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David O. McKay Diaries – “Priesthood”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Priesthood.” You can view other subjects here.

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Fri., 22 May, 1942:

“Telephone conversation with one of Bishop Tingey’s counselors:

Question:  Could a father who is a non-member of the Church, but whose wife is, bring the baby forward and hold it while it is being blessed?

Answer:  Yes, but it should be made plain to him that he is not officiating in any way.”

Wed., 24 Jun., 1942:

“Telephone Calls:

Bishop Wirthlin relative to new Church Directory 10:30 a.m.:

President McKay:  I have been looking over this proposed list for the new Directory.  Now, we have–

the Chairman of the Melchezidek Priesthood Committee

 ”     ”     ”   ”  Aaronic Priesthood Committee

”     ”     ”   ”  Adult Aaronic Priesthood Committee

”     ”     ”   ”  Stake Lesser Priesthood Ext. Plan Com.

”     ”     ”   ”  Stake Genealogical Committee

President of the Stake Mission

President Relief Society

Supt. Sunday School, Supt. YMMIA, Pres. YWMIA

Supt. Primary Assn, Chairman Stake Welfare Committee

Stake Work Director

Chairman Stake Agricultural Committee

Stake Junior Seminary

Chairman Stake Campaign Committee

We have all that, and yet we don’t consider the Presidency of the Elders Quorum of sufficient importance to put in their names.  If a Stake President has any responsibility at all in connection with the Quorums, it is with the Elders’ Quorum.  Of course, the General Authorities do not have to correspond with them, but it does look as though we are getting off into Commissions and Committees, just as the Government is doing.

I shall take this matter up with the Preisdency and the Council of the Twelve tomorrow, and consider the advisability of eliminating some of the names, and adding others.

What about Bishop’s counselors?  Here at this office, at times, we are unable to reach Bishops, and there is no way to get in touch with their counselors.


1. Insertion of Presidents of Elders’ Quorums (it may mean 10 or 15 in some Stakes).

2. Elimination of some of the Committees.

3. Advisability of giving names of Bishops’ counselors.”

Fri., 15 Sep., 1950:

“During the [wedding] reception, Morgan’s [McKay’s brother] daughter Ann, who married John Michael Vukich, asked if I would please bless her infant son the next morning, but as I have made arrangements to leave early in the morning, they decided to have the blessing that night.  Morgan spoke to the President of the Branch, and with his approval, I blessed John Michael Vukich, infant son of John Michael Vukich, and Katherine Ann McKay.”

Mon., 2 Oct., 1950:

“Mr. A. C. Deck, Managing Editor of the Tribune-Telegram called by telephone.  He said that about a week ago news reporters Clarence Williams, and Jack Reed, relayed the request that missionary farewells be not advertized in the daily press.  Said that he had refrained from calling during Conference because he realized how busy I would be.  I told Mr. Deck that I had received word that he would cooperate, and that the reason for our asking this cooperation is that after consultation with military authorities–Colonel West and Colonel Osborne–we have come to the conclusion that it would contribute to the lessening of the difficulties which they ahd we have experienced from people who really do not understand the relationship we have with our missionaries–the government appreciates that we are sending a lot of missionaries out, but they are also coming back, and they report within five days to their different draft boards–but the people do not understand and when they see the number of farewells that are being held, they imagine that some of the boys are going into the mission field to escape the draft, and it causes unrest.

Mr. Deck said that they get numerous requests from members of the L.D.S. Church to print their farewells, and they do not like to refuse to print them unless they understand why they are refusing to run them in their papers.  He therefore wondered if it would not be well to notify all the Bishops and Stake Presidents that it is the Church who is requesting that these farewells be not publicized.  I explained to Mr. Deck that we intended to do just that, and word will be sent out immediately to the Stake Presidents and Bishops.

Mr. Deck assured me of the Telegram and Tribune’s full cooperation in this respect.  He then said that he would like to offer his congratulations upon the excellent Conference, and also upon the sustaining of myself as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He asked if this announcement of a President and an Acting President is a little unusual.  I told him that there was one other case, and that was when President Anthon H. Lund was in the Presidency, he also became Senior member of the Council.  He retained his position as counselor to President Grant, and was sustained, also, as President of the Council of the Twelve, and Rudger Clawson as Acting President.  I further said that upon the dissolution of the Quorum of the First Presidency by the passing of the President of the Church, the presiding authority of the Church is the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and the President of that Council by virtue of his position presides over the Council, and the body of the Church.  Then that body chooses the President of the Church, who through the years has always been the President of the Council of the Twleve Apostles.

Mr. Deck said he appreciated my giving him this information as the question arises very often.

I told Mr. Deck that we are very pleased to cooperate in any way possible, because they have been most considerate in their reporting the meetings of the Conference and also in other church matters.”

Fri., 9 May, 1952:

“Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin, and his counselors, Brothers Thorpe B. Isaacson and Carl Beuhner called at the office–they discussed several matters pertaining to–

1. The Purchasing Department.

2. Under whose direction are the Presiding Bishopric operating–the First Presidency or the Twelve.  It was mentioned, when I presented this matter at the First Presidency’s meeting this morning, that the Twelve would like to direct the ward teaching.  The sentiment was expressed by the brethren, though not officially or formally, that the Presiding Bishopric should have charge of the ward teaching.

3. Statistics showing a great increase in the number of adult men not holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, notwithstanding the thousands that have been reclaimed.  They attribute that increase to the number of young men who went to war while they wtill held the Aaronic Priesthood; soon they were classed among the adult members not holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Bishopric recommend the advisability of ordaining worthy young men elders at the age of 18, before they go into the army–instead of 19.  The brethren at the First Presidency’s meeting today could see no objection and did see some advantages.”

Wed., 6 Aug., 1952:

“8 a.m. Elder Henry D. Moyle, Bishop Jos. L. Wirthlin, Bishop Thorpe Isaacson, and Bishop Beuhner were received at my office by appointment at their request.  The following were considered:

1. Authorization given for the Presiding Bishopric to hold a meeting in connection with the October Conference, with bishoprics and others.

2. Approved the Presiding Bishopric’s recommendation that Bishops of Wards be permitted to conduct a meeting once each month with the Aaronic Priesthood separate from the Melchizedek Priesthood; the Melchizedek Priesthood would go to their respective meetings.

3. The Presiding Bishopric recommend that all young men who are worthy be ordained Elders before leaving for military duty.  Decided to give this further consideration.

4. Told the Presiding Bishopric to prepare a letter for the Presidency to sign, to go to the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies and bishoprics, indicating that bishoprics should spend Priesthood meeting time with the Aaronic Priesthood. Once a month, however, they should meet with the High Priests quorum, and that quorum meeting should be held at a time not to conflict with their duties.

5. Agreed with the Bishopric that the Ward bishoprics should ordain boys to the Priesthood–not the advisers.  [What about the fathers?]

6. Approved the recommendation of the Presiding Bishopric that four lessons on the Constitution be included in the course of study for the Priests in 1952.

7. I told the Presiding Bishopric that negroes should not be invited to speak in sacrament meetings and at Firesides. 

(The above were presented to my counselors at the 9 a.m. First Presidency meeting–their approval was given to decisions made.)”

Sun., 10 Aug., 1952:

“[Deseret News article, 13 Aug.]  President David O. McKay issued a challenge to the priesthood of the Church Sunday.  The Church leader declared in addressing the priesthood of the Studio City Ward, San Fernando Stake:

‘The strength of Zion rests in the authority of each individual who holds the priesthood.  Each man is responsible for that authority he holds, responsible to magnify it.

‘You who hold the priesthood and sense that Divine authority, and are partakers of the Divine Authority–if you live true to it and magnify that priesthood–I say to you that the gates of hell cannot prevail against you.

‘No power of communism or atheism can move you from that testimony if you are a partaker of that Divine nature.’

. . . .

The Church leader declared that we can rest assured that the enemies of truth throughout the world are after the priesthood. He said he could sense while visiting the nations of Europe that the great attack against the Church was against its claim to divine revelation.  The anti-Christ Communistic world is against that claim.  That is the great issue of the day, he said.”

Mon., 20 Oct., 1952:

“At 11 a.m. Bishop Wirthlin called–he recommended that the Bishop of Wards abe given two counselors to assist him in the Priest Quorums.  I said ‘No; the Bishop should be President of the Priest’s Quorum by appointment, by ordination, and I would not give him two counselors.  If he wishes to appoint a Program Committee for the Senior Priests, he may do so.'”

Mon., 10 Nov., 1952:

“10:20 a.m.–Brother James L. Barker called and said that Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson of the B.Y.U. has asked him to accept a position teaching Spanish at the Brigham Young University to replace Dr. Valentine who has been called to preside over the Argentine Mission.

I said that it would be all right for him to accept this position, but that it does not relieve him from his assignment to complete the Priesthood lessons on the Apostacy, and this new appointment must be secondary to his lesson assignment.”

Fri., 14 Nov., 1952:

“At 8 a.m., met by appointment Bishops Wirthlin and Isaacson of the Presiding Bishopric who discussed among other things the Aaronic Priesthood handbook.

I could not see the wisdom of the handbook being curtailed to such an extent as is proposed by the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee; the recommendation of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee frustrates their plan entirely.  If they were to follow the instructions of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee the handbook would be reduced to 17 pages.  The Ward Teaching handbook has also been held up.  I later reported at the First Presidency’s meeting that I had read the handbook and considered it excellent.

Pres. Clark said he thought the fundamental thing is the problem as to who is the head of the Aaronic Priesthood, the First Presidency or the Twelve.  Pres. Clark agreed with me that the Twelve represent the First Presidency in the organization of the Church, but there are two different Priesthoods, that the Preisdent of the Church is the head of the Melchizedek and also the Aaronic, but the Twelve are not.

At the First Presidency’s meeting I said that the Presiding Bishopric had made a recommendation that in the wards a group leader be appointed, with two assistants and a secretary, for priests in the Senior Aaronic Priesthood, and a similar set-up for the group of priests under 21.  I said I did not favor this, that the Bishop, under such an arrangement, with his other worries and duties would just gradually leave it to the other leadership.  I reported that I told the Presiding Bishopric to leave the Bishop not only with the consciousness of the Aaronic Priesthood but with the realization that he is responsible and must associate with them; that they might give the Bishop an assistant if they desired. Pres. Clark felt the same way about this program.”

Tues., 25 Nov., 1952:

“8:45–First Presidency meeting.  Considered the following matters: . . . . (8) Objection of older people in Danish Mission to deacons passing sacrament when elders are present . . .”

Thur., 29 Jan., 1953

“At home taking care of the ‘flu.’  Ray is not so well—considered taking her down to the hospital.  Dr. Edward is watching her closely—if fever goes down, will let her remain at home.

Edward insisted that I stay home.

Corrected three manuscripts for editorials for the Improvement Era and Instructor.

Called Clara later in the day and asked her to come up home to get the manuscripts, take diction, etc.

