomas Tourtillott, Aaron Hook, Alva Smith, John Landers, William Smith, and Nathaniel Berry, were unanimously chosen said committee."[1]

   This committee, after due deliberation, published a communication entitled, To The Scattered Saints. Under this declaration, which was signed by the committee, an organization was effected, over which William Smith, Aaron Hook, and Alva Smith were chosen to preside, and a pamphlet was published sometime in November of 1848.  Included in the pamphlet were the minutes of the conference, an appeal To The scattered Saints, and a revelation given to William Smith in 1847.  From the revelation we quote as follows: "Therefore, my servant William, gird up thy loins and put on the whole armor for the work whereunto I have appointed thee, for though thy spirit has not been altogether pure, yet because thou hast humbled thyself before me, and because of the integrity of thy heart in the  proclamation of the  truth, and because thou hast nobly and manfully defended the cause of thy father's house, the cause of the innocent and my servant Joseph who was the Prophet and head of the church in these last days, a church of my own right hand's planting, not to be destroyed or thrown down; yea, because of these things I have forgiven thee, and accepted thy offering. I said unto my servant Joseph that his blessing should remain upon the head of his posterity, and be handed down through the lineage of his father's house according to the flesh; therefore the true church continueth with this priesthood--that same high priesthood with which thou art invested and to which thou hast been ordained by my servant Joseph, thy brother, and which  thou dost inherit by  lineage from thy father Joseph Smith, Sr., who was a descendant of Joseph the son of Jacob who was sold into Egypt; and no power on earth can deprive thee of thy authority and priesthood.  Moreover I have appointed thee, my servant William Smith, to take the place of my servant Hyrum Smith, thy brother, as Patriarch unto the whole church, and to preside over my people, saith the Lord your God, and no power shall remove thee there from; and thou shall be the prophet, seer, revelator, and translator unto my church during the minority of him whom I have appointed from the loins of Joseph thy brother; go on, therefore, and organize and set in order all the branches, for I have given thee full power and authority."[2]

   The pamphlet was circulated by the authority of William Smith and those with him, which authority the church bestowed upon him under the administration of Joseph Smith. The men composing this organization in 1848, made an effort to build up the church, preach the gospel, and re-gather the membership which had been scattered by the evil doctrines and practices which had been introduced into the church.

   It will be seen that while William Smith was chosen to act as president, such choice was made upon the fact that he had been ordained to succeed his brother Hyrum as Patriarch of the church, and also as having been ordained a prophet, seer, and revelator.  It will be seen further that this appointment to preside was understood by them to be in force only while the one who had been chosen of God to succeed in the Presidency should remain in his minority.

   "Meanwhile, in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, Canada and [the] Ohio, there were hundreds of faithful Saints in tiny, semi-isolated branches of the Church. These Saints were not economically able or ideologically inclined to migrate to the West, but earnestly sought continued outlet and expression for their faith.  Many of these people united with one factional leader, then another, and still another in the search for a viable representation of what they understood to be the gospel of Jesus Christ. They worked quietly on their farms and at their trades, remembering with nostalgia their part in ushering forth the Kingdom of God on earth. Many had lived in Nauvoo, others had lived in Kirtland or in Jackson County, Missouri."[3]

   The initial circumstances which led to the formation of the Reorganized Church took place in southern Wisconsin.  It was there in 1841 that Jason W. Briggs was converted to the gospel and united with the church.  He was responsible for organizing the Newark Branch at Beloit, Wisconsin.  Following the death of the Seer, Jason Briggs and his branch associated themselves with James Jesse Strang. Along with Jason Briggs and his branch, others of considerable note supported the claims of Strang, including Nauvoo Stake President William Marks, Bishop George Miller, Apostle John E. Page, Apostle and Presiding Patriarch William Smith, Seventy George Adams and Lucy Mack Smith, mother of Joseph and Hyrum. James Jesse Strang, although a recent convert prior to the death of Joseph the Seer, apparently realized that many of the 'faithful saints' knew of the promise to young Joseph to succeed his father in the Presidency of the church, and so taught this to assist himself in acquiring power. In 1849, for example, a conference of Strang's followers affirmed young Joseph's future prophetic calling: "On motion, unanimously, that we give our prayers daily for Joseph, the son of Joseph, that he be raised up for God to fill the station to which he has been called by prophecy."[4]       

   Jason Briggs testified in the Temple Lot suit years later that when he joined Strang's organization, he accepted him as the leader and head of the church.  He further testified that: "as soon as myself and others who had joined his organization found out that he had been teaching other things not authorized by the church we discarded him, yes sir, we did."[5]

   In the early part of 1850, Jason Briggs came in contact with William Smith's movement and determined to investigate its claims.  In the spring of 1850, he attended a conference held in Covington, Kentucky, and "became excited with the doctrine of lineal succession which William Smith emphasized".[6]  Briggs commented that this concept was "pretty clearly shown forth in the scriptures...but had been almost entirely overlooked or forgotten by the Saints. Confident of the correctness of the lineal succession doctrine, Briggs asked for admission into the movement, and Gurely soon followed. Briggs and Gurley were instrumental in bringing "many branches and nearly all of the Saints of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin into William Smith's fold."'[7]

