The Kirtland Era of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has some of the most influential experiences of all of Church History. Church headquarters was only in Kirtland Ohio for seven years, and that seven years was packed with experiences that changed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints forever.
In Kirtland the Lord found and taught four future presidents of the Church. Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow were all baptized during the Kirtland years. These prophets led the Church in succession until 1901! Not only that, but the NEXT three prophets Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, and George Albert Smith were direct descendants of Kirtland pioneers and they led the Church until 1951!!
Seven months after Brigham Young was baptized he met the Prophet Joseph Smith here is this experience in his own words:
”In September, 1832, Brother Heber C. Kimball took his horse and wagon, Brother Joseph Young and myself accompanying him, and started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph. We visited many friends on the way, and some branches of the Church. . . We proceeded to Kirtland and stopped at John P. Greenie’s, who had just arrived there with his family. We rested a few minutes, took some refreshments and started to see the Prophet. We went to his father’s house and learned that he was in the woods chopping. We immediately repaired to the woods, where we found the Prophet, and two or three of his brothers, chopping and hauling wood. Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the Prophet of God, and receiving the sure testimony, by the spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him to be as a true prophet.”
John Taylor was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Canada and came to Kirtland in March 1837. When John Taylor converted to the gospel he spent a long time investigating the Church. When investigating the Church he said this:
”I desire to investigate his doctrines and claims to authority, and shall be very glad if some of my friends will unite with me in this investigation. But if no one will unite with me, be assured I shall make the investigation alone. If I find his religion true, I shall accept it, no matter what the consequences may be; and if false, then I shall expose it.”
When John Taylor made it to Kirtland the area was struggling with apostasy. John Taylor seemed like a very strong willed person because when he was met with the apostasy of Kirtland he said: “It is not man that I am following, but the Lord.”
Wilford Woodruff had only been a convert for four months when he went to Kirtland in 1834. This is how Wilford Woodruff described his first meeting with the Prophet Joseph Smith:
”I was introduced to Brother Joseph, and he shook hands with me most heartily. He invited me to make his habitation my home while I tarried in Kirtland. This invitation I most eagerly accepted, and was greatly edified and blest during my stay with him. . . That night we had a most enjoyable and profitable time in his home. . . “
Lorenzo Snow’s family lived close to Kirtland Ohio and when he after he was converted he met the prophet at the John Johnson Farm in Hiram Ohio.
Here is his first meeting with the prophet Joseph Smith:
”As I looked upon him and listened, I thought to myself that a man bearing such a wonderful testimony as he did, and having such a countenance as he possessed, could hardly be a false prophet. He certainly could not have been deceived, it seemed to me, and if he was a deceiver he was deceiving people knowingly; for when he testified he had had a conversation with Jesus, the Son of God, and had talked with Him personally, as Moses talked with God upon Mount Sinai, and that he had also heard the voice of the Father, he was telling something that he either knew to be false or to be positively true. There for the first time I heard his voice. When I heard his testimony in regard to what the Lord had revealed to him, it seemed to me that he must be an honest man. He talked and looked like an honest man. He was an honest man.”
Joseph Smith’s Prophecy of The Church Going to the Rocky Mountains
“On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. . . When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. . . When they got through the Prophet said, “Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight. But I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and Kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.” I was rather surprised. He said “It is only a little handfull of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America- it will fill the whole world. . . This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temple to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there.”
Wilford Woodruff recoded the prophecy, that he did not understand at the time. Sixty four years later at the tabernacle in Salt Lake City Wilford Woodruff said: “I want to bear testimony before God, angels and men that mine eyes behold the day, and have beheld for the last fifty years of my life, the fulfillment of that prophecy. I never expected to see the Rocky Mountains when I listened to that man’s voice, but I have3 and do today.”
More Blog Posts:
“Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, Eyewitness accounts.” By Karl Ricks Anderson (p.70-73)