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“A Life Lived in Crescendo” Firesides

Each of the presentations will be introduced by Richard E. Turley, Jr. Before his retirement, Rick served as assistant Church historian and later as managing director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department.

Presentations are scheduled for Sunday evenings at 6:00 PM Mountain Time. Online links for viewing the events will be available a few weeks prior to each presentation.


June 27, 2021

(Anniversary of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom)

R. Jean Addams
True to the End: The Culmination of the Earthly Ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith in His Martyrdom at Carthage

This fireside will begin by describing the premonitions of Joseph Smith about his impending death in the years preceding his tragic martyrdom. We will review the series of circumstances that led to his and his brother Hyrum’s demise at the hands of the mob that stormed the jail in Carthage. The little-known story of Joseph and Hyrum being rowed across the Mississippi River in the very early hours of the Sunday prior to their fateful trip to Carthage to consider options and secure legal counsel while out of the reach of his enemies will be told. The story demonstrates the devotion of the Prophet to his people and to the incredibly challenging destiny God had appointed for him. It further demonstrates the love of the Smith family and the Saints for their son, husband, brother, and friend. In all these events, the hand of God was clearly present during the tragedy and eventual triumph of the Prophet’s mission as a witness of Jesus Christ and His Restored Church.


October 17, 2021

(see Come, Follow Me Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 124; October 25–31)

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances

Because Joseph Smith became a Mason not long before he began to introduce others to the Nauvoo endowment, some suppose that Masonry must have been the starting point for his inspiration on temple matters. The real story, however, is not so simple. Though the introduction of Freemasonry in Nauvoo helped prepare the Saints for the endowment — both familiarizing them with elements they would later encounter in the Nauvoo temple and providing a blessing to them in its own right — an analysis of the historical record provides evidence that relevant truths about the plan of salvation, priesthood and temple doctrines, authority, and ordinances were revealed to the Prophet during the course of his early ministry, long before he got to Nauvoo. Further, many aspects of Latter-day Saint temple worship are well attested in the Bible and elsewhere in antiquity. Of course, temple ordinances — like all divine communication — must be adapted to different times, cultures, and practical circumstances. Happily, since the time of Joseph Smith, necessary alterations of the ordinances have been directed by the same divine authority that restored them in the first place.


October 24, 2021

(See Come, Follow Me Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 129–132; November 8–14)

Brian C. Hales
Doctrine and Covenants 132: Questions and Discussions

Doctrine and Covenants section 132 is undoubtedly the most controversial of all of Joseph Smith’s revelations because it mentions the practice of plural marriage. Ironically, it is also one of the least discussed of all of Joseph’s official teachings for the same reason. The Gospel Topics Essays encourage a new transparency on this subject including inquiring into specific historical and doctrinal points found in the revelation. This illustration-rich fireside presentation focuses on its historical context and provenance. It will also address questions like what is the “new and everlasting covenant” (vv. 4–6), the “one” man “anointed and appointed” (vv. 7, 18, 19), the “law” (v. 34), the “holy anointing” and polyandry (vv. 41-42), the “offer” Emma is to “partake not of” (51), and “the law of Sarah” (v. 65). In addition, did Joseph “trespass” against Emma and why does the revelation threaten her to be “destroyed” (vv. 54, 56, 64)? Other inquiries include: Does D&C 132 command believers then or today to be polygamists? How does D&C 132 describe Joseph Smith’s zenith teaching, which is not polygamy?


October 31, 2021

(See Come, Follow Me Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 129–132; November 8–14)

Ronald K. Esplin
“All the Measures of Joseph” – Keys and Continuity in the Succession of 1844

Joseph Smith well understood that Nauvoo provided his final opportunity to finish the foundation of the Restoration and complete the mission he had been given. He also knew that his time would be short for “according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere”— and others would finish the work he had begun.

It is not surprising then, in retrospect, that he wasted no time once a majority of the Twelve had returned to Nauvoo from Britain, now proven as a successful administrative and leadership quorum, to put them in the harness in new ways. Unwilling to wait until October conference, Joseph called a “special conference” in August 1841, the month following their return, to announce to the saints that the Quorum of the Twelve apostles would have enlarged responsibilities, overseeing with the First Presidency the entire church, rather than being restricted to carrying the gospel abroad, outside the stakes, as before. “Business of the Church given to the 12,” noted Willard Richard in his diary about this event that portended important future developments. From that point forward, Young and his fellow apostles were involved in all aspects of church governance and development. They were at Joseph’s side both publicly and in private, from the first temple-related ordinances in May 1842 through administration of additional ordinances and organization of the Council of Fifty in 1844.