   Approximately six months after this conference in Covington, Kentucky, William Smith and Joseph Wood came to Beloit to visit with Jason Briggs and others. At this time, Jason Briggs became aware of Smith's association with polygamy.  Jason wrote regarding this:  "In course of their visit it transpired, that they not only believed in the plurality of wives, but were really in the practice of it stealthily, and under the strongest vows of secrecy."[8]

   Jason Briggs, although greatly troubled by this discovery, still had great faith in the doctrine of lineal succession. Accordingly, he attended a conference of William Smith's organization in October of 1851, held at Palestine, Illinois.  He had hoped to correct some of the errors which he felt William Smith was advocating.  He discovered, however, that the leadership "threw off the mask, in what they called the priests lodge, and confessed to belief and practice of polygamy in the name of the Lord."[9]  Jason Briggs then bolted from the conference and abandoned any attempt to reconcile his differences with William Smith, and Briggs withdrew himself and his branch from the fellowship of Smith's group.

   There can be no question that William Smith and those early associated with him held legitimate authority; and had they been faithful to the charge entrusted to them, having the right of church expansion, they would have formed a strong defense against the encroaching evil which captured so many and would have been the organization to which the Saints would have gathered in anticipation of young Joseph's assent to the presidency of the high priesthood.

   After severing all ties with William Smith, Jason Briggs returned home. There he was anxious and thoughtful. "Believing as he did that the faith he had espoused was of God, and yet repeatedly disappointed in and betrayed by supposed leaders, what should he do but to cry unto God for more light?"[10] On 18 November, 1851 on the plains of Beloit, Wisconsin Jason Briggs knelt in prayer. There he testified he received a revelation from God, and "visions of truth opened to [his] mind." He said a heavenly messenger visited him and counseled: "And because you have asked me in faith concerning William Smith, this is the answer of the Lord thy God concerning him...William Smith [has] despised my law, and forfeited that which pertained to him as an Apostle and High Priest in my Church. And his spokesman, Joseph Wood, shall fall with him, for they are rejected of me..., for they have wholly forsaken my law, and given themselves to all manner of uncleanness, and prostituted my law and the keys of power entrusted to them, to the lusts of the flesh, and have run greedily in the way of adultery...And in mine own due time will I call the seed of Joseph Smith, and will bring one forth, and he shall be mighty and strong, and he shall preside over the high priesthood of my Church; and then shall the quorums assemble, and the pure in heart shall gather, and Zion shall be re-inhabited...And the Spirit said unto me, 'Write, write, write; write the revelation and send it unto the Saints at Palestine [Illinois], and at Voree, and at Waukesha, and to all places where this doctrine is taught as my law; and whomsoever will humble themselves before me, and ask of me, shall receive of my Spirit a testimony that these words are of me.  Even so, Amen.'"[11]

   Here is what may be called the first revelation of the Reorganization. The origin of its early means of identity is very clear. The revelation is both a rejection of leaders professing a belief in or endorsement of polygamy as well as a rejection of all leaders other than the seed of Joseph Smith Jr..

   By early 1852, Briggs' revelation had reached Zenos Gurley. Gurley had been a President of Seventy at Nauvoo, and, at that time, was serving as the President of the Yellow Stone Branch.  Zenos Gurley's branch was ripe for the communication received by Briggs. Gurley had received what he knew as unmistakable witnesses by the Holy Spirit that he and his followers should  break  ranks with Strang.  Describing a vision he received in the fall of 1851 Gurley testified: "At this time Strang's Beaver Island operation appeared before me. It looked mean and contemptible beyond description. A voice--the Spirit of God--The Holy Ghost, then said to me, 'Can this [alluding to Strang's work] ever affect this great work?'  I answered,  'No, Lord.' I felt ashamed to think that I had ever thought so. The voice then said, 'Rise up, cast off all that claim to be prophets, and go forth and preach the gospel, and say that God will raise up a prophet to complete his work.'"[12]

   As Zenos Gurley shared this vision with the members of his flock, they decided to disassociate themselves from all factional leaders. Prior to receiving the Briggs revelation the Yellow Stone Branch[13] published a statement in several newspapers in southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois: "To whom it may concern: This is to certify that we the undersigned who are members of the Yellow Stone branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, do hereby protest against the practice of polygamy and other abominations that are practiced by James J. Strang and his so-called pretenders to the successorship or  presidency of the    church; among whom are the said James J. Strang, Brigham Young, William Smith, Colin Brewster, Alpheus Cutler, Lyman Wight, and others; and hold ourselves aloof  from them, and do not wish to be held responsible for any of their evil teachings or practices."[14]

   "The writings of Gurley and a number of his followers abound with references to high spiritual ecstasy which accompanied their public meetings and confirmed their determination to wait for the Lord to designate a new prophetic leader, whom they believed would be a descendant of Joseph Smith Jr.  By February, 1852 the Briggs revelation had been read by the Saints of the Yellow Stone branch, as well as Waukesha, Palestine, Burlington and Voree branches where it was warmly acclaimed as authenticating their growing dissatisfaction with various factional leaders. Consequently, a conference of delegates representing the newly united branches was planned.  Such a conference was held on June 12-13, 1852 at [the] Newark branch, Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin, to lay the foundation for a return to the first principles of the Restoration."[15]

   These events are sufficient to verify that which Joseph the Seer predicted early in the Restoration, regarding the continuity of the work, as evidenced in the prophecy of one mighty and strong: "Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and oftentimes it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest, saying:  'And it shall come to pass that I the Lord God will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words, while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found and the names of their fathers and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God; while that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightening, and all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance, shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where is wailing and gnashing of teeth. These things I say not of myself, therefore as the Lord speaketh he will also fulfill.'"[16]

   This prophecy concerning the man who should be raised up to set in order the house of God after it is ruled out of order is both clear as well as cryptic in its meaning.  It is a fragment cut from the heart of a letter written by the Seer to WW Phelps and by examination it will be discovered that it deals with the Prophet and his successor. This is of vital importance, for the discovery of who is the "one mighty and strong" is the issue of the past as well as of the future.

