New Book!



The Council of Friends 

Throughout the 1920s, Church leaders worked diligently to neutralize the efforts of the budding fundamentalists.  President Heber J. Grant issued stern warnings denouncing their teachings and practices in 1925, 1926, and 1931.[1]  Finally in June 1933, the First Presidency comprised of Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., issued an “Official Statement,” which was published in the The Deseret News, Church Section.[2]  Called by many the “Final Manifesto,” it was penned by Second Counselor Clark[3] and warned “that polygamous or plural marriages are not and cannot now be performed” and was written “in order that there may be no excuse for any Church member to be misled by the false representations or the corrupt, adulterous practices of the members of this secret, and (by reputation) oath-bound organization.”[4]

The declaration did more than simply clarify Church doctrine and advise Church members, it also assisted in transforming “a rag-tag collection of polygamist sympathizers... into a cohesive movement.”[5]  With Joseph Musser at the typewriter, Woolley,[6] Broadbent, and Barlow fired back by publishing one of the most revolutionary teachings to ever emerge from Mormon fundamentalism.


Within months of the First Presidency’s June 1933 message, Mormon fundamentalists refuted the Church’s long held beliefs regarding presiding priesthood leadership and sealing authority.  Many of the ideas published were previously unknown to both Latter-day Saints and excommunicated polygamists.  If true, they preempted the claims made by Church leaders regarding the keys of sealing.[7] 

The first hints were provided in a new book entitled The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage authored by Joseph Musser.[8]  Receiving the first editions months later in October, he promptly “Mailed a copy to each of General Authorities, and placed some in the Book Stores.”[9]  At that time, one devout polygamist, Charles Zitting, “was praying about when the Church shall be set in order and a voice audibly told him ‘That the forces are not strong enough, but when Bro. Joseph’s book comes out the numbers will increase rapidly.’“[10] 

Musser spent the next week distributing more copies of The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage[11] wherein he explained that “there is a Priesthood organization greater than that of the Church; and that Priesthood always has, can now and will continue to function aside from and independent of the Church.”[12]  Joseph Musser’s book provided the very first introduction to the idea that there is a PRIESTHOOD[13] organization “above the Church, being God’s power on earth.”[14]  In another publication printed the following year, Musser, with J. Leslie Broadbent collaborating, explained: 

   It is apparent that three distinct organizations have been set up by the Lord... defined as follows:

(a)        The Priesthood B comprising a definite body of Presiding High Priests and anciently know as the Sanhedrin B meaning the power of God on earth.

(b)        The Kingdom of God[15] B an appendage organization B and the channel through which the power and authority of God functions in managing the earth and the inhabitants thereof in things political.

(c)        The Church of Jesus Christ B being the propaganda division of the Priesthood B an appendage thereof B having only ecclesiastical jurisdiction over its members.[16]


            In a later pamphlet, A Priesthood Issue, Musser further clarified the subordinate position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the PRIESTHOOD organization he was describing:  “The Church might be termed the spiritual branch or propaganda division of the Priesthood.  To its sacred care is entrusted the duty of proclaiming the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ to mankind - of guarding and administering God’s Holy ordinances necessary to the salvation and exaltation of man.  It might be said by way of comparison that the Church and the Kingdom - both appendage organizations - are to the Priesthood what the Sabbath Schools, Mutual Improvement Associations, etc., are to the Church - they are the tools or vehicles used by the Priesthood in accomplishing God’s purposes on earth.”[17]

The PRIESTHOOD as described is different from the Church in that it does not sustain its leaders under the law of common consent (D&C 26:2).  “Inasmuch as this is a Priesthood movement, it isn’t necessary to follow the rule of the Church who vote our officers in or out,” explained Musser in a discourse.[18] 

The Council of Friends 

According to the doctrines disclosed by Woolley, Broadbent, Barlow and Musser, the PRIESTHOOD organization is presided over by a “Council of Seven Friends,”[19] which is the highest priesthood council on earth:  “This group is no more or less than a body of Presiding High Priests, and is referred to in the records as ‘Friends,’ ‘Council of the Presidency,’ ‘Presidency of the High Priesthood,’ etc.  It has original jurisdiction on earth, its authority coming directly from God.  Others receiving the Priesthood receive it at the hands of this group, and it is a delegated power.  All offices in the church and Kingdom are appendages to this order of Priesthood.”[20] 

Throughout the decades since 1933, fundamentalist writers have referred to the “Council of Friends” as the:  “Presiding High Priests,”[21] “Quorum of High Priest Apostles,”[22] the “Council of Friends of God,”[23] the “Presidency of the Priesthood,”[24] “Presidency of the Council of High Priesthood,”[25] the “Great High Priesthood Council,”[26] and “Council of the Church before the Presidency of the High Priesthood.”[27]  Today, it is usually referred to as simply the “Priesthood Council” by the various polygamist groups that have perpetuated it.[28]    

Lorin C. Woolley often referred to this Council’s members as simply “the Friends,” or “the Friends of the Priesthood.”[29]  He taught that the “Friends have jurisdiction over life and death.”[30]  Lorin was also very consistent in specifying that throughout the nineteenth century, it always contained seven members,[31] and sometimes he referred to the Council as simply “the Seven.”[32]  In the twentieth century, the number has apparently varied between one[33] and fourteen or more.[34]  It is reported that in 2005, the Allred Group Priesthood Council contained seven members and the Priesthood Council of the FLDS Church in Colorado City, Arizona barely had one.[35]

As Lorin dictated in 1932, Joseph Musser listed the previous members of the Council of Friends:[36] 


Council of Seven Friends



(as Dictated by

Lorin C. Woolley

9 November 1932)












Joseph Smith


Joseph Smith


John Taylor


John Taylor


Lorin C. Woolley


Brigham Young


Brigham Young


John W. Woolley


John W. Woolley


J. Leslie Broadbent


Heber C. Kimball


Heber C. Kimball


L.W. Shurtliff


Lorin C. Woolley


John Y. Barlow


Hyrum Smith


Willard Richards


I. O. Smoot


Joseph F. Smith


Joseph W. Musser


Edward Partridge


James Adams




Willford Woodruff


Charles S. Zitting


David Patten


Newel K. Whitney


Lorin C. Woolley


Charles H. Wilcken


LeGrand Woolley


Joseph Stockbridge (?)[37]


William Law


Joseph F. Smith


John Smith


Louis A. Kelsch


In the publication Priesthood Items (later expanded and renamed A Priesthood Issue), Musser and Broadbent provided the names of other men that they believed were members of the Council of Friends in their respective times.[38]  Like the names provided by Woolley in the chart above, these teachings generate important questions because of the apparent membership inconsistencies.[39]

Musser outlined the supremacy and infallibility of the Council of Friends in 1942: “When a person comes to me with a message from God who is not in the Council of the Priesthood [the Council of Friends], then I will not receive it, for I claim that right to receive that message from God myself; that is my right and privilege.  If I go wrong, and try to or do lead the Saints astray, then the Lord will take me away or bring me down to repentance.  The Priesthood of God can never lead this people astray...  I want all of us to be prepared to follow the Priesthood Council.  If we lead you astray, God will set us right.  We are not subject to any individual below the authority of God.”[40]  If the “Priesthood were putting forth falsehoods it would cease to function as the Priesthood of God on earth.  If God permitted such He would cease to be God.”[41] 

