History of the Church Series | BYU Studies

History of the Church Series

April 4, 2017
History of the Church Series
The Quest for a Restoration: The Birth of Mormonism in Ohio
Milton V. Backman, Jr.

This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Milton V. Backman Jr.. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

After learning of the significant increase in Church membership in Ohio during the winter of 1830-1831, many ask why the conversions were so numerous in that section of America. Why was the Western Reserve such a fruitful field ready to harvest at the beginning of the 1830s? An examination of the religious conditions in Kirtland and vicinity in 1830 provides one key describing the fertile conditions prevailing there then. Immediately prior to the introduction of Mormonism in the Western Reserve, four Christian societies worshipped in Kirtland--Congregationalists, Methodists, Regular Baptists, and a group sometimes called "reformers" who were not affiliated with any denomination but were seeking a return to New Testament Christianity. As clearly enunciated in many revelations recorded by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the field was white, all ready to harvest, and one of the most fruitful fields in the early nineteenth century was northeastern Ohio.