   In his exhaustive work The Life of Joseph the Prophet, Edward Tullidge suggests that this is not really a revelation of Jesus Christ to his Church, but rather it is to Joseph himself, who, under the power of the Holy Ghost, writes "which maketh my bones to quake," he is writing of his successor.  This is in the name of the Lord, for thus speaks a prophet. "A prophet has the word of the God.  That divine word is his inward life.  In it he exercises himself, and out of it he speaks."[17] But the personality of Joseph is marked in the opening of the letter, and the chief subject is of his successor and his successor's work. Why is this important prophecy found in a letter to Brother Phelps and not the Church?  And why, would Joseph name his successor at the opening of the dispensation on 27 November, 1832, years before even the Apostles were chosen?  Simply, because the occasion had come which made it both timely and proper.  There really is no enigma.  It is a simple history. It is simply the birth of young Joseph, on 6 November, 1832 that gave to the Seer the burden of the Lord concerning the future.  The Prophet is writing a letter to WW Phelps and the spirit of the destiny of his son rests upon him.  For he who was born at this opportune moment is the one who shall be his successor.

   While Joseph was away on this mission, he wrote a letter to Emma which further supports the evidence which connects the famous prophecy with young Joseph's birth: "I returned to my room to meditate and calm my mind, and behold, the thoughts of home, of Emma and Julia, rush upon my mind like a flood; and I could wish for a moment to be with them. My breast is filled with all the feelings and tenderness of a parent and a husband, and could I be with you I would tell you many things."[18]

   Edward Tullidge, the early Mormon historian intimates that Joseph refers to himself as a parent not only because of Julia, his adopted little girl, but also for his son to be, Joseph III.  Notice also that the "parent" is named before the husband, simply because it signifies the burden of that which is to come.  "My breast is filled with all the feelings of a tender parent, and husband, and could I be with you I would tell you many things."

   The historical clue to the prophecy is found.  The Prophet hurries home from his eastern  mission, and why?  For he has seen the looming star of "one mighty and strong." He arrives home, as already observed, on the very day of young Joseph's birth.

   At the writing of the letter to Bro. Phelps, young Joseph is but 21 days old. "And in my mind's eye I can see Emma up with the sucking child in her arms, while Joseph is writing this letter in their presence, and the very sight of the 'child of promise' kindles Joseph's love and reinspires the prophecy."[19] In the Times and Seasons, we discover that young Joseph's birth record is not cut off from the prophecy of his mission by so much as a paragraph, or even that of a period, but simply by a colon.  It is the first touch of history after the return and birth, it being a summary sentence prefacing the letter. Here is the example: "I continued the translation, and ministering to the Church through the Fall excepting a rapid journey to Albany, New York, and Boston, in company with Bishop Whitney, and from which I returned on the 6th of November, immediately after the birth of my son, Joseph Smith 3rd.  In answer to letters from the brethren in Missouri, I wrote as follows: . .."[20]

   The prophecy itself was incidental in the letter; it was originally given to Joseph, rather than through Joseph to the Church.  The mission foreshadowed related to his son, Joseph III, who like his father, should be sent in the spirit of  'one mighty and strong' to 'restore the house of God' to 'order' it after it had been ruled out of order.  Moreover, it would appear that the prophecy of 'one mighty and strong' was not originally given on  27 November, 1832, but  prior to young Joseph's birth on 6 November, 1832.  Since before the time of his son's birth, the Spirit had pursued the Prophet with the burden of his son's mission.

   Joseph begins with this opening statement to brother Phelps: "I have many things which I wish to communicate."[21]  Essentially the same language is found in the letter written to Emma: "Could I be with you I would tell you many things."[22]

    In this prophecy, we have set before us the birth of the son, the death of the father, the mission of the Seer, and the future work of the successor. This is all brought together in a marvelous prophecy of the Lord to Joseph the Prophet:  "And it shall come to pass that I the Lord God will send one mighty and strong,...while that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death."[23]

   Was that not enough to "often times" make "my bones to quake, while it maketh manifest saying?" My destiny and the destiny of my son, my martyrdom and his triumph through the mighty God of Jacob. Joseph attempted to "steady the ark." William Marks testified that just three weeks prior to Joseph's murder, he discussed the polygamy issue in the church and said that if it was not dealt with; the church would be obliged to leave the United States. He told Marks what he believed about polygamy: "[It] was a cursed doctrine and that there must be every exertion made to put it down.  He said that he would go before the congregation and proclaim against it, and I must go into the High Council, and he would prefer charges against those in transgression, and I must sever them from the Church, unless they made ample satisfaction." [24]

   Brigham Young and the other western apostles may have been perceived to be "mighty and strong". Brigham ruled the people, the priesthood, and the Twelve by the might of his own will. But Brigham and his successors neither were nor could be endowed with the "scepter" of this dispensation.  It is the promise of the prophecy that excluded all others from the scepter so long Joseph III lived. With Joseph Smith Jr., being the founder of this last dispensation, and the inheritor of the Abrahamic covenant, the scepter was given to him and his seed as we shall clearly illustrate.

