When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He established His Church among His followers. After His Crucifixion and the deaths of His Apostles, the fulness of the gospel was taken from the earth because of widespread apostasy. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ restored the fulness of the gospel. The true Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again. Because of the Restoration, the teachings and ordinances necessary for salvation are available to all people.
The following outline summarizes a few of the important events in the restoration of the gospel and the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the Lord has declared is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (D&C 1:30).
Early spring, 1820. Seeking the true Church of Jesus Christ, 14-year-old Joseph Smith prayed in a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York. In answer to his humble prayer, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited him and told him that he must not join any of the churches on the earth at that time. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:11-19.) In the Church we refer to this experience as Joseph Smith's First Vision.
September 21-22, 1823. Joseph Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni. Moroni prophesied of coming events and told Joseph of the Book of Mormon record, written on plates of gold. The angel allowed Joseph to see the gold plates, which were buried in the nearby Hill Cumorah. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:27-53.)
September 22, 1827. Joseph Smith received the gold plates from Moroni at the Hill Cumorah after having met with Moroni on 22 September of each of the previous four years. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:53, 59.)
May 15, 1829. Having read about baptism for the remission of sins as they worked on the translation of the gold plates, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went to a secluded area to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. There, on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, they received the answer to their prayer. John the Baptist, a resurrected being, came to them as "a messenger from heaven . . . in a cloud of light." He conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, in obedience to his instructions, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68-72; see also D&C 13.)
May 1829. The ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (See D&C 128:20.)
June 1829. Guided "by the gift and power of God" (D&C 135:3), the Prophet Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.
March 26, 1830. The first printed copies of the Book of Mormon became available in Palmyra, New York.
April 6, 1830. The Church was organized in Fayette Township, New York, beginning with six members.
March 27, 1836. The Kirtland Temple, the first temple built in this dispensation, was dedicated. The Prophet Joseph Smith offered the dedicatory prayer, which had been given to him by revelation. (See D&C 109.)
April 3, 1836. The Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared and gave priesthood keys to Joseph and Oliver. Elijah brought the keys of the sealing power, which make it possible for families to be sealed together forever. (See D&C 110.)