This is the second installment of a two-part article dealing with some of the people of the Doctrine and Covenants. Like the first part in the Jan. 7 Church News, it covers a variety of characters and personalities, some who remained faithful, some who fell away, and some who repented and returned to full fellowship in the Church.
David W. Patten - Called on a mission in D&C 114. In D&C 124:19, the Lord indicates David Patten "is with me at this time." He had been killed with two other Church members at the battle of Crooked River on Oct. 25, 1838, when they attempted to defend their brethren against enemies of the Church. One of the Twelve, Elder Patten healed many people, as Joseph Smith attested. (See HC 1:408-409).William W. Phelps - Section 55 is directed to Phelps, wherein he is called to be baptized, preach the gospel, and to help select and write books for children in Church schools. In D&C 57:11, he is designated as printer for the Church. A newspaper editor before his conversion, he published the first Church newspaper, The Evening and The Morning Star, and helped select, prepare and publish the revelations in the Book of Commandments, forerunner to the Doctrine and Covenants. Chastized for doing things not pleasing in the sight of the Lord, he became bitter, and testified against Church leaders at a military court of inquiry in Richmond, Mo., in 1838. On March 17, 1839, he was excommunicated. The following year, he wrote to Joseph Smith and asked for forgiveness. The Prophet, in his letter of reply, wrote: "Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, for friends at first are friends again at last." Thereafter, Phelps was a faithful Church member until his death in Salt Lake City on March 7, 1872.
Orson Pratt - In Section 34, Elder Pratt is called to preach the gospel. He responded, performing many missions in the United States and abroad, and baptizing many people. Converted through the preaching of his elder brother, Parley, he helped construct the Kirtland Temple, marched with Zion's Camp, and, in 1835, was called to the Quorum of the Twelve. He is mentioned in Section 136 as a captain of one of the companies of pioneers. He was Church Recorder and Historian from 1874 until his death Oct. 3, 1881.
Parley P. Pratt - Mentioned in seven revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants focusing on missionary work and his membership in the Quorum of the Twelve, which he received in February 1835. His writings are famous, including the pamphlets The Voice of Warning and Key to Theology. He was the first editor of the Millennial Star. On May 15, 1857, while on a mission near the Arkansas border, he was murdered, becoming one of the first apostolic martyrs in this dispensation. His dying words were his testimony of the gospel of Christ as revealed through Joseph Smith.
Willard Richards - Called to fill a position in the Quorum of the Twelve and ordained April 14, 1840, in England, the first apostle in this dispensation ordained in a foreign land. (D&C 118:6.) A physician, he was also private secretary to Joseph Smith, keeping the Prophet's journals, and later was Church Historian and Recorder. He was in Carthage Jail with the Prophet. Minutes before the martyrdom, he pledged that if Joseph Smith were condemned to be hanged for treason, he would be hanged in the Prophet's place. As events unfolded, Richards was the only survivor of the martyrdom to be unharmed. He later served as second counselor to Brigham Young and was the first editor of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. He died in Salt Lake City on March 11, 1854.
Sidney Rigdon - Mentioned more often in the Doctrine and Covenants than any other person except Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon was compared in D&C 35:3-6 to John the Baptist; that is, through his preaching prior to his conversion to the Church, he prepared many people to accept the truth restored through Joseph Smith. He was called as a counselor to Joseph Smith, and, with the Prophet, received the heavenly vision recounted in D&C 76. Ultimately, however, he was unable to submit to the will of the Lord. The Prophet sought to have him released from the First Presidency in October 1843, but the members in a conference of the Church voted to retain him for another year. After the martyrdom, he made a bid to be named "guardian" for the Church but the membership accepted the authority of the Council of the Twelve over Rigdon. Thereafter, his efforts to organize a following failed. He died in Friendship, N.Y., July 14, 1876.
John Taylor - Called in D&C 118:6 as a missionary, and in D&C 124:129 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He authored Section 135, the report of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Elder Taylor was present and seriously wounded during the martyrdom, but his life was preserved and he succeeded Brigham Young as the third president of the Church. His biographer, B.H. Roberts, said he was a "double martyr" because his death July 25, 1887, was from ill health suffered from persecution heaped upon him by enemies of the Church.