President Joseph Fielding Smith, representing the Brethren of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, called us at our home.  He brought with him the faith, prayers and gook will of the Council.  His presence there, officially appointed by the Brethren of the Council, was one of the sweetest blessings that had come in the lives of Sister McKay and me—it was most helpful in giving us not only encouragement but restoration of health.

Ever since we began what is known as the Priesthood movement, getting the quorums to be more active as groups, I have advocated the value and blessing that would follow official visits from the quorum to indifferent members, and particularly to members of the quorum who are ailing or who have in their families someone who is ailing, also for the quorum to act as a group during bereavement, that the beneficial effects of such action would be incalculable for good, and never before have I experienced the actual effect of such a visit as I did when President Joseph Fielding Smith called.”

Wed., 8 Apr., 1953:

“9 to 11 a.m.—Attended First Presidency’s meeting.  Among some of the matters considered were:

2. President Richards said he had received a letter from Mr. Hobbs of the National City Bank of New York, in which he said that he had been able to give some study to our projected Priesthood insurance program and he had a very favorable report to make, that he was convinced that premiums might safely be cut with a group such as we represent we have.  He said if President Richards could come back he and his staff would be glad to help set up a schedule for consideration.  President Richards thought that perhaps in a week of two he might be well enough to make the trip.  He would take someone with him.  Mr. Hobbs said that we should not go to any of the actuaries or attorneys in New York regarding it as they would charge so much  and we should be disappointed.  He said they are at our disposition and they have a big insurance organization.  They service unions and other big insurance groups.  I said I considered this a very encouraging report but I felt Pres. Richards’ first duty was to take care of his health.

Fri., 19 June, 1953:

Priesthood Insurance–(First Presidency’s meeting note)

President Richards asked if he might have the privilege, if it would not be usurping any prerogative, to sit in with the committee having in charge investigation regarding Priesthood insurance.  He thought that inasmuch as we have the report that has been sent us from the National City Bank we should go forward on this.  The Brethren could see no objection to this.  President McKay urged that this work be carried forward.”

Wed., 29 July, 1953:

Telephone Calls

1.  President Stephen L. Richards called and said he intends to call the Committee on the Priesthood Insurance Plan together (as he has been authorized to do).  Said he wondered what I would think if he asked his son Lynn to work with the Committee on the legal work.  Lynn went back with him and heard the New York people’s side of the situation.  Legal services will be required.

I answered:  ‘You can’t do better.’

Brother Richards said he Hesitated because of Lynn being his son, but believes that he would be of great help to them, and that if I felt it would be all right, and the Committee feels all right about it, he will get them together and proceed with the word.  Said he feels that there are ‘some good things in it now.’

I spoke to Brother Richards about the Welfare and said there are some matters that I should like to take up; that there are some phases that we should give attention to.  Brother Richards said:  ‘I think you are very right.  Brother Romney came in and said that it was suggested that he submit the budget to us–we could spend a lot of time with him.  I questioned a lot of items.  The overhead is enormous.  I can see that it is something that will require extensive consideration when you have the time, and I am thoroughly convinced that something should be done about it.’

I said that I would take it up with him when I returned from Europe, that in the meantime for him to go ahead with the Priesthood Insurance Plan.'”

Thurs., 3 Sept., 1953:

Note re: Priesthood Insurance.

“President Stephen L. Richards reported his visit with Mr. G. Warfield Hobbs who heads the insurance and pension department of the National City Bank in New York.  He has worked out figures for us on a benevolent fund that we might set up for the priesthood, and he was here to make explanations.  Brothers Lee, Kimball, and LeGrand Richards, appointed on a committee, met with Pres. Richards and Mr. Hobbs and spent some time listening to his explanations.  Pres. Richards met with him again Tuesday.  Mr. Hobbs has gone back to New York and will write up all of the assumptions and premises on which he built his figures and his program, and then he wants the opportunity to submit his figures to some actuarial friends of his in New York, who are connected with a regular insurance company.  Mr. Hobbs said that he thinks we have the opportunity of doing something in this line that has not been done adequately by others, and he would be very happy if he could be instrumental in helping formulate something that would be satisfactory.

I said that I hoped that we can now push this matter to a successful conclusion.  I think if that could be introduced into our quorums, it would be a big impetus to quorum activity and quorum unity.

Thurs., 10 Sept., 1953:

First Presidency’s Meeting

“Among matters discussed at this meeting were the following:

1.  Priesthood quorum organizations and activities as submitted by the General Priesthood Committee.  The brethren did not feel to approve certain recommendations by the Priesthood Committee for the handbook, as they felt that in a very short time they might all be subject to reconsideration and possible change.  President McKay said he had been concerned about what seemed to him to be a lack of discernment on the part of some of the Brethren between quorum work and what he would designate as ecclesiastical work,  that the quorum is a distinct organization by revelation, and it does not function ecclesiastically only as an aid and furnishing capable officers to function when called upon by the Stake Presidency.  We have assigned very important functions to other groups: teaching, recreation, and everything that might be incorporated in the quorum unit to strengthen its organization we have given to others.  President Richards said he would like the opportunity of expanding these thoughts some time and had been waiting to get this insurance business for the Priesthood under way.  He said that the insurance plan is now waiting a recasting of the original papers which Mr. Hobbs submitted.  He did not set forth all of the data which he thinks entitles our people as a class to some preferential rates, and he thinks he can furnish some data for that.  Since Mr. Hobbs was here we have looked up all the statistical data we could find to show our death rates and he wants to study those again with reference to the national rate.

President McKay asked if we could have it ready for Conference.  President Richards did not know but he thought we could get it within a week or so.  If we could get it ready it would appeal to our great body of able business men who are seemingly indifferent to their Church work but who are as loyal as anyone in the Church if we asked them to do anything.  President Richards said he has established some very low rates and he thoroughly believes he can support them.  He has friends in big insurance companies, the Equitable and others.  He has agreed that when he gets his assumptions all written up and the rates written up to take it as a matter of courtesy to some of these big companies and ask their opinion on it.  If they agree with his assumptions it will be the best answer we can get to some of our local people who have more or less objected.  He says that a Mr. Peterson who is the chief actuary of the Equitable is a close personal friend of his and he is sure that because of his interest in the Church he would study the plan and give his reactions.  President McKay asked that it be pushed along and try to have something ready for Conference.

President McKay said he had faith in men, that we have a great potential power in the Adult Aaronic Priesthood, men like Dr. McMurrin.  He thought we should have the strongest men to preside over the quorums, that strong men generally are not content to be moulded in a certain cast.”

Fri., 2 Oct., 1953:

First Presidency’s meeting:

Benevolent Fund for the Priesthood

President Richards mentioned the benevolent fund for the Priesthood quorums.  He had received a telephone message from the insurance department of the National City Bank of N.Y. and was told that Mr. Hobbs had been sick and is still ill, that he had directed his subordinate to take up the matter of rates with one of the largest and most prominent firms of actuaries in New York, that they had submitted our rates and plan to this actuarial group and they had been very encouraging in their appraisal of the adequacy of the rates established.  They said they were just then working on a priesthood insurance plan for the Methodist ministry which involved a great many people and that their plan was comparable in rate structure very largely to our plan and they deemed it adequate.  Mr. Hobbs said, however, that he was not content with that report only and that he still has in mind conferring with Mr. Peterson who is the actuarial expert for the Equitable Life.  He said, however, that every thing they had developed so far was encouraging as to the adequacy of the rates.  The brethren thought some mention of the plan might be made at Conference.

President Richards mentioned that his son Lynn had spent some time investigating the laws of this and other states as to whether or not the insurance commissioner’s approval would be required.  He says there is nothing in the law covering our plan and the nearest to it is the fraternal plan which has to pass the Commissioner’s inspection and approval.  He thinks that perhaps some time in the future we could get our own legislature, at least, to pass modifications to the law that would not render it imperative to submit our plan for the Commissioner’s approval.  President Richards did not think it would present any insurmountable difficulties because if it passes muster with the best actuaries, it should pass any commissioner’s office.”

Wed., 9 Dec., 1953:

First Presidency Meeting

“The following items were among many that were discussed:

1.  President Richards reported on the Priesthood Insurance Plan.  Said that Mr. Hobbs of the National City Bank has tried diligently to get a report from the Equitable Life.  At first he had considerable encouragement but they now say they have not been able to examine it sufficiently well to warrant giving a definite report, and he did not feel to send it back to us without their approval or that of some of the larger insurance actuaries.  He will continue to try to get their report.

Mon., 10 Dec., 1956:

11:30 a.m.  Mr. and Mrs. Ira Davis of Bedford, Wyoming came in to the office, after having waited since 7 o’clock this morning.

On October 25, 1956 at a meeting of the First Presidency their case was reviewed and the question considered as to whether the proper course would be restoration of former blessings or ratification of subsequent ordinances.  It was decided that restoration of former blessings and ratification of ordinances subsequent to excommunication would be in order.  Later on November 15, 1956 at a meeting of the First Presidency this case was again reviewed in which the decision had been reached that appropriate action to be taken is restoration of his blessings and ratification of ordinances performed.

Accordingly, in accordance with the above decisions of the First Presidency, I this day restored by the laying on of hands all of his former blessings upon Ira Davis of Bedford, Wyoming.  Besides restoring his former blessings, all the ordinations performed by him since his baptism and ordination as an Elder were ratified.

Fri., 1 Mar., 1957:

“*The following ruling was approved by the First Presidency during their meeting with the Presiding Bishopric this morning:


In order to clarify the question as to who may stand in the circle when babies are blessed and when confirmations are performed, the Presiding Bishopric discussed the matter with the First Presidency and, with their approval, announce the following:

The blessing of babies and the confirming of members in the Church are ordinances pertaining to the Melchizedek priesthood.  Therefore, only those who bear the Melchizedek priesthood should be invited to stand in the circle or to participate in any way in the performance of these ordinances.

The above ruling supersedes all previous instructions on this matter, including those appearing in The Messenger for February 1957 under the title ‘Priesthood Bearers Only to Stand in Circle.'”

Sun., 7 Apr., 1957:

(From Council Minutes of January 31, 1957)

Conferring and Ordaining to Priesthood Offices

Consideration was given to a memorandum from the Twelve calling attention to an action of this Council taken some time ago to the effect that when ordaining boys or men to the office of deacon, the Aaronic priesthood should first be conferred, and then the person should be ordained to the specific office in the priesthood; that when ordaining brethren to the office of elder, the same procedure should be followed — namely, that the Melchizedek Priesthood should be conferred upon the person, and then that he should be ordained to the specific office in the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Brethren mention that apparently no instruction has gone to the temples in regard to this matter.

President McKay said that at the time of the April General Conference there will be held a meeting of the presidents of temples at which time this information will be given them.

The Brethren then raised the question as to how aggressive they should be in making the change.

The President said that the information might be conveyed by the Brethren of the General Authorities when they attend quarterly conferences, and that they should set the example when performing ordinations themselves.

Wednesday, May 22, 1957.

Telephone conversation with Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin.

Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin called by telephone and stated that a question had come up regarding baptisms.  He reported that we are not using the Tabernacle font for this purpose now, but we are sending the people to Churches which have fonts in the various wards in the area.

