My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 49-50
Excerpt: D&C 49
Joseph Smith’s time was a period of many new churches springing up. The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or Quaking Shakers, as they are known because of the ecstatic behavior during worship, came from England to America in 1774. Their beliefs included: celibacy, revelation, communalism, equality of the sexes, and pacifism. They also believed the 2nd Coming had already occurred, with Jesus returning in the form of Mother Ann Lee, one of the founders of the religion. While in the mid-19th century they had 15 communities, due to celibacy practices and few converts, today they only have one community in Maine.
Leman Copley, a new convert who previously was a Shaker, was called to reject his old beliefs that were not in concert with the revealed truths of the Restored Church. This included the concept that Christ’s 2nd Coming would be one in power and glory, not another person born on the earth. Christ would bring a Millennium across the entire earth, which would last one thousand years; not create a few small congregations.
We see a major difference in the religions in this thing. The Shakers were a good people, but were not missionary-minded. As with the Amish today, they do not seek to convert and change the world, only develop and maintain their own little communities.
Meanwhile, the Lord was teaching Joseph Smith that the Restored Gospel was revolutionary. While beginning small, it would someday fill the earth. Revelations regarding Zion were already providing great insight into the small Church.