Ecclesiastical organization of church members in a particular locale. Stakes were typically large local organizations of church members; stake leaders could include a presidency, a high council, and a bishopric. Some revelations referred to stakes “to” or “of” Zion, indicating places where substantial congregations of church members could be found outside the central place of gathering [Doctrine and Covenants 82:12-13; 107:36]. This conceptualization drew on Old Testament and Book of Mormon imagery of the tent of Zion supported by cords fastened to stakes. During the years of gathering in Missouri, the term was not used in reference to the principal Latter-day Saint community in that state, since the community was Zion itself. Kirtland, Ohio, was designated as the first stake of Zion by 1832. However, several stakes were later planned for upper Missouri, and one in Adam-ondi-Ahman was operational before the forced exodus in 1838. A revelation in January 1838 clarified that only the First Presidency could designate stakes and that members in a location where a stake was to be organized had to first recognize the authority of the First Presidency by a vote [Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838-B].
Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.