Bishop Wirthlin then asked if we should permit people to perform baptisms in private swimming pools to avoid their traveling distances to some of the fonts in our buildings.  I told Bishop Wirthlin that I felt that we should not permit this; that if this practice is permitted, we shall have no way of knowing what extremes might develop in this regard.

I instructed Bishop Wirthlin to inform the people that we do not look with favor on this practice.  Baptismal fonts in our buildings have been dedicated for this purpose, and public swimming pools should not be used for this purpose.

I mentioned to Bishop Wirthlin further that it would not hurt anyone to travel a distance for baptism.  It would be worth it, and they would remember it.  I said to him that I had to walk a half mile to Spring Creek when I was baptized, and I have never forgotten it.”

1958 [need date]

At 10:45 a.m.

Elder Sterling W. Sill came in and asked a question regarding the line of his authority as Assistant to the Twelve.  He said that some people say that his Line of Authority as Assistant to the Twelve should come through Governor Blood who ordained him a High Priest.  I told Brother Sill that that is wrong–that his authority as an Assistant to the Twelve should come through the person who ordained him an Assistant to the Twelve.  Therefore, his line of authority should come through David O. McKay.”

Mon., 9 Mar., 1959:

“Telephone Calls:

1.  Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin — Called to inquire concerning the procedure to be followed in regard to the baptizing and ordaining of servicemen by other service men when there are no wards close by to which they are affiliated.  He specifically mentioned the case of a serviceman who had been asked to be ordained by another serviceman in his company to the office of Deacon.

President McKay told Bishop Wirthlin that he should send the matter to the First Presidency and they would establish a certain rule which could be followed in all similar cases.  He mentioned that it would probably have to be carried out thorugh the Servicemen’s Committee.”

Sat., 2 Apr. 1960:

7 p.m.

Presided at and conducted the proceedings of the general Priesthood meeting held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the First Council of Seventy, Presidents Clark and Moyle, and I were the speakers on this occasion.  This meeting was relayed by closed circuit to an estimated audience of 55,000 gathered in 244 buildings throughout the United States, and Canada.  It was the largest Priesthood gathering in the history of the Church.”

Fri., 10 June 1960:

“8:30 a.m.

The First Presidency’s meeting was held.  One matter of importance was the reading of a letter of instructions prepared by the First Presidency for the General Authorities of the Church, setting forth the action of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve on the subject of interviewing prospective missionaries.  The letter was approved as prepared.  A letter was also read and approved (a copy of which is being sent to Stake Presidents and Bishoprics) setting forth new qualifications and standards for young men and women being selected to serve as missionaries for the Church.  (see copies following)

I reviewed instructions relating to the interviewing of prospective missionaries and explained that young men who are found morally unclean will not be called on missions.  I stated that Bishops have the responsibility of interviewing boys before they are ordained deacons, teachers, and priests, and that these interviews give opportunity to create an atmosphere in which the boys will live and grow up to manhood.  It is hoped that they can be influenced to keep their lives clean and to accept the responsibility of protecting the moral cleanliness of themselves and of the girls of the Church.

Aaronic Priesthood

At our meeting with the Presiding Bishopric this morning I told them that yesterday at the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, a decision was made pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood as follows:  That a boy should be a deacon for three years, commencing at age 12 until his 15th birthday; that he is to be a teacher during the years 15 and 16; and that he is to be a priest from 17 until his 20th birthday, unless these boys are found worthy to be ordained Elders prior to the age of 20, for such reasons as being married in the temple or to serve a mission for the Church.  These ordinations can take place any time after their 19th birthday if they are otherwise qualified and worthy.  I said the young men are under the direction of the Bishopric and when the Bishop recommends a young man, he should know him well.”

Fri., 8 July 1960:

“Aaronic Priesthood Ages — I brought to the attention of the Presiding Bishopric the action taken by us and the Presiding Bishopric a week ago regarding the ages for advancement to different offices in the Aaronic Priesthood.  Bishop Isaacson then explained to me their feelings, and after some reconsideration, it was approved that a boy may be ordained a Deacon at 12 years of age; and at age 15, a boy may be ordained a Teacher, and would remain until his 16th birthday, at which time he may be ordained a Priest, and he will thereafter remain a Priest until his 20th birthday when he may be ordained an Elder, unless he is previously called on a mission or married in the Temple.

This decision was approved, and Bishop Wirthlin was directed by me to follow this final procedure.”

Fri., 4 Nov. 1960:

“I inquired of the Presiding Bishopric about the selection of Ward Teachers’ messages.  Bishop Buehner explained that the material is prepared under the direction of President Joseph Fielding Smith; that some of the topics have been prepared by the Brethren of the Council of the Twelve and approved by President Smith.  We called attention to the importance of ward teachers’ dealing with practical matters such as children nine years of age or over who have not been baptized, and also as to matters of the Senior Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood.  We asked whether or not ward teaching matters are considered with the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee in the meeting which the Presiding Bishopric holds each month with this committee.  I said that I would call Brother Harold B. Lee and ask that when the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee meets with the Presiding Bishopric that the teachers’ messages for 1961 be gone over.

Thurs., 22 Dec. 1960:

“Thursday, December 22, 1960

Special meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve

At 8 o’clock this morning, upon my call, President Moyle and I (President Clark being indisposed at home) met with the members of the Council of the Twelve in the First Presidency’s Room of the Church Administration Building.

I expressed pleasure that the First Presidency had received a letter from the Council of the Twelve dated December 19, 1960, signed by the Brethren of the Twelve who are in the city, and endorsed by those who are absent.  I said that inasmuch as the items presented in the letter, which refer to the Regionalization of the Church for facilitating Stake and Mission work, would affect the future policy of the Church, I deemed it advisable that the First Presidency and the Twelve consult together relative thereto before further steps be taken in the matter.

The letter was read, and then followed a long discussion by the Brethren on this matter.

After listening to their comments, I made the following statement to the Brethren:

I shall preface my remarks with a statement with reference to a condition in our country.  About 20 years ago we shifted in this country from the established program of the Forefathers founding the Constitution and the Senate and House of Representatives and the Judiciary and the President of the United States to a Rule by Committees.  You who have had anything to do with farm matters or stock raising know that we have been ruled by Committees, and we are largely shifting that way now in the Government.

In this Church we are so organized that the Priesthood will control.  It does not matter how large we grow, how many hundreds of thousands or millions, we have certain established rules.  There is a little ward here presided over by three high priests, and the bishopric have representatives holding the Priesthood.  There are quorums in that Priesthood and there are Auxiliaries, each one assuming certain responsibilities.  We have so many wards in a stake, and that stake is presided over by three high priests, assisted by twelve councilors.  Those stakes constitute the Church.  It does not matter how far you go or how wide.

Now a bishop may not be very effective in his administration, but that is his responsibility, and the Lord has said that man must be chosen by the First Presidency and the Twelve, and we are responsible.  No matter how large the Church grows the 15 men sitting here are responsible for the appointment of those men, and that must never be taken away from you.  That is the stakes.

Now the same with the missions.  We have to choose men to preside over those missions.  Some are effective, and some are ineffective, but you are responsible for those mission presidents.  You can divide those missions as you wish, but be careful that you do not take away from the constituted authority of the church the divine right by ordination and by setting apart, and leave that to some Committee.  You always have to have your hand on that.  And as I see this this morning, the recommendation that we change our policy is merely a means of educating these men who are appointed by you men.  It is an education more than an assignment of dictation.

I have looked with a little question upon assigning a man to preside over a certain district and giving him responsibility.  He must never get out from under your influence and your guidance.  If we do that we will be running this Church by Committees, just as the Government has been running the country by Committees, and as it is being run now by Committees.  You are the constituted Authority.  Some men who may be chosen to preside over missions may not be so effective as others.  That is inevitable, and when you have such men you are going to have trouble with missionaries.  Give a man so many missionaries that he cannot do his work, the work is going to lag and it is going to be injured probably by inefficient missionaries.

Now, in our changing of our policy here, let us keep as near as we can to the revelations of the Lord, and we will never be wrong if we do that.  In this regionalizing, or in this move to regionalize, you cannot shirk the responsibility of presidency and guiding.  The suggestion that you all together constitute the Missionary Committee, I think is a good one.  It is your assigned duty to watch over this Church and set things in order in all parts of the world, just as much in Europe and China as here in the United States, and you must never get away from it.  You cannot get away from it.

I think it would be a good thing if you Brethren would sit with the Missionary Committee each week, in addition to your weekly meeting, and assign these missionaries, get the reports, and know exactly what is going on.  I am not sure about these three men.  You would have a Committee.  Perhaps there would be more efficiency by assigning them that way.  That is the tendency that is prompting this division now — to make more effective and more efficient this missionary work.  You will have to do the same thing to make more efficient stake work.

And now the stakes are growing.  You Brethren of the Twelve will be sent to Europe to visit the London, the Manchester, the Birmingham Stakes.  You will also have to visit the missions over there.  We are multiplying missions for efficiency.  You men will have to do that.  Your Assistants — the Assistants to the Twelve — will have to do it.  Some will come home having made a superficial investigation, a superficial visit, and some will come home having made an efficient supervision and visit.  That is the personality and efficiency of each one, but you will never get away from the organization of the Church.  You members of the Twelve with the Assistants now given to you have to set in order the Church throughout the world.  Now it is just a question of how best to do that.

The Brethren then discussed the matter further, after which I said that nothing would be done until we are all united one hundred percent, and then we shall know we are right.  I said that there should be an understanding that the Quorum of the Twelve will constitute the Missionary Committee.  However, this matter will be postponed along with the other until the Twelve have studied the matter further and bring in their report.  I said the whole subject should be further considered, and that the Brethren who are now absent should have the privilege of being as thoroughly advised as the Brethren who are here in regard to what is contemplated, as it involves a change in the policy of the Church; that no principles are involved, but we do want to know where we are going when we adopt such a policy as proposed.”

Wed., 29 Mar. 1961:

“9:30 to 10:15 a.m.

Held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  At this meeting I discussed with my counselor the matter of sending out members of the First Council of Seventy to set the Church in order without giving them authority to set apart Stake Presidents or to ordain Bishops, and commented on the fact that they are going out and doing the work of high priests and should be given that authority.

I explained that in the early days of the Church, the First Council of Seventy were high priests and when the question arose about this the Prophet took the high priests out and seventies took their places.  In response to President Clark’s inquiry as to whether or not when a president of seventy is chosen I would propose that there be conferred upon him a special authority and to make him a high priest or only confer a special authority, I said that when a vacancy in the Council of the Seventy is filled, special authority would be given to set in order the affairs of the Church and the individual should be ordained a High Priest.

The revelation (Doctrine & Covenants, Section 107, Verse 94), ‘And the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six;’ was also considered and the relation of this to the present need of the Church was discussed.  President Clark’s question, ‘Will you make it a general rule or apply it to specific persons?’ was answered by me by saying, ‘Under present conditions, I should apply it to specific cases.  Every man who is appointed to go out to a stake, every one of the First Council of Seventy appointed to visit a stake, should have authority of High Priests to set in order the needs in that stake.  I should not make it general; I should make it individual.  I should confer upon each one who goes out to set the Church in order.’

