"When Ye Are Assembled Together" : Congregational Patterns and Worship Practices of the Early Latter-day Saints 1829-1846
Brigham Young University
The worship experience in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inextricably linked to the ward or branch. This thesis examines the development of the Latter-day Saint congregation at the church centers from 1829 to 1846: Palmyra and Fayette, New York; Harmony, Pennsylvania; Kirtland, Ohio; Independence, Liberty and Far West in Missouri; and Nauvoo, Illinois. This work not only documents the creation and development of congregations, but also gives attention to the other important elements developed during the early years that are still associated with modern Latter-day Saint wards: meeting and worship patterns, physical locations where meetings took place, and leadership of local branches and wards. More on parameters and purpose is spelled out in Chapter 1. Each of the next three chapters deals with a time period and place, tracking all four of the elements of emphasis through an era. Chapter 2 briefly discusses meetings and groups before the official organization of the Church, and then continues on to consider the developments made in the three areas considered as Church centers: Fayette and Palmyra in New York and Harmony, Pennsylvania. The bulk of Chapter 2, however, deals with Kirtland, Ohio, which was headquarters for the Church for much of the 1830s. The three counties in Missouri that held the highest concentration of Saints--Jackson, Clay and Caldwell--are the area of study for Chapter 3. Eventually driven not only from all of these counties but also the state of Missouri, the Saints moved on to Illinois, the subject of Chapter 4. Quincy, Illinois was briefly considered the Church center until the purchase of the land that became Nauvoo. The final chapter synthesizes each of the four topics: congregational organization, meeting patterns, local leadership, and meeting places. Consequently, it is a brief overview of what advancements were made across all years and places studied in each area of focus.