Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times
The LeBaron family, led by Alma Dayer LeBaron, Sr., had been involved with Mormon fundamentalist leader Joseph White Musser since 1936. In 1944, the LeBarons were excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) for teaching and practicing plural marriage. For the next 11 years, the LeBarons associated themselves with Rulon C. Allred's Apostolic United Brethren in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
On 21 September 1955, Joel LeBaron and his brothers Ross and Floren visited Salt Lake City, Utah, and there organized the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, with Joel being ordained President of the Church, with Floren as first counselor in the First Presidency and Ross as head patriarch. Shortly thereafter, Joel reported being visited by nineteen former prophets, including Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Joseph Smith, Jr. Joel LeBaron claimed his priesthood line of authority from his father Alma, who had been ordained by Alma's grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson, who had received the priesthood from Joseph Smith. LeBaron invited Allred and his followers to join their new organization, but their invitation was rejected.
In early 1956, the LeBaron brothers returned to Chihuahua. Their father Alma and brother Ervil became the fourth and fifth members of the new church; their mother Maud also eventually joined. Several months later, Ervil LeBaron published a pamphlet titled Priesthood Expounded, which became a foundational text for the church.
The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times is one of the few Mormon fundamentalist churches to have engaged in active proselytization. While most of their efforts have been focused on attracting Mormon fundamentalists from other groups to join their group, missionaries of the church have preached and distributed tracts at the LDS Church strongholds of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and outside the gates of Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The church's pamphlet Priesthood Expounded and other tracts became instrumental in the conversion of nine LDS Church missionaries of the church's French Mission to the LeBaron church, an incident that has been described as the "worst missionary apostasy in the history of the [LDS] Church".
Schism and murder
By 1962, Ervil LeBaron was the Presiding Patriarch of the church and number two in authority to Joel LeBaron. By 1967 he was teaching that he, not Joel, was the proper head of the church. Joel and other leaders of the church denounced Ervil and released him from his position.
In August 1972, Ervil LeBaron and his followers established the rival Church of the Lamb of God. Ervil began teaching his followers that he was the "One Mighty and Strong" prophesied of in the Doctrine and Covenants, and he prophesied that "Joel will be put to death". On 20 August 1972, Joel LeBaron was shot in the head by one of Ervil's followers. Joel was succeeded by his brother Verlan, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1981.
The church continues to exist in Chihuahua. It has under a thousand members all together in Chihuahua; Los Molinos, Baja California; San Diego, California, Central America, as well as a large number in Salt Lake City, UT.
- Factional breakdown: Mormon fundamentalist sects
- Benjamin LeBaron
- Mormon fundamentalism
- List of Mormon fundamentalist churches
- List of Mormon fundamentalist leaders
- Kahlile Mehr, "The Trial of the French Mission", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 21, no. 3 (Autumn 1988) pp. 27–45.
- Booth, William (July 23, 2009). "Ambushed by a Drug War: Mormon Clans in Mexico Find Themselves Targets of the Cartels". Washington Post.
- Althaus, Dudley (July 11, 2009). "In killings, sect suffers a new bloody chapter". Houston Chronicle.
- Janet Bennion (2004). Desert Patriarchy: Mormon and Mennonite Communities in the Chihuahua Valley (Tucson: University of Arizona Press) ISBN 0-8165-2334-7
- Ben Bradlee (1981). Prophet of Blood: The Untold Story of Ervil Lebaron and the Lambs of God (New York: Putnam) ISBN 0-399-12371-7
- Brian C. Hales (2006). Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations After the Manifesto (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books) ISBN 1-58958-035-4
- D. Michael Quinn, "Plural Marriage and Mormon Fundamentalism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 31, no. 2 (Summer 1998) pp. 1–68 at pp. 16–18, 23
- Steven L. Shields (1990, 4th ed.). Divergent Paths of the Restoration (Independence, Mo.: Herald House) ISBN 0-942284-13-5
- Lyle O. Wright (1963). "Origins and Development of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times." (M.S. thesis: Brigham Young University)