The Nephite government may have vanished, but the Nephite church remained intact and continued to maintain the requirement of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. Possibly the church also broke into divisions along tribal boundaries. Each separate tribe would have the teachings of the same church, but there may not have been a central ecclesiastical authority, even through Nephi would clearly be a uniting force. The difference would have been between Nephi’s position of respect and the organizational positions that paralleled the political structures. The situation may have resembled that of early Christianity when the widely separated churches were required to survive with little direct contact with a centralized body. Letters were used to assist in orthodoxy, but the typical daily operation of the religious community was heavily dependent on the local leadership rather than on any outside group.
Narrative: Mormon has painted a bleak picture of unbelievers; still he acknowledges the presence of righteous believers who will become the focus of his narrative when the Messiah appears. Therefore, Mormon acknowledges their presence.