High Priest Apostles 

According to this remarkable teaching, the individual members of the Council of Friends each hold the office of “High Priest Apostle.”[42]   Musser and Broadbent explained: “The High Priest Apostleship is the highest Apostolic order, following which is the order of the Twelve.”[43]  Musser further explained in 1941: “God runs the Priesthood; it is a theocracy.  Joseph [Smith] was at the head.  He went out and chose twelve apostles to operate the Priesthood; they were high priest apostles.”[44]

           Charles Zitting, who heard Woolley teach many times in the early 1930s, and who was himself ordained a High Priest Apostle by Lorin in 1932, wrote: “We were informed by President Lorin C. Woolley that a High Priest Apostle should have at least seven wives.”[45]   “Plural Marriage was a law of the priesthood [organization]...  It was controlled entirely by God's High Priest Apostles.”[46]  “This quorum of High Priest Apostles (the Priesthood Council over both the Church and the Kingdom) has existed from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who stood as head of this priesthood up to this day. There are many instances where new members have been called by direct revelation from God, to this body of priesthood. It was perpetuated by God in President Brigham Young's day and in President John Taylor's day and on down to the present time.”[47]

Lorin Woolley usually referred to the High Priest Apostles as “Great High Priests.”[48]  Apparently both terms were used at different times by Woolley and his followers.  On 28 May 1935, Musser recorded that Brother Owen, “was ready to turn in all he had, permitting the Priesthood to handle the same as they saw fit.  He recognized those of the Great High Priests as being the mouthpiece of God on the earth.”[49]

The doctrine of this higher apostleship (with Great High Priests or High Priest Apostles) was indispensable to Woolley, Broadbent, Barlow and Musser and most Mormon fundamentalists in the 1930-1960 era in order to reinforce the superiority of the PRIESTHOOD organization over the Church.[50]  However, in more modern times, most fundamentalists have discarded it.  When asked in 1989, “What about a high priest apostle?”  Rulon Jeffs, leader of fundamentalists in Colorado City responded: “No such thing.”[51]  Rulon Allred similarly taught: “The highest authority in the priesthood is the apostleship.”[52] 

The Sanhedrin 

One important duty of the Council of Friends, as described by Woolley et al., is to preside over another council within the independent PRIESTHOOD organization made up of seventy ruling priesthood holders called the “Sanhedrin.”[53]  During their meetings, which they called the “School of the Prophets” in 1932-33, it is apparent that Lorin C. Woolley often referred to the Sanhedrin,[54] teaching that the word “sanhedrin” meant “God’s power on earth” in the Adamic language.[55]  J. Lyman Jessop recalled that the Priesthood Council’s seven members formed “a nucleus of the Sanhedrin of God.  Mortal men did not select them nor even suggest a name to the Lord, but they were called direct from heaven.”[56]  Moroni Jessop remembered Lorin saying: “[George Q. Cannon] was finally received and accepted as the fourth member of the Sanhedrin, but was always jealous of [Lorin C. Woolley’s] position, because Lorin was ahead of him in that body.”[57]

Zitting elaborated: “When this body is fully organized it comprises seventy one elders and the first seven are presidents holding all the keys, powers and authority, jointly with the head prophet (holding the keys to priesthood here on earth). It was God's plan and is still God's plan to build it up to its total of seventy‑one elders, which has never been fully completed yet in this dispensation, and to fully establish the ancient order of Sanhedrin. This would have been completed by now, had the saints remained faithful to their covenants and not transgressed.”[58]

Musser and Broadbent believed that there was an “existence of the nucleus of the Sanhedrin during the earlier years of the existence of the Church.”[59]  Although neither Lorin Woolley, nor subsequent fundamentalist leaders have attempted to fully organize it, Musser remembered: “Brother Lorin [Woolley] tried to form the Sanhedrin and he could not find 29 men who were seasoned, and therefore it was not done.”[60]  John Y. Barlow explained that the “Sanhedrin would have been organized now had the Lord found the requisite number of worthy brethren.”[61]  “Before Lorin [Woolley] died, he wanted to fill the Sanhedrin, and he told us that the PRIESTHOOD on the other side [of the veil] went from Canada to Mexico, and they couldn’t find men to do it.”[62] 

In the PRIESTHOOD, the Senior Member of the Council of Friends is the “One” Man

In the PRIESTHOOD as described by Woolley-Broadbent-Barlow-Musser, the Senior Member of the Council of Friends is the “one” man mentioned in D&C 132:7, 18, 19.[63]  He holds “the fullness of the Keys of the Priesthood.”[64]  “The ‘one man’ that presides over this order of priesthood, and hence possesses the Keys to Priesthood, including, of course, the sealing ordinances, is the worthy senior member, by ordination, of that order [Council of Friends].”[65]  “Strictly speaking, there is but one man on the earth at a time who holds the ‘keys of this Priesthood’...  That man is God’s medium and anointed one...  This one man is primarily God’s power on earth...  The appendage office of President of the Church has nothing whatsoever to do with this Priesthood calling.”[66]  Lorin Woolley told Moroni Jessop that “it was the right and privilege of the worthy senior in the Council of Seven to have possession of the [Urim and Thummim] and to use it when necessary... John W. Woolley and his son Lorin, both had access to the Urim and Thummim.”[67]

Importantly, Musser wrote that Joseph Smith was the “one” man presiding over all priesthood, not because he was President of the Church, but because he also held a secret calling as the Senior Member of the Council of Friends:[68]  “The President of the Church may or may not be the President of the Priesthood.  By reason of their seniority in the higher Priesthood calling [Council of Friends], Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, each in his turn, became President of the Church, but always their Church calling was subordinate to their Priesthood positions.”[69]



            Musser and Broadbent further instructed: “To be president of the Church is to hold an ‘appendage’ office B a delegated authority; likewise the quorum of the Twelve and the Seventies are ‘appendage’ callings, as they come under the immediate direction of the First Presidency.  Both the Church and Kingdom are ‘appendages’ to the Priesthood.”[70]  “Joseph [Smith] is seen in dual capacities.  He was not only President of the Church B an appendage office, mind you, having a delegated authority only B but he was also the presiding officer over the group that constituted the Presidency of Priesthood B the group that governed all matters pertaining to heaven and earth.”[71]

To show that the President of the Church need not be the Prophet, fundamentalists often quote Brigham Young who said:  “Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question B Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it?  I answer, no, a man may be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the President of the Church.  Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the President of the Church, as long as he lived; the people chose to have it so...”[72]

Church members acknowledge this to be true, but point out that choosing a non-prophet to lead them would ostracize them from the Lord and simultaneously the new individuals following the genuine prophet would instantly become God’s true followers.[73]  Parley P. Pratt explained this principle as it applied at the time of Joseph Smith’s death:  “Had we undertaken President-making in this Church simply by our uninspired notions, Brigham Young held more keys than all our votes put together; and had we voted against him, we would have voted ourselves out of the kingdom of God.  He and those that stood by him would have held the keys of the Priesthood, as they have and do, and would have built up the kingdom, while those who opposed them would have been like salt that had lost its savor.  It was not in our power to manufacture this Presidency, but only to uphold and cleave to it; and blessed are we, inasmuch as we have done this thing.”[74]

Interestingly, the Senior Member of the Council of Friends is designated in Mormon fundamentalist literature as the “President of the Priesthood,”[75] or more commonly the “President of Priesthood.”[76]  It does not appear that either of these terms is mentioned in the scriptures or in any of the discourses of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or John Taylor.  In contrast, the “President of the High Priesthood” is discussed in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church... and to be like unto Moses” (D&C 107:65, 91; italics added).[77]  It also appears that the “President of the High Priesthood” is a Church calling:  “Inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood” (D&C 107:82; italics added).  The exact relationship between the two, “the President of the Priesthood” and “the President of the High Priesthood,” in Mormon fundamentalist doctrine is unclear.   