President Moyle said, ‘You have a precedent established by President Grant.  He conferred upon the Assistant the authority of the Apostleship.’

I said:  ‘They are Apostles with every right and power of the Apostles except only the choosing of patriarchs, and they are given the same charge.  They do not have the right to choose a patriarch, and they are not members of the Quorum, but they have the authority of the Apostle.’  I then said that only the members of the First Council who are sent out to do the duty of High Priests would be given authority.

President Clark said, ‘If it is a special ordination, my query is answered.’

I then said that we shall present the matter to the Twelve at our meeting in the Temple tomorrow.

Other important matters were taken up at this meeting.”

Thurs., 30 Mar. 1961:

“7:25 a.m.

Consultation with President Joseph Fielding Smith.  I explained that under the arrangements being made to divide mission fields into areas and placing them under the direction of one of the General Authorities of the Church, that the stakes within the areas can be taken care of by the General Authority assigned to the area.  I also informed President Smith that the Presidency will probably have a recommendation to make that the Seventies be given authority to set in order everything pertaining to the stakes.  I felt impressed to say to him, ‘We shall give them that authority.’  President Smith patted me on the back, and said, ‘I am with you.’

I said the President of the Seventy will be ordained High Priests and sent out to set the stake in order and everything pertaining thereto.  He has the same authority as a Seventy, and by virtue of the appointment of the First Presidency, he has authority to attend to every duty in the stake.  I am sure that is right!  I said nothing to President Smith about the seventh president of seventy presiding over the other six.  We shall take this matter up a little later.

Seventies – Ordination to High Priests

Presented to the Brethren in Council Meeting today the matter of ordination of Brethren of the First Council of Seventy to High Priests in order that they may attend to ordinations when they are assigned to go out into the Stakes.  

Thursday, March 30, 1961


President McKay, speaking to the Brethren, said that the Church is growing, stakes are increasing in number, and work of the General Authorities is becoming heavier and heavier all the time, and their presence is needed in the stake conferences.  He mentioned that the Twelve now have eleven associates called Assistants; also the First Council of Seventy who go out regularly, and the Presiding Bishopric.  He said that the Seventy, who labor under the direction of the Twelve in accordance with the revelations, are not authorized to complete all the work for which they are sent out; that at one time in the Church high priests and seventies both were called into the First Council of Seventy.  The question arose regarding the authority, etc., of these brethren, and the high priests were released, and since that time only those who were ordained to the office of seventy have occupied a position in the First Council.

President McKay said that the First Presidency now recommend that those members of the First Council of Seventy who are appointed to represent the Twelve at the quarterly conferences be ordained high priests so that they can attend to all the regular duties to which they are assigned.  They will not join the high priests’ quorum, he said, because they will hold to their present appointment, but as they go out they will be given authority, which they already have as holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to set in order everything necessary.

The President said that this authority would not be given to all of them, and it will not change the order and calling of the seventies into the First Council of Seventy.  They shall be chosen as heretofore, but when the First Council of Seventy are used to go out to represent the Twelve and to do that work just as the Assistants do, they should have the power and authority to do everything that will help in the work.

President McKay asked if the Brethren had any questions.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson said he assumed that this would not include the ordaining of patriarchs.

President McKay answered no, that even the Assistants cannot do that.  In answer to a further question by Brother Benson, President McKay said that, however, they will be able to ordain bishops and set apart presidents of stakes and high councilmen.  They cannot, however, choose patriarchs.  That responsibility rests with the Twelve.  Nor can they attend to the restoration of blessings.  They can merely attend to the local work.

President Joseph Fielding Smith moved approval of the decision of the First Presidency.  Motion seconded by Elder Ezra Taft Benson and unanimously approved.”

Fri., 9 June 1961:

“Ordaining of Seventies to office of High Priest

11:30 a.m.

Went up to the office of the First Council of Seventy where, by appointment, I met with the members of that Council.  Brother Levi Edgar Young was present.

I explained to these brethren the proposition that they are sent out under the direction of the Twelve to set in order matters in the stakes and wards, and that under the arrangement that has heretofore prevailed they were unable to ordain High Priest to any position in the stake, or even assist in such ordinations; that, however, the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve were now united in recommending that when members of the First Council of the Seventy go out to fill such appointments under the direction of the Twelve, they should be empowered with all authority necessary to set in order the stakes and wards.

The brethren of the First Council voted unanimously for this change and seemed to be pleased regarding it.  (See Sunday, June 11, 1961 for notes regarding the ordaining of some of these Brethren and for the public announcement of same)

While these Brethren will be ordained High Priests they will not belong to the High Priests Quorum, but will belong to the First Council of Seventy.

Sun., 11 June 1961:

“8 a.m.

Members of the First Council of Seventy Set Apart as High Priests ‘that they may have Power to set in order all things Pertaining to the Church.’

According to appointment at my request, I met with President Henry D. Moyle and the following Brethren of the First Council of Seventy:  Antoine R. Ivins – S. Dilworth Young – Milton R. Hunter – Bruce R. McConkie.

In keeping with the divine appointment of the members of the First Council of Seventy to ‘preach the Gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world,’ (D & C 107:25), and in harmony with the action of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twleve Apostles on March 30, 1961, the following members of the First Council of Seventy met in the office and were ordained High Priests:

Antoine R. Ivins – Ordained by President David O. McKay

S. Dilworth Young – Ordained by President Henry D. Moyle

Milton R. Hunter – Ordained by President David O. McKay

Bruce R. McConkie – Ordained by President Henry D. Moyle

It is understood that these Brethren, and others who are yet to be ordained, will, under their assignments by the Quorum of the Twelve, ordain High Priests, set apart Presidents of Stakes, members of High Councils, Presidents of High Priests Quorums, Bishops and their counselors, and perform such other official duties as may be necessary in Stakes and Missions to which they may be assigned.

This morning at the 9 a.m. Session of the MIA June Conference held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle I made a public announcement to all assembled of this historical move.  (see newspaper clippings following)  (Also see report to Council June 15, 1961)

Sunday, June 11, 1961



An announcement that members of the First Council of Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been ordained high priests to give them ‘power to set in order all things pertaining to the Church’ as they visit among the stakes and missions was made Sunday morning in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

It was made by President David O. McKay at the close of his remarks at the session of the 62nd annual MIA conference held under the direction of the First Presidency.

President McKay’s statement on the occasion is as follows:

‘There is one message I should like to speak on this occasion to the Church.’

‘This morning four members of the First Council of Seventy were ordained high priests, and the other members of the First Council of Seventy will be so ordained.  Under the direction of the Twelve Apostles, the First Council of Seventy go out in all parts of the world to reorganize stakes and the missions, to set in order the affairs of the Church.  That means ordaining high priests as presidents of stakes, setting apart as presidents of stakes, setting apart high councilmen, setting apart presidents or ordaining presidents of high priests quorums and doing everything that is necessary for the advancement of the work.

‘The First Presidency and Twelve recently agreed that the First Seven Presidents of Seventy who have been appointed by the Twelve should have power to set in order all things pertaining to the Church and this is declaring that they are thus authorized to carry on the work.’

Members of the First Council of Seventy are Levi Edgar Young, Antoine R. Ivins, S. Dilworth Young, Milton R. Hunter, Bruce R. McConkie, Marion D. Hanks and A. Theodore Tuttle.

Deseret News – Monday, June 12, 1961

Sunday, June 11, 1961


The elevation of seven general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a higher position in the church’s priesthood was announced Sunday by President David O. McKay.

At the close of the morning session of the Mutual Improvement Assn. conference, Pres. McKay said ‘Members of the First Council of Seventy will be ordained to the office of a high priest so they will be enabled to set in order all things pertaining to the affairs of the church.’.

The ordinations will enable the seven members of the council to direct the organization and reorganization of stakes of the church; to set apart and ordain stake presidencies and other high priests, and to officiate in all other ordinances requiring the priesthood of a high priest.

The position of a high priest is one of three callings in the LDS Church Melchizedek Priesthood.  The others are that of an elder and a seventy.

In the past the organizing of stakes, setting apart of stake presidencies and performance of other functions of a high priest have been handled primarily by members of the Council of Twelve Apostles and the Assistants to the Council of the Twelve.

Pres. McKay said four of the seven presidents of Seventy were ordained Sunday morning and the other ordinations would be taken care of as soon as possible.

Members of the First Council of Seventy include Levi Edgar Young, Antoine R. Ivins, S. Dilworth Young, Milton R. Hunter, Bruce R. McConkie, Marion D. Hanks and A. Theodore Tuttle.

The Salt Lake Tribune – Monday, June 12, 1961″

Wed., 14 June 1961:

“9 a.m.

The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.  The following are some of the items we took up:

7.  First Council of the Seventy

Reference was made to the announcement that I made Sunday morning in the MIA June Conference that four of the members of the First Council of the Seventy had been ordained high priests, which ordination took place Sunday morning at 8 o’clock.  Elder Levi Edgar Young had inquired both from my secretary and Brother Anderson, secretary in the office of the First Presidency, as to the reason why he had not been given this ordination.

I explained that the action did not include making all of the first Seven Presidents High Priests, but only those who are going out to set in order the affairs of the Church.  Those ordained were Antoine R. Ivins, S. Dilworth Young, Milton R. Hunter, and Bruce R. McConkie.

President Moyle mentioned that Elder Ivins seemed to have the understanding that in the future when selecting brethren for positions in the First Council of the Seventy, Presidents of Stakes and others who are High Priests could be chosen, and that perhaps the Assistants to the Twelve might now be made a part of the First Quorum of Seventies.

I explained that it was not the intention to call High Priests into positions in the First Council of Seventies, nor was there any thought of filling up the First Quorum of Seventies in the manner mentioned.  For the record, I said that some time ago (June 9) I met with the First Council of Seventy, Levi Edgar Young being present, and explained to them the proposition that they are sent out under the direction of the Twelve to set in order matters in the stakes and wards, and that under the arrangement that has heretofore prevailed, they were unable to ordain High Priests to any position in the stake or even assist in such ordinations; that, however, the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve are now united in recommending that when members of the First Council of Seventy go out to fill such appointments under the direction of the Twelve, they should be empowered with all authority necessary to set in order the Stakes and Wards.

The Brethren of the First Council voted unanimously for this change, and seemed to be pleased regarding it.  I stated further that while these brethren will be ordained High Priests, they will not belong to the High Priests Quorum, but will belong to the First Council of Seventy.

President Moyle suggested that, if I felt inclined to do so, it would be perhaps wise to explain again the situation to Elder Ivins in order that he may have a correct understanding.

Referring to the First Quorum of the Seventy, I said that is has been generally understood that the First Quorum is made up of the first seven presidents of the first ten quorums, but that this is not authoritative and that the first quorum has never been organized.  I mentioned that is has also been stated that the First Quorum should include the senior president of the first 63 quorums.  I said that I did not feel right about ordaining Levi Edgar Young a High Priest inasmuch as he is not able to visit the Stakes and Wards at the present time due to his condition.

