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Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)

Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)
Cutlerite church headquarters in Independence, Missouri
Classification Restorationist
Orientation Latter Day Saints
Polity Church conference
Moderator Vernon Whiting (2013)
Region United States
Founder Alpheus Cutler
Origin September 19, 1853 (date of church reorganization)[1]
Separated from None, claims to be the sole legitimate continuation of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints)
Separations True Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)
Restored Church of Jesus Christ
Congregations 1[2]
Members Approximately 12 (2010)[3]

The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) is a denomination of the branch, located in Independence. The Cutlerite church retains an endowment ceremony believed to date to the Nauvoo period, practices the United Order of Enoch, and accepts baptism for the dead, but not eternal marriage or polygamy.


  • History 1
    • Alpheus Cutler 1.1
    • Breaking with the Twelve 1.2
    • Iowa and Minnesota 1.3
    • Moving to Independence and recent history 1.4
  • Doctrines 2
    • Church organization 2.1
    • Priesthood and the church 2.2
    • United Order 2.3
    • Temple ordinances 2.4
    • Scriptures 2.5
    • Book of Mormon lands 2.6
    • Missionary work 2.7
  • Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) 3
  • Media 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Alpheus Cutler

Photo of Alpheus Cutler, founder and first president of the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)

Alpheus Cutler was a Latter Day Saint leader and contemporary of Joseph Smith who converted to Smith's Church of Christ in January 1833, being baptized in western New York by David W. Patten.[5] Cutler attended Smith's School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, and assisted in the construction of the Kirtland Temple there.[6] In 1838, during the dedication of cornerstones for the (never-built) Far West Temple, Cutler was named by Smith as "chief architect and master workman of all God's holy houses".[7] Cutler was later appointed a member of the Nauvoo Temple construction committee, after enduring the expulsion of the Latter Day Saints from Missouri. In Nauvoo, he served on the High Council,[8] and was named to Smith's Council of Fifty. Prior to Smith's murder in 1844, Cutler was called on a mission to the "Lamanites" (as Native Americans were often called by the Saints). However, he had not yet departed when Smith was assassinated on 27 June at the jail in Carthage, Illinois.

Smith's death produced a profound leadership crisis in his movement, with members torn between competing claimnants for Smith's prophetic mantle. These included Smith's Quorum of the Twelve, led by Brigham Young; James Strang, a newly baptized convert from Wisconsin; and Sidney Rigdon, who had served as Smith's First Counselor in the First Presidency. At first, Cutler threw in his lot with the Twelve. He continued to work on the Nauvoo Temple,[9] where he was allegedly "sealed" to his spouse Lois on February 14, 1846,[10] having received his endowment on October 12, 1843,[11] prior to Smith's death. LDS Church records indicate that Cutler was sealed to six other women during this timeframe, but members of his church adamantly deny this or any assertion that Cutler—or Smith, for that matter—approved of or practiced plural marriage.[12] Cutler would later insist that the temple had not been finished by the "sufficient time" given in the revelation authorizing its construction;[13] this proved pivotal for his own claims to legitimacy when he chose to start his own church organization.

Breaking with the Twelve

When Brigham Young decided to commence the Saints' trek to the

  • Church of Jesus Christ. Official site; contains only one page with little information. An archived version, containing more data (largely taken from the Fletcher book), may be viewed here.