   If any are unsettled by this interpretation, just place the historical background as an introduction to the prophecy: A revelation written by Joseph the Seer, on 27 November 1832, immediately following the recording of the birth of his son, Joseph Smith III.

   If so written, is there a single person in the church that could misapply the revelation?  God, who from the beginning of this dispensation, foreknowing the partial fall of his latter-day Israel, purposed to send this man, Joseph III in the spirit of '"one mighty and strong" to set in order or  "reorganize'' the house of God.

   Young Joseph was sent to the remnant.  Among that remnant, the Spirit of the Lord had been lifting up a standard.  Men of God in whom was the spirit, of prophecy effected a preparatory organization in young Joseph's name, for they received for themselves well-pronounced promises of the Spirit that the Lord would in his own due time  ''send  him'' to take his father's place.

   From the 1851 revelation given to Elder Jason Briggs, we read: "Therefore, let the elders whom I have ordained by the hand of my servant Joseph, or by the hand of those ordained by him, resist not this authority, nor faint in the discharge of duty, which is to preach my gospel as revealed in the record of the Jews, and the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; and cry repentance and remission of sins through obedience to the gospel, and I will sustain them and give them my Spirit; and in mine own due time will I call upon the seed of Joseph Smith, and will bring one forth, and he shall be mighty and strong..."[25]

   While on a mission in the British Isles, Jason Briggs wrote a letter to a couple of leading Mormon Elders explaining the differences between the Reorganization and the Utah Church as well as the difference between Brigham Young's leadership, which produced a disorganization of the church and young Joseph's stating that: "In fulfillment of the promise, God has called forth 'one mighty and strong' to set in order, or reorganize, the house of God.  And that this one so raised up is the seed of him to whom the promise was made!"[26] 

   So it should be noted, that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was actually established upon the birth prophecy of young Joseph, to reorder the house of God as "one mighty and strong", 28 years after it utterance. It is the prophecy of the birth, progress and destiny of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in spite of it's obscurity, hidden in a letter and always interpreted outside of the historical setting which prompted its emergence.

   The Reorganized Church was and is the lawful inheritor of the birthright blessing, the blessing of primogenitor. She is the legitimate offspring of the Restoration. The courts of the land after hearing all the evidence in both the Kirtland Temple Suit and Temple Lot Suit acknowledged and so declared that Reorganization the was the True and Lawful continuation of and successor to the original Church organized in 1830. Judge Phillips in his 16 March, 1894 Temple Lot decision declared that the Doctrine and Covenants clearly teaches that the successor of Joseph Smith should descend lineally and go to the first-born. That Joseph Smith so taught, and, before his taking off [his death], publicly proclaimed his son Joseph, his successor and he was so anointed.[27] 

   On 16 October, 1863, Joseph Smith III dreamed a dream as follows: "I saw in my dream a woman, whom I was to receive into my charge, and under my watch, care, and counsel, and she was almost wild, having been held captive a long season by barbarians, who had degraded and dishonored her. She was nearly naked.  The clothes that were upon her were tattered and torn, and very filthy withal, and her whole appearance was that of extreme wretchedness. In her pitiable condition, she looked with distrust upon all around her, especially on me, apparently fearing lest I too, would abuse and disgrace her. My heart was deeply moved with her deplorable condition. I ordered that she be washed, her hair combed, and that suitable apparel be given her, including clean underclothes. My request having been complied with, I now saw her again. But how changed, how entirely different from [when] I saw her last.  Her garments now were of spotless purity, her eye beamed with joy and delight, her fears and misgivings were entirely banished, and she expressed her unbounded gratitude to me, as her friend and benefactor, while she clasped her arms around my neck, and imprinted upon my cheek, a multitude of kisses, with all the tender affection of a mother."[28]

   Brother WW Blair testified that when he heard the dream, he knew it was of the Lord and offered this immediate interpretation: "The woman represented the church, her captors a corrupt ministry, her wild, ragged, dirty condition, represented her sinful, demoralized state, her distrust represents what is being said by many of the Saints in Europe and America, that is, that by and by Joseph III will lead into the same corrupt doctrines and practices as Brigham Young, Strang, and others. The clothing and clean apparel represents the redeeming of the Saints by righteousness; the balance is easily understood. How plain this points out Joseph's mission, and what will be done!"[29]

   Again in 1863, years after Strang's death and Joseph's ascendancy to his rightful place as the head of the church, a conference of Strangites met and agreed that all the various factions of Mormonism needed to merge together and to that end voted to "sustain young Joseph in the office whereunto God hath called him by our prayers and faith,"[30] thus opening the way for the virtual assimilation of Strang's followers into the Reorganized Church.

