The First Bishops of the Church

“The First Bishops of the Church,” Friend, May 1985, 18

The First Bishops of the Church

Adapted from Doctrine and Covenants Stories (PBIC037A)

Saints move to Ohio

1 Wicked people living among the Saints in New York made it necessary for them to leave. In January 1831 the Lord instructed Joseph Smith to move to Ohio. Joseph; his wife, Emma; Sidney Rigdon; and Edward Partridge moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Joseph and Emma lived with Newell K. Whitney, a member of the Church. (See Church History 1:142, 145–146.)

Edward Partridge called as a Bishop

2 By February nearly one hundred members of the Church were living in Kirtland. Because there were parts of the gospel that the Saints didn’t understand, the Lord told Joseph that they needed a full-time bishop to help them live the gospel. Edward Partridge was called to be the first bishop of the Church. (See D&C 41:9; D&C 41:preface.)

The Bishop to care for the needy

3 The Lord told Joseph Smith that the bishop was to take care of the Lord’s storehouse, where food, clothing, and other necessities were to be kept for the needy. The bishop was also charged with the care and wise use of any money contributed to the Church by the Saints where he presided. (See D&C 72:10–12.)

Another Bishop called

4 As more people joined the Church, more bishops were needed. Newell K. Whitney was appointed and ordained to be the second bishop in the Church. (See D&C 72:8.)

Bishops to meet with members

5 Bishops should love the Saints and try to help them. They should meet often with priesthood members and encourage them to help the Saints under their stewardship. (See D&C 72:5, 11.)

There are thousands of Bishops now

6 Bishops oversee all that goes on in their wards. Branch presidents are like bishops, and they are the overseers in their branches. Today there are thousands of these brethren in the Church.