Thurs., 15 June 1961:

Seventies – Ordaining of High Priests

Today at Council Meeting, I reported to the Brethren that I had held a meeting with the members of the First Council of Seventy, and that on Sunday morning, June 11, 1961, I had invited four of them to come to my office and that President Henry D. Moyle and I had ordained the following High Priests – Brothers Antoine R. Ivins, S. Dilworth Young, Milton R. Hunter, and Bruce R. McConkie.

I said that in regard to the ordination of these Brethren, I know it is right,and that the Lord approved of it, but that I do not know that we are compelled to give it to all of the Brethren of the First Council of Seventy just because we give it to those whom we send out to represent us.  When they are appointed, they will go representing the Twelve, and they should be empowered with authority to do the work — that is clear to me.

In answer to a question as to whether these Brethren can ordain Bishops, I answered yes, that they could do virtually everything that the Assistants can do; that, however, they do not join the High Priests’ Quorum, but that the First Council of Seventy is their quorum.  Nor does it follow that we shall call High Priests into the First Council of Seventy.  We are not going to do that, as the Prophet has ruled on that matter.

To the question if the members of the First Council of Seventy who have been or may be ordained High Priests can perform marriages in the Temple, I answered No; nor can they select and ordain Patriarchs.

Thurs., 27 July 1961:

“9 a.m.

Elders Marion D. Hanks, and A. Theodore Tuttle Ordained High Priests.

Elders Marion D. Hanks and A. Theodore Tuttle came in by appointment for the purpose of being ordained high priests.

I referred to the recent occasion when I met with the First Council of Seventy and mentioned to them the recent action of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve when it was unanimously decided that the brethren of the First Council of Seventy should have full powers under the Quorum of the Twelve to set in order matters pertaining to the Church in the stakes and missions.  I then asked Elders Hanks and Tuttle if they were in full accord with that action, and they answered in the affirmative.  Presidents Moyle and Brown and I then laid our hands upon the head of Elder Marion D. Hanks, and I was voice in ordaining him a high priest.  We then laid our hands upon the head of A. Theodore Tuttle, and President Moyle, at my request, was voice in ordaining Elder Tuttle a high priest.  

Thurs., 3 Aug. 1961:

“8:30 a.m.

Attended the First Presidency’s meeting.  President Moyle is in Florida, and President Clark still indisposed at home.

President Brown and I read a number of letters containing matters of general church interest.

Ordination of Members of the First Council of the Seventy to High Priests

A letter referring to the recent decision to ordain the members of the First Council of Seventy to High Priests and quoting from the Documentary History of the Church corrected a practice of ordaining Elders to High Priest before they were ordained Seventies, and does not preclude the giving of additional authority and duties to the First Council of Seventies. 

Thurs., 16 Nov. 1961:

Tithe-Paying and Issuance of Temple Recommends, and Other Ordinances.

We considered a question in regard to the payment of tithing.  The question was asked: if a man is worthy to go to the temple in every other way, but has not been a full tithe-payer, should he be refused a recommend to the temple?  Or is a Bishop justified in giving him a temple recommend on his promise to pay his tithing from then on?

I said that I understand that that is the ruling that has generally been followed.

Elder Petersen asked if the same rule would apply to ordinations in the Priesthood.  If a man is proposed to be ordained an elder, seventy, or high priest, might the ordination be performed if he promised to pay his tithing in the future?  I said the same rule should apply.”

Fri., 8 Dec. 1961:

“Most of the time this morning was devoted to matters brought up by the Presiding Bishopric.

Brigham Young University Workshops for Bishops

Bishop Vandenberg mentioned that it is his understanding that in the past the Brigham Young University has been having special workshops for Bishops in their Leadership Weeks.  The Bishopric question the advisability of this practice.  They have prepared a program which Bishop Simpson presented, which involved not only a Bishops’ Workshop, but also a workshop for Aaronic Priesthood leaders.  He explained that it is the feeling of the Presiding Bishopric that this program should come from the Ward and stake Aaronic Priesthood under the Stake Presidency; that it would create a relationship between Ward and Stake Officers so necessary for proper Church government.

Ways and means of the Presiding Bishopric carrying on this program were discussed, and I told them to go ahead with their plans which could be presented for approval later; that they are in harmony with the Church.

Fast Offerings – Collection of

Bishop Vandenberg referred to the present practice of having the deacons collect the fast offerings on the first Sunday of the month.  He suggested that permission be given to have this collection made on Saturday afternoon, an evening before Fast Day.  He mentioned that now the boys go out on Fast Day Sunday morning and disturb families who sometimes are not out of bed; the boys leave Sunday School, and are not at their Priesthood meetings.  If they went on Saturday afternoon, it would remind the people to fast the following day, and it would not disturb them in the morning, and many times in remote areas, a member of the Melchizedek Priesthood could drive the deacons around in his car to make their calls.

I said that that was a very good idea; that it would, no doubt, increase fast offerings.”

Fri., 16 Feb., 1962:

Aaronic Priesthood Program for the Missions

The [Presiding] Bishopric presented to the First Presidency a plan for the Aaronic Priesthood Program in the Missions.  According to this plan the line of authority would be through the First Presidency and not through the Presiding Bishopric, as there are no bishops in the mission field.  This program is to be outlined in a handbook to be sent to all missions.  I approved this plan as submitted.

(For complete details, see First Presidency’s Minutes.)”

Fri., 11 May 1962:

“8:30 a.m.

Went into the office of the First Presidency for our regular meeting.  President Henry D. Moyle was absent, being in the East.  We had time to take up a few items before our regular meeting with the Presiding Bishopric, who presented many matters pertaining to their duties.  Among the items presented was a matter pertaining to Ward Teaching by Correspondence in remote areas.  Bishop Vandenberg read a letter asking for approval to communicate by letter with member families far removed from the center of the ward and stake.  Bishop Vandenberg explained that the bishops are advised to make a contact by letter with families inaccessible by reason of great distance, and families in the military service, and that the bishop sign the letter.  He expressed the opinion that if the bishops sign the letter, it will be some measure of control, and the practice will not then get out of hand.  I said, ‘If you safeguard it properly, there would be no objection, but the responsibility of the ward teacher to ‘watch over the Church always’ must not be taken away.’

Bishop Vandenberg asked, ‘Do you want to call it ward teaching?  The cases where this practice may not be permitted were so few, that they might not affect the statistics.’  He also said that the recording and statistic system has got to be changed.

I said, ‘There is too much effort to make a record and not to do ward teaching.’  Bishop Vandenberg said, ‘If a ward teacher does his job properly, he may visit a home many times a month.’  He said, ‘We are thinking of changing the report to get them to improve their own record rather than to be in competition with other wards and stakes.’

I said again, ‘Don’t take away the responsibility of the ward teacher.  Don’t let them substitute by sending a letter.’

Bishop Vandenberg said, ‘I don’t think we ought to count it as ward teaching.  I think we have our answer.'”

Wed., 20 June 1962:

“Avard Fairbanks’ Model of Bestowal of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery — I inquired for information as to any custom in the temple of putting the hand upon the left shoulder when more than one officiator performs the ordinance of ordination to the priesthood.  No information on this subject being offered, after discussion, it was agreed that the Avard Fairbanks’ model of the statuary of the bestowal of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery should be modified to have all three, Peter, James, and John, represented as placing both hands upon the head.

11:40 a.m.

Had a brief conference with Avard Fairbanks, sculptor, at which time I called attention to an error in his model of the Melchizedek Priesthood monument.  I told him that Peter should have two hands on the head of Joseph Smith in conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood upon him, rather than one hand as he now has depicted it.”

Sat., 14 July 1962:

Non-Members — May They Attend Elders’ Quorum Priesthood Meeting.

We considered a letter from Richard E. Strange, First Counselor in the Second Quorum of Elders of Yuba City, California, Gridley Stake, in which he asks if attendance of a non-member of the Church at a priesthood meeting is in accord with the policy of the Church, and then recited that a member of the quorum who was running for local political office brought as a visitor to the quorum meeting, a political associate who is not a member of the Church; that the visitor participated in the meeting, and matters were left in a chaotic condition.  Inquiry of the Bishop and Stake President as to whether or not it is in accord with Church policy for a non-member to attend a priesthood meeting brought the information that no answer to the question could be found in the Church literature sources consulted.

I directed that a letter be written to the Stake President giving him the statement that non-members are not invited to attend quorum meetings unless the quorum has some priesthood missionary project which would make the attendance of the non-member advisable; that otherwise the quorum group is a sacred group whose meeting only quorum members should attend.

Thurs., 7 Feb. 1963:

“10:00 – 1:30 p.m.

“Was engaged in Council Meeting.  We had a very good meeting!  Among matters discussed were:

2)  Interviewing and Setting Apart High Councilmen.

Elder Kimball, referring to the discussion in the Council on Thursday last, January 31, 1963, regarding interviewing and setting apart high councilmen, and the action taken at that time wherein Brother Kimball was asked to prepare a statement on this subject for the Handbook of Instructions to be submitted to the Council for consideration and approval, now presented the following statement for the consideration and action of the brethren:

‘Both regular and alternate members of a stake high council are chosen by the stake presidency, approved by the high council, interviewed by a member of the First Presidency, Council of the Twelve, Assistant to the Twelve, or a member of the First Council of Seventy, and if approved, are sustained in a stake conference or stake priesthood meeting and set apart by one of the General Authorities above mentioned.  Where there will not be one of the above General Authorities in that stake in the near future, the stake president may, if authorized to do so by one of the above-named General Authorities, interview the nominee, have him sustained in a stake conference or stake priesthood meeting, and set him apart.  Information concerning the setting apart should then be sent to the office of the Council of the Twelve.

‘High Councilors and alternate high councilors are not to serve in these capacities nor attend high council meetings until they have been sustained in a stake conference or a stake priesthood meeting and set apart.  They may, however, be appointed as committee members should they be needed in the meantime.’

On motion, the statement as presented was unanimously approved.

Thurs., 7 Mar. 1963:

“10:00 a.m.

Council Meeting

For the first time for several months, we met in the Salt Lake Temple for our regular weekly meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.

We then took up the regular order of business.  Among items take up were:

Seventies – Ordination of First Council of Seventy to High Priests

I referred to the action taken by the Council sometime ago when members of the First Council of Seventy were ordained High Priests.  I stated that some people thought that action was contrary to the teachings of the Prophet Joseph because he released High Priests who were Presidents of Seventies and appointed Seventies in their stead.  I explained that during the days of the Prophet Joseph they were ordaining Presidents of Seventies High Priests before they made them Seventies, and that that was not according to the will of the Lord.  I said, however, that there is nothing against our giving the Seventies the High Priesthood to officiate as General Authorities after they have been ordained Seventies and set apart as members of the First Council of Seventies, in order that they may assist in setting apart Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics.  I said, however, that they do not join the High Priests’ Quorum, although they have been given the High Priesthood.  I mentioned that this is not out of harmony with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph.