The 1886 Council of Friends 

We recall that during the 1920s, Lorin C. Woolley described how John Taylor ordained five men (Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilcken, George Q. Cannon, John W. Woolley, and Lorin) on 27 September 1886, giving them “authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also authorizing them to set others apart to do the same thing.”[78]  Five years later we learn from Woolley and his associates that those men, after their ordinations, were actually members of the Council of Friends, holding the High Priest Apostleship and then “formed the Priesthood presidency at that time, with John Taylor the head thereof.”[79]


Questions About the Keys of Sealing Leaving the Church

         Upon learning that the keys of sealing have left the Church, Latter-day Saints ask when did the Church President stop being the “one” man?[80]  The question is of paramount importance because all Church Presidents have believed that they held the keys and have exercised those keys to seal eternal marriages in their respective times.[81] 

Fundamentalists possess different opinions regarding the answer.  Was it:  (1) At the time of the reported 1886 ordinations?[82] (2) At the time Wilford Woodruff issued the 1890 Manifesto?[83] (3) With the death of Wilford Woodruff?[84] (4) At the time Joseph F. Smith[85] issued the 1904 “Second Manifesto”?[86] (5) In 1914 when John W. Woolley was excommunicated?[87] (6) In 1918 when Joseph F. Smith died?[88] or (7) With the death of Anthon H. Lund in 1921?[89] 

Fundamentalists Express Different Opinions Regarding When the Sealing Keys Reportedly Left the Church

          Despite the apparent confusion, most Mormon fundamentalists today agree that John Woolley had seniority after 1921 and was the “one” man by that time, although he left no testimony to that effect.[90]  Upon his death in 1928, Lorin became the only living person from his 1886 group. 

In 1932, Lorin Woolley taught that he, as the Senior Member of the Council of Friends, should be directing the First Presidency of the Church, except that the Church was then “out of order.”[91]  Reportedly, this discrepancy would be rectified by the eventual visit of the “one mighty and strong.”  “The Church Authorities have changed many of the ordinances,” reflected Joseph Musser.  “The Priesthood, as a separate organization, has not thus gone astray; and one day it will rise up and save the church from final rejection.”[92] 

Questions About the PRIESTHOOD 

Learning that the priesthood is an organization will surprise most Church members who have been taught that the word “priesthood” usually refers to authority, or to the men in the Church who hold that authority.  Joseph F. Smith expressed the common definition saying: “The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God.”[93]

Equally new to Latter-day Saints is the idea that someone might hold (or honor) the priesthood without being a member of God’s “Church.”  LDS scriptures teach that the “priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations” (D&C 84:17; italics added).  Woolley, Musser et al. believed that the Church and the PRIESTHOOD are separate organizations.  By observing that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic priesthood from John the Baptist[94] and the Melchizedek priesthood from Peter, James, and John before the legal Church was organized,[95] fundamentalist theology holds that by virtue of those ordinations, Joseph and Oliver were then members of a PRIESTHOOD organization that can exist without a formal church.

Records show that on 6 April 1830, Joseph Smith complied with the laws of the State of New York organizing the “Church of Christ.”[96]  However, Church scholars might point out that to suppose that in God’s eyes there was no “Church,” nor were there any Church members, prior to 1830 is problematic.  Throughout the scriptures, God has never relied upon the laws of the land to define His “Church” or to designate the individuals who can become members of it. 

In 1828, Joseph Smith dictated a scripture specifying what is required for “Church” membership:  “Behold, this is my doctrine B whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.  Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church” (D&C 10:67-68).  Latter-day Saints today may wonder, “Could a man who hasn’t ‘repented’ or ‘come unto God’ hold the priesthood?”  Under this definition, it seems that Joseph Smith was a “Church member” the day of the First Vision in 1820 and that both he and Oliver Cowdery were “Church” members prior to receiving the priesthood, which was months before the legal “Church” was formed.[97]  Heber C. Kimball taught in 1852: “When a man loses his membership in this Church, he also loses his Priesthood.”[98]

Irrespective, Mormon fundamentalist leaders in the 1930s taught that it was possible for excommunicated members of the Church to be ordained to priesthood offices, holding membership in a (reportedly) higher independent PRIESTHOOD organization.  Up until the 1960s, Mormon fundamentalists were very careful to never refer to their religious organization as a “church.”

Musser and Broadbent explained that the titles of “High Priest Apostles” and “Friends” are associated with D&C 84:63, which states: “And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles, even God’s high priests; ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends” (italics added).[99]  This verse refers to elders as “mine Apostles, even God’s High Priests.”  By rearranging the words “Apostles” and “High Priests,” the term “High Priest Apostle” may be compiled.[100]  Those High Priests are considered to be the Lord’s “friends.”  The membership number of seven was supported by the belief that the entire section 84 was dictated in the presence of seven elders (see verse one), but in reality eleven were present when verse 63 was given.[101] 

Historian D. Michael Quinn expressed his opinion regarding the source for the Council of Seven Friends noting that President John Taylor reanimated the Council of Fifty in 1882 and then created a subcommittee called the “Quorum of Seven” or “Committee of Seven.”  Quinn explained: “This committee of the 1880s is undoubtedly the actual source for the mythical “Council of Seven Friends” which Lorin C. Woolley invented and others have used as the self‑perpetuating authority structure for continuing polygamy in defiance of LDS Church authority.”[102]

To help his readers understand the importance of a “High Priest Apostle,” Musser and Broadbent quoted Wilford Woodruff who used the term in an 1856 discourse: “Let the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy Apostles, and High Priest Apostles, and all other Apostles rise up and keep pace with the work of the Lord God, for we have no time to sleep.”[103]  However, LDS scholars would undoubtedly suggest that Musser and Broadbent stopped quoting too soon.  President Woodruff went on to say: “I want to see brother Hyde, who is President of the Twelve, walk into all these Quorums and attend their meetings, and we will back him up... it is for the Twelve to rise up and carry off the load...”[104]  The”High Priest Apostles” mentioned here by Wilford Woodruff appear to be subordinate to the Twelve Apostles.  Nevertheless, it is a genuine account referring to men as “High Priest Apostles” and is apparently the only known reference prior to 1934.  Church members would most likely assert that the High Priests and Seventies referred to were “apostles” by virtue of their having received a special personal witness of Christ’s reality, without having received any secret priesthood office or ordination.[105]

Other questions about the PRIESTHOOD arise like those mentioned in chapter two.  We recall that three secret organizations existed in Nauvoo: the polygamists, the Endowed Quorum, and the Council of Fifty.  Each of these has since been well researched and publicized.  Latter-day Saints ask:  “Was there a fourth secret group established comprised of an independent PRIESTHOOD organization, High Priest Apostles, a Council of Friends and possibly a Sanhedrin, a fourth secret group that continues today to be historically invisible?”[106]  “Why were Lorin Woolley, J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow and Joseph Musser authorized to broadcast this previously secret doctrine to the world in 1934?”[107]  “What about the inconsistencies in the membership of the Council of Friends between 1827 and 1932 as listed by Woolley and his associates?”[108]

Interestingly, Joseph Musser in his writings never claimed that Joseph Smith taught about a Council of Friends and an independent PRIESTHOOD organization, though he undoubtedly assumed that the Prophet did.   LDS researchers believe that, armed with that assumption, Musser retrospectively attempted to identify the secret PRIESTHOOD (as Woolley described it) historically by inspecting the scriptures and other sources at his command.  That is, by scanning the seven volume History of the Church, volumes five through eight of the Historical Record, the Journal of Discourses, issues of Church periodicals like the Times and Seasons, Millennial Star, Messenger and Advocate, Juvenile Instructor and the Deseret News, Musser accumulated a list of references that might allude to the PRIESTHOOD or Council of Friends.[109]  Other fundamentalist writers have since provided a few additional quotations to support this idea.