External links

  1. ^ Fletcher, Rupert J. and Daisy Whiting, Alpheus Cutler and the Church of Jesus Christ. Church of Jesus Christ, 1974, pg. 47.
  2. ^ Retrieved 2009-08-14
  3. ^ Smith, Jason (2010). "Divergent Churches". In Reeve, W. Paul;  
  4. ^ Religious Tolerance "Terms used in the LDS Restorationist movement".
  5. ^ Fletcher, pp. 12-13.
  6. ^ Fletcher, pp. 15-16.
  7. ^ Fletcher, p. 25. See also Jorgensen, Danny L., Conflict in the Camps of Israel: The 1853 Cutlerite Schism, Journal of Mormon History, vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 25-64.
  8. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 124:132. All references are to the LDS Church edition of this work.
  9. ^ Fletcher, pp. 36-41.
  10. ^ Johnson, G. Vaughn, Alpheus Cutler, p. 2. Cutlerites deny that this event ever took place, asserting that records of this alleged occurrence were created later in an effort to destroy Cutler's reputation.
  11. ^ Saints Without Halos: Alpheus Cutler. Retrieved on 2009-08-11.
  12. ^ Fletcher, pp. 44-45, 247-58. Cutlerites tend to assert that these records were forged by individuals bent upon discrediting Cutler, after he founded his own organization. Cutlerites also deny the efficacy of eternal marriages as well, including those contracted in the Nauvoo Temple. The names of Cutler's alleged wives, together with the LDS Church sources listing them, may be found at Saints Without Halos: Alpheus Cutler.
  13. ^ Fletcher, pp. 36-37. The revelation referred to is Doctrine and Covenants 124:31-32 (see below).
  14. ^ Fletcher, pp. 40-41.
  15. ^ Saints Without Halos.
  16. ^ Saints Without Halos; see also Johnson, G. Vaughn, Alpheus Cutler, pg. 2.
  17. ^ Jorgensen, p. 35. In addition to preaching, Cutler and his associates built a mill and farmed land among the Indians. Jorgensen, p. 38; Fletcher, p. 43.
  18. ^ Jorgensen, pp. 38-41.
  19. ^ Jorgensen, p. 51. Young signed the letter: "your sincere friend and brother in time & all eternity".
  20. ^ Cutler did author a reply in which he promised to move to Utah after completing his work among the Indians, but he never followed through on it. Jorgensen, p. 53.
  21. ^ Jorgensen, p. 49. Young defended Cutler before the October LDS Church general conference, saying that Cutler was the victim of false rumors about his loyalty to the church. Jorgensen, p. 54.
  22. ^ Jorgensen, p. 55.
  23. ^ Jorgensen, pp. 55-56.
  24. ^ Joregensen, p. 56.
  25. ^ Fletcher, p. 47. This should not be confused with the "reorganization" effected by the founders of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That was a separate event entirely, not involving Cutler or his followers in any way.
  26. ^ Fletcher, pp. 47-55, 271-74.
  27. ^ Fletcher, pp. 36-37, 154-55; Jorgensen, p. 57; "Letter of Alpheus Cutler to Zenos H. Gurley", 29 January 1856; reprinted in Fletcher, pp. 264-270.
  28. ^ Cutler to Gurley; Fletcher, pp. 51, 267-69.
  29. ^ Jorgensen, p. 57; Fletcher, pp. 46-55.
  30. ^ a b Fletcher, p. 54.
  31. ^ Fletcher, p. 56.
  32. ^ This "New Organization" had organized in 1853, though Joseph Smith III waited until 1860 to accept leadership of it. The early Reorganization claimed a "rejection" of Joseph Smith's church—hence the name "Reorganized"—but differed as to who had authority to reconstitute it, as well as disagreeing with several other Cutlerite beliefs.
  33. ^ Fletcher, p. 63.
  34. ^ Fletcher, p. 74.
  35. ^ Shields, Steven L. Divergent Paths of the Restoration. Herald House, 2001, p. 158. See also Young, Biloine Whiting. Obscure Believers: The Mormon Schism of Alpheus Cutler. Pogo Press, 2002.
  36. ^ Melton, J. Gordon. The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds. Gale: 1988, pp. 665-67. See also The Book of the Lord's Commandments. 3 vols. Independence, MO: Restored Church of Jesus Christ, n.d.
  37. ^ Fletcher, pp. 275-77. This does not mean that the Cutlerites will not accept "Gentile" converts, however, only that they do not actively solicit conversion.
  38. ^ Association of Religion Data Archives, Entry: "Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)".
  39. ^ Cutler to Gurley; Fletcher, pp. 48-52.
  40. ^ Fletcher, pp. 36-37.
  41. ^ Cutler to Gurley; Fletcher, pp. 51-52.
  42. ^ D. Michael Quinn, The Council of Fifty, pp. 15-16. See also D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844, pp. 8-9. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  43. ^ Fletcher, pp. 77, 169-82, 219-47, 287-305.
  44. ^ Fletcher, pp. 297-305. Cutlerites believe that this section and section 132 (authorizing plural marriage) were both forgeries that were created after Smith's death to justify what they consider to be departures from Smith's teachings by the Utah LDS Church.
  45. ^ Fletcher, pp. 333-37.
  46. ^ Shields, Steven L., Divergent Paths of the Restoration. Provo, Utah: Restoration Research, 1982, p. 63.
  47. ^ The font is not located in a basement, as in other Latter Day Saint edifices where this ordinance is practiced; nor does it rest on the backs of oxen. Rather, it is a simple rectangle-shaped font accessed by a trap door in the floor of the main-floor room.
  48. ^ LDS Church members must meet various requirements before receiving their endowment, including being of the appropriate age and possession of a "Temple Recommend". See ElRay L. Christiansen, "Some Things You Need to Know About the Temple", New Era, June 1971.
  49. ^ Fletcher, pp. 196-200.
  50. ^ Shields, p. 63.
  51. ^ Shields, p. 64. See also Doctrine and Covenants, from cached portion of the Cutlerite church website. Retrieved on 2009-08-16.
  52. ^ Fletcher, pp. 330-32.
  53. ^ Fletcher, pp. 135-42.
  54. ^ Fletcher, pp. 280-81.
  55. ^ Shields, p. 62.
  56. ^ See the Cutlerite church website's main page; see also of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite).


  • Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) Meetinghouse, located in Clitherall, Minnesota. Another photo of the Clitherall meetinghouse. Originally built by the church in 1912, this building was used by for Clyde Fletcher's True Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) from 1953–69, but was never the legal property of that organization.
  • Historic photos of Clitherall, Minnesota. A selection of historical and modern photographs of Clitherall, Minnesota, which was founded by the Cutlerites in 1864. The Cutlerites maintained a presence here until the early 1990s, and still own their old meetinghouse, though it is no longer used.
  • Manti, Iowa. Contains information and a few modern photos of the old Cutlerite cemetery and settlement in Manti, Iowa, which was founded by Alpheus Cutler in 1851. The Cutlerites remained there until 1864, when they relocated to Clitherall, Minnesota. Also includes a map of the town.


President Born-Died President from President until Comments
Alpheus Cutler 1784-1864 9/19/1853 6/10/1864 Former member of Nauvoo High Council; founded church in 1853; died in Manti, Iowa.
Chancey Whiting 1819-1902 6/30/1864 6/7/1902 Led relocation to Clitherall, Minnesota; built first permanent settlement in Otter Tail County.
Isaac Whiting 1842-1922 6/7/1902 5/28/1922 Successfully reestablished Order of Enoch, as in the early years of Joseph Smith's church.
Emery Fletcher 1868-1953 5/28/1922 7/21/1953 Moved headquarters to Independence, Missouri in 1928.
Erle Whiting 1876-1958 4/10/1955 6/18/1958 His succession led to short-lived schism under Clyde Fletcher.
Rupert Fletcher 1896-1974 6/18/1958 11/22/1974 Authored Alpheus Cutler and The Church of Jesus Christ, a compendium of history and doctrine.
Julian Whiting 1912-2004 11/22/1974 10/3/2004 Deflected 1980 effort by Eugene Walton to declare himself the "One Mighty and Strong."
Stanley Whiting 1934-2011 10/3/2004 4/18/2011 Son of Julian Whiting; led church during last portion of 20th century, and first years of 21st.
Vernon Whiting 1934–present 4/18/2011 Present Current incumbent; cousin to Stanley Whiting.

Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)

Unlike many other Latter Day Saints, Cutlerites do not engage in missionary work. Cutler taught that with the murder of Joseph Smith, the "Gentiles" (non-Native Americans living in America and the world) had rejected Smith's gospel, and thus there was to be no more preaching to them.[54] This does not mean that Cutlerites do not welcome visitors. They simply do not believe in going out to convert others; they feel that God will lead those who are truly interested to them.[55] While Cutlerites do not discourage new members from joining them, they point out the high expectations enjoined by their ideals, and the seriousness of the baptismal commitment.[56]

Missionary work

While many Latter Day Saints point to Central America as the most likely geographical location for the lands depicted in the Book of Mormon, Cutlerites insist that these were primarily in North America, particularly in the United States.[53]

Book of Mormon lands

The Book of Abraham is rejected as scripture, as are the LDS Church concepts of eternal progression (whereby God was once a man, and man may become a god), plural marriage, and eternal marriage. Cutlerite concepts of the Godhead mirror those presented in the "Lectures on Faith". The first vision of Joseph Smith is accepted as authentic, though none of Smith's accounts of it are canonized as scripture. The Articles of Faith contained in the LDS Church's Pearl of Great Price are not officially canonized, though they do reflect basic Cutlerite beliefs.

Cutlerites utilize the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the 1846 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.[51] The latter work includes the "Lectures on Faith," which Cutlerites regard as scripture,[52] as well as the revelations on baptism for the dead. The Pearl of Great Price is not part of Cutlerite scripture, save that portion of it that forms a portion of the Inspired Version of the Bible (the Book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew).


As with the LDS Church ordinances, these ceremonies (and the rooms in which they are performed) are considered especially sacred, and are not open to, or shared with, the public. In contrast with the LDS Church, which allows new members to receive their endowment one year after baptism,[48] Cutlerites generally wait many years before receiving these ordinances. The Cutlerite church also practices baptism for the dead,[49] but not eternal marriage.[50]

The Cutlerites are the only non-LDS Church-derived group of Latter Day Saints who practice the "endowment" ceremony that originated during the Nauvoo period of Mormon history.[45] However, unlike almost all others who observe these ordinances, they do not require the construction of a temple edifice to perform them (though Cutlerites believe in the concept of temples). Instead, their meetinghouses are used for this purpose. These follow the pattern of the Nauvoo Temple, with a main-floor room for ordinary church services, a font beneath for baptisms of both the living and for the dead, and a second story above for the "priesthood ordinances", as they term them.[46][47]

Temple ordinances

Cutlerites practice the United Order. They endeavor to replicate, as far as possible, the ideal of "all things common" taught in the early Latter Day Saint church. This replaces the law of tithing taught by most other Mormon factions, and complete participation is required of all members.[43] Cutlerites do not believe that Joseph Smith ever authored the 119th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which mandates tithing, claiming that it was never presented to the membership until after Smith's death.[44]

United Order

However, Cutler's followers maintain that the demise of Smith's church did not entail the demise of his priesthood. Foreseeing this development, the prophet had provided a means for selected priesthood holders to reorganize his church at an appropriate future time: a "Quorum of Seven."[41] Cutler stated that he was the seventh member of this order; he only identified one other alleged colleague: John Smith, uncle of Joseph Smith, whom he said was the sixth. All of the others, said Cutler, had either died or apostatized (including John Smith);[30] thus, Cutler was the only person still possessing authority from Smith to reconstitute the church. Historian D. Michael Quinn has alleged that this Quorum of Seven might have existed as a subcommittee within the Council of Fifty,[42] but the Cutlerites have never advanced any such interpretation or otherwise addressed that particular subject.

