Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, RLDS, RLDS Church, Reorganized Church, Reorganization

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  RLDS/LDS Compared  

     The first organization of the church restored through Joseph Smith fragmented after his murder.  Over 20 factions emerged, each of them claiming to be the continuation of the restored church.  Today, only four significant ones remain.  The largest is the LDS Church.  The second is the Reorganization, which has recently splintered.  The Church of Jesus Christ, commonly called Bickertonites, is third.  Fourth is the Church of Christ, Temple Lot, often called Hedrickites.  A single branch of Strangites and Cutlerites remain.  Most active members of the several factions of the original organization joined the Reorganization during Joseph Smith III's presidency.
     The Reorganization embraced the original teachings as restored by Joseph Smith.  After the Kirtland Temple's completion and the arrival of the promised endowment, Joseph Smith told the quorums on March 30, 1836, "I had now completed the organization of the Church and we had passed through all the necessary ceremonies" (Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, p 318-9).  The only endowments practiced in the Kirtland Church were the baptism of fire, or the endowment of the Holy Ghost, as administered by the first apostles (Acts 8:17) and Patriarchal Blessings, such as Jacob gave his sons (Gen 48:14-20; Gen 49:1-28) or as Moses blessed the Hebrew tribes (Deut 33:1-29).  The Holy Spirit regularly attended those ordinances, adorning them with varied spiritual manifestations, such as the gift of prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
     One goal of the original church was to build a holy city in Jackson County, Missouri.  In July 1831, Joseph Smith revealed, "This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion" (D&C 57:1b), adding, "The place which is now called Independence, is the Center Place, and the spot for the temple is lying westward upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse" (D&C 57:1d).  Joseph and other church officials dedicated the spot for the Temple in August 1831.  On August 1 another revelation acknowledged that this small group of saints were "honored of laying the foundation, and of bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand" (D&C 58:3c).
     Church members began gathering to the land of Zion, but their interests centered on their personal goals instead of the Lord's purposes. In September 1832, another revelation warned, "You have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation.  And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom, otherwise there remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion" (D&C 83:8a-c).
     Friction grew between the newly arriving church members and older citizens of the area. In early July 1833, hundreds of old settlers signed a manifesto known as the "secret constitution."  It accused the saints of inviting free Negroes and mulattoes to join the Church and immigrate to Missouri and declared the intent of the signers to remove the Mormons “peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."  On July 20, 1833, a mob stormed the church's printing office, demolished the press and scattered its publications into the streets.  Hostilities began.
     The Lord issued another warning to the saints in Jackson County.  In a revelation received August 6, 1833, the Lord told the saints to begin building the temple on the consecrated spot or He would "visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire" (D&C 94:5f).
     On November 4, mobs began forcibly driving all church members out of Jackson County, burning the homes and crops and scattering them into surrounding counties with nothing more than items they could carry in their hurried escape.  Parley P. Pratt, leader of the Missouri church at that time, admitted, "This revelation [cited above] was not complied with" (Autobiography, p 96).
     Continuing trials plagued the church in Missouri.  Its members were ordered out of the state by Governor Lilburn Boggs on October 27, 1838.  Most fled to Illinois, including Joseph Smith and his family.  Well before the extermination order, the Lord promised, "They that remain and are pure in heart shall return and come to their inheritances; they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy" (D&C 98:4g).
    Numerous changes entered the church after the expulsion of the saints from Jackson County.  Perhaps, it remained under condemnation because it failed to "repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments" (D&C 83:8a).  On June 27, 1844, a mob killed Joseph Smith and the church soon thereafter splintered into over 20 factions.  Brigham Young led the majority of church members living in and around Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah, while many who remained scattered elsewhere joined the Reorganization, eventually returning their church's headquarters to Independence, MO.  The Church of Christ, Temple Lot (Hedrickites) is also headquartered in Independence, MO and owns the land on which Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site.  The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites) is headquartered in Monongahela, PA.
     The Utah church continued the changes that developed after its expulsion from Missouri, but the Reorganization accepted the organization as it existed in Kirtland when Joseph said, "I had now completed the organization of the Church."  It maintained original Mormonism, while the LDS Church instituted the changes made at Nauvoo.

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