Following Joseph Smith’s death, several men vied for control over the church.
- James Strang claimed an angel visited him and ordained him prophet. He also claimed Joseph wrote him a letter authorizing him as the new leader.
- Sidney Rigdon, the lone surviving member of the First Presidency felt he should be the next prophet. His church is the 3rd largest branch of Mormonism and maintains headquarters in Pennsylvania.
- Brigham Young, as president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles led the church for 3 years, before officially claiming the church presidency.
- Many in Nauvoo felt that the next prophet should be from the Smith family. Joseph Smith III finally felt called of God in 1860 and organized the LDS Church, and continued with lineal succession, whereas the next leaders were descendants of Joseph Smith.
- Joseph’s brother William also made a claim for leading the church.
- Granville Hedrick bought the Temple Lot in Independence, and believes he was the successor to Joseph. They maintain a white church on the original temple lot in Missouri.
There are other claimants to church leadership. The RLDS Church officially renounced lineal succession when Wallace B. Smith (who is still alive and is great grandson of Joseph Smith) retired in 1995 and named Grant McMurray as the next president of the RLDS Church (now known as Community of Christ.) McMurray has since been replaced by Stephen Veazey.
In the LDS Church, tradition has maintained that the next prophet will be the oldest serving apostle, but this is not written in scripture, and could change.
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