Question: Did Joseph Smith join the Presbyterian Church after the First Vision?

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Question: Did Joseph Smith join the Presbyterian Church after the First Vision?

S.F. Anderick claimed in 1887, 67 years after the First Vision, that Joseph Smith had joined the Presbyterian Church in the 1820s

S.F. Anderick (1887):

When Jo[seph Smith] joined the Presbyterian Church, in Palmyra village, it caused much talk and surprise, as he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord.[1]

Joseph likely attended the Presbyterian Church with his family, but no record exists of him being an actual member of the congregation

As Dan Vogel notes, "Because Lucy Smith and three of her older children joined the Presbyterian Church, together with the possibility that Joseph Jr. may have attended some meetings with other family members, some observers may have assumed Joseph Jr. was also a member."[2] (Vogel notes that Lorenzo Saunders claimed in 1884 that he attended Sunday School with Joseph at the Presbyterian Church, and so that attendance (without formal membership) may be the source for this reminiscence.[3]

The Anderick source may simply be recalling an occasion when the young Prophet attended a church service with his Presbyterian mother and siblings.

Notes

  1. Mrs. S.F. Anderick affidavit of 24 June 1887, cited in Arthur B. Deming, Naked Truths About Mormonism newspaper (January 1888), 2.; reproduced in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 2:207-211.
  2. Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 1:210n9.
  3. Lorenzo Saunders, interviewed by William H. Kelley, 17 September 1884, 1-18, in E.L. Kelley Papers, RLDS Church Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri; reproduced in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 1:125-135.