Fri., 8 Mar. 1963:

“Blessing Children to be Adopted

Bishop Vandenberg presented the following case: A man and his wife married 17 years, having no children, are now to adopt a baby.  They ask if the child may be blessed and named with their family name before adoption is final.  I advised that legal adoption be completed before the naming and the making of a final Church record, but that that family may give the child a name now on their own personal family records and they should let that record suffice until the adoption becomes final and the Church record can be completed.

Thurs., 21 Mar. 1963:

“10:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Was convened in Council Meeting.  A very important meeting!  Some of the items considered were:

We then considered at length a proposal for use of the Seventies in Missionary Work and the commission that has been given the Seventy to ‘preach the Gospel, and to be special witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world’, thus differing from other officers in the Church in the duties of their calling (Doctrine and Covenants 107:25).  A plan as to how the Seventy may meet this missionary obligation was presented by Brother Hinckley.  He also presented a plan for the Youth Program of Stake Missionary Work, and Cooperation of Full-Time Missionaries, and the advantages of this program.”

Fri., 29 Mar. 1963:

“9:00 a.m.

Went into the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  President Moyle was absent in London.

Priesthood Quorums Selling Projects – Quorum Members to look after welfare of members, widows, etc.

We read a letter from the Associated Nurserymen’s Association, in which they complain about the unfair competition of priesthood quorums selling fertilizer and other commodities.  Bishop Vandenberg said the stake presidents are over the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums.  President Brown asked if the matter should be presented by the Presiding Bishopric at the meeting of bishops and stake presidents at conference time rather than to have it presented in the General Priesthood meeting.  I mentioned ‘The Messenger’, saying it will go to the bishops.  Bishop Vandenberg said it is sent also to stake presidents.  Bishop Brown said if you wish to put a statement in to the stake presidents in ‘The Messenger’ they will get it.  It could be over the signatures of the First Presidency.

I stated we are now on a weak point, and if it is handled properly we can have a great source of strength.  Referring to the visit of the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks with the First Presidency this morning, I said that quorum membership should be to Church members what lodge membership is to these men.

The elders, seventies, and high priest quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the priest, teachers, deacons quorums in the Aaronic Priesthood should be to the membership of the Church what membership is to the members of that Order — each looking after the welfare of the members.  They should sit in counsel with the presidencies of each quorum.  A quorum should sit in counsel and consider the welfare, physical and spiritual of each member and see that the member is given care.  If there is a death in the quorum, every members should be made aware.  Yesterday, one of our elders was killed in England.  He had been in the mission field only two months.  He has no father.  The mother is a widow alone.  The members of his quorum should be made aware of that boy’s mother and her need.  That should be emphasized throughout the Church, but we are not doing it.  The High Priests’ Quorum or group in the ward is seeking means for sending to the missionaries help from the quorum, and they all do it.  They can contribute.  The instruction should come from the Presidency of the Stake who has charge of the elders; from the First Council of the Seventy, the Seventies.  How we’re making the president of the stake the president of the high priests’ quorum so they will use the quorum power as it should be used in getting all of the members of the group to take care of members of the quorum.  That is in addition to what you have over the Aaronic Priesthood.

Bishop Vandenberg said this does not absolve the bishop of his responsibility.

I said that it makes the bishop the president of the priests’ quorum.  He is president of these young men; they have a responsibility for the moral atmosphere of the ward.  Bishop Simpson said the bishop is the father of the ward.  Bishop Vandenberg said there is nothing the matter with the organization, it is just a matyer of getting the organization to work.

I said that it is a perfect organization and there is nothing like it in the world.  So here, when the quorums seek ways to make money, be careful.  Bishop Vandenberg said they would prepare something and have the sanction of the First Presidency.”

Fri., 19 Apr. 1963:


Letter sent to those chosen to be Priesthood Home Teaching Representatives to assist the General Authorities of the Church in conducting Stake Quarterly Conferences.

(see list of persons chosen and copy of letter sent to each following.  Also see Diary of May 15, 1963, for notes on meeting of all representatives held in the Assembly Room of the Church Administration Building, at which meeting President McKay addressed the group.)”

“List of persons assigned to assist the General Authorities of the Church in conducting stake quarterly conferences as a Priesthood Home Teaching Representative, April 19, 1963.

Mr. George Z. Aposhian

Mr. Frank C. Berg

Mr. Alma P. Burton

Mr. M. Elmer Christensen

Mr. Junius E. Driggs

Mr. Edward E. Drury, Jr.

Mr. John K. Edmunds

Mr. A. Lewis Elggren

Mr. Donald Ellsworth

Mr. L. Brent Goates

Mr. Cecil E. Hart

Mr. Heber J. Heiner, Jr.

Mr. Z. Reed Millar

Mr. Thomas S. Monson

Mr. Don Rasmussen

Mr. Own G. Reichman

Mr. Robert N. Sears

Mr. Hugh C. Smith

Mr. Richard S. Summerhays

Mr. Henry G. Tempest

Mr. Delbert F. Wright

Mr. Ernest D. Wright

Mr. Harold R. Boyer

Mr. E. Coleman Madsen

Marion G. Romney – Chairman

John H. Vandenberg – Vice-Chairman

Alvin R. Dyer – Managing Director

Friday, April 19, 1963

April 19, 1963

Mr. Hugh C. Smith

11301 Yarmouth Avenue

Granada Hills, California

Dear Brother Smith:

We are pleased to advise you that on the recommendation of the Council of the Twelve, we have decided to ask you to accept the assignment to assist the General Authorities of the Church in conducting stake quarterly conferences, as a Priesthood Home Teaching Representative, as assigned by the President of the Council of the Twelve, and, for other assignments in this and other related fields.  This letter will constitute your appointment thereto.

We feel that your wide experience in various Church capacities will enable you to render a service that will be very helpful to the Church.

It would be expected and hoped that you would be able to attend a day long instruction session Wednesday, May 15, 1963, in Salt Lake City to be held in the third floor assembly room at 47 East South Temple Street, beginning at 9 a.m.  Expenses will be paid for those who come from outside of Salt Lake City.

May we hear from you regarding your acceptance of this appointment.

Sincerely yours brethren,

David O. McKay

Henry D. Moyle

Hugh B. Brown

(The First Presidency)”

Wednesday, May 15, 1963


Synopsis of remarks by President David O. McKay at the first meeting of the newly appointed Priesthood Home Teaching Committee held May 15, 1963 in the Church Administration Building.

Brethren and Sisters, I take great pleasure in meeting with you on this historic occasion – the first meeting of this kind ever held in the Church.

I feel impressed this morning to say just a few words on the authority of the Priesthood.  When visiting the missions of the Church in 1921 with President Hugh J. Cannon, a fellow passenger and his wife, strangers to us, introduced themselves to us soon after we left the harbor.  As we conversed, the woman, somewhat apologetically, said: ‘May I ask you a question?’  I replied, ‘Certainly, and I will answer it before you ask it; I have only one wife.’  With curiosity, she queried, ‘If plural marriage isn’t the purpose of your religion, what is?’  ‘We are Christians,’ I replied.  She answered, ‘So are we.’

And then she asked the important question:  ‘What are the distinguishing features of your Church?  What is the difference between your church and my church?’  ‘There are several,’ I responded, ‘divine authority by direct revelation being a principal one.’

I should like to say something about that – not divine authority as that would not be a distinctive feature.  The Roman Catholics claim divine authority by direct line from Saint Peter who they unwisely assert was Bishop of Rome.  The Orthodox Greek Catholic Church claims divine authority from the five Apostles who survived Peter.  They claim authority, and so do the Coptics in Northern Africa.  Thus, the Romans, Greeks, Coptics, and others claim divine authority, but there is only one church that has divine authority by direct revelation.

He was right who said several hundred years ago, as he resigned the position as head of the first Baptist Church in America, ‘There is no regularly-constituted church on earth nor any person authorized to administer church ordinances, nor can there be until new Apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am waiting,’ (Roger William – taken from ‘Picturesque America,’ p. 502.)

In 1830, a divine messenger did come.  God Himself and His Beloved Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the boy Prophet heard the divine voice saying, ‘This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him.’  Subsequently, divine messengers restored the Priesthood.  John the Baptist, who had been taught from birth, and also was recognized by the Savior Himself, restored the Aaronic Priesthood.  Peter, James and John, whose authority no Christian can question, came and restored the Melchizedek Priesthood to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

In the Aaronic Priesthood we have Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, under the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood held by the Presiding Bishop.  The Melchizedek Priesthood is presided over by three High Priests, a President, and two Counselors.  There are also High Priests, Seventies, and Elders, in keeping with the statement of Paul of old –

‘And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’  (Ephesians 4:11-13.)

We are speaking to a group of men today whose duties will be to help those who visit to perfect the saints, who will go about teaching ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’

In the Melchizedek quorums, we have, as I have named, High Priests in the quorum; Seventies specially called; and Elders who are under the direction of the Presidency of the Stake.

We have the quorum, as I have named, as a distinct organization in the Church – separate from the ecclesiastical part of the Church; in the ecclesiastical phase there are Stakes and Missions – the two great divisions of the Church.  In the Stakes we have the President of the Stake, two Counselors, and several Bishops of Wards. 

The High Priesthood consists of Apostles, High Priests, Elders, Seventies, who are directly under the First Presidency of the Church.  The Seventies have a special presidency appointed by revelation.  The Elders are directly under the direction of the ecclesiastical head known as the Stake Presidency.  The Aaronic Priesthood is under the direction of the Bishopric who holds the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Bishop, by ordination, holds the office of President of the Priests’ quorum, the presidency of which goes with the ordination of a Bishop.  The Teachers and also the Deacons are under the Bishopric of the Ward.

Thus, there are two sources of authority – one from the quorum, and the other from the ecclesiastical division.  Each quorum is presided over by three men officially appointed and ordained.  The President of the High Priests from now on will be the President of each Stake.  It is fitting that the President of this quorum should also be the President of the ecclesiastical group known as a Stake.  The Seventies have their own organization; and the Presidency of the Elders’ quorum will be under the Presidency of the Stake.

It is the duty of each presidency of a quorum to meet with the members, to sit in council, and teach them their duty.  I repeat – to sit in council with them and to teach them their duties.

Now, when they sit as a group in a quorum, the ecclesiastical authority has nothing to do with them except as the President of the Stake.

It is the duty of the Presidency of quorums, whether High Priest, Seventy, or Elder, to teach, to sit in council with quorum members, and teach them their duty and see that they are attending to all regular duties.  This is a distinctive organization throughout the Church – the meaning or full import of which the Church does not comprehend today.