By most standards, none of the citations provided by Mormon fundamentalists authors would be considered to be a clear discussion of an external PRIESTHOOD or its presiding Council.  Latter-day Saints might assert that the quotations are simply taken out of context,[110] or that most of the references could easily pertain to one of the three known secret groups in Nauvoo.[111] 

In December of 1942, some eight years after he with the other fundamentalist leaders had introduced the PRIESTHOOD to the world, Musser reflected on its actual origin in his journal:  “I am convicted with the feeling that the Priesthood is one organization and the Church is another, and that Pres. [Heber J.] Grant has jurisdiction in the Church.  If I am wrong I pray the Lord to correct me and to assist me in getting back into the proper channel.  Up to date, however, in all the reasoning power I have, and listening to the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, I am convinced that I am right.”[112]  There is also evidence that three years later Musser confided to a fellow fundamentalist that “there is nothing above the Church.”[113]

Church members might also assert that the fundamentalist PRIESTHOOD arose from ideas of Woolley, Broadbent, Barlow and Musser, which were superimposed upon the Church itself, but never originated with Joseph Smith:


         Fred Collier, both a polygamist and fundamentalist,[114] concluded in 1991: “Fundamentalists who found their faith on a belief that the Prophet Joseph Smith ever established a so called ‘Council of Friends’ composed of seven ‘High Priest Apostles’ or any other number, are following a fable B there is not a word of truth in it_... There is not one shred of evidence to support the existence of the Council of Friends, but on the contrary, all the evidence utterly refutes it.  Why don’t we all come clean and admit the Truth! The time for such fables is past! The war is over_ The teachings on the Council of Friends is a lie_[115] 


Regardless of its true genesis, in 1934 PRIESTHOOD leaders J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow and Joseph W. Musser possessed the gifts and energy required to successfully promote the PRIESTHOOD with its leadership council.  As presiding authorities, they dedicated the remainder of their lives proclaiming its importance and expanding its influence.  Musser himself possessed a high opinion of the doctrine of the independent PRIESTHOOD, the Council of Friends, and High Priest Apostles.  Regarding the pamphlet, Priesthood Items, wherein he and J. Leslie Broadbent introduced more details to the general populace, he wrote: “God inspired the writing of that book - it is the word of God to his people, and it will stand as such.”[116] 

Months later Musser and Broadbent published Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant, which gave additional explanations concerning the workings of the PRIESTHOOD.  On 3 August 1934 Joseph recorded, “mailed about 1200 ‘Supplements to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage’ and Priesthood pamphlets [Priesthood Items] to General Authorities, President of Stakes, and Missions, Bishops. Etc.”[117]

The PRIESTHOOD was on the move.



 Fundamentalists: Woolley, Broadbent, Barlow, Musser

 LDS Church

 Highest Priesthood Office


High Priest Apostle



Highest  Presiding Council

Council of Seven Friends

 First Presidency

Identity of the “One” Man

Senior Member of the Council of Friends

Church President


 Seventy Elders Rulers in the Priesthood

Jewish Leadership Council


 An Independent Religious Organization that Presides Over the Church and is Lead by a Council of Seven Friends whose Senior Member is the “One” man

 “Authority given to man to act for God” (Joseph F. Smith)

The Church

A Religious Organization that functions as the “Propaganda Division”  of the PRIESTHOOD

 “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto [God]” is a member of His Church (D&C 10:67)

Responsible for Missionary Work?


 “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81)

Responsible for Ordinance Work for the dead?


 “how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples... and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead” (Joseph Smith)

 The Importance of the PRIESTHOOD

While Joseph W. Musser listened to Lorin C. Woolley teach many times in the early 1920s, an examination of Joseph’s daily journal suggests that he was not taught regarding an independent PRIESTHOOD organization and High Priest Apostles until a decade later.  Neither does it appear that in 1929 when he first obtained his “blessing” from Lorin that he was aware of those important teachings.  If Musser did understand them, he apparently kept it secret, not allowing it to seriously impact his life.  Joseph’s journal entries indicate that he became enlightened over the period between 1929 and 1933.  The first reference to the “priesthood” (or PRIESTHOOD) as a separate organization occurred in February of 1934.[118]  Afterwards, the term is used frequently and freely.[119]  In conjunction, we also discover that Musser first referred to members of the Council of Friends, such as J. Leslie Broadbent and John Y. Barlow, as “President” in 1934.[120]  This is consistent with Musser’s teaching that members of the Council of Friends should be called “President.”[121]

It is difficult to overstate the significance of the independent “PRIESTHOOD” doctrine to most Mormon fundamentalists even today.  In a personal way, it was equally important to Woolley, Broadbent, Barlow and Musser in the early 1930s, especially the teaching of the Council of Friends.  As the details of this lofty Priesthood Council became known, Woolley was instantly acknowledged by believers as being its “Senior Member,” thus identifying him as the “one” man on earth holding the keys of sealing and as the “President of Priesthood.”

Musser’s status and stature were also changed through the doctrine of the external PRIESTHOOD.  Living as an excommunicated Church member in early 1929, he received the “blessing” from Lorin Woolley in May that would later transform his life.  Musser’s personal journal entry mentions the “blessing” using the single words “apostle” and “patriarch” without additional explanation.  While nothing was written on that date referring to a calling as a “High Priest Apostle” or as a member of the Council of Friends, Musser’s autobiography written nearly twenty years later, described the 1929 blessing saying: “May 14, 1929 - I was ordained a High Priest Apostle and a Patriarch to all the world, by a High Priest Apostle, and I was instructed to see that never a year passed that children were not born in the covenant of plural marriage...”[122]

As a member of the 1934 Council of Friends and as a High Priest Apostle, Joseph Musser saw himself as fourth in seniority in the most powerful Priesthood Council on earth.  In his view, his authority then transcended the priesthood held by any Church Authority including the stake leaders who excommunicated him in 1921, as well as Church President, Heber J. Grant.   He later reflected:  “When the church assumed to cut me off for living one of the laws of God, all that the officers who participated could do, and did do, as I see it, was to cut themselves off, unless they repent and correct their wrongs.”[123]

