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When Joseph and Oliver were still working and staying at the house of the Whitmer family, they began to become anxious about when they would become part of the Melchisedec priesthood. John the Baptist had told them that they would be members of the Melchisedec priesthood. Right now they were both priests. .
Deacons, teachers and priests are members of the Aaronic priesthood. Aaronic is named after Aaron, Moses's brother. Aaron was a priest and his sons and grandsons became the priests in Israel. Their job is to teach about repentance, and to watch over the church to make sure that people are living right. The priests can baptize people, they also serve the bread and the wine at sacrament services. Priests can also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.
Elders and high priests are members of the Melchisedec priesthood. It could be called the priesthood of Jesus Christ, because that's what it is. But so that we would respect Jesus' name it is called after a man named Melchisedec. The story of Melchisedec is in the 14th chapter of Genesis. He was the king of Salem, which we are pretty sure was later called Jerusalem. He was also a high priest and the people of Salem became very righteous under his rule. Melchisedec gave a blessing to Abraham.
Elders and high priests can do everything that the Aaronic priesthood does. They also lay their hands on the people to heal the sick, bless babies, ordain, confirm after baptism and give blessings. They are in charge of leading the church in meetings by following the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God's spirit, which helps us know what is right.
When the children of Israel left Egypt and were in the wilderness they rebelled against God. They did not want to do what God asked them to do. They made a golden calf to worship and they refused to go into Canaan because they were afraid. So God took the Melchisedec priesthood away from them. They were only willing to obey part of God's laws.
We know that when Christ left his disciples in charge after he went back to heaven that there were Apostles. 'Apostle' is a special job in the Melchisedec priesthood, and we know that there were elders and high priests. When the Apostacy came all the priesthood disappeared, because there was no church of Jesus Christ on the earth.
Joseph and Oliver were praying about the Melchisedec priesthood. The Lord, (Jesus Christ), told them that Joseph should ordain Oliver to the office of elder. Then Oliver would ordain Joseph. But they were not to do it yet. They must wait until there was a meeting of people who had been baptized and those people must vote on whether they wanted Joseph and Oliver for elders or not.
Voting is very important in the church of Jesus Christ. God does not force us to do anything, we have the right to choose. Also, the people are to trust God and use their brains instead of trusting other people and letting them do all their thinking for them. The children of Israel voted to not go into Canaan, so they had to tramp around in the wilderness for forty years. Many people have followed wicked people and have suffered because of it. That's why we are to vote, so that we can choose how our lives will be.
God began to give Joseph and Oliver instructions on how things should be in the church. They are found in the first sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of the revelations given to Joseph Smith and to the church. New ones can be added, but they must come through the president of the church, and then the people of the church must vote and decide if it is a real revelation and if they will accept it.
Finally, after all the things that had happened to Joseph since he was fourteen years old the church was officially organized with six people at the meeting. The men voted on whether they would accept Joseph and Oliver as elders and leaders and whether they wanted a church organized. They all voted to do it. Joseph then ordained Oliver and Oliver ordained Joseph. Then they served the bread and wine and then they confirmed each person there. These people had all been baptized in the water, but they had not been confirmed because there had been no elders. This happened on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, Seneca County, New York.
It was about ten years since Joseph had seen the vision of God and Jesus Christ. He had had to grow up and learn many things. It had taken time to translate the plates and to find out what God wanted him to do. This is the way God does things, things must be done in an orderly way so that it can be done right. If we try to do important things fast, without thinking how to do it, we can make terrible mistakes. Then to correct the mistakes it takes a longer time and more energy than to do it right the first time.
Joseph had done his best to do things the way God wanted. He had made some mistakes along the way, such as the one with the 116 pages of translation. But he had been sorry when he made mistakes and had learned from them. Now the church was organized and he would now face many more adventures in the coming years.
Adapted by Lois Anderson
from the History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Volume 1, pp. 59-94
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Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 7, 2001