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Sidney Rigdon 1793-1876 was one of Joseph Smiths closest friends and advisers He was also a renowned early convert to the Church its most persuasive orator in the first decade and First Counselor in the First Presidency from 1832 to 1844 Following the Prophet Joseph Smiths martyrdom Rigdon became one of the Churchs best-known apostates Rigdon was born February 19 1793 on a farm in St Clair Township near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania the fourth child and youngest son of William and Nancy Briant Rigdon In 1817 while supporting his widowed mother on the family farm Rigdon experienced Christian conversion and a year later qualified himself to become a licensed preacher with the Regular Baptists He moved to eastern Ohio to preach under the tutelage of Adamson Bentley a popular Baptist minister and in June 1820 he married Phebe Brooks Bentleys sister-in-law After ordination as a Baptist minister Rigdon became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pittsburgh in 1821 Famed for his dynamic preaching Rigdon attracted listeners until his congregation became one of the largest in the city One of his critics William Hayden described him as being of medium height rotund in form of countenance while speaking open and winning with a little cast of melancholy His action was graceful his language copious fluent in utterance with articulation clear and musical Throughout his early ministry Rigdon kept looking for the pure New Testament church that practiced laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and healing the sick Drawn to Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott fellow ministers with similar views Rigdon associated with leading members of the Mahoning Baptist Association the forerunner of the restorationist Disciples of Christ movement In 1826 he became the pastor of a Grand River Association congregation in Mentor Ohio In 1830 however Rigdon broke with Campbell and Scott who went on to form the Disciples of Christ while Rigdon established a communal family
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