One hundred seventy-five years ago today, in Fayette, New York, the Church of Christ (later renamed “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”) was organized. The official History of the Church records this:
Whilst the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, we still continued to bear testimony and give information, as far as we had opportunity; and also made known to our brethren that we had received a commandment to organize the Church; and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., (being six in number,) on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and thirty. 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. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;” after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degreeâ€”some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly.
It adds in a footnote:
The following statement is interesting as furnishing the names of these six:
Names of the six members of the Church as they were organized April 6, 1830â€”
Joseph Smith, Jun.,
Peter Whitmer, Jun.,
Samuel H. Smith,
Some of these had been baptized previously; but were all baptized on the day of organization.
These names were given to Joseph Knight by Oliver Cowdery.
(signed) Joseph Knight.
G. S. L. City
Aug. 11th, 1862.
G. A. Smith,
Robt. L. Campbell,
John V. Long.
After this, the History records:
We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the Priesthood, according as the Spirit manifested unto us: and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, “The Church of Jesus Christ,” organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament. Several persons who had attended the above meeting, became convinced of the truth and came forward shortly after, and were received into the Church; among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized, to my great joy and consolation; and about the same time, Martin Harris and Orrin Porter Rockwell.
Joseph’s joy is described in a much more personal way in Lucy Mack Smith’s history of Joseph Smith, extolled by President Hinckley during General Conference:
About the first of April of the same year in which the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph came from Pennsylvania and preached to us several times. My husband and Martin Harris were baptized. Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water, and as he took him by the hand he cried out, “Praise to my God! I have lived to see my own father baptized into the true Church of Jesus Christ,” and covered his face in his father’s bosom and wept aloud for joy as did Joseph of old when he beheld his father coming up into the land of Egypt. This took place on the sixth of April, 1830, the day on which the Church was organized.
(Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor)
Happy 175 years to the Church!