Calling of the First Mormon Missionaries in this Dispensation
|As recorded in the New Testament, Christ asked his disciples to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”1 When the gospel was again restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He again commanded his people to be missionaries and teach the gospel. Joseph Smith himself traveled throughout Massachusetts and Canada preaching the gospel. During the early years of the Church, most mission calls came directly through Joseph Smith as divine revelation. In June of 1830, Samuel Smith, Joseph’s younger brother was called to be a missionary. As far as records of the Church indicate, Samuel was the first official Mormon missionary. This first mission was difficult, and when Samuel returned home, he believed that he had accomplished little, but Samuel’s mission led many to the Church, including Phineas Young–the brother of Brigham Young, who became the second President of the Church. In September of 1830, Thomas B. Marsh was called as a missionary. On October 8, 1830, a third mission call was extended. These missionaries were called to teach the gospel to the Native Americans on the frontier of Missouri. The revelation, which can now be found in Doctrine and Covenants section 32, was received in Fayette, New York, and Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer and Ziba Peterson were those who were named to go on this mission.
On October 29, the group of missionaries arrived in Kirtland, Ohio. While in Kirtland this group of missionaries converted about 130 people in three weeks. This great success in Kirtland was influential in the decision to move the headquarters of the Mormon Church to Kirtland. Many of those who were converted in this group were later leaders in the Church. The missionaries left Kirtland around November 20th to continue on to Missouri.Shortly after the first missionaries were called to preach to the Native Americans, Ezra Thayer and Northrop Sweet were called on October 18, 1830, to be missionaries. The missionary efforts of the Church never stopped. In June of 1837, Heber C. Kimball, then an apostle, was called to preach the gospel in England, and in 1838, other members of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles were called by Joseph Smith to be missionaries. The efforts of the first missionaries were influential and reached many. By 1841, more than 6,000 people had joined the Church as a result of the missionaries sent to England. Being called to be a missionary is a divine calling; it is God that calls the missionaries, and God who leads them to those who are looking for the gospel. Joseph Smith prophesied that missionary work would continue in the Mormon Church until the gospel reached every nation, tongue, and kindred. Today, this prophecy is still being fulfilled, and there are now more than 50,000 missionaries serving in more than 160 countries.See the next article in the timeline series.
1 Mark 16: 15. King James Version of the Bible