The Unfolding Role of the Seventy: A Timeline

“Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73).


YearEvent
1829Priesthood restored (D&C 13; 18:9; 27:12–13; 128:20).

“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (D&C 13:1).

“And now, Oliver Cowdery, I speak unto you, and also unto David Whitmer, by the way of commandment; for, behold, I command all men everywhere to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called” (D&C 18:9).

“And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;

“Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (D&C 27:12–13).

“And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!” (D&C 128:20).

1835Revelation on the priesthood received (D&C 107:34–35, 38, 93–98).

“The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve or the traveling high council, in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and then to the Jews;

“The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews. …

“It is the duty of the traveling high council to call upon the Seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the gospel, instead of any others. …

“And it is according to the vision showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the seventy.

“And the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six;

“And these seven presidents are to choose other seventy besides the first seventy to whom they belong, and are to preside over them;

“And also other seventy, until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it.

“And these seventy are to be traveling ministers, unto the Gentiles first and also unto the Jews.

“Whereas other officers of the church, who belong not unto the Twelve, neither to the Seventy, are not under the responsibility to travel among all nations, but are to travel as their circumstances shall allow, notwithstanding they may hold as high and responsible offices in the church” (D&C 107:34–35, 38, 93–98).

1835First Quorum of the Seventy organized.
1836Presidency of the Seventy receive their anointings and blessings in the Kirtland Temple. Later the same month, members of the Seventy were anointed and blessed in the Kirtland Temple.
1836Joseph Smith met with some of the Brethren to choose the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
1837Presidents of the Seventy reorganized.
1841Duties of the Seventy outlined (D&C 124:138–40).

“And again, I give unto you Joseph Young, Josiah Butterfield, Daniel Miles, Henry Herriman, Zera Pulsipher, Levi Hancock, James Foster, to preside over the quorum of seventies;

“Which quorum is instituted for traveling elders to bear record of my name in all the world, wherever the traveling high council, mine apostles, shall send them to prepare a way before my face.

“The difference between this quorum and the quorum of elders is that one is to travel continually, and the other is to preside over the churches from time to time; the one has the responsibility of presiding from time to time, and the other has no responsibility of presiding, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 124:138–40).

1844First Quorum of Seventy to lead other quorums.
1844The Seventies' Hall was dedicated in Nauvoo.
1846At the time of the exodus from Nauvoo, the number of seventies quorums had increased to about 35.
1883Revelation to John Taylor on organization of quorums in stakes.
1899Seventy to be trained as missionaries.
1904Number of seventies quorums reaches 146.
1936Region and stake missions organized.
1941Assistants to the Twelve first called.
1953Seventies quorums or units are organized in each stake.
1961First Council of Seventy ordained high priests.
1961Members of the First Council of the Seventy authorized to organize or reorganize stake presidencies and to call stake presidents on assignment.
1964First Council of Seventy given sealing authority.
1967First regional representatives called.
1974Stake presidents authorized to ordain seventies in stakes.
1974Units of seventy were discontinued and quorums of seventy authorized in all stakes.
1975The First Quorum of the Seventy activated, to be gradually organized.
1975Stake presidents and General Authorities authorized to ordain bishops.
1975General Authority Area Supervisors assigned outside of North America.
1976Presidents of the First Quorum of Seventy may be rotated from time to time according to the discretion of the First Presidency.
1976Assistants to the Twelve released and called into the First Quorum of the Seventy.
1976Authorization for ordination of stake seventies no longer required from Church headquarters.
1978Emeritus status for General Authorities announced.
1980Seventies serving as Executive Directors of Church headquarters departments called to the Presidency of the Seventy.
1981First Quorum of Seventy and stake presidents authorized to ordain patriarchs.
1984Tenure of appointment to be fewer years for some Seventy (3–5 years): “However, tenure of appointment is not important insofar as the work is concerned. … After much prayerful consideration, we have called six men, mature and tested through long years of service, to become members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to serve for periods of three to five years. … They will be General Authorities with every right, power, and authority necessary to function” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 4).
1984Area Presidencies appointed from the Seventy.
1986Seventies quorums in stakes discontinued.
1989Organization of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
1989Managing directors at Church headquarters changed to employees.
1991Policy established for members of the First Quorum to serve until age 70 and members of the Second Quorum to be released after five years.
1995Regional representatives released.
1995Area Authorities called.
1997First and Second Quorum of Seventy are General Authorities.
1997Area Authorities are ordained Seventies; Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy organized.
2001The tenure of Area Authority Seventies is modified to be an initial five-year period with an indefinite time period thereafter as circumstances may dictate.
2004Sixth Quorum of the Seventy organized.
2004Area Presidencies in the 11 areas in the United States and Canada are discontinued.
2004Seven Presidents are released from their assignments as Executive Directors of major Church departments.
2004Seven Presidents are assigned supervision of the 11 areas in the United States and Canada.
2005Area Authority Seventy title changed to Area Seventy.
2005Seventh and Eighth Quorums of the Seventy organized.
2007Number of Area Seventies serving in Area Presidencies reduced.
2008Additional responsibilities given to Area Presidencies.
2009Area Seventies replaced by General Authorities in all Area Presidencies.