The fourth general conference of the Church convened in a schoolhouse in Kirtland township on Friday, 3 June 1831. Many missionaries in Ohio returned for the meetings. Minutes record that sixty-three priesthood holders were in attendance. 29 In Joseph Smith’s words, “The Lord displayed His power to the most perfect satisfaction of the Saints” at the conference. 30 After the opening business, Joseph announced that the Lord wanted worthy elders “ordained to the high priesthood.” 31 These were the first ordinations to the office of high priest in this dispensation. The Prophet ordained five brethren high priests; one of them, Lyman Wight, ordained several more in the same meeting. John Corrill and Isaac Morley were called to be counselors to Bishop Edward Partridge and were set apart to that calling by Lyman Wight. 32
During the conference the Spirit was with the Prophet in an “unusual manner. The spirit of prophecy also rested upon Lyman Wight: “He said the coming of the Savior should be like the sun rising in the east, and will cover the whole earth.” He predicted that some of the brethren would suffer martyrdom for the sake of their religion and would seal their testimony of Christ with their blood. 34 The Prophet Joseph, Harvey Whitlock, and Lyman Wight saw the heavens open and Jesus Christ sitting on the right hand of the Father. Lyman testified that he saw the Son of God making intercession to the Father for the Saints. 35
34. In McKiernan and Launius, An Early Latter Day Saint History, p. 67; punctuation standardized.
35. In McKiernan and Launius, An Early Latter Day Saint History, p. 67; see also “Levi Hancock Journal,” LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City, pp. 91–92.
First Conference of the Church
By June 1830 the Saints in New York were located primarily in Manchester, Fayette, and Colesville. The membership of the Church at this point was about thirty people. Following revealed instructions (see D&C 20:75 ), the Prophet called them together for the first conference of the Church on 9 June, at Fayette. Many people attended who already believed or were eager to learn. Those assembled partook of the sacrament, and several recent converts were confirmed. Samuel H. Smith was ordained an elder, and Joseph Smith, Sr., and Hyrum were ordained priests. Ten brethren received “licenses,” which were small documents certifying they were authorized to represent the Church (see D&C 20:64–65 ). Oliver Cowdery kept the minutes of this meeting and was appointed by the conference to keep the official Church records.
| The three centers of the Church in New York in June of 1830: (1) Manchester township, (2) Fayette township, and (3) the Colesville area
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Joseph Smith read to the congregation the “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ” (most of sections 20 and 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants ), which contain significant instructions pertaining to the order of the Church. 11
Joseph Smith wrote, “Much exhortation and instruction was given, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon us in a miraculous manner—many of our number prophesied, whilst others had the heavens opened to their view.” Newel Knight was filled with unspeakable love and peace. He saw a vision of the Savior and learned that he would someday be admitted into the presence of the Lord.
“Such scenes as these were calculated to inspire our hearts with joy unspeakable, and fill us with awe and reverence for that Almighty Being. . . . To find ourselves engaged in the very same order of things as observed by the holy Apostles of old; to realize the importance and solemnity of such proceedings; and to witness and feel with our own natural senses, the like glorious manifestations of the powers of the Priesthood, the gifts and blessings of the Holy Ghost, and the goodness and condescension of a merciful God unto such as obey the everlasting Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, combined to create within us sensations of rapturous gratitude, and inspire us with fresh zeal and energy in the cause of truth.” 12
| Joseph Smith, Sr., certificate of ordination as a priest signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery.
Shortly after this conference twelve people were baptized in Seneca Lake by David Whitmer. They included Joseph Smith’s sister Katherine and his brothers William and Don Carlos.
12. History of the Church, 1:84–86.