David Whitmer - One of the six original members of the Church and one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Four revelations, sections 14, 17, 18 and 30 were directed toward him, dealing with establishing Zion. Throughout his life he bore fervent testimony of the Book of Mormon, but he was excommunicated April 13, 1838, for not observing the Word of Wisdom and for unchristianlike conduct. Though he never again united with the Church, while visited by apostles Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith on Sept. 7, 1878, he again bore testimony of seeing the plates and the angel. He repeated his testimony on his deathbed at Richmond, Mo., Jan. 25, 1888, at age 83.
John Whitmer - The subject of revelations in Sections 15, 26 and 30, dealing with preaching the gospel, and in 47, wherein he was called as the first regularly appointed Church historian. He was one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. He was excommunicated March 10, 1838, at Far West, Mo., "for persisting in unchristianlike conduct," having kept $2,000 of Church funds, along with David Whitmer and William W. Phelps. He died at Far West on July 11, 1878, having never denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Peter Whitmer Jr. - One of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Sections 16 and 30 were directed to him, dealing with declaring the gospel. He was called in D&C 32:2 on a mission to the Lamanites. He died in Liberty, Mo., Sept. 22, 1836, a few months after being called to serve on the high council.
Newel K. Whitney - In D&C 63:42-45, Whitney is instructed to retain his store and impart all the money he can to be sent to Zion, and to be an agent to the disciples who will tarry. He is mentioned in 10 other sections. Soon after his baptism, he was personally visited by Joseph Smith, beginning a long friendship. At Whitney's residence, some of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received. He was called as second bishop of the Church in December 1831. He became Presiding Bishop of the Church on April 6, 1847, and served until his death on Sept. 23, 1850.
Lyman Wight - Mentioned in Sections 52, 103 and 124. One of the first high priests in the Church, he testified at a conference in Kirtland in June 1831 that he saw the Savior in vision. He was confined with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Liberty Jail. He became a member of the Council of the Twelve, filling the vacancy when David W. Patten was martyred. He was noted for courage in defending the life of the Prophet. But after the Prophet's martyrdom, he fell away from the Church. He led a colony to Texas and was excommunicated Dec. 3, 1848. He died March 31, 1858.
Frederick G. Williams - Called in Section 81 to be a high priest and counselor to Joseph Smith, although the section was originally directed to Jesse Gause, who was excommunicated and replaced by Williams. He was a member and paymaster of Zion's Camp. He participated in the building of the Kirtland Temple, and, at the dedicatory services, saw an angel. But he was unfaithful to his responsibilities and was excommunicated in 1837. He was readmitted to the Church in 1838, but fell away again and was excommunicated March 17, 1839. The following year, he was extended the hand of fellowship and died a faithful Church member on Oct. 10, 1842, at Quincy, Ill.
Wilford Woodruff - The fourth president of the Church, he is mentioned as being called to the Council of the Twelve in D&C 118:6, and to organize a pioneer company for the journey west in D&C 136:16. His name appears in Official Declaration 1 as the issuer of the Manifesto, and in D&C 138:53 as among of the choice ones in the Spirit World. He participated in Zion's Camp and served valiantly as a missionary. While on a mission to the Eastern States and Fox Islands, he was called as a member of the Council of the Twelve. In 1898, in the St. George Temple, he was visited by the signers of the Declaration of Independence and other notable men of history who wanted him to see that their temple work was performed. He died Sept. 2, 1898, having served nine years as president of the Church.
Brigham Young - One of the original Twelve Apostles in this dispensation, he assumed the prophetic mantle as president of that quorum after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. He led the saints' colonization of the Rocky Mountains. President Young spent two years scrutinizing the doctrines of the Church before being baptized on April 14, 1832. From 1844 to 1847, he was president of the Twelve, and then the First Presidency was reorganized with him as president of the Church. Section 136 was revealed to him as prophet. He died Aug. 29, 1877, at his home in Salt Lake City.