   The Reorganization and the life's work of Joseph III validates the divine calling of Joseph the Seer. A prophecy found in The Memoirs of President W.W. Blair gives a most definite assurance that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shall continue to be God's only true church and that through it "the word of the Lord" shall "triumph until its final completion."

   After the formation of the Reorganization 1852, and prior to young Joseph's ordination, Edmund Briggs and Samuel Gurley went to the home of W.W. Blair to invite him to unite with the new organization. Brother Blair testified that as Apostle Briggs began speaking: "The Holy Spirit, such as had borne witness to me of the doctrine of Christ at the beginning, seemed to fill the room and also the persons of all present with its enlightening, convincing, and heavenly power. Brother Briggs raised his right hand and broke forth with a prophecy directed to me, declaring what had been my desires and intentions, declaring also that I would soon be released from my temporal affairs, would be called to the ministry, would be made 'an apostle of the Lamb of God,' be called to preach the gospel and 'thresh the Gentiles by the power of God's Spirit,' said that the Lord would soon call Joseph, the son of Joseph the Seer, to be president of the church, and that the standard then erected would never fall, also that the work of the Lord would go forth in power and triumph until its final completion.[31] 

   Further validation that the church would be preserved is found in the testimony of Brother Elbert A. Smith in his book, On Memory's Beam.  Brother Elbert recorded that Brother T.T. Hendricks had a spiritual experience in which he saw himself on the platform of the Maple Grove Church preparing to open a meeting. The door opened and Joseph Smith III came in with an unknown man who introduced himself by saying, "My name is Wonderful." The Prophet and he who was with him, walked down the aisle. When they got to the front of the church, He who called himself Wonderful raised his right hand and laid it on Joseph's shoulder.  Then he turned to Bro. Hendricks and said, "This is the true Prophet of God."  He then pointed to a rock, and in the center of the rock, was a piece of pure white marble.  He said, "That piece of white marble resting in that head of rock is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It shall never be moved."[32]

   Additionally, we have the testimony of Bro. John Landers, who was a most devoted minister and eloquent missionary preacher of the gospel. After uniting with the Church, he was ordained a High Priest in 1837.  Following the death of the Martyr, he refused to follow Brigham Young and was chosen to the committee of six which was involved in the initial stages of William Smith's organization. He continued to preach the gospel and was among the first to unite with the Reorganization. Bro. Landers testified: "The scattered saints continued to meet in conference on the sixth day of April in each year, until the year 1860. That year we met at Amboy; on my way to conference, when about twenty miles distant from the place, the Lord said to me: 'When you get to Amboy you will see Joseph there, and he will take the lead of the Church; and all honest souls out of all the factions of the several parties will merge into this Church, and there will never more be an entire rejection of the Church.'  When I got to Amboy I found Joseph there, and all things transpired as had been told me."[33]  Joseph, the son of Joseph, was a true prophet,  was sent as one mighty and strong, to reorder the Church after it had been ruled out of order, and that the Church he was sent to reorder will never be moved out of it's place!

   The two most important pillars that the early Reorganized Church rested upon (outside of it's declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ) was its opposition to polygamy and its belief in lineal succession in the presidency, as limited to direct descendants of Joseph the Seer.  On 6 April, 1946, when Israel A. Smith was ordained as President of the High Priesthood, a gift of tongues was given through Patriarch R.V. Hopkins that once again affirmed the principle of lineal succession in the presidency of the church as well as the promise of its continuity: "I said unto my servant presiding, who was the founder of this restoration which is of my right-hand planting, that in him and in his seed should all nations of the earth be blessed and as I made the promise to my servant Abraham, so made I that promise unto him, and under the protection of that promise my church shall rest...Turn not away from the line and lineage of prophetic ministry."[34]

   The 1972 World Conference endorsed President W Wallace Smith's document asking the church to except polygamy,[35] while the conference of 1996 voted to sustain Grant McMurray as president of the High Priesthood disregarding the law and line of lineage.[36]  The distinctives of the church are fastly eroding. Historian Roger D. Launius has written: "It has become something of a truism to suggest that during the period since the 1950s, but especially since the 1960s and with rising thrust thereafter, Reorganization liberals relentlessly demythologized church history, theology, and assorted traditions and in the process overturned the church's traditional ideological consensus. Using a variety of tactics, RLDS liberals fought a series of internecine battles with the forces of tradition and in virtually every instance succeeded in coercing of the leadership of the church, who allowed it to take place. In the end this broad-based reformation struck at the core of the Reorganized Church's origins and reasons for existence since the 1850s."[37] 

   Our day parallels that of the early Reorganization in some very critical ways; however, if the testimony of the early men and women of the divinity of the Reorganized Church is true, then its continuity is assured through the same process which brought it into existence to begin with. There will be no need to organize the ''faithful remnant'' into a new organization as was the case in 1852. According to the testimony given, the Church has been assured that the standard will never fall, or never be entirely rejected again as was the case after the death of the Seer. Our history is so very important and the testimony it offers to us gives us guidance, poise and security in these uncertain times.