This idea plays a very important role in Cutlerite conceptions of the Latter Day Saint movement, especially in the period immediately prior to and following the murder of Joseph Smith. Cutlerites point to Doctrine and Covenants 124:31-32, which commands the building of a temple in Nauvoo, and also refers to a "sufficient time" being granted for its construction, followed by the threat of being "rejected as a church, with your dead" if the structure is not completed within the allotted period. While other Mormon factions interpret this passage in varying ways, Cutlerites believe it indicates that if the Nauvoo Temple was not finished within a specific time (which seems never to have been identified with any specific date), then the church organization effected by Smith on April 6, 1830 would be "rejected," and thus cease to be valid in the sight of God. Since the Cutlerites assert that the Nauvoo Temple was never truly completed—an allegation contested by the LDS Church and most other Mormon factions—Cutlerites allege that the Latter Day Saint church existing from 1830 to 1844 was indeed "rejected" by God.[40]

However, the church can never exist without the priesthood—a belief held by practically all other Latter Day Saint churches today. [39] Cutlerites hold a unique view of the relationship between the

Priesthood and the church

As in most Latter Day Saint sects, Cutlerite church organization entails a presidency consisting of a prophet-president and two counselors; when a Cutlerite prophet dies, his First Counselor succeeds to his office subject, as in all Mormon factions, to the "common consent" of the membership. All other offices of the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods are accepted, including apostle, patriarch, high priest, elder, bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon, though not all are filled in the current organization due to its extremely small numbers. All priesthood offices in the church are limited to males.

Church organization


The Cutlerites do not conduct missionary work or actively solicit converts, because they believe that God rejected the "Gentiles" following the death of Joseph Smith, and thus there can be no more active missionary work among them (as is done in the LDS Church and other Latter Day Saint churches).[37] Membership was listed at 22 in 1957,[38] and has declined further since then. The current church president (as of 2013) is Vernon Whiting.

[36] The 1980 schism came about when the church rejected the claims of former member

In 1928, a portion of the Cutlerite remnant moved to Independence, where they built their present headquarters close to the True Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite), remained identical to its Independence counterpart in all respects except for its leadership and ceased to exist upon Fletcher's death in 1969, which healed the schism.[35]

Street view north of the Cutlerite church property in Independence, Missouri, showing relative proximity to the Community of Christ Temple. The Cutlerite church porch is barely visible to the right of their church sign.

Moving to Independence and recent history

While in Manti, the Cutlerite church attained its highest membership figure: 183 persons.[31] The church endeavored to establish a United Order in Manti, but this attempt failed. Furthermore, Manti was being visited during this period by missionaries from the Clitherall, Minnesota, in response to an alleged vision.[33] RLDS Church evangelists followed the Cutlerites to their new home and culled many more from their ranks, ultimately leaving Cutler's church with a mere three elders and a few members.[34] The remaining Cutlerites refused to give up, however, constructing a new church building in Clitherall and establishing a church corporation in 1912 to finally effect the ideals of Joseph Smith's United Order.

But Cutler had no intention of going to Utah. Having broken with Young's organization, he set about creating his own. Having been forced to abandon his mission in 1851 under pressure from local

Iowa and Minnesota

Hyde ultimately became convinced that Cutler considered himself to be a greater authority than the council over which he (Hyde) presided, and ordered his mission suspended.[21] Insisting that Cutler had become an enemy to Young's organization, the Kanesville High Council Utah.[23]

[20] the "Old Fox" (as Cutler was affectionately called) refused to go.[19] and a warm welcome once he arrived,Salt Lake City Although Young wrote to Cutler, offering him aid to move west, a house in [18] All seemed well at first. However, the arrival of [17] Sometime prior to 1849, Cutler made a decision to withdraw from the main church body under the Twelve, and to go his own way. In the fall of 1847, Young had sanctioned his request to conduct the mission work among the Indians to which Joseph Smith had assigned him, and Cutler had commenced his efforts with nearby tribes.

[16].Winter Quarters Barely one month later, he was asked to find a new location for a settlement; on September 11, he selected the site that would become [15] in 1846, and was appointed presiding member of the municipal High Council on 9 August of that year.Nebraska, Cutler's Park Cutler established [14]

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