43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

— they will roll down like the Missisippi river. This Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

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shall have power to command Queens in their midst— I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society— they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor— If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.
After this instruction, you will be responsible for your own sins. It is an honor to save yourselves— all are responsible to save themselves.
Prest. Smith, after reading from the above mentioned Chapter, continued to give instruction respecting the order of God, as established in the church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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; saying every one should aspire only to magnify his own office &c.——
He then commenc’d reading the 13th chapter, “Though I speak with the tongues of men” &c; and said don’t be limited in your views with regard to your neighbors’ virtues, but be limited towards your own virtues; and not think yourselves more righteous than others; you must enlarge your souls toward others if yould you would do like Jesus, and carry your fellow creatures to Abram’s bosom.
He said he had manifested long suffering and we must do so too—— Prest. Smith then read, “Though I have the gift of prophecy” &c. He then said, though one should become mighty— do great things— overturn mountains &c and should then turn to eat and drink with the drunken; all former deeds would not save him— but he would go to destruction!
As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand— let them be enlarged towards others— you must be longsuff’ring and bear with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the souls of men!— The female part of community are apt to be [p. [39]]
— they will roll down like the Missisippi river. This Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

View Glossary
 shall have power to command Queens in their midst— I  now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll  round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their  respects to this Society— they shall come with their millions  and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the  poor— If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.
After this instruction, you will be responsible for  your own sins. It is an honor to save yourself yourselves— all are  responsible to save themselves.
Prest. Smith, after reading from the above mentioned  Chapter, continued to give instruction respecting the order of  God, as established in the church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
; saying every one should aspire  only to magnify his own office &c.——
He then commenc’d reading the 13th chapter, “Though  I speak with the tongues of men” &c; and said don’t be  limited in your views with regard to your neighbors’  virtues, but be limited towards your own virtues; and  not think yourselves more righteous than others; you  must enlarge your souls toward others if yould [you would?] do like  Jesus, and carry your fellow creatures to Abram’s bosom.
He said he had manifested long suffering and we  must do so too—— Prest. Smith then read, “Though I have  the gift of prophecy” &c. He then said, though one should become  mighty— do great things— overturn mountains &c and should  then turn to eat and drink with the drunken; all former  deeds would not save him— but he would go to destruction!
As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you  increase in goodness, let your hearts expand— let them be  enlarged towards others— you must be longsuff’ring and bear  with the faults and errors of mankind. How precious are the  souls of men!— The female part of community are apt to be [p. [39]]
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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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