14. “The Law of Consecration”

From the earliest days of the restored Church, members have been willing to sacrifice everything to build the kingdom of God and to demonstrate their obedience to God’s call.
Law of Consecration in Ohio

“Consecration: Law of Consecration,” Frank W. Hirschi, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The key principles given in the revelations are consistent with those required for celestial living: all things belong to God, and his people are stewards (D&C 38:17;104:11-14); individuals are to esteem others as themselves (D&C 38:24-27;51:3, 9;70:14;78:6;82:17); mankind must retain free agency (D&C 104:17); men and women are made equal according to their wants, needs, and family situations (D&C 51:3); and there must be accountability (D&C 72:3;104:13-18).

“Consecration: Consecration in Ohio and Missouri,” Karl R. Anderson, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The law of consecration was never fully practiced in Ohio but was implemented in Missouri in several forms between 1831 and 1839.

“Joseph Smith and the United Firm: The Growth and Decline of the Church’s First Master Plan of Business and Finance, Ohio and Missouri, 1832–1834,” Max H Parkin, BYU Studies, Vol. 46, no. 3
The United Firm was a business management company established by Joseph Smith (founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) that oversaw both the Church’s economic pursuits, such as maintaining properties, and some spiritual matters, such as publishing revelations and planning the city of Zion. Its board of managers essentially fulfilled roles later taken on by Church leaders when quorums were created. The term “United Firm” does not appear in the scriptures, and therefore the organization’s role has been misunderstood and underestimated. One of Joseph Smith’s pseudonyms for the United Firm was the United Order, but the United Order of Utah later started by Brigham Young functioned differently. This article sheds light on the enigmatic and vital role of Joseph Smith’s United Firm in early LDS Church history.

“An Introduction to the Kirtland Flats Ashery,” Benjamin C. Pykles, BYU Studies, Vol. 41, no. 1
In April 1832, in an attempt to alleviate the temporal responsibilities of Bishops Partridge and Whitney, a “Central Council” of five (later seven) men was created to supervise the business affairs of the Church in both Missouri and Ohio. Bishop Whitney was one of those chosen to comprise this council. Immediately, the Central Council established what was called the United Firm. This was “a joint-stewardship of the members of the council with the responsibility of holding properties in trust, assisting the poor, and supervising the establishment of merchandising stores in Ohio and Missouri.” Because of the potential of Bishop Whitney’s ashery to help fulfill these objectives, the council adopted the business as one of the properties to be owned in trust. This article describes how an  ashery operated in the 1830s.

“‘Give Up All and Follow Your Lord’: Testimony and Exhortation in Early Mormon Women’s Letters, 1831-1839,” Janiece Johnson, BYU Studies, Vol. 41, no. 1
The four women’s letters presented here demonstrated the women’s conversion and willingness to sacrifice everything for the gospel. Phebe Peck’s letter exhorts a sister to “give up all for Christ.”

Edward Partridge, the first bishop

“Edward Partridge in Painesville, Ohio,” Scott H. Partridge, BYU Studies, Vol. 42, no. 1
In 1830, Edward Partridge owned a hat-making factory and a retail store and a substantial house, and he had a wife and family to whom he was dedicated. This article looks in detail at Partridge’s background, his initial disbelief of the restored gospel, his mission, and his role as bishop. The law of consecration was not presented to the members of the Church as some kind of investment scheme in which they could participate or not participate as they chose. This temporal commitment was considered as sacred and binding as any of the religious rites of the Church. One could be “cut off” for opposing or not participating in the plan.

Consecration in Nauvoo

“‘Myself . . . I Consecrate to the God of Heaven’: Twenty Affidavits of Consecration in Nauvoo, June–July 1842,” Sherilyn Farnes and Mitchell K. Schaefer, BYU Studies, Vol. 50, no. 3.
This article presents twenty affidavits of consecration, handwritten in the summer of 1842 by Latter-day Saints, that demonstrate how the law of consecration was practiced in Nauvoo.