   I previously stated that the prophecy of "one mighty and strong," as given by Joseph the Seer, was both clear as well as cryptic in its meaning. A careful re-reading of the prophecy that Jason Briggs received on the plains of Beloit, Wisconsin, on 18 November, 1851 foretelling Joseph III's coming reveals yet another who also should come in the spirit of "one mighty and strong," to complete the work first begun: "And in mine own due time will I call upon the seed of Joseph Smith, and will bring one forth, and he shall be mighty and strong, and he shall preside over the high priesthood of my church; and then shall the quorums assemble, and the pure in heart shall gather, and Zion shall be re-inhabited, as I said unto my servant Joseph Smith; after many days shall all these things be accomplished, saith the Spirit."[38]

   The statement that "after many days shall all these things be accomplished" was first spoken to Joseph Smith, Jr., in the parable of the redemption of Zion and is vouchsafed in the promise of the completion of his act, his strange act, and the performance of his work, his strange work.  According to the parable, this "servant'' is he who will gather the residue, those who have remained faithful, who have given their portion of meat in due season and they will assist in the redemption of Zion.[39]

   This shadow and type is clearly revealed to us in the life's work of Joseph Smith III.  Under his presidency every element of the prophecy was fulfilled, including Zion's redemption, geographically. The Moses Man spoken of Section 100:3 was foreshadowed in Joseph Smith III also. The Saints were driven from Jackson County in 1833 and did not return until 1873, forty years after their exile under the leadership of Joseph III. 

   The Lord will again send "one mighty and strong" even "a man like Moses"[40] to bring to pass the culmination of this latter-day glory. From the twenty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, we read: "Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean...For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act."[41] Furthermore, Isaiah writes: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer[42] shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.  As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the lord, from hence forth and forever."[43]

   That ''Standard'' is the promise given unto Joseph Smith, Jr., and his seed. This was formerly taught by the early elders of the Reorganization. From the prophetic letter written by acting President Jason W. Briggs in 1856 and sent to young Joseph to inform him of the longing and anticipation had by the early Saints of the Reorganization of his coming, we read: "As that seed, to whom pertains this right and heaven appointed duty, you cannot be unmindful or indifferent. The God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob covenanted with them and their seed.  So the God of Joseph [Joseph Smith Jr.] covenanted with him and his seed, that, his word should not depart out of his mouth nor out of the mouth of his seed's seed till the end come.  A Zerubbabel in Israel art thou.  As a nail fastened in a sure place so are the promises unto thee to make thee a Restorer in Zion, to set in order the house of God."[44]  This is the prophetic interpretation given to latter-day Israel of that which Isaiah recorded.

    In 1933, Apostle John Garver was discouraged due to the depression and the inability of the saints to magnify their sainthood. He recounted over and over again his limitations as well as those of his brethren. He asked himself: "Is the Reorganized Church to break up as an organization that God shall have again to take of that that remains, and rebuild his church of latter days?" [45] It was in this mood, while worn in both body and spirit, that Garver attended a Sunday morning prayer service in Lancaster, Wisconsin. He testified: "A goodly number were present. They were active. They were hopeful. They spoke of their confidence in the final triumph of the cause and the church. They built in me a new spirit. And as I rose up within myself, it was to be met by the Spirit of God. New hope came to me.  I can not describe the experience.  I can only say, as I sat there under the ministry of the Spirit, there came to me its reassuring power. It filled the whole of my being. It brought the conviction the church shall go on. This does not say no man will fail. Any one of us may fail, or any number of us. But The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shall go on, and under God's outstretched hand shall finish the work he has called it to do."[46] The very question which plagues latter-day Israel in our day is that which Brother Garver queried over: "Is the Reorganized church to break up as an organization, that God shall have again to take of that that remains, and build his church of latter days?" And finally from the pen of Elder Jason Briggs, following the organizational conference of 1853 we read: "The closing of this conference was by a general testimony meeting, in which the various gifts were abundantly poured out; and a special charge given the seven who had been ordained into the Quorum of the Twelve, to take the oversight of the flock in the fear of the Lord, and an impressive warning against becoming heady, with an emphatic reinforcement of the precept, 'He that exalteth himself shall be abased'. That  false spirits, false prophets, and false christs were in the world, and should come among us to deceive, and some should follow them; but that the organization should remain.  That the acts of the conference were recorded in heaven, and the faithful should realize all the promises that had been made from the beginning.[47]

   In his classic, The Sociology of Religion, Max Weber articulated a useful distinction between prophetic and priestly forms of religion. Prophetic religion, Weber said, is dynamic, even revolutionary, and it threatens those comfortable with the status quo because it uncompromisingly points out spiritual blemishes. Priestly religion, on the other hand, is at ease with establishment society in all its imperfections. It represents a matured, prosperous, non-radical, simmering version of the boiling tempest that originally inspired the religion. Weber saw all religions as cyclical, beginning as radical, innovative reform led by charismatic leaders and eventually falling under the stewardship of cautious bureaucrats. The bureaucrats, as they consolidate power, worry more about protecting and extending their bureaucracies, concerns that soil their own limited charisma with implications of a large organization. Only a new prophet, unpleasant and unsettling to the entrenched priestly management as he may be can revitalize the enterprise and perhaps start the cycle again.[48]

   This is a foretaste of the Deliverer which will come. He will come as a literal descendant of the chosen seed to whom the promises were made in the Spirit of he who is 'mighty and strong' to rescue the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He will bring with him a prophetic ministry. He will bring not only a priesthood of delegated authority, but also a priesthood of power.[49] When he comes under this prophetic leadership he will gather the residue, cleanse the Church, and complete the work. 

