The School of the Prophets
Who could have known that out of such small beginnings would come forth such great things.
It began in December 1832. A revelation was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith that commanded, “I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves” DC 88:74.
Accordingly on January 22, 1833, the School of the Prophets was organized with 14 charter members, among whom were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, and Levi W. Hancock. For the next three months these men met in a small room on the second floor of the Newel K. Whitney Store. They had been instructed by revelation to “teach one another the doctrine of the Kingdom” (DC 88:77) Their curriculum was “of things both in heaven and in the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass, things which are at home, things which are abroad” (DC 88:79). In short, they were to learn everything about everything, and why? The Lord said, “That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you” (DC 88:80).
The discipline expected of these men was extraordinary. They were to rise before dawn, and come to school fasting and praying. They were to love one another, cease from all laughter, light speeches, pride, and all wicked doings. They were to retire to their beds early and arise early, and above all things they were to clothe themselves with charity.
After a full day of fasting and instruction, they would partake of sacramental bread and wine around 4 pm, and the school would close for the day.
It was on February 27, 1833 that another revelation was received directed to those brethren—a revelation intended to purify them spiritually. We call it today the Word of Wisdom.
On March 18, 1833, the Prophet Joseph boldly announced to the brethren that those sufficiently pure would see visions. On that day, sometime around noon, John Murdock described,
“The visions of my mind were opened, and the eyes of my understanding were enlightened and I saw the form of a man most lovely. The visage of his face was sound and fair as the sun. His hair a bright silver gray, curled in the most majestic form. His eyes a keen, penetrating blue, and the skin of his neck a most beautiful white. And he was covered from the neck to the feet with a loose garment, pure white, whiter than any garment I have ever before seen. His countenance was most penetrating, and yet most lovely. And while I was endeavoring to comprehend the whole personage from head to feet, it slipped from me and the vision was closed up. But it left on my mind the impression of love for months that I never felt before to that degree.”
To have experienced such things, and to have spent three months, learning at the feet of the Prophet Joseph—can you imagine?
This was the first official Church School—the beginnings of the Church Educational System. For any of you who have attended a seminary class, a Church school, Sunday School—or any class, anywhere, sponsored by the Church—that little group of men coming to school on those cold Kirtland mornings and the principles they espoused are a standard and an example to us all.
Building Faith Through Church History