Doctrine and Covenants 72: More on Stewardships and the Duties of a Bishop

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 83–84


The Lord called Edward Partridge to be the first bishop in the Church in February 1831 (D&C 41:9). Bishop Partridge accompanied the Prophet Joseph Smith to Independence, Missouri, where he served as bishop in Zion. The Lord then called Newel K. Whitney to serve as bishop in Kirtland, Ohio (D&C 72:7–8). By the end of the year, Bishop Partridge’s wife, Lydia, had brought their children from Ohio and traveled to Independence to join her husband.Our responsibilities to serve in the Church today are not stewardships in the same sense as the duties we would be given under the law of consecration. However, we can learn some important lessons about faithful service from the counsel the Lord gave these Saints about their stewardships. As you studyDoctrine and Covenants 72, look for what the Lord said a person must do to be a worthy servant.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 72

Render(v. 5)Give 
Consecrated(v. 12)Dedicated 
Wherewith(v. 13)Money or ability 
Certificate(v. 17)Written recommendation 
Rendereth every man acceptable(v. 17)Is evidence of their worthiness 
Render himself and his accounts(v. 19)Report on his conduct and that which he is responsible for 
Literary concerns of my church(v. 20)Church publishing responsibilities 

Doctrine and Covenants 72:1–8—The Bishop’s Duties in the Early Church

Newel K. Whitney

Newel K. Whitney, the second bishop in the Church

Bishop Edward Partridge was called as the first bishop of the Church. Later, when others were called, he became the equivalent of what today is called the Presiding Bishop. Newel K. Whitney thus was actually under the jurisdiction of Bishop Partridge. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The bishop in Kirtland was to ‘hand over’ to the bishop in Zion, the record of the stewardships, where the permanent records should be kept. For this responsibility Newel K. Whitney was called to act as bishop. He was to keep the Lord’s storehouse in Kirtland, and to receive funds in that part of the vineyard, and to take an account of the elders as he was commanded; to administer to their wants, all those who should pay for that which they received, inasmuch as they have wherewith to pay. These funds received were to be consecrated to the good of the Church, ‘to the poor and needy.’ If there were any who were unable to pay, an account was to be made ‘and handed over to the bishop in Zion, who shall pay the debt out of that which the Lord shall put into his hands’” (Church History and Modern Revelation,1:270).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 72.

Activity A iconExplain How It Works

Even though the termstewardshiponly applies to duties received under the law of consecration, the principle of being accountablecan apply to our current Church responsibilities. For the following Church duties, explain where and when the person might give an account of how her or his duties were fulfilled and to whom that account might be given (D&C 72:2–5):

  1. 1.

    A Mia Maid class president

  2. 2.

    A priest in the Aaronic Priesthood

  3. 3.

    A home teacher

  4. 4.

    A tithe payer

Activity B iconThe Duties of a Bishop

Although we do not currently live under the law of consecration, many of a bishop’s responsibilities today are similar to those described inDoctrine and Covenants 72:5–13.

  1. 1.

    Discuss those verses with your bishop or branch president or one of his counselors and list in your notebook the duties a bishop has today that are like those mentioned. Explain what a bishop does to perform those duties.

  2. 2.

    What could you do to help the bishop’s job be easier?