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Headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) is the third largest breakaway church resulting from the leadership crisis in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844.

Although several people were vying for the position, a logical successor to Joseph Smith might have been Sidney Rigdon, Smith's first counselor and the only surviving member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

Prior to becoming a Mormon, Rigdon had been associated with Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ.

In 1841, Smith ordained Rigdon as prophet, seer, and revelator, the same calling as his own. When Smith announced his intention to run for president in 1844, Ridgon was to be his running mate. Because the Constitution required presidential running mates to be from different states, Rigdon moved to Pittsburgh in preparation for the presidential campaign. Therefore, he was not in Nauvoo when Smith was shot.

Upon the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young persuaded the Saints at Nauvoo to put off naming a successor, but to leave the church in the hands of the Council of Twelve Apostles, of which Young was president.

Subsequently, Ridgon was excommunicated by the Twelve. He returned to Pittsburgh, where he held meetings and published The Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate. In October of 1844, he took the first steps toward creating a new church organization, calling upon his friends and brethren to disassociate from the Twelve and to make contacts with LDS members in the East to gain additional support. In April of 1845, he formally organized the Church of Christ, on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the LDS Church.

William Bickerton was a member of the Methodist Church when he met Rigdon and was baptized into Rigdon's organization in 1845, becoming an elder, and eventually an evangelist in the Quorum of Seventy.

Bickerton soon became dissatisfied with Rigdon's leadership, and Rigdon's organization disbanded soon afterward. Bickerton continued preaching. He associated with Brigham Young's organization for a short time. However, he was opposed to polygamy and refused to teach it as directed by Young.

He and his followers then separated from the LDS Church in 1852 and reorganized the Church of Jesus Christ under his leadership in 1862. Considering his church to be a continuation of that formed by Joseph Smith, he originally operated as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but soon shortened the name to the Church of Jesus Christ.

In 1880, Bickerton was accused of causing a separation in a member's family. Although Bickerton maintained his innocence, the decision went against him at a church-convened council meeting. He was suspended from the church and separated from the priesthood. Bickerton challenged the allegations in a court of law and was exonerated of all wrong-doing. He was reinstated in the church in 1902, but he died a few years later without being reestablished in the leadership.

The Bickertonite Church accepts the first vision of Joseph Smith as being from God, but does not credit the account published by the LDS Church.

The church teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus atoned for the sins of mankind, and that salvation is for those who obey Christ's teachings on redemption through faith in Jesus Christ, acknowledging that He is the Son of God, and through repentance, baptism by immersion, the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and remaining faithful to one's covenant with God.

The church baptizes only in natural pools of water, and never indoors. Only those who have reached the age of accountability are candidates for baptism, but the age of accountability may vary from person to person.

After death, there are only two destinations: heaven and hell. Both of these are literal places.

The church does not accept the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods recognized by the LDS Church. The church is directed by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. There is also a Quorum of Seventy Evangelists. The elders of the church provide the leadership for local congregations. Teachers, deacons, and deaconesses are considered assistants to the ministry.

The Bickertonite Church holds that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Word of God, and of equal standing, making up the only scriptures recognized by the church. The Church of Jesus Christ publishes its own Book of Mormon, although it is similar to the LDS editions, and it uses the King James Version of the Bible.

Bickertonite churches do not have altars, crosses, or pictures, which they base on the Biblical prohibition on graven images.

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