Wilford Woodruff's Call to Apostleship

Insight to Come Follow Me - D&C 115-120


By Steven C. Harper, Executive Editor of The Wilford Woodruff Papers


Wilford Woodruff became a father, almost a widower, and an apostle in one action-packed year. His family and his faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ were paramount to him. His relentless quest was to bind his family and his faith together in a covenant so strong that no governor’s order, no dungeon cell, not even death could overturn it. He would have gone anywhere and done anything the Lord asked of him.



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A Voice of Warning

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In the recently-concluded October 2021 General Conference, many of the General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints admonished us to follow the prophet during the troubling times of the day. Wilford Woodruff also saw our day. The following is excerpted from Wilford's Journal of Discourses dated 24 June 1894 (paragraph breaks added for clarity):

"When I have the vision of the night opened continually before my eyes, and can see the mighty judgments that are about to be poured out upon this world . . . , can I withhold my voice from lifting up a warning to this people, and to the nations of the earth? . . . while I live and see these things continually before my eyes I shall raise my warning voice. . . .

"Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our doors? I'll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood, and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our very doors; not even this people will escape them entirely. They will come down like the judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah. And none but the priesthood will be safe from their fury.

"God has held the angels of destruction for many years, lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, that those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out.

"Calamities and troubles are increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these things. Remember this, and reflect upon these matters. If you do your duty, and I do my duty, we'll have protection, and shall pass through the afflictions in peace and in safety. Read the scriptures and the revelations. They will tell you about all these things. Great changes are at our doors . . . It's by the power of the Gospel that we shall escape."

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Transcribing and publishing documents sounds like a simple procedure … a knowledgeable individual carefully reads an original document and simply types the letters and words into a text document, right? Yes and no. First, the original document needs to be located and authenticated. Then it needs to be digitized and catalogued. The next step is creating an editorial method explaining how every possible scenario will be addressed: each comma, apostrophe, illegible letter, spelling variation, stray mark, and symbol on the page; whether the letters and symbols are in pencil or ink, whose handwriting each letter or mark is in, etc. etc. Using that editorial method, the process of hiring individuals who understand the historical context of the documents, are experienced in nineteenth century grammar and spelling, and—in the case of Wilford Woodruff— are also able to read Taylor and Pittman Shorthand, Greek, Latin, and what we affectionately refer to as Wilfordish (his own unique form of English).

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