   The Reorganization is predicated on the promise that the previous prophet appoints his successor. Now that the church is divided, none can reorder it, except the president of the high priesthood, Wallace B. Smith. He is the only person designated to appoint his successor[50]. No ordering of the church can proceed without first identifying the prophets successor. That successor must be a descendant of Joseph Smith, the martyr and appointed by his predecessor.  President Smith has already named a successor whom God did not appoint, he nevertheless retains the responsibility and power to indicate God's true successor as long as he lives. I believe God will intervene to correct president Smith's mistake. Zechariah prophesied (Zech 3:2-7) of a time when the head of the priesthood was resisted by Satan, arrayed in filthy garments, and wore no miter. Angels rebuked, cleansed, and re-authorized him, commanding him to walk in the ways of the Lord and keep his charge. The same God who promised the martyred president that he would bless the nations through his seed will also rescue his descendant occupying that office. According to the vision, the cleansing of the high priest is immediately followed by the appearance of the seventh prophet whom Zechariah called the BRANCH. The prophecy continues: "Hear now, O Joshua, the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men  wondered at; for behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH" (Zech 3:8).

  The Branch is attended by a stone. The stone refers to Christ, which stone Isaiah said would be laid in Zion (Is 28:16) to end the covenant with death and hell that threatens the church.  Appearing with the stone are seven heavenly messengers. The vision explains, "For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes" (Zech 3:9).  The seven eyes symbolize the seven "servants of the Lord" (Zech 4:10). When God sets his hand to redeem Zion he will not only send his appointed servant, gather and endow the residue of the elders, and cleanse the church, [see D&C 98:7-8] but he will send angelic messengers to assist the work.  God promised, "Mine angels shall go before you" (D&C 100:3f).  The combined efforts of this divine host will purify the land of Zion within one year.  Zechariah added, And I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day" (Zech 3:9).  One prophetic day represents one calendar year. The Lord told Ezekiel, "I have appointed thee each day for a year" (Ez 4:6).  Since Zion will be redeemed within one year after the repentance of the president of the high priesthood, the Saints should earnestly pray for him.[51] 

   Wallace B. Smith is the sixth president of the church. I believe he is the one Zechariah predicted will be cleansed from iniquity and the one who, afterwards, will appoint his true successor. Faithful Saints should therefore, will wait for God to empower him as Zechariah  foretold.

   The scriptures as well as the testimony from earlier days promises that the Reorganization will prevail. This means that the Reorganized Church will be cleansed, not that it will be replaced. Further evidence for this conclusion is given in the story of the woman at the well in the Testimony of St. John. Although this is an actual event that is recorded, I believe it offers us a prophetic allegory for our day. The woman at the well represents the church. John in his revelation declares the woman "was the church of God" ("Rev 12:7). The woman already had five husbands and, at the time of her encounter with  the Savior, was living with a sixth who is "not thy husband" (Jn 4:20). The Reorganized Church has had five husbands (presidents), all of whom were lawful heirs, belonging to the seed of Joseph Smith. We now have a sixth, an impostor, not belonging to the seed to whom the promises were made and not having a legal ordination. Although the woman at the well was in an adulterous situation; yet Jesus did not condemn her. He asked her for water from Jacob's well, but her vessel was empty. The Reorganization rests on the covenant God made with Joseph Smith; that in he and his seed the nations would be blessed[52] This covenant made with Joseph is a continuation of the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob's well represents for the Reorganized Church, God's promise to set the seed of Joseph at its head. When Jesus confronts the church, its vessel is empty-that is its head is not of the chosen seed. In the Bible story before the woman could draw water Jesus offered her his-that which would allow her to "never thirst" (Jn 4:16).  Before the Reorganization can again draw of the living water (the spirit of prophecy and revelation) the seed of Joseph must again lead it. Jesus will bless the church with his presence "Mine angels will go before you, and also my presence" (D&C 100:3f). With His help and the other angels previously mentioned the church will complete its work.                        .       

     All these things testify to me that the work of the Reorganized Church is not over.  Although is now is calling herself by a different name (The Community of
) and  it lies under the bondage of sin, the Lord will cleanse, release and empower it so that it can fulfill its mission. God has promised, "Ye must be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched out arm, and as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be" (D&C 100:3e). As a nail fastened in a sure place, so are the promises of the Lord to His church.  I believe that the Reorganized Church will never fall or fail, although the powers of darkness combine against it.  It is beyond the reach of both men and devils to destroy.




An Apostles Prophetic Prayer


"Oh, how vivid it is to my mind that a church without authorized living apostles and prophets in these days, as in the dark days of apostasy, in what history calls the Dark Ages of the Roman Catholic apostasy, the people are so easily led by presumptuous, wicked aspirants, who are prompted by unholy ambition and a thirst for worldly power, who are ever ready to make merchandise of the people for their love of filthy lucre. May God deliver our blessed Church from another such apostasy is my fervent, daily prayer.  Thank God, I know my prayers will be granted, and though the church may, yes will pass through severe trials, yet it will triumph and come off and achieve more than victory, and receive her crowned King in glory; and our apostles and prophets, with the dear saints, will receive the plaudit, 'Well done, for thou hast been faithful."'[53]


   And finally, all who claim to believe in the divine authenticity of the origins of the Reorganization must also believe ultimately in her divine continuity. From the pen of Jason Briggs the following the organizational conference of 1853 we read:

"The closing of this conference was by a general testimony meeting, in which the various gifts were abundantly poured out; and a special charge given the seven who had been ordained into the Quorum of the Twelve, to take the oversight of the flock in the fear of the Lord, and an impressive warning against becoming heady, with an emphatic reinforcement of the precept, 'He that exalteth himself shall be abased."  That false spirits, false prophets, and false christs were in the world, and should come among us to deceive, and some should follow them; but that the organization should remain.  That the acts of the conference were recorded in heaven, and the faithful should realize all the promises that had been made from the beginning".[54]

[1]The Saints' Herald, 28 (July 1909) pp. 700-701.