What the secret orders are to the world, the quorums are to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The quorums should foster fellowship, fraternity, brotherhood, and love as a group.  Individually, they should give service to the organizations in the Church.  They are subject to the ecclesiastical authority as members of the Church, but not as quorum members.  Each quorum member is subject to his presidency, and it is the duty of the presidency to bring about unity in the membership of the quorum.  Let me illustrate further: Referring again to an instance on board the vessel, I had never before seen the man.  As he came toward me I knew he recognized me, but I did not recognize him.  He grasped my hand with some kind of grip, and then quickly dropped it, and said:  ‘Excuse me.’  His eye was on the stick pin I was wearing, a pin my wife had given me.  It was a star and crescent.  He recognized this as a symbol of his order.  He gave me the grip, but when I did not acknowledge it, he dropped my hand immediately.  A total stranger, but he recognized a symbol and wanted to foster fellowship.  In some ways we should have that same spirit in our quorums.  The quorum should be so united that we can help one another, not only spiritually but also financially and in every other way.  If we can get that spirit of unity in our Quorums, then we are beginning to understand the full meaning of our Priesthood organization in the Church.

I repeat, while the Bishop has no authority to go to the Elder, Seventy, or High Priest to dictate, Quorum members are still under his ecclesiastical control and guidance.  As Ward members, they are subject to him as to the payment of tithes, and they may be called to an ecclesiastical position, such as Superintendent of Sunday School, M.I.A., and so forth, but in the quorum work, they are subject to the presidency of the quorum, and it is the right of that quorum to disfellowship a member if he is not living up to the standards of the quorum.  I recall one instance where a Quorum of Seventies withdrew the hand of fellowship in the quorum because a man was unworthy.  They had no right to excommunicate him, but they did have the right to withdraw the hand of the fellowship until he made himself worthy.

I remember a conversation with Mr. Charles Zueblin, an authority on civic organizations.  I was taking him out to show him the Davis and Weber County Canal System.  Before we had gone far, we were talking not about canals but about the organization of the Church.  I pointed out to him: ‘On our right side is the First Ward, on our left the Ninth Ward.  In these Wards, we have Priests, Teachers, Deacons, each presided over by a presidency.’  I explained the organization of the Church ecclesiastically, and through the quorums.’

He asked: ‘How do you keep your people in these Wards?’  He associated the term ‘Ward’ with some kind of an institution. 

I explained each had its responsibility.

He exclaimed: ‘How can we introduce this into every city in the United States – this idea of carrying responsibility by each group in the city?’

‘I do not know.  You will have to have some common interest,’ I replied.

‘I agree, but must that common interest be a religious one?’ he said.

And I answered, ‘I do not know – it is a religious one with us, and it works very well.’

The organization of the Church is divinely appointed, and if we can just get it to work it will be effective in a Ward of three hundred in a Stake of five thousand in any country in all the world.

How are you going to apply this to Home Teaching? – the director of the ecclesiastical authority, the Bishop of the Ward, the High Priests, Seventies, Elders participating?  Just the same as we have emphasized the importance of the members of the quorum teaching their members, but with these brethren having the assistance of the lesser Priesthood and all members working ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’

And so it is right to have the Home Teacher carry his responsibility of looking after the welfare of each individual.  Assignments can properly be made so that every man who holds authority, which comes by direct revelation, may recognize his ecclesiastical duties by exercising the authority which he holds.

I leave my blessings with you.  God bless you and give you inspiration in bringing the spirit of this new program, new assignment to the entire Church rejuvenating all our Ward Teaching with this Home Teaching Plan, that every individual will be brought to a consciousness of the Priesthood which comes direct from the Son of God.

God bless you, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Deseret News – Church Section, Saturday, May 25, 1963″

Wed., 6 Nov. 1963:

“Baptismal Data – Incomplete

President Tanner read a memorandum addressed to him by Brother Henry Christiansen of the Genealogical Department asking for guidance as to what should be done in cases where an individual who claims membership in the Church cannot provide his baptismal date.  It was reported that the Presiding Bishopric have set up a procedure for the bishops to the effect that in cases where no record of the baptism can be found, if affidavits can be obtained signed by witnesses, such procedure would suffice; that, however, where affidavits cannot be secured and no record can be found, the person should be baptized again.

I instructed that we be careful not to make an ironclad ruling on this subject; that there are many cases where the records have been destroyed by fire or otherwise.  I mentioned in that connection that all the records in Huntsville, including the record of my baptism, were destroyed by fire.  I think, however, that the rule should remain the way it has been set forth by the Presiding Bishopric with this precaution.”

Tues., 26 Nov. 1963:

High Priests Presidencies

Reference was made to a matter that had been discussed in the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve on Thursday last pertaining to High Priests Presidencies.  The Twelve had recommended that a letter go to the Stake Presidencies instructing that commencing January 1, 1964, the Presidencies of Stakes should become the Presidencies of the High Priests Quorums.  I authorized the sending of a letter to this effect, with the understanding, however, that in certain cases exceptions to this rule might be made permitting the President of the Stake to call to his assistance as counselors others than the counselors in the Stake Presidency, where conditions seem to justify.

Stake Presidents – to Set Apart Local Officers

There was also called to my attention a recommendation by the Council that general authorization be given to Stake Presidents to set apart Bishops’ counselors, High Councilors, alternate High Councilors, Stake Clerks, and Assistant Stake Clerks in stakes where there will not be visiting General Authorities in the near future.  I ruled that there was no objection to this procedure with the understanding that these new officers who have heretofore come to the Council for approval first be presented to the First Presidency and the Twelve for approval.”

Wed., 19 Feb. 1964:

“8:45 to 9:55 a.m.

Went into the office of the First Presidency where we held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  President Brown was absent, being indisposed.

Administrations – Melchizedek Priesthood May Perform without Permission From Bishops

We read a letter from Bishop G. Murray Webb of St. George Sixth Ward inquiring about worthy members of the Priesthood administering to the sick and consecrating oil.  I said that he may be answered that it is not necessary for worthy holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood to obtain the permission of the Bishop to perform these ordinances.”

Wed., 26 Feb. 1964:

Baptism – Woman Desires, but Husband Will Not Consent

President Tanner referred to a letter from a woman who desires to join the Church, but whose husband will not consent and his parents are strongly opposed.  She asks if she should break away and be baptized without his permission and whether she will do wrong by teaching her children what she knows is true.  I advised that the family be not broken up, but that she is responsible for teaching her children the truth.  President Tanner summarized saying that she could teach her children correct principles but should not be baptized without her husband’s consent.  I concurred.

Fri., 13 Mar. 1964:

Seventy, Member of First Council of – Setting Apart of Presidents of High Priests Quorums

The question came up as to whether a member of the First Council of Seventy may set apart the Presidency of the High Priests Quorum.  I answered in the affirmative, explaining that the President of the High Priests Quorum will be the President of the Stake; that members of the First Council of Seventy, being High Priests, have been given that authority specially though they are not members of a High Priests Quorum, but of the First Council of Seventy; however, by virtue of their ordination as High Priests, and their having been given special authority to set apart High Priests as Stake Presidents and the Presidents of High Priests, they may do so.

Thurs., 19 Mar. 1964:

“7:40 a.m.

Went into the meeting of the Executive Committee on Missionary Work.  My counselors, President Joseph Fielding Smith, and Elders Spencer W. Kimball, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Boyd K. Packer were present.

Many mission matters were presented and considered.  The following matters were brought up for my decision:

Mission High Priests Quorum

Brother Kimball reported that approval had been given for the reorganization of the High Priests Quorum in the Southern States Mission.  He asked whether the Mission Presidency should be the Presidency of the High Priests Quorum.

I stated that the procedure that has been heretofore adopted should be followed.  The present procedure is that the First Counselor should be the President of the High Priests Quorum and he should choose local men for his counselors.

Thurs., 9 Apr. 1964:

10:00 to 12:00 Noon

Attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

Stake Authorities – Letter on Ordination and Setting Apart of Local

At our meeting, Elder Harold B. Lee presented in behalf of the Twelve the matter of a proposed letter to be sent to Presidents of Stakes to supersede one previously sent by the First Presidency regarding ordaining and setting apart certain ward and stake officers.  This matter had been referred to a committee of the Twelve for study and recommendation, and there was now presented to the Council the recommendation of the committee, in which the Twelve concurred, which letter as submitted reads as follows:

‘To Presidents of Stakes

Dear Brethren:

‘This letter will supersede our circular letter of March 4, 1964, addressed to Presidents of Stakes regarding the sustaining and setting apart of certain ward and stake officers.

In the future, General Authorities who are authorized will continue to set apart stake presidents and counselors, bishops, presidents of high priests quorums and counselors, and presidents of seventies quorums, and ordain patriarchs and seventies.  It is understood that only members of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ordain patriarchs.

All other ward and stake officers heretofore ordained or set apart by General Authorities will hereafter be ordained or set apart by the Stake President after a thorough and searching interview and being properly sustained.

Stake Presidents will make certain in their interview that such persons are fully devoted to the Church, that they are maintaining the standards and that they will continue to lead exemplary lives.

Sincerely yours,

The First Presidency’

After hearing the letter, I said that the letter as prepared is all right.  Elder Lee thereupon moved that approval be given to the letter revised.  Motion seconded by Brother Stapley and unanimously approved.  (See copy of letter following.)”

Wed., 13 May 1964:

First Council of Seventy – Line of Authority

President Brown mentioned that the Brethren of the First Council of the Seventy have raised a question as to how they should trace their line of authority in connection with ordaining Bishops, Stake Presidents, and others who are High Priests.

I ruled that they should trace their line of authority through their ordination as High Priests.

Fri., 12 June 1964:

“8:00 a.m.

Met by appointment at his request, Elder Marion D. Hanks of the First Council of Seventy.

After a brief report of his activities since coming home from his Mission in Great Britain, Elder Hanks told me of the number of requests that are coming to him from missionaries and others to officiate at their marriages in the Temple, and that he wondered inasmuch as some of the members of the Council have been ordained High Priests why they could not have the sealing power conferred upon them.

I explained that members of the First Council of Seventy do not belong to the High Priests Quorums; that they are members of the First Council.  I said that they have been ordained High Priests so that they can place everything in order in the Church in accordance with their assignment.

I said that I would take the matter of conferring of the sealing power up with the Brethren and let him know.

8:30 a.m.

First Council of Seventy – Sealing Power to be Conferred

Following Elder Hanks’ departure, Presidents Brown and Tanner came over to the apartment, and I presented to them the matter of conferring the sealing power upon members of the First Council of Seventy, and it became the unanimous sentiment of the First Presidency that the sealing power should be conferred upon them, which authority I shall confer at a later date.”

Fri., 19 June 1964:

“10:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Following the departure of the Presiding Bishopric, the secretary presented several letters addressed to the First Presidency.

First Council of Seventy – Sealing Power to be Conferred

Report of the action taken at the meeting of the Council held June 11, when I was not present, approving the conferring of the sealing power upon the members of the First Council of Seventy was reviewed.  I said that this matter I had presented at a First Presidency’s meeting previous to that and had expressed approval of the sealing power being conferred.

11:10 a.m.

Returned to my private office.

First Council of Seventy – Sealing Power Conferred on Marion D. Hanks

Met by appointment Elder Marion D. Hanks.  I discussed with him the role in the Church of the members of the First Council of Seventy.

Following our discussion, I conferred upon him the sealing power, thus permitting him to officiate at marriage ceremonies in the Temples of the Church.”

