43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

31 March 1842 • Thursday

Minutes of the Proceedings
of the
Third Meeting of the Society
[1 line blank]
Lodge Room March 30th [31st] 1842.
Meeting opened with Singing—
Prayer by Prest. Joseph Smith—
The house full to overflowing.
Prest. J. Smith arose— spoke of the organization of the Society— said he was deeply interested that it might be built up to the Most High in an acceptable manner— that its rules must be observed— that none should be received into the Society but those who were worthy— propos’d that the Society go into a close examination of every candidate— that they were going too fast— that the Society should grow up by degrees— should commence with a few individuals— thus have a select Society of the virtuous and those who will walk circumspectly— commended them for their zeal but said sometimes their zeal was not according to knowledge— One principal object of the Institution, was to purge out iniquity— said they must be extremely careful in all their examinations or the consequences would be serious
Said all difficulties which might & would cross our way must be surmounted, though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and hands hang down— must not retrace our steps— that there must be decision of character aside from sympathy— that when instructed we must obey that voice, observe the Constitution that the blessings of heaven may rest down upon us— all must act in concert or nothing can be done— that the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...

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, hence there should be a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous and holy— Said he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. In the Book of Mormon, priests were described as those who baptized, administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church,” and taught “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” A June 1829 revelation directed...

View Glossary
an in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day— that it is the privilege of each member to live long [p. 22]

31 March 1842 • Thursday

Minutes of the Proceedings
of the
Third Meeting of the Society
[1 line blank]
Lodge Room March 30th [31st] 1842.
Meeting opened with Singing—
Prayer by Prest. Joseph Smith—
The house full to overflowing.
Prest. J. Smith arose— spoke of the organization of the  Society— said he was deeply interested that it might be built up  to the Most High in an acceptable manner— that its rules must  be observed— that none should be received into the Society but  those who were worthy— propos’d that the Society go into a  close examination of every candidate— that they were going too  fast— that the Society should grow up by degrees— should commence  with a few individuals— thus have a select Society of the virtuous  and those who will walk circumspectly— commended them for  their zeal but said sometimes their zeal was not according  to knowledge— One principal object of the Institution, was  to purge out iniquity— said they must be extremely careful  in all their examinations or the consequences would be serious
Said all difficulties which might & would cross our  way must be surmounted, though the soul be tried, the  heart faint, and hands hang down— must not retrace our  steps— that there must be decision of character aside from  sympathy— that when instructed we must obey that  voice, observe the Constitution that the blessings of heaven may  rest down upon us— all must act in concert or nothing can  be done— that the Society should move according to the  ancient Priesthood

Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...

View Glossary
, hence there should be a select Society  separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuou[s]  and holy— Said he was going to make of this Society a  kingdom of priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. In the Book of Mormon, priests were described as those who baptized, administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church,” and taught “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” A June 1829 revelation directed...

View Glossary
an in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day—  that it is the privilege of each member to live long [p. 22]
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On 17 March 1842, JS first formally organized Latter-day Saint women in a group with distinct responsibilities and authority. At JS’s invitation, twenty women assembled in the large room above his dry goods store in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, to be organized, as one woman recalled his description, “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Sarah M. Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Sept. 1883, 51). Priesthood quorums—units of men assembled according to priesthood office and usually headed by a president and two counselors—had been organized previously. The women assembled on 17 March elected JS’s wife Emma Hale Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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president, and she selected two counselors; a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained or set apart the three-member presidency to their new callings or offices. These were the first ecclesiastical positions in the church for women.
The name the women selected for their institution, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, paralleled that of contemporaneous women’s benevolent societies in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. Two or three weeks prior to the 17 March meeting, a group of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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women had met to form a “ladies society” to sew shirts for temple workmen, an effort probably informed by the broader benevolent movement. When JS invited these women to be organized as part of the church structure, they abandoned their plans for an independent society with a constitution and bylaws. JS told them at the initial meeting, “The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon—your Constitution and law” (Minutes, 17 Mar. 1842). This record of Relief Society “organization and proceedings” includes minutes for seventeen meetings in 1842, thirteen in 1843, and four in 1844. By the last recorded meeting in March 1844, a total of 1,331 women had enrolled as members, most of them joining the first year (Maureen C. Ward, “‘This Institution Is a Good One’: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 [Fall 2002]: 87–203).
JS attended nine Relief Society meetings in 1842 and addressed six of them. These minutes document his instructions regarding women’s new responsibilities, authority, and forthcoming temple blessings—the only record of teachings JS directed specifically to women. The minutes detail donations for and visits with the poor, contributions for temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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construction, and women’s efforts at moral reform and civic activism. Discussions reported in this record refer explicitly or implicitly to tensions mounting in Nauvoo over JS’s political influence and threatened extradition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, the defection of prominent church and civic leader John C. Bennett

3 Aug. 1804–5 Aug. 1867. Physician, minister, poultry breeder. Born at Fairhaven, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Bennett and Abigail Cook. Moved to Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, 1808; to Massachusetts, 1812; and back to Marietta, 1822. Married ...

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, and the tumult surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. The record of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo ends on 16 March 1844; a decade passed before Relief Society meetings resumed in the Salt Lake Valley.

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