The members of the Quorum of Twelve who were present at the General Conference of 1887 remained in Kirtland and on April 21, 1887, issued an "Epistle" which discussed the duties of branch and district presidents and other matters. The Quorum revised this "Epistle" in 1888 and then asked the General Conference to endorse it. Action was postponed until 1889 and then until 1890. Under these circumstances the Quorum of Twelve asked the President of the Church to seek divine guidance, and in response to their prayers the following revelation was received through President Joseph Smith. It is dated April 8, 1890, at Lamoni, Iowa, and is addressed to "The First Presidency and Traveling High Council" (the Council of Twelve).
Unto my servants, the First Presidency and the traveling High Council of my church; thus saith the Spirit:
[Sec 120:1a] The epistle is to be left without approval, or disapproval by the conference, as the judgment of the Quorum of the Twelve, until further experience shall have tested the matters therein stated.
[Sec 120:1b] In the meantime, branches and their officers, and districts and their officers are to be considered as provided for by my law to carry on the work of the ministry in caring for the membership of the church, and to relieve the Twelve and Seventy from the vexation and anxiety of looking after local organizations when effected.
[Sec 120:1c] When branches and districts are organized, they should be so organized by direction of the conferences, or by the personal presence and direction of the Twelve, or some member of that quorum who may be in charge, if practicable;
[Sec 120:1d] or, if a branch, by the president of the district with the consent, knowledge, and direction of the missionary in charge, when circumstances prevent the missionary in charge being present.
[Sec 120:2a] A branch may be presided over by a high priest, an elder, priest, teacher, or deacon, chosen and sustained by the vote of the branch.
[Sec 120:2b] Districts may be presided over by a high priest, or an elder, who shall be received and sustained in his office by the vote of the district.
[Sec 120:2c] If a branch, or district be large, he who is chosen to preside should be an high priest, if there be one possessed of the spirit of wisdom to administer in the office of president;
[Sec 120:2d] or if an elder be chosen who may by experience be found qualified to preside, as soon as practicable thereafter he should be ordained an high priest by the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the one ordaining, and by direction of a high council, or General Conference, as required in the law.
[Sec 120:3a] There should be no conflict or jealousy of authority between the quorums of the church; all are necessary and equally honorable, each in its place.
[Sec 120:3b] The Twelve and Seventy are traveling ministers and preachers of the gospel, to persuade men to obey the truth;
[Sec 120:3c] the high priests and elders holding the same priesthood are the standing ministers of the church, having the watchcare of the membership and nurturing and sustaining them, under the direction and instruction of the Presidency and the Twelve.
[Sec 120:3d] The Seventy when traveling by the voice of the church, or sent by the Twelve to minister the word where the Twelve cannot go, are in the powers of their ministration apostles--those sent--and in meetings where no organization exists should preside, if no member of the Twelve or Presidency be present.
[Sec 120:4a] In both branches and districts the presiding officers should be considered and respected in their offices;
[Sec 120:4b] nevertheless, the traveling presiding councils of the church being made by the law, their calling and the voice of the church the directing, regulating and advising authorities of the church, and representing it abroad, should when present in either district or branch be regarded and considered as the leading representative authorities of the church, and be respected as such, their counsel and advice be sought and respected when given;
[Sec 120:4c] and in cases of conflict, or extremity, their decision should be listened to and regarded, subject to the appeal and adjudication provided for in the law.
[Sec 120:5] He that heareth him that is sent heareth the Lord who sent him, if he be called of God and be sent by the voice of the church.
[Sec 120:6] In these matters there is no conflict in the law.
[Sec 120:7a] In matters of personal importance and conduct arising in branches or districts, the authorities of those branches and districts should be authorized and permitted to settle them;
[Sec 120:7b] the traveling councils taking cognizance of those only in which the law and usages of the church are involved, and the general interests of the church are concerned.
[Sec 120:7c] Where cases of difficulty are of long standing, the council may require local authorities to adjust them; and in case of failure to do so, may regulate them as required by their office and duty; and this that the work and church may not be put to shame and the preaching of the word be hindered.
[Sec 120:8] That the traveling council of the Twelve may be better prepared to act as a quorum, my servant A. H. Smith may be chosen president of the Twelve, and any one of the council be chosen to act as its secretary, until the quorum be filled, or other instruction be given.
[Sec 120:9a] Those who were presented by the high priests for ordination to their number, if approved by the council of the high priests now present, and the conference, may be ordained;
[Sec 120:9b] and from their number there may be selected by a committee of conference composed of one of the First Presidency, the president of the Twelve and one other to be chosen by the Council of Twelve, the president of the high priests and one other to be chosen by that council of their number,
[Sec 120:9c] a sufficient number to fill the vacancies now existing in the high council, that the high council may be properly organized and prepared to hear matters of grave importance when presented to them.
[Sec 120:9d] And this committee shall make these selections according to the spirit of wisdom and revelation that shall be given unto them, to provide that such council may be convened at any General Conference when emergency may demand, by reason of their residing at or near to places where conferences may be held.
[Sec 120:10a] The presidents of Seventy are instructed to select from the several quorums of elders such as are qualified and in a condition to take upon them the office of Seventy, that they may be ordained unto the filling of the first quorum of Seventy.
[Sec 120:10b] In making these selections the presidents of Seventy should confer with the several quorums before so selecting, and be guided by wisdom and the spirit of revelation, choosing none but men of good repute.