Saturday, September 19, 2009
President Brigham Young Organizes The First Presidency
But business was the first order of the day-councils and conferences to tie up loose ends and determine the immediate future. Through discussions and prayer sessions with the Twelve, it was agreed that Brigham, as President of the Church, had the right to select his counselors, who would then be sustained by the Twelve. Wilford Woodruff's journal recorded his interchange with Brigham, in which he expressed his conviction that "a quorum appointed by revelation . . . would require a revelation to change. . . . [But] whatever the Lord inspires you to do in this matter, I am with you."
The brethren's faith in Brigham's access to revelation and the integrity of his spiritual guidance seemed absolute. Surely the President himself appeared to feel no doubts or qualms. He expressed his conviction that he had for a long time felt the necessity of organizing a First Presidency, which would then free the Twelve to fulfill their missionary efforts throughout the world. He had waited until the Spirit told him that the Church should be so organized. Now he nominated Heber Kimball as his first counselor, Willard Richards as his second. On Monday, December 27, 1847, the body of Saints from Winter Quarters, Kanesville, and Council Bluffs assembled and sustained Brigham Young as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints. This action was later ratified by unanimous vote of the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley, and in General Conference held October 8, 1848, when approximately 5,000 people had gathered.
"The spirit of the Lord at this time rested upon the people in a powerful manner," Brigham wrote to Orson Spencer in England. "Insomuch that the saints' hearts were filled with joy unspeakable; every power of their mind and nerve of their bodies was awakened." A dead silence reigned in the congregation while the President spoke following the vote which had been taken.
Following the benediction, the congregation shouted three times, "Hosannah, Hosannah, Hosannah to God and the Lamb, Amen, Amen and Amen." As explained in the History of the Church:
This shout of "Hosanna" is given only on very great occasions. It is usually given three times in immediate succession; and when voiced by thousands and sometimes tens of thousands in unison, and at their utmost strength, it is most impressive and inspiring. It is impossible to stand unmoved on such an occasion. It seems to fill the prairie or woodland, mountain wilderness or tabernacle, with mighty waves of sound; and the shout of men going into battle cannot be more stirring. It gives wonderful vent to the religious emotions, and is followed by a reverential awe-a sense of oneness with God.
The gathering of the Saints was the first and foremost business at hand. Brigham gave a herald call to the outlying or laggardly Saints to come quickly to the Winter Quarters area and prepare themselves to be able to leave by May. To the converts in the British Isles, he wrote an epistle which sings with eloquence and conviction:
Let all Saints who love God more than their own dear selves-and no one else are Saints-gather without delay to the place appointed, bringing their gold, their silver, their copper, their zinc, their tin, and brass, and iron, and choice steel, and ivory, and precious stones; their curiosities of science, of art, of nature, and everything in their possession or within their reach, to build in strength and stability, to beautify, to adorn, to embellish, to delight, and to cast a fragrance over the House of the Lord; with sweet instruments of music and melody and songs and fragrance and sweet odours, and beautiful colours, whether it be in precious jewels, or minerals, or choice ores, or in wisdom and knowledge, or understanding, manifested in carved work; or curious workmanship of the box, the fir and pine tree, or any thing that ever was, or is, or is to be, for the exaltation, glory, honour, and salvation of the living and the dead, for time and for all eternity. Come, then, walking in righteousness befoe God, and your labour shall be accepted; . . . for the time has come for the Saints to go up to the mountains of the Lord's house, and help to establish it upon the tops of the mountains.
By the time May arrived, two thousand people stood in readiness to go. Brigham recorded that he attended meetings each Sunday of the month, and on the 14th "preached at length and blessed the land for the benefit of the saints who should occupy it." On the 26th, his second and last journey across the plains and mountains to the Salt Lake Valley began. "[I left] my houses, mills and the temporary furniture I had acquired during my sojourn there. This was the fifth time I had left my home and property since I embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
(Susan Evans McCloud, Brigham Young, A Personal Portrait -)