The church of the Restoration was officially “organized” April 6, 1830 with Joseph Smith, Jr., as the President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, in accordance with the commandments and revelations received at that time, and also in harmony with the order of the church described in the New Testament.
Church of Jesus Christ
Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The apostle Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). A cornerstone bears the name of the structure as a mark of identity. His church was to be “The Church of Jesus Christ” in order to signify whose church it was, hence the main part of the name of the restored church.
Latter Day Saints
“Saints” was the term used in speaking of the members of Christ’s church in New Testament times. “Latter-day Saints” is a term identifying members of his church in this last dispensation of time, and is very significant of the fact that there was a restoration, even of the name used in the ancient church.
A Brief Historical Overview
A group of elders began meeting in Independence, Missouri in February 1981 to prayerfully study the scriptures and understand God’s word. Committed to the church’s traditional beliefs, these elders formed what became known as the “Saturday Night Class.”
As a result of several dramatic changes in theology, self-image, and beliefs in the Reorganized Church in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the significance of this class ultimately became apparent to those attending. These changes took the church away from its traditional roots. Many members challenged the liberal theological transformation of the church and some withdrew from it. Thousands began to meet for worship in “independent branches” and a variety of organizations sprang up to help preserve and promote the restored gospel.
In the autumn of 1988, one such group encouraged the men of the Seventy who held similar concerns to assist the saints who had been scattered because of the loss of faith in the leadership of the church. The first meeting of the Seventies took place in January 1989 and several of them agreed to meet on a continuing basis. Some of these Seventies were also members of the Saturday Night Class and the two groups began to coordinate their efforts.
The Saturday Night Class, feeling the direction of God, had begun to study two issues in the Doctrine and Covenants which pertained directly to the ongoing crisis. First, they learned that unrighteous decisions of past World Conferences of the church could be overturned only by returning to the “General Assembly” format of church government (DC 104:11j), unused since the 1830’s. See DC 108a. Second, they concluded that because the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles had “departed from the authority and teachings brought forth in the restoration of the gospel,” responsibility for “setting the church in order” fell to the next leading quorum of church officials, the Quorum of Seventy (DC 122:10; see also 120:3d).
Consequently, the class concluded: if God so directed, the Seventy could act in their role as the legitimate leadership body of the church and call a General Assembly which could set the church in order once again.
The participating Seventy voted unanimously on September 5, 1989 to form an independent “First Quorum of Restoration Seventy.” Following a revelation from God, given on September 9, 1989 through Seventy M. Norman Page, the Seventy reaffirmed this plan of action.
The revelation directed them to organize a quorum and ordain new Seventy. It also admonished them not to reorganize the church prematurely, nor without specific direction from God. On October 1, 1989, six of the Seventy formally chartered the new organization known as the First Quorum of Restoration Seventy.
Their meetings were attended by an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the group began to grow. Family members and other believers in the words of the Seventy began to come together for meetings. On Saturday, December 30, 1989 the Seventy, and the faithful who could, gathered for an ordination service at Levasy, Missouri. In this service they witnessed Pentecostal blessings. It was a point from which they would never turn back.
On December 26, 1990 a second revelation was received by M. Norman Page. The group was commanded to call a General Assembly the following April. It also gave instruction on the wisdom of choosing the name, the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In addition, the revelation counseled the group to “pray for…and show unfeigned love to” those who were opposing their actions.
Information was sent out to many saints and on April 6, 1991, in Independence, the General Assembly opened. During the week the assembly voted to declare the Reorganized Church “out of order” and to recognize the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as its lawful, spiritual successor. Eight apostles were ordained to lead the new organization.
Marcus Juby was named President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1991 and in April of 1993 the church’s patriarchs unanimously testified that the Lord had revealed to them Juby’s call as the President of the High Priesthood and of the Church, and to serve as Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator. His ordination took place on April 9, 1993.
Currently, Woodrow Howell is President with Andy Gross as his counselor.
Church organization is based on the pattern of the New Testament Church with its various quorums, councils, orders and offices of priesthood. General Conference and General Assembly formats accommodate decisions necessary for the ongoing work of the church.