The belief that polygamist members of the Council of Friends are superior to Church leaders (in the priesthood) is also based upon an uncanonized revelation given to John Taylor in 1882:  “You may appoint Seymour B. Young to fill up the vacancy in the presiding quorum of Seventies, if he will conform to my law; for it is not meet that men who will not abide my law shall preside over my priesthood.”[124]  The common fundamentalist interpretation of this sentence is that Seymour B. Young, a monogamist in 1882, needed to take a plural wife in order to “conform” with the law.  Mormon fundamentalists generally conclude that monogamists can never rightfully preside over polygamists.  In a meeting of polygamists held 25 February 1934, Musser taught “that the men and women in that room were beyond the authority of many of the General Authorities, not one of whom (General Authorities) was qualified to preside over such Saints, for they had, by their public utterances or acquiescence repudiated the Patriarchal Order of Marriage.”[125]

            As a universal rule, the idea that monogamists cannot preside over polygamists is problematic.  Church historians observe that Anthony Ivins was called as President of the Juarez, Mexico Stake and was authorized to perform dozens of plural marriages during the 1895-1904 period, yet he remained a monogamist.  If monogamists can never rightfully preside over polygamists, upon completion of a polygamous sealing, the new groom might have instantly become superior to Brother Ivins in the priesthood, which obviously never occurred.  In addition, five of the thirteen General Authorities called by President Taylor between 1879 and 1887, were monogamists.[126]

By 1935 the teachings about the PRIESTHOOD and Council of Friends provided Mormon fundamentalists with something they had been lacking during the previous two decades, namely leadership.  Most of the random gatherings that occurred during the 1920s and early 1930s eventually yielded to the PRIESTHOOD’s active administrative efforts, although not all fundamentalists immediately ascribed to the specific doctrines of the PRIESTHOOD hierarchy. 

[1]    . MFP 5:242 (see also Driggs, “Twentieth Century Polygamy ,” 5-6),  MFP 5:249, and 5:292-303 respectively.

[2]    .  Quinn, J. Reuben Clark, 183-84.

[3]    .  Driggs, “Fundamentalist Attitudes,” 41.  Driggs, “Twentieth-Century Polygamy,” 46.  Baer, Recreating Utopia in the Desert, 37.

[4]    .  MFP 5:317.

[5]    .  Quinn, J. Reuben Clark, 184.

[6]    .  Lorin C. Woolley was quite ill during the latter portion of 1933 and throughout 1934 so his contribution came primarily from the teachings he gave to Broadbent, Barlow, Musser, Zitting, LeGrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch prior to his illness.  Barlow and Zitting left limited records regarding Woolley’s instructions.  Also Musser’s personal journal and his record, The Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, are primary unpublished sources.  Together, the group openly promoted the PRIESTHOOD, overseeing the publication of several books and pamphlets detailing the organization, apparently as Lorin Woolley had described it.

[7]    .  After a detailed examination of the quotations used to support the Woolley-Broadbent-Barlow-Musser teachings on the PRIESTHOOD, LDS Church educator Dean Jesse concluded: “The material quoted does not naturally lead to the proposed conclusions unless a special commentary is provided to give the evidence its ‘true’ meaning.”  (Jesse, “Comparative Study,” 82.)

[8]  Regarding the title of the book, Musser recalled: “When the manuscript was ready for the printer I was at a loss to know what title to give my book.  I took the matter up with the Lord, and while lying in my bed, and wide awake, a voice in perfect clearness said, ‘You will call your book The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage.’  I immediately arose from my bed and wrote down what had been given me.  I have since been given the assurance that the book had been endorsed by the Priesthood on the other side [of the veil].”  (Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 270.)

[9]    .  Musser Journals, 15 October 1933.

[10]    .  Ibid.

[11]    .  Ibid., 22 October 1933.

[12]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 25.  The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, published in October, 1933 contained an introduction to the PRIESTHOOD organization.  In July 1934, Musser, with J. Leslie Broadbent collaborating, wrote Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage (abbreviated:  Supplement) and in August, 1934, Priesthood Items.  Priesthood Items would be revised and renamed A Priesthood Issue in 1948.  It contains many more details and has been republished many times.  See also Truth 5:179-89 (1 January 1940) and also a rather detailed explanation giving by Zitting in his unpublished autobiography (quoted in Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 57-66).

[13]    .  Most references to the organization called the “Priesthood” by Mormon fundamentalists will be capitalized APRIESTHOOD” in this discussion, except in citations.

[14]    .  Musser Journals, 26 April 1939.  See also  “The Priesthood’s Supremacy,” in Truth, 2: 21-25 (1 July 1936).  In 5 November 1939 Musser penned: “The President of the Church is not the President of the Priesthood at this time.  Brother [Heber J.] Grant never received that honor” (Musser Journals for date).

[15]    .  The “Kingdom” referred to is primarily composed of the Council of Fifty.

[16]    . Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 13, italics added; Supplement 91.  See also Musser, Priesthood Issue, 15-16; Truth 17:164.

[17]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 17.  See also Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 12-13.

[18]  Musser, Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 157.

[19]    .  BOR, 47-50, 52-53, 55; Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 62-94.

[20]    .  Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 84-88.  Supplement 103, 109.

[21]  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 39.

[22]  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 60.

[23]    .  Reminiscences 1:4, 6.

[24]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 19.

[25]    .  Supplement 106.

[26]  Hammon, Betrayal of the Godhead, 4-5, 19 etc..

[27]    .  Supplement 106-07.

[28]  Included are the Apostolic United Brethren (Allred Group); the FLDS Church in Colorado City, Arizona; the “Second Ward” at Centennial Park, Arizona and perhaps the Kingston’s Davis County Cooperative and the “Naylor Group” in Salt Lake City.

[29]  BOR 49, 50, 52, 53, 63.  “Friends of the Priesthood” mentioned in BOR 49.  See also Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 33, 50.

[30]    .  BOR 63.

[31]  Ibid., 47-48, 53.

[32]   Ibid., 47, 48, 55, 64, 65, 90.

[33]    .  The only time the Council of Friends (as described) may have contained one member was after the death of John W. Woolley on 13 December, 1928 which left only Lorin C. Woolley.  Musser wrote that “upon him as a thin thread the Priesthood rested, with the Keys from late in 1928 to Feb or March 1929...” (Musser Journals, 30 September 1934.)  Lorin C. Woolley reportedly ordained J. Leslie Broadbent and John Y. Barlow in March and Joseph W. Musser in May of 1929. 

[34]    .  The council apparently contained at least 14 members in June of 1844 as all of the Twelve Apostles were reported as being included as well as Joseph and Hyrum Smith (Musser, Priesthood Issue, 11).  Both Woolley and Musser/Broadbent provided lists of the names of members of the Council of Friends during the 1832-1886 period.  Researchers have identified numerous inconsistencies, raising important questions.  See Hales and Anderson, Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, 117-76.

[35]  Rulon Jeffs, leader of the FLDS Church between 1986 and 2002 reportedly referred to the Council of Seven Friends as a “seven-headed monster” (Zoellner, “Rulon Jeffs).”

[36]  BOR 47-48, 53.

[37]    Current research fails to identify any personality in the history of the Church with the surname of Stockbridge.  Precisely who Woolley was referring to is unclear.

[38]  Priesthood Items is a reproduction of chapters five and six of Supplement to a New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage with a few textual  additions and other changes.

[39]  See Hales and Anderson, Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, 117-76.


[40]  Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 115-116.

[41]  Ibid., 134.

