The time had now come for the installation of special officers to take charge of the missionary work, which was fast becoming a very large and important part of the church activities. As long before as June, 1829, Joseph had been told that the time would come when twelve apostles would be appointed and sent into the world, even as the twelve apostles in the time of Christ, and the disciples in the church upon this continent.1
Joseph Smith told a number of the brethren that there was a special blessing in store for them, and they gathered at Kirtland on the 14th of February, 1835. After preliminary prayer and song, President Smith told of a coming endowment in the priesthood. He then asked all those who went to Zion if they agreed with him. These men were sitting in a body, and all arose. He talked for awhile then on the choosing of the twelve, and after he had spoken at some length, asked who "was willing to have the Spirit of the Lord dictate in the choosing of the elders to be apostles." All signified their willingness. After singing "Hark, Listen to the Trumpeters," a peculiarly appropriate hymn, the meeting was dismissed for one hour.
Upon reassembling they were told that the first business was the selection of the first Quorum of Twelve by the Three Witnesses. Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer accordingly prayed one at a time in turn, and were then blessed that they might be guided in the important work about to be done. After deliberation they then presented the following names:
1. Lyman E. Johnson.
2. Brigham Young.
3. 14eber C. Kimball.
4. Orson Hyde.
5. David W. Patten.
6. Luke Johnson.
7. William E. McLellin.
8. John F. Boynton.
9. Orson Pratt.
10. William Smith.
11. Thomas B. Marsh.
12. Parley P. Pratt.
The first three named came forward and were ordained under the hands of the Three Witnesses, and after singing "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," the congregation was dismissed.
The next day was Sunday, and upon the assembling of the congregation, Oliver Cowdery spoke of the nature of the service. They then proceeded to the ordination of Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke Johnson, William McLellin, John F. Boynton, and William Smith; David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery officiating. On the following Saturday, February 21, Parley P. Pratt was also ordained, or as he says, "took the oath and covenant of apostleship."
There were still two of the chosen twelve absent on missions and when they returned, Thomas B. Marsh on the 25th of April and Orson Pratt on the 26th, they were duly ordained, and the whole quorum received a beautiful and appropriate charge from Oliver Cowdery, following which he took each of them by the hand and said:
"Do you with full, purpose of heart take part in this ministry, to proclaim the gospel with all diligence, with these your brethren, according to the tenor and intent of the charge you have received?"
Every one of them replied in the affirmative.
On the 28th the church in council assembled proceeded to select from the number of those who went up to Missouri in Zion's Camp forty-five men who were considered worthy to belong to the first Quorum of Seventy.
On March 1, after attending to the confirmation of some who had been baptized and partaking of the Communion (which in those days always followed a confirmation), the ordination of the men chosen on the previous day took place, and Joseph Young and Sylvester Smith were ordained presidents of seventy.
On March 12, the Quorum of Twelve met and decided to go for a mission in the East "for the purpose of regulating all things necessary for their welfare," which seemed to consist in the process of organizing "conferences" (now known as districts) wherever there were enough "branches" in close proximity to make this advisable. They were to leave Kirtland May 4, and they published their schedule of conferences in advance. Before they started they met in council and selected Thomas B. Marsh, the oldest of their number, to be the president of the quorum.
The seventies also scattered to their missions, going two by two except in very rare instances. On the 28th of December, they again met in Kirtland, and Joseph Smith records the event in his diary in these words:
Monday, the 28th....This day the Council of Seventy met to render an account of their travels and ministry, since they were ordained to that apostleship. The meeting was interesting indeed, and my heart was made glad while listening to the relation of those who had been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord with such marvelous success. And I pray God to bless them with an increase of faith and power, and keep them all, with the endurance of faith in the name of Jesus Christ to the end.2
These ordinations and the spiritual endowment that accompanied them gave new impetus to the missionary.
1 Book of Mormon, page 635, authorized edition, Lamoni, Iowa, 1919.
2 Church History, Volume 1, page 626; Millennial Star, Volume 15, pages 548, 549.