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Priesthood Restoration Site

Harmony (Oakland Township), Pennsylvania

Introduction

The priesthood of God was restored to the earth near Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, in 1829. Joseph and Emma Smith had moved here in December 1827 to escape persecution. Here Joseph began translating the plates that had been delivered to him by the angel Moroni. Martin Harris came from New York and served as a scribe to the Prophet for the first 116 pages of the translation from April to June 1828. Those pages were lost due to disobedience and were never retranslated.

In early April 1829, Oliver Cowdery came to meet the Prophet and soon became his new scribe. During the translation, Joseph and Oliver went into the woods and prayed for guidance on the subject of baptism. In reply, the resurrected John the Baptist visited them on May 15, 1829, and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. 1 He then commanded Joseph and Oliver to baptize each other in the nearby Susquehanna River.

Most of the Book of Mormon 2 was translated at Harmony. Here, the Lord also gave the Prophet 15 revelations later published in the Doctrine and Covenants3

Joseph and Emma moved from Harmony in August 1830. The home they lived in burned down in 1919. From 1947 to 1959, the Church acquired the land where Joseph and Emma lived and about 6 acres of riverfront property where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored.

Quotes

Joseph Smith Quotes

We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us, in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. ("History of Joseph Smith," Times and Seasons, Aug. 1, 1842, 866.)

Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged either by God or angels. (History of the Church, 5:259.)

Witnesses

Oliver Cowdery, Witness to the Book of Mormon 

I was present with Joseph when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred on us, or restored, the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain upon the earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angel from on high. This Priesthood, we then conferred on each other by the will and commandment of God. (History of the Church, 1:41, footnote.)

Oliver Cowdery, Witness to the Book of Mormon 

The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel; the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me, past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior's goodness with wonder and thanksgiving. (History of the Church, 1:43, footnote.)

Key Events

Revelations Received

  • D&C Section 3  — 

    July 1828. Following the loss by Martin Harris of 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript, Joseph Smith inquired through the Urim and Thummim to know his own standing with the Lord.

  • D&C Section 4  — 

    Feb. 1829. Joseph Smith Sr. asked his son to inquire of the Lord concerning how Joseph Sr. could help in the Lord’s work.

  • D&C Section 5  — 

    Mar. 1829. A repentant Martin Harris asked Joseph Smith if he was still in possession of the plates and wanted him to inquire of the Lord if Martin would be privileged to see them.

  • D&C Section 6  — 

    Apr. 1829. Joseph Smith’s new scribe, Oliver Cowdery, desired an additional witness that the translation work was true. The Prophet inquired through the Urim and Thummim.

  • D&C Section 7  — 

    Apr. 1829. While Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were translating the plates, a difference of opinion arose concerning what had happened to John the Beloved. They inquired through the Urim and Thummim.

  • D&C Section 8  — 

    Apr. 1829. Having been promised the gift to translate (see D&C 6:25), Oliver Cowdery desired to assist in translating.

  • D&C Section 9  — 

    Apr. 1829. When Oliver Cowdery failed in his attempt to translate, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord on Oliver’s behalf to understand why.

  • D&C Section 10  — 

    Summer 1828. After Joseph Smith received section 3, Moroni took the plates and the Urim and Thummim. A short time later they were returned. The Prophet Joseph inquired of the Lord how to proceed with translation.

  • D&C Section 11  — 

    May 1829. Hyrum Smith asked Joseph, his brother, to ask the Lord’s will for him. Joseph inquired through the Urim and Thummim.

  • D&C Section 12  — 

    May 1829. Joseph Knight Sr. was anxious to know his duty as to the work of the Restoration.

  • D&C Section 13  — 

    May 15, 1829. While translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery desired to know more about baptism for the remission of sins. They walked to a nearby river and prayed. John the Baptist appeared.

  • D&C Section 24  — 

    July 1830. After ministering to the members in New York during a time of intense persecution, the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery arrived in Pennsylvania in need of encouragement and instruction.

  • D&C Section 25  — 

    July 1830. Emma Hale Smith—along with her husband, the Prophet Joseph—had suffered much persecution. The Prophet received this revelation for her.

  • D&C Section 26  — 

    July 1830. These instructions from the Lord encouraged and instructed the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, and the Whitmers, teaching them the importance of doing all things in the Church by common consent.

  • D&C Section 27  — 

    Aug. 1830. The Prophet Joseph and Emma Smith and Newel and Lydia Knight desired to partake of the sacrament. The Prophet went to procure wine for the service, and a heavenly messenger appeared to him.

Readings

Online Resources at LDS.org

Online Resources at BYU

  • "Priesthood Restoration Documents" – 

    All known statements (over 70) before 1850 about the restoration of either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

     Brian Q. Cannon, Brigham Young University Studies 35, no. 4 (1995–96): 162–207

 

Footnotes

[1] The Aaronic Priesthood deals with the temporal and outward ordinances of the law and the gospel. It holds the keys of the ministering of angels, of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism. The Aaronic Priesthood was restored to the earth in this dispensation on May 15, 1829. John the Baptist conferred it on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the banks of the Susquehanna River, near Harmony, Pennsylvania (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Aaronic Priesthood," 7–8).

[2] One of the standard works of the Church. An account of God's dealings with the people of the American continents from about 2,200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ to 421 years after the death of Jesus Christ. It was translated from gold plates by Joseph Smith and contains the fulness of the gospel (Gospel Principles, 377).

[3] A collection of latter-day divine revelations and inspired declarations. The Lord gave these to Joseph Smith and several of his successors for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. The Doctrine and Covenants is one of the standard works of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Doctrine and Covenants," 68).