[42]    Musser, Priesthood Issue, 10; Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 22-23; Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 7 April 1947.

[43]  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 22; italics added.  See also Musser, Priesthood Issue, 16, 22.

[44]  Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 80.  This declaration appears to conflict with Musser’s other statements that assert that the Twelve apostles are subordinate to the members of the Council of Seven Friends.  See Hales, Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, 138-144.

[45]         Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 62.

[46]  Ibid., 63.

[47] Ibid., 60.  This is a quote from Zitting’s autobiography.

[48]    .  BOR 31.  Musser explained: “We were ordained patriarches in the Great High Priesthood of God and we hold that authority today” (Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 23).

[49]    .  Musser Journals, 28 May 1935; italics added.

[50]  See Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 22-23;  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 60-66.  Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 24-28, 43, 85; Truth 2:13, 3:127, 4:130, 5:185; Most Holy Principle 4:106; Musser, A Priesthood Issue, 10.

[51]  Jeff, “Deposition 23 May 1989,” 60.; italics added.  Ben Bistline who was present at the deposition remembered Jeffs’ response as being: “There is no such animal.”  (Personal communication, 5 April 2005.)

[52]  Rulon C. Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:147.

[53]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 12; Morris Kunz, Reminiscences on Priesthood, 14; Supplement 109; Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 27; Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 59, 63; Truth 5:202; Testimony of Moroni Jessop, 14.  See also the discourse of John Y. Barlow delivered on 31 December 1940 (in LSJ Sermons 7:3); Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 32, 62.

[54]    .  BOR, 30, 47, 48.

[55]    .  Ibid., 30.

[56]  Joseph Lyman Jessop Diaries, 13 January 1934.

[57]  “Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 14.  Recalled in 1942, eight years after Lorin’s death.

[58]  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 59.  See also Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 7 April 1947.  Musser and Broadbent similarly taught: “The body of chosen Priesthood was anciently known as the Sanhedrin, and comprised seventy-one Elders, - seventy in the Council proper - whom God had Moses call together...  Doubtless it was God’s plan, had the Saints remained faithful to their covenants, to select a total of seventy-one Elders, and fully establish the ancient order of Sanhedrin, which purpose, however, was defeated because of the weakness of the Saints and of their transgressions.”  (Supplement 93, 109.)

[59]  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 34-35.

[60]  Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 128-129.  Musser also elaborated: “Some time before Lorin [Woolley]’s death, inquiry came from the other side [of the veil] for 39 additional men.  If you can get 39, the Lord told Lorin, we can go ahead with the organization of the Sanhedrin.  But at that time we were not prepared.  The names that were submitted were not acceptable...” (Ibid., 62).

[61]    .  Musser Journals, 20 July 1935.

[62]  Sermons of John Y. Barlow, 31 December 1940.  PRIESTHOOD not capitalized in original.

[63]    .  Musser, New and Everlasting Covenant, 78; Musser, Priesthood Issue, 4; Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 42-48.

[64]  Musser, Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 12.

[65]    .  Supplement 120.

[66]    .  Ibid., 118-19; italics added.  In 1857 Apostle Heber C. Kimball explained the relationship between the First Presidency and the “throne of God”: “All, who have the Spirit of the Gospel and live their religion, will admit that brother Brigham is our head and... has two Counsellors, and together they are an independent Quorum.  Still they are attached to the vine that runs through the vail.  The vail is let down, and that throws brother Joseph on the other side of it, while we stand on this side, that is all the difference.  The nearer you approach that organization, the nearer you approach the throne of God.  I am talking to you who understand, there is no clip of that vine and Priesthood.”  (JD 4:207.)

[67]  Moroni Jessop, “Testimony of Moroni Jessop, 42.  Dictated in 1945.

[68]    .  Supplement 116.  Musser also taught:  “The senior man, by ordination to this order of the Priesthood [Council of Friends], is the ‘one man’ above referred to [in D&C 132:7], and who may or may not be appointed and ordained by the body to the office of Presidency of the Church. Thus it is clear that the President of the Church may or may not be that ‘one man,’ holding the keys of the Priesthood.” (New and Everlasting Covenant, 78.)


[69]    .  Musser, Joseph W. Musser, 12.   “Joseph Smith, in his day, held three major positions,” explained Joseph Musser in 1940.  “Two, of them being subordinate and, dependent upon the one B the President of Priesthood; he also being President of the Church and President of the High Council at Kirtland.”  (Truth 5:180)

[70]  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 21-22.

[71]  Supplement 110.  Musser further elaborated in 1941: “[Heber J. Grant] is the President of the Church; he is the president by reason of the fact that the people have chosen him.  He is all that the people are entitled to.  The Saints whom we call Latter Day Saints rejected the fullness of the Gospel...  All those who refused to accept the principle after adopting it in 1852 rejected the Lord...  When President Grant came on the scene, he came there not because the Lord had selected him, except to give the will of the people.  Under that rule B common consent of the people B the Lord takes cognizance of the will of the people.”  (Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 4849.)

[72]  JD 1:133.  In Musser, Priesthood Issue, 20-21.

[73]  See D&C 10:67-68.

[74]  JD 5:200; italics added.

[75]    .  Truth 2:23.  Most Holy Principle 4:108, 238; Rulon C. Allred in Gems 1:3, 5; Messenger Volume 1, 52; etc.

[76]    .  Truth 2:21, 23-25, 120, 3:38, 39, 56, 71, 4:88, 109, 114, 5:17, 132,180, 6: 61, 182 etc.  A Priesthood Issue, 4-5, 7, 19, 20, 25.  Most Holy Principle 4:166.  LSJ Sermons 4:1232, 1306, 5:26 etc.  Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 3, 79.

[77]    . “Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church;  Or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church...  And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses” (D&C 107:65-66, 91; see also 79).  See also Supplement 115-16, 120;  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 62

[78]    .  1929 Account.

[79]  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 25.

[80]  See discussion in Messenger Volume 1, 52-54.

[81]  All available research supports that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant etc.each believed he personally held the sealing keys while they serving as President of the Church.

[82]    .  LSJ Sermons 7:379, 4:1575.  Jesse B. Stone states that the “Keys of the Kingdom” were given to John W. Woolley in 1886 allowing him to “preside over the grand council of the kingdom.” (Event Of The Underground Days, 8 ).

[83]    .  Truth 6:21-22, 8:262, 9:142, 144, 251, 16:79; Musser explained in 1941: “Wilford Woodruff... lost the keys of the Priesthood because of the Manifesto,” (Sermons of Joseph W. Musser 52).  But a few years later he provided a different view:  “President Woodruff functioned in two offices.  In the one, as President of the Church, he signed the Manifesto to satisfy the apostate element in the Church...  In the other, and greater office B as President of Priesthood, he appointed men... to exercise the sealing powers of Elijah in inducting worthy men into that principle, in their Priesthood capacity” (Truth 10:329-330; Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 79).  See also LSJ Sermons 1:211;  Rhea Allred Kunz, Branch Prophet, 228.  Moroni Jessop recalled Lorin Woolley’s teaching: “President Woodruff wrote nothing in [the Manifesto], all he did was attach his name to it.  Inside of 24 hours, or less, from the time he signed it, keys and other sacred things which had been entrusted to him, were take from him.  I have understood he never after ever met with the Grand Council.”  (“Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 14.)  In the 1950s Guy Musser had put together a collection of ten photographs depicting the President of Priesthood according to the Polygamist’s teachings: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, John Woolley, Lorin Woolley, Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow, Joseph Musser, and Charles Zitting.”  (Bistline, Colorado City Polygamists, 107.)  Joseph F. Smith explained in 1883: “It would be absolutely inconsistent, unreasonable and absurd to suppose that after God had called one man and appointed him to this work, that He should pass him by and go to somebody else to accomplish the same purpose.  No sensible person would accept for one moment such a proposition.  To seriously contemplate any such idea would be charging the Almighty with inconsistency, and with being the author of confusion, discord and schism. The kingdom of God never could be established on earth in any such way.”  (JD 24:188.)