This presentation offers an overview of how these new assignments, responsibilities and opportunities prepared Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve to “carry the burden in the heat of the day,” even in Joseph’s absence. It will show that Joseph saw to them receiving “every key and every power that he ever held himself before God,“ preparing them and fully empowering them to, as they proclaimed, “carry out all the measures of Joseph”—to complete on the foundation he laid the edifice he had envisioned and begun.


November 14, 2021

(See Come Follow Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 135–136; November 22–28)

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
“There’s the Boy I Can Trust”: Dennison Lott Harris’ First-Person Account of the Conspiracy of Nauvoo and Events Surrounding Joseph Smith’s “Last Charge” to the Twelve Apostles

A well-known account from early Church history describes how, in the spring of 1844, two young men, Dennison Lott Harris and Robert Scott, helped protect Joseph Smith from dissidents plotting against his life. We will present new research on these events, including the role of William Law, first counselor to the Prophet. Almost completely unknown, however, is Dennison’s account of his subsequent role as a firsthand witness to events that appear to have taken place on the morning of 26 March 1844, just prior to the meeting in which Joseph Smith gave his “Last Charge” to the Quorum of the Twelve and “roll[ed] the kingdom off [his] shoulders” onto theirs in the presence of the Council of Fifty. In addition, the article includes a discussion of the significance of apostolic succession then and now.


November 21, 2021

(See Come Follow Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 135–136; November 22–28)

Joseph I. Bentley and John W. Welch
Road to Martyrdom: Legal Aspects of Joseph Smith’s Last Days

This fireside will examine several lesser-known aspects of Joseph Smith’s road to martyrdom. In addition to mentioning outside opponents and background legal factors, we will focus on the motives of those Nauvoo insiders who were most instrumental in causing the prophet’s death. How early did their efforts begin? What were their three principal plans to kill him? Was Joseph’s order as Mayor to suppress the Nauvoo Expositor the main cause of his death on June 27, or was there another legal pretext?

As pressures mounted, why did Joseph and Hyrum cross the Mississippi River early Sunday morning, June 23? What did they do in Iowa? Why did they return to Nauvoo and go on Monday to Carthage? Why then did all the members of the Nauvoo City Council leave Joseph and Hyrum alone, trapped in Carthage? Where were the Twelve Apostles and Joseph’s friends? Where was Governor Ford, and the Carthage Greys? Who was in the mob that stormed the Carthage Jail, and where did they go? How was this all pulled off? Was it a perfect storm?

In its legal aftermath, what was the final outcome of the many Expositor riot cases? Did the Mormon insiders get compensated for the loss of their press? What were the legal charges that put Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage Jail until they were killed, and how did those legal matters finally play out? Did any members of the mob face an earthly justice? How did the martyrdom influence subsequent developments and the desired goal of driving all Mormons from Illinois?


November 28, 2021

(See Come, Follow Me, Doctrine and Covenants 135–136; November 22-28)

R. Jean Addams
Aftermath of the Martyrdom: The Aspirants to the Mantle of Joseph Smith and the Leadership of Brigham Young in the Months Following the Martyrdom

Feelings of foreboding were experienced by some members of the Quorum of the Twelve while serving missions in the northeastern states on June 27, 1844, the day the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated. Their promptings led them to return to Nauvoo in haste. We will discuss Sidney Rigdon’s efforts to assume guardianship of the Church in August 1844 and Brigham Young’s resounding response. Then, we will explore the various claims and results of efforts by several aspirants to claim the mantle of the deceased Prophet Joseph. Next, we will examine the solidifying influence of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, led by their president Brigham Young. Finally, I will recount the resulting exodus of the majority of the Saints from western Illinois to Iowa in early 1846. Young continued to deal with the “scattering” of certain individuals and their adherents for several more years and was required to provide the counsel and direction to those apostles that were assigned to facilitate the trek westward from Kanesville in the years that followed.


December 19, 2021
Delayed due to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional

(See Come, Follow Me Lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 129–132; November 8–14)

Barbara Morgan Gardner
Joseph Smith’s Teachings and Practices Relating to Eternal Marriage and the Eternal Family

The supernal doctrines and practices revealed to Joseph Smith about eternal marriage and family relationships are among the most precious truths of the Restoration of the Gospel. However, because the doctrine of “eternal marriage” seemed to fly in the face of the Savior’s own teachings on the subject (see Matthew 22:30; Luke 20:34-35). In this presentation I will address specific questions relating to doctrines such as the new and everlasting covenant, the patriarchal priesthood, priesthood order, and covenants, as well as associated practices that persist to our day. In doing so, I will draw on the rich doctrines revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 132 and 128. I will also discuss the additional line-upon-line unfolding of the doctrines and practices relating to temple ordinances that occurred during the ministry of Wilford Woodruff.

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