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When Was the Mormon Church Founded?


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) was founded April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York. Joseph Smith Jr. presided over and conducted that day’s events under the direction of God.

Review certain events that occurred before April 6, 1830, in order for the Church to be restored and founded.

Christ's Original Church

When Jesus taught and ministered to people during His mortal life, He also called twelve Apostles. These men not only followed and learned from Jesus, but they also became the leaders of Christ’s Church after His death and Resurrection. Eventually, people rejected the Apostles and many of the Apostles died as martyrs. Because of this rejection and martyrdom of most of the Apostles, God did not call additional Apostles and He removed His authority from the earth. This period, known in the Mormon Church as the Great Apostasy, lasted for hundreds of years. Without divine guidance, the organization of Christ’s original Church was changed and His doctrines reinterpreted. Many factions of Christianity arose, each claiming its own leadership and authority.

Joseph Smith's First Vision

When Joseph Smith was growing up in upstate New York, there were many Christian churches and ministers in his community, all preaching different things. When Joseph was just 14 years old, he didn’t know which church was right to join. He was confused about which church taught the same gospel Jesus had taught in the New Testament.

One day while reading the Bible, Joseph came across James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” After reading that verse, he felt that he should pray and ask God which church he should join.

On a spring morning in 1820, Joseph went to a grove of trees near his family’s farm, knelt in prayer, and followed James’s advice to ask God which church to join. While praying, God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph in a vision. God told him that he shouldn’t join any of the churches because none of them contained all of His truth. He said that many church leaders’ hearts were not set on God and that these leaders were teaching the commandments of men. But God reassured Joseph that in the near future, His gospel would be revealed.

Book of Mormon Translation

In the fall of 1827, under the direction of an angel named Moroni, who was sent from God, Joseph received golden plates that contained the history of people who lived in the Americas. This group of people came from Jerusalem around 600 BC. They knew of Jesus Christ and His gospel. They recorded their history and testimonies of faith in Jesus. With the help of others, including Martin Harris, Emma Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith translated the ancient writings.

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was first printed in 1830 in New York. This book of scripture is a companion to the Bible and is a record of Jesus and His teachings.

Restoration of the Priesthood

Since ancient times, prophets and apostles have been given the authority to act in God’s name. Jesus himself gave this priesthood authority to the original Twelve Apostles while He was alive. When these men passed away, however, the priesthood authority was removed from the earth.

Before the Mormon Church could be organized, that priesthood authority needed to be restored.

In May 1829, Joseph and Oliver were visited by the resurrected John the Baptist. He gave them priesthood authority, and under his direction, they baptized each other. Later, three of Jesus’s original Apostles—Peter, James, and John—restored further priesthood authority to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. With the restoration of priesthood authority, Joseph was authorized to restore the Church of Jesus Christ, or the Mormon Church, which he did on April 6, 1830.