In December 1830, the Lord commanded Church members to gather to Ohio (see D&C 37:3; 38:32). In February 1831, the Lord revealed His “law” (D&C 42), which introduced the principles of consecration and stewardship on which Zion would be built. Members of the Church from New York began arriving in the Kirtland, Ohio, area in the spring of 1831. The Saints from Colesville, New York, settled at Thompson, where they were privileged to organize themselves according to the law of consecration (see D&C 51:15). Consecrate means to make or declare something sacred and to set it aside for God’s purposes. Doctrine and Covenants 51 gives more information on the law of consecration and the bishop’s role in that law.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Under the law of consecration, the bishop assigns members their portions according to their family, circumstances, wants, and needs. The bishop receives the members’ excess goods and uses them to support the poor (see D&C 51:3–15; see also D&C 42:30–42; 82:17).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 95–100.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 110–12.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 51. Under the Lord’s law of consecration, the bishop assigns members their portions according to their family, circumstances, wants, and needs.
Ask students: Who owns the property your home is on? Have them read Psalm 24:1 and find who really owns the property. Testify that the Savior created this earth for us to live on (see 1 Nephi 17:36), and those who obey the gospel will inherit this earth when it becomes a celestial kingdom (see D&C 88:17–20).
Have students tell what they know about the law of consecration, and list their responses on the board. Tell them that in 1831 the Church was preparing to live the law of consecration (see D&C 42:30–36). Section 51 was given to help Bishop Edward Partridge, the first bishop of the Church, know how to implement this law in Thompson, Ohio. List the following terms and definitions on the board:
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 51, inserting the definitions on the board where appropriate. Have them consider the following questions as they read:
What was every person to receive?
How was it to be portioned out?
What was to happen to people who became unworthy?
What was the bishop’s responsibility?
What were some of the laws and principles the people had to follow in order to live the law of consecration?
Have students write a paragraph that answers the following question: “How can the commandments and principles in Doctrine and Covenants 51 help members of the Church today?” Discuss their thoughts on how these principles might help establish the kingdom of God in our day.