Joseph Smith organized a group called Seventies in the Mormon Church early in 1835. They are one of three primary groups in the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood. They were said to be Elders with a special calling to preach the Gospel among the nations of the earth. Their calling was said to be apostolic because they were to assist the Twelve Apostles in preaching the Gospel and administering Church affairs under their direction. They were a general Church Quorum, and not considered a part of stake organization.
The Seventies were established in their calling as missionaries in the time of Joseph Smith, and carried about their share or a little more, of the missionary work in the proportion to the other Priesthood groups. Under the auspices of Brigham Young, they became, for the most part, the missionary force of the Church. This was continued until after the turn of the century; at that time the policy changed and the Elders began to carry out most of the foreign missionary work of the Church. Seventies were asked to carry on missionary work in their home stakes and wards. Fundamentally, two reasons were given for the change in policy: First, the Seventies, being older men than most Elders, were hindered from accepting mission calls because of family and financial responsibilities. Second, making most missionaries Seventies had made their number too great in proportion to the other groups, and took too much leadership away from Elders quorums. However, these conditions existed for a long time before the change, and the Seventies were apparently able to fulfill their calling very well.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Baumgarten, James N., "The Role and Function of the Seventies in LDS Church History" (1960). All Theses and Dissertations. 4513.
Mormon Church, Priesthood, Melchizedek, Seventies