William Wines Phelps (aka W. W. Phelps) was born on February 17, 1792 in Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey. He worked as an editor at the Western Courier Newspaper, and he was also nominated for the office of lieutenant governor of New York. He didn’t get the nomination, but he did get valuable experience. On March 26, 1830, Phelps read that the Book of Mormon was about to come off the press. He met Parley P. Pratt, who sold him a copy of the book. After reading it, Phelps went to Kirtland, Ohio and met Joseph Smith. After W. W. Phelps inquired what the Lord wanted him to do, he was told to be baptized and take his family to Missouri. So, he did. Phelps brought a lot of great talent to the Church. He set up the first printing press, he published the first Church newspaper, he helped select, prepare, and publish many revelations in the Book of Commandments, and he wrote many hymns. One of which is “The Spirit of God”, which is my favorite hymn.
In Doctrine and Covenants 55:4, it states, “And again, you shall be ordained to assist my servant Oliver Cowdery to do the work of printing, and of selecting and writing books for schools in this church, that little children also may receive instruction before me as is pleasing unto me.” W. W. Phelps said this about his calling. “As a people we are fast approaching a desired end, which may literally be called a beginning. Thus far, we cannot be reproached with being backward in instruction. By revelation, in 1831, I was appointed to ‘do the work of printing, and of selecting and writing books for schools in this church, that little children might receive instruction;’ and since then I have received a further sanction. We are preparing to go out from among the people, where we can serve God in righteousness; and the first thing is, to teach our children; for they are as the Israel of old. It is our children who will take the kingdom and bear it off to all the world. The first commandment with promise to Israel was, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ We will instruct our children in the paths of righteousness; and we want that instruction compiled in a book.” ( Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1845, p. 1015.) This shows to me that he was very persistent and intuitive when it came to his church callings; that he really wanted to help make a difference.
As members of this church today, we need to be better. We need to want to make a difference in the lives of others, and help them get better within their own callings and their lives. We need to find a way to help the church become a bigger part in the lives of others, and we need to show our appreciation for it. W. W. Phelps followed the Lord’s direction, and that led to happiness in his life. If we do the same, we will also receive happiness in our lives.
(Information found in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual and the Doctrine and Covenants)