[84]    .  Joseph W. Musser, 54;  Items 14; Stone, Event On The Underground Days, 8.  See also Truth 9:74-75. Contrastingly, Rulon C. Allred and Lorin C. Woolley taught that the 1890 Manifesto did not cause Wilford Woodruff to lose his position as President of the Priesthood (discourse given 16 November 1966, Gems, 1:3 and BOR 15 respectively).

[85]    .  A common Mormon fundamentalist belief is that just prior to John Taylor’s death, Joseph F. Smith was summoned from Hawaii and ordained as a member of the Council of Friends at that time (Musser, Priesthood Issue, 25).  Regarding President Taylor’s last days on earth,  Samuel Bateman recorded:


18 Monday [July, 1887] At Do.  I stayed with the President till after 12 o’clock midnight.  He seemed to be about the same, only a little weaker.  Was bothered in his mind a good deal as he has been for several days.  Rained quite a shower.  No mail today.  This afternoon Joseph F. Smith arrived here from the Sandwich Islands.  Bro. Albert Davis went and met him up in Idaho territory.  Bro. John Woolley met them at Brigham City and brought them here....

20 Wednesday ... The President seems about the same only weaker.

21 Thursday ... The President still weaker...

22 Friday ...The President still continues to grow weaker.

23 Saturday ... At 1 o’clockm. the President took a decided change for the worse, his pulse stopped beating.

24 Sunday ...The President no better, still weaker.

25 Monday At Do. The President much weaker.  I lay down after 4 o’clock.  Got up before 10 o’clock a.m.  Stayed by the President the rest of the day.  At about 6 o’clockm., he took a decided change for the worst.  At bout a quarter to 8 o’clockm., I saw that he was going.  I told Bro. Malin to call the folks in, and he breathed his last 5 minutes to 8 o’clock....


These journal entries show that President Taylor was “bothered in his mind” prior to the arrival of Joseph F. Smith and that his health only deteriorated until his death a week later.  Such a condition would make it difficult for President Taylor to instruct and ordain Joseph F. Smith after the latter arrived in Utah from the Sandwich Islands.

[86]    .  Apparently  no fundamentalist writer has suggested that this event caused the sealing keys to leave the Church.  However, it seems that if President Smith was the “one” man in 1904, then issuing the “Second Manifesto,” which ended plural marriage authorizations from the Church President, might be considered by Mormon fundamentalists as the triggering event through which the keys were transferred to the external PRIESTHOOD organization.

[87]    .  Evidently, no fundamentalist author has associated the loss of the keys of sealing (from President Joseph F. Smith) with the excommunication of John W. Woolley in 1914.  However, it can be easily concluded that if John W. Woolley was a member of a Council of Friends or even the Senior Member, he might have taken the priesthood keys with him as he was expelled from the Church, an action that was initiated by Joseph F. Smith personally.  Precisely who presided between 1914 and 1918, John W. Woolley or Joseph F. Smith, is also unclear.  Allred fundamentalists asserted:  “Although John W. Woolley had been ‘cut off’ from the Church, Joseph F. Smith continued to acknowledge him in his true position, received council and worked hand in hand with him as brethren, High Priests unto God and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Star of Truth 4:51).  This assertion is unsupported by contemporary documents and seems inconsistent with John W. Woolley’s behavior after 1914 (see chapter six).  Moroni Jessop recalled: ‘I was told [by Lorin C. Woolley], President John Taylor would stand next to Joseph Smith the Prophet in the Presidency of the Church and that President Joseph F. Smith would stand in the Presidency next to him.”  (“Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 19.)

[88]    .  Woolley taught that the “Keys to Kingdom” went from Wilford Woodruff to John W. Woolley and that the “Keys to Presidency of Church” were kept by Joseph F. Smith and never passed to Heber J. Grant (BOR 15).  Openshaw, The Notes, 394;  Items 12, 28; B. Harvey Allred Leaf in Review, 40-41; Rulon C. Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 2:201.

[89]    .  See Openshaw, The Notes, 395.

[90]    .  While John W. Woolley was known to perform plural marriages up until his death, there is apparently no record of any conversation or discourse wherein he claimed to be the “one” man holding the keys of sealing authority.  Numerous individuals, including his son Lorin, would make the claim for him after his death, but apparently nothing is available that was recorded during his lifetime to support the assertion.  There is evidence that John Woolley was involved with a few impromptu meetings of polygamists in the 1920s, but he did not attend in the capacity of a presiding priesthood official.  Price Johnson recalled: “John W. Woolley would not preside in any meeting outside of his own home” (Reminiscences, 2nd ed., 2:65).  Concerning his teachings, Fred Collier wrote: “notes on his [John W. Woolley] speeches were also taken at the time and have been preserved” (Collier, “Re-Examining the Lorin Woolley Story,” 4).  Other than this brief reference, the author has found no other evidence for the existence of “notes” from John W. Woolley’s teachings either in or out of Mormon fundamentalism.

[91]  See BOR 15.

[92]    .  Joseph W. Musser, 47.  On 24 November 1934 Musser recorded: “But though the enemy of righteousness now seems to have the upper hand, God is yet to be reckoned with, and while President Grant and his servile followers may go down under the flood of opposition, there are those that will rise up, and clothed with the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood [Council of Friends], will, David like, overcome the great, wicked giant, and redeem the kingdom.  God will not forsake his true and loyal servants.  So come in you corrupt Missourians, and partake of the bitter medicine the Priesthood of God has prepared for you_  You shall not prevail_  Your one time murderous acts are not forgotten...”  (Musser Journals for date.)

[93]    .  Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 136.

[94]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 5.  See D&C 13 and HC 1:39-40.

[95]    .  Broadbent and Musser, Priesthood Items, 20-21.  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 5-6.  See D&C 27:12.

[96]    .  See D&C 20:1, 21:3.  In 1830, the requirements of the state of New York concerning “Religious Societies, How Incorporated” read: “And be it further enacted, that it shall be lawful for the male persons of full age, belonging to any other church, congregation or religious society, now or hereafter to be established in this state... to elect any number of discrete persons of their church, congregation or society, not less than three, nor exceeding nine in number, as trustees, to take the charge of the estate and property belonging thereto, and transact all affairs relative to the temporalities thereof... That on the said day of election, two of the elders or church wardens and if there be no such officers, then two of the members of the said church, congregation or society, to be nominated by a majority of the members present, shall preside at such election, receive the votes of the electors, be the judges of the qualifications of such electors, and the officers to return the names of the persons who, by plurality of voices, shall be elected to serve as trustees for the said church, congregation or society.”  (Laws of the State of New York, 1813, vol. 2, 214.) 

[97]  See the discussion by Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 48-50.

[98]  JD 3:269.