[2]Ibid. p. 701

[3]Richard P. Howard Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, The Reorganized Church in Illinois pp. 63-64

[4]Gospel Herald, Voree, Wisconsin, 4 April 1849:16.

[5]Jason W. Briggs, The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 3:197

[6]Roger D. Launius, Joseph Smith, Pragmatic Prophet p. 84

[7]Ibid. p. 84

[8]Jason W. Briggs, "History of the Reorganized Church," The Messenger (Salt Lake City, Utah) 2 (November 1875):p. 1

[9]Roger D. Launius, Joseph Smith III, Pragmatic Prophet, p. 84

[10]Heman C. Smith and Joseph Smith III, "The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church", Vol. 3:200.

[11]Jason W. Briggs, "History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," in The Messenger, Vol. 2 (November 1875), p. 1.

[12]Heman C. Smith and Joseph Smith III, "The History of Tthe Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 3:745.

[13]The Yellow  Stone branch was initially formed under Strang's organization, and later reorganized and renamed itself the Zarahemla Branch  [See The True Latter Day Saints' Herald, 1 March, 1872, Vol. 19:129].

[14]"History of the Reorganized Church," The Messenger, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 2 (December , 1875), 6.

[15]Richard P. Howard, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, The Reorganized Church in Illinois pp. 66-67.

[16]Times and Seasons, Vol. 5:673-674.

[17]Arthur A. Oakman, The Function Of A Prophet, Upon This Rock, p. 153, Herald Publishing House, Independence, MO 1953.

[18]Dean C. Jesse, The Personal Writing Of Joseph Smith, Deseret Books, p. 252 (letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith 13 October, 1832.

[19]Edward W. Tullidge, The Life Of Joseph The Prophet, New York, 1878, p.806

[20]Times and Seasons Vol. 5:673.


[22]Dean C. Jesse, The Life of Joseph the Prophet, Deseret Books, p. 252 (letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith 13 October, 1832).

[23]The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1:260.

[24]The True Latter Day Saints' Herald, Vol. 1:22-23.

[25]"The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", Vol. 3:201

[26]Ibid. p. 400.

[27]The Church in Court, Complied and Arranged by Elbert A Smith, Herald Publishing House, Lamoni, Iowa.  Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints pp. 9-10

[28]The Memories of President WW Blair, Lamoni, Iowa, 1908 pp. 93-94.

[29]Ibid. pp. 94-95.

[30]Minutes of the Hixton, Michigan Conference, 25 December 1863, Special Collections, Clark Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  [See also Roger D. Launius as quoted in Joseph Smith III, Pragmatic Prophet p. 79].

[31]Memories of President W.W. Blair, Lamoni, Iowa, 1908 pp8-9.

[32]On Memory's Beam, The Autobiography of Elbert A. Smith, Herald Publishing House, Independence, MO 1946, pp. 244-245.

[33]The Saints' Herald, 24 (July 1901)p.594.

[34]Personal photo copy of unpublished gift of tongues through Patriarch R.V. Hopkins.

[35] Doctrine and Covenants Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Section 150, 14, April, 1972.

[36]World Conference Bulletin, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1996, p.316.

[37]Roger D. Launius, "The Reorganized Church, the Decade of Decision, and the Abiline Paradox" p. 2.

[38]The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 3:201.

[39]Doctrine and Covenants, Section 98: 8 and12e, Herald Publishing House, Independence MO.

[40]Doctrine and Covenants, Section 100:3d, Herald Publishing House, Independence MO.

[41]Book of Isaiah, 28:3,8,21.

[42]The word "Deliverer" is used in the New Testament instead of the word Redeemer.  Romans 11:26

[43]Isaiah 59:19-21

[44]Smith, "Autobiography, in Tullidge, "Life of Joseph the Prophet" p, 766.

[45]John F. Garver, The Saints' Herald, 1 February 1933 pp. 136 and 144

[46]ibid. pp.136 and 144

[47] The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Vol. 3:223.

[48]Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, Translated by Ephraim Eischoff, Boston; Deacon, 1956 pp. 31,46-59

[49]Memoirs of President Joseph Smith, p 1266, October 1,1935, Herald Publishing House 1979

[50]Doctrine and Covenants section 43:2

[51] See The Restitution, Bob Moore, 1993, pp 313-316

[52]Doctrine and Covenants 107:18c, The History of the Reorganized Church of jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 2:46

[53]Edmund Briggs, Early History of the Reorganization; Price Publishing, Independence; 1998; p 206

[54]The History of the Reroganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol 3:223