Highlights of Church history in Pennsylvania
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Here are highlights of events pertaining to Church history in Pennsylvania:
December 1827-August 1830: Joseph and Emma Smith live most of the time in Harmony (present-day Oakland). There, Joseph translates most of the Book of Mormon. Beginning in July 1828, revelations now published as Sections 3-13 and 24-27 in the Doctrine and Covenants are received in Harmony.
May 15, 1829: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receive the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist near the Susquehannah River at Harmony. Fulfilling John's directive, they then baptize each other in the river. On an unrecorded date shortly thereafter, Peter, James and John appear to Joseph and Oliver in the same vicinity and confer upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood.
1838-39: Missionaries journey throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties surrounding Philadelphia. Lorenzo Barnes and Elisha Davis have success in Chester County, and Benjamin Winchester, after a debate with a Presbyterian minister, baptizes several in Philadelphia.
Dec. 23, 1839: En route to Washington, D.C., Joseph Smith on his birthday establishes the first Pennsylvania branch of the Church in Philadelphia.
Jan. 25, 1840: On the same journey, Joseph establishes the Brandywine Branch in Chester County.
1840: Benjamin Winchester, presiding elder in Philadelphia, begins publication of a Church periodical, the Gospel Reflector.
1841: Consistent with the principle of gathering, converts in Pennsylvania begin to move to Nauvoo, Ill.
April 1843: Jedediah M. Grant is appointed presiding elder in Philadelphia.
1844: The leadership succession crisis in the wake of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage, Ill., impacts the Church in Philadelphia. Sidney Rigdon begins to seek adherents in the Philadelphia area, and Jedediah M. Grant, who had been called away to campaign for the Prophet's candidacy for U.S. president, returns to Philadelphia to advocate the leadership of the Quorum of the Twelve.
1845: Eastern States Mission President Jesse C. Little visits the Church in Philadelphia and discourses on the need to gather with the saints who are preparing to embark for the Rocky Mountains.
May 13, 1846: Thomas L. Kane, an influential, Philadelphia-born military colonel, attends a conference of the Church in Philadelphia out of curiosity. He thereafter becomes an advocate for the Mormons. His address in 1850 to the Philadelphia Historical Society, other lectures and his book on the Mormons influence public opinion in their favor.
1855: From the mid-1850s, Church membership in the Philadelphia area experiences a resurgence, due in part to the influx of converts from Europe and the British Isles.
1857-58: Missionaries are called home due to the Utah War, and the Eastern States Mission is closed; Church membership in the Philadelphia area wanes thereafter.
1873-1886: George Barnes and other former members of the Bickertonite group begin meeting in New England village to study LDS scripture. After they request a visit from LDS missionaries, branches are organized in May 1886 at Little Redstone and New England.
1882: Missionaries baptize Emanuel Rock and appoint him president of what soon is called the Fairview Branch.
1893-1900: After the Eastern States Mission is re-established, conferences are organized in eastern and western Pennsylvania.
1904: Fairview Branch members build a stone meetinghouse in Waynesboro, the first LDS structure in Pennsylvania.
October 1960: The Philadelphia Stake is organized, with units in southeastern Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
May 1969: The Pittsburgh Stake is organized.
Sept. 17, 2011: Ground is broken for the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, which will serve a district comprising more than 32,000 Church members in eight stakes.