[99]    .  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 22; Musser, Priesthood Issue, 9-10.

[100]  See the discussion by Musser and Broadbent in Priesthood Items, 22-23.


[101]    .  Musser and Broadbent may have mistakenly assumed that the entire Section 84 was given by Joseph Smith to six elders (Supplement 101-04, Truth 17:170-71) because the first verse starts with six.  However, the chapter was given over two days to groups of different sizes.  Verses 1-41 were given to six elders on the first day and everything after verse 41 (including verse 63) was given to ten elders on the second day.  See Cook, Revelations of Joseph Smith, 176.  The difference in numbers is important because the Council of Friends is described as having seven members.

[102]  Quinn, “Council of Fifty,” 183-84, fn 79.

[103]    . Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 22; Musser, Priesthood Issue, 10; italics added.

[104]    .  JD 4:147; italics added.

[105]    .  While the Melchizedek Priesthood has an office of “apostle” (D&C 107:23), any individual can become an “apostle” by gaining a special personal  witness of the Savior (as promised in D&C 67:10, 88:68, 93:1).  Elder Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “In the spring of 1820, after the vision was given to Joseph Smith of the Father and the Son, he stood as the only witness among men who could testify with knowledge that God lives and Jesus Christ is verily his Son. In this knowledge he became a special witness for Christ, and thus an apostle before the priesthood had been restored. With the coming of John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John, the priesthood was restored; then Oliver Cowdery, as well as Joseph Smith, became a special witness for Christ, and hence an apostle.  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:146-47.)

[106]    .  No historian has suggested that an independent Priesthood Council existed prior to 1933.  D. Michael Quinn identified five presiding priesthood councils in the early days of the Church (Origins of Power, 39-77) with no sign of a Council of Friends or its equivalent.  As previously discussed, the secrecy used to hide the practice of plural marriage in the early decades now prevents a full assessment of the different claims between the Church and Mormon fundamentalists.  Fundamentalist writer Fred C. Collier theorized that there were other priesthood offices, besides those mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants.  “These later developments on priesthood have been misunderstood because most of them took place in “Private Councils,” the records and teachings of which were not made public.  This left the general membership of the Church in the dark...”  (“Priesthood and the Law of Succession,” 2-3; italics added.  See also Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 78.)  Collier’s opinion is difficult to refute or verify because the absence of supporting historical documentation does not disprove the presence of secret councils, secret teachings or secret ordinations.  However, secrecy in ordinations is condemned in LDS scripture (D&C 42:11) and reliance on secrecy could undermine the “order” that is to exist in God’s House (D&C 132:8).  In addition, the mountain of inconsistencies among Mormon fundamentalist assertions regarding those alleged secret entities make them difficult to understand or successfully defend.

[107]    .  In 1963, Leroy Johnson, leader of the fundamentalists in Colorado City explained: “It will be twenty years on the eighth day of next March when this Priesthood Council was brought out into the open and published to the world, not because the Priesthood wanted to be made known, but because the Lord wanted us to come out of hiding.  He wanted that testimony given to the people.”  (LSJ Sermons 5:345.)

[108]    .  See Hales and Anderson, Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, 117-76.

[109]  These references may be found in The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, Supplement to a New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, Priesthood Items, A Priesthood Issue and numerous issues of Truth magazine.

[110]    .  An analysis of all the quotations used in A Priesthood Issue can be found in Hales and Anderson, Priesthood of Modern Polygamy, 255-58.  It is posted at

[111]  See Chapter Two.

[112]    .  Musser Journals, 28 December 1942.

[113]  An entry in Arnold Boss’ Prison Diary for 24 November 1945 (when Musser was incarcerated) reads: “In an interview with O. Brainisch, I was told that Joseph W. Musser was reported to have said to Edmond Barlow, ‘There is nothing above the Church; that when he got home he was not going to any more meetings; and expected to rejoin the Mormon Church.”  Whether apocryphal or not, all research to date suggests that Musser remained completely true to his fundamentalist convictions.

[114]  Collier believed in a line of priesthood authority through A. Dayer LeBaron.  See chapter seventeen.

[115]    .  Regarding the Council of Friends, polygamist author and independent Mormon fundamentalist Fred Collier, has written:


Of late, some Fundamentalists have attempted to substantiate the existence of the “Council of Friends” by identifying it with the “Holy Order” [Endowed Quorum] and the “Fulness of the Priesthood” - but you might just as well try to dress a hippo in a small bikini as to make the Holy Order into the Council of Friends. The suit just doesn’t fit. Those who attempt to confute these organizations only make for themselves more problems and contradictions...

Fundamentalists who found their faith on a belief that the Prophet Joseph Smith ever established a so called “Council of Friends” composed of seven “High Priest Apostles” or any other number, are following a fable - there is not a word of truth in it_... There is not one shred of evidence to support the existence of the Council of Friends, but on the contrary, all the evidence utterly refutes it.

Why don’t we all come clean and admit the Truth_ The time for such fables is past_ The war is over_ The teachings on the Council of Friends is a lie_

I would rather believe that Lorin Woolley and Joseph Musser knew that the Council of Friends was a lie, which for lack of anything better, they deliberately invented, in order “to beat the Devil at his own game,” to quote Charles Penrose - I would rather believe this, than to believe that Woolley and Musser were so benighted and ignorant of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants as to believe something so far from the Truth. The Council of Seven High Priest Apostles or Friends never existed on Earth - at least that is, not until Lorin Woolley created it among his Fundamentalist friends.(“New Light on the Lorin Woolley Story And Early Fundamentalist Beginnings,”  by Fred C. Collier.  Given in response to a paper presented by the author at the 1991 Sunstone Symposium).

[116]    .  Ibid., 2 September 1934.

[117]    .  Ibid., 3 August 1934.

[118]    .  Musser Journals, 25 February 1934.  References to the fundamentalist priesthood organization will usually be capitalized as PRIESTHOOD, except in citations.

[119]    .  Ibid., entries for 23 June, 30 September, 11 October, 22, 30 November of 1934, 16 March, 29 April, 28 May, 3, 6, 13, 18 June, 20 July of 1935 etc.

[120]    .  Ibid.  For J. Leslie Broadbent see 3, 10, 11, 15, June 1934 etc. and for John Y. Barlow see 13 June 1935 etc.

[121]    .  Musser, Priesthood Issue, 13-14; Truth 15:229; Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 7, 52.  The tradition of calling members of the Priesthood Council “President” has not been perpetuated, instead substituting other titles, at least for the presiding elder (e.g. “Uncle” Leroy Johnson, “Uncle” Owen Allred).

[122]    .  Truth 20:28 and the publication, Joseph W. Musser, 11.  In the text it appears that the citation is a direct quote from Musser’s personal journal for 14 May 1929, but in fact it is an autobiographical recollection.

[123]    .  Musser, Joseph W. Musser, 11.

[124]    .  MFP 2:348; Taylor, Gospel Kingdom, 390; My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth, 50-51; Musser, Four Hidden Revelations, 11. See also ; Wilford Woodruff Journals, 14 October 1882.

[125]    .  Musser Journals, 25 February 1934.

[126]  Seymour B. Young was one of the five.  However, the need to “conform” was apparently specific to Young’s situation, not applying to the other four new monogamist General Authorities.  See Quinn, New Plural Marriages, 31 fn. 99; Extensions of Power, 182.