Wed., 8 July 1964:

“First Council of Seventy

I discussed with the Brethren the advisability of conferring the sealing power upon the members of the First Council of Seventy.  I asked Presidents Brown and Tanner if they could see any objection thereto, and they both expressed themselves as favoring this proposition.  I mentioned that I had already given Elder Marion D. Hanks this authority, and that Elder Paul H. Dunn, also of the First Council of Seventy, has been asked by some of his friends to perform marriages for them in the Temple.

I said that I had prayed about this matter, and have thought seriously about it, and that I can see nothing wrong about it.

I then said that I would confer the sealing power upon Brother Dunn as soon as convenient.”

Wed., 12 May 1965:

8:30 a.m.

After Brother Taylor’s departure, Presidents Brown, Tanner, and I met in a First Presidency’s Meeting.  Among the matters discussed were the following:

Aaronic Priesthood Ordination to Offices by Priest

Reference was made to earlier consideration by the First Presidency of an item in the Aaronic Priesthood handbook to the effect that all Aaronic Priesthood ordinations should be performed by the Bishop and his counselors or by worthy fathers who may request the privilege; further that worthy priests may be invited by the bishop to join the laying on of hands while other priests, teachers, and deacons are being ordained, but that only members of the bishopric or fathers are to be voice in performing the ordinations.  This question had been raised by the bishop of the Kanarra Ward, Cedar West Stake.

I said that the priests should be allowed to do just what the Doctrine and Covenants says they may; in order words, they may ordain other priests, teachers or deacons.  It was agreed, however, that such ordinations by priests should be performed only when one of the bishopric of a ward is present and presiding.

Thurs., 13 May 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a First Presidency’s meeting with my counselors in my apartment in the Hotel.  Some of the matters we discussed were the following:

Blessing of Children

Further consideration was given by the Presidency to a letter from President Frank R. Walker of the Uintah Stake asking certain questions regarding the blessing of children.  It was the sentiment of the Presidency that it is the general policy of the Church that while a child in an emergency condition may be blessed by its father in the home, it should normally be taken to the fast meeting to be officially named and blessed by the Priesthood; that, however, in cases of emergency the father, grandfather, or other Priesthood holder selected for that purpose, might give the child a blessing and a name in the home, and that a report of the blessing and name could be given to the Bishop of the Ward so that the proper record could be made.  In such an emergency condition it would not be necessary for the child to be taken to the fast meeting to be blessed again.

Did not feel well enough to go to Council Meeting today.

Fri., 20 Aug. 1965:

“9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

Attended a meeting of the First Presidency at which time we took up many matters of general Church importance, some of these were:

Baptism – Printed Covenant Not Necessary

There was called to my attention a printed baptismal covenant which has been prepared by the bishopric of one of the Wards in Kaysville.  He suggest it be given to individuals at the time of baptism to be placed in their Book of Remembrance.  This matter had been brought to the attention of Presidents Brown and Tanner a week ago in the meeting of the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric.

I said, to which the Brethren agreed, that such a document would seem to be unnecessary.

Thurs., 9 Sept. 1965: 

Priesthood, Aaronic – Participation of Bishop in Meetings of

We reviewed the instructions of the Presiding Bishopric that the full time of the Bishop in the weekly meetings of the Aaronic Priesthood be given to the Aaronic Priesthood under 21, and that responsibility for supervision of the lesson work of the Adult Aaronic Priesthood members be assigned to the supervisors and secretaries, and that the Bishopric meet with these brethren at other times during the week and in the ‘schools’ for Adult Aaronic Priesthood.

President Tanner commented upon the tendency toward regimentation and restrictions which can affect the Bishops’ taking responsibility given them and limiting them in the exercise of the discretion allowed them.

I said that the whole responsibility of Bishops for the Aaronic Priesthood be fully respected and that they be encouraged to assume the whole responsibility and to work out their plans accordingly.

Later, at Council Meeting held today, I told the Brethren that the Bishoprics have the whole responsibility for the Aaronic Priesthood of all ages, and, therefore, should have the discretion to work with them as the circumstances warrant.  President Tanner explained that the instructions were sent out by the Presiding Bishopric without having considered them with the First Presidency, and that the First Presidency directed the Presiding Bishopric to rescind these instructions.

I stated that we should not lessen the responsibility of the Bishopric; that the Bishop is the head of the Ward and presides over the Aaronic Priesthood.

Priesthood, Aaronic – Conferring Upon Converts

We reviewed consideration and proposals for conferring the Aaronic Priesthood upon converts and referred to the practice mentioned by Elder Stapley that converts received the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained first as a Deacon and later as a Teacher, and finally as a Priest.  The proposal of the Presiding Bishopric was mentioned: That some older converts in the right circumstances be ordained Priests rather than ordained Deacons, then Teachers, and finally Priests.

Priesthood – Participation of Priest in Conferring Aaronic Priesthood

President Tanner reviewed instructions of the Presiding Bishopric that Priests participate in the ordination of Priests.  He commented upon the advisability and ways of training Priests to ordain in readiness for their becoming Elders and their ordaining men to the Priesthood when they are in the Mission Field.

I expressed caution against calling inexperienced Priests to confer the Aaronic Priesthood.  I concurred in the advisability of Bishops’ training Priests to confer the Priesthood and ordaining Deacons and Teachers, but that that training should include standing in the circle and observing experienced men perform these ordinances.  I said Priests should participate, and if they are not capable themselves to perform the ordinances, they should be taught and trained.  I said further that the Bishops should not call Priests to ordain others unless they are trained.

Priesthood – Where Ordinances Should be Performed

President Tanner reviewed proposal of the Presiding Bishopric that Priesthood ordinations may be performed in the general assembly of the weekly Priesthood Meeting or in the Bishop’s office, to avoid cutting into the class period of the Quorum meeting.

I said that these ordinances should be performed in the Quorum where the members of the Quorum may participate or observe, though there may be occasion when the ordinance may be performed in the general assembly or in the Bishop’s office.  The rule should not be too restrictive.

President Tanner mentioned the advisability of the Bishop’s inviting worthy fathers or others in good standing to be voice in that ordination.  I agreed that there was nothing wrong with that.

Presiding Bishopric – Procedure for Consideration and Authorization of Proposals

We discussed the overlapping in some instances of subjects pertaining to the Priesthood in which both the Presiding Bishopric and the Priesthood Committee of the Twelve are interested.  Elder Stapley has suggested that the Presiding Bishopric consider these matters with the Council of the Twelve before presenting proposals to the First Presidency.  President Tanner commented that the Presiding Bishopric are under the direction of the First Presidency and that though they may confer with committees of the Council of the Twelve in matters in which there is a common interest, and that they inform themselves on previous plans and rulings so they can present proposals fully to the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric should receive direction from the First Presidency directly and by the First Presidency will be directed to others, officers or committees, to whom particular matters may be referred.  The Presiding Bishopric should bring these matters to the First Presidency who will then direct the Presiding Bishopric.

I concurred in these statements.

Priesthood, Aaronic – Duties of Bishops, etc.

Later, in discussing all these matters regarding Aaronic Priesthood and duties of the Bishops of Wards, in Council Meeting today, I said, there is nothing so beautiful in the entire Church as a Ward presided over by a Bishop who really knows his responsibility as the presiding officer of the Aaronic Priesthood, carrying out the duties of the Bishop as he presides over the Ward.  Let us carry out the duties of the Ward Bishop as the Lord has revealed it, and all will be all right.

Fri., 10 Dec. 1965:

“Children, Blessing of Adopted

The Presiding Bishopric asked if there had been any change in the policy pertaining to the blessing of adopted children.

We explained to them there has been no change in the policy, although some misunderstanding had occurred.  The policy maintains as heretofore that adopted children should not be blessed in the Sacrament meeting until the adoption has been completed.  If desired, however, the father may give the child an unofficial blessing in the home.”

Thurs., 1 Dec. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with Presidents Hugh B. Brown and Nathan Eldon Tanner for a regular meeting of the First Presidency.  President Smith was in a meeting of the Council of the Twelve in the Temple.  Some of the matters discussed were:

Marriages, Justices of the Peace not to Officiate as Elders of Church

We considered a letter that had been received from Paul S. Smith, newly elected Justice of the Peace in Saint George, who is asking for permission to perform marriage ceremonies as an Elder of the Church.

Mention was made of a policy that has heretofore been adopted in regard to Justices of the Peace, County Clerks, and others in some areas, whereby this authorization was given upon the recommendation of the President of the Stake and the Bishop of the Ward.

President Tanner said he could see no justification for authorizing these local civic authorities to officiate in performing marriages as Elders of the Church; that these people already have the authority to perform legal marriages because of the civic office they hold, and if members of the Church wish to be married by someone holding the Priesthood they could contact a Bishop of a Ward or President of a Stake.

Tues., 21 Mar. 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with my counselors, Presidents Brown and Tanner, for a meeting of the First Presidency.  President Smith was in Provo speaking to the BYU student assembly, and President Isaacson is still confined to his home from the stroke he suffered over a year ago.  Among matters considered were:

Ward Meetings – High Councilman is Recognized, but does not Preside

Reference was made to a letter that had been received from President S. Ross Fox of the Seattle East Stake inquiring who presides in a ward meeting when a high councilman is present.  An answer had been prepared for the First Presidency to sign along the lines that had heretofore been set out in answer to similar questions, which was to the effect that when members of the High Council visit a ward in their official capacity, they represent the Stake Presidency and preside over the gathering or assembly and should be recognized as such; also that the Sacrament should be passed to the High Councilman first as the presiding authority.  President Tanner stated that he did not agree with this instruction, that it was always his understanding that it is a High Councilman’s responsibility to do whatever he is assigned to do by the Stake Presidency, that he is sent to a ward to visit with ward authorities for one or more Sundays as the case may be; that he agreed that the Sacrament should be passed first to the visiting High Councilman, but that the Bishop of the Ward is the presiding officer.

I agreed with President Tanner, as did President Brown, that the visiting High Councilman should be recognized as the representative of the Stake Presidency and the Sacrament should be passed to him first, but that he does not take charge and is not the presiding authority.  We agreed that when a member of the General Authorities or a member of the Stake Presidency visits a Ward, that he is the presiding authority and should be so treated.”

Tues., 16 May 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Tanner and Smith were present.  A few of the matters we considered were:

Sacrament Meetings – Prayers for

Our attention was called to instructions heretofore given to the effect that opening and closing prayers in Sacrament Meetings should be offered by brethren holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Presiding Bishopric have raised the question as to whether or not young men holding the Aaronic Priesthood might also be used in offering prayers in the Sacrament Meeting.

We agreed that this permission might well be extended to holders of the Aaronic Priesthood as well as those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that members of the Aaronic Priesthood may also offer prayers in priesthood meetings.

Wed., 14 June 1967:

“8:00 a.m.

The First Presidency met with Elder Sterling W. Sill, Assistant to the Twelve, and discussed with him interviews which he has been conducting with persons who have called at his office on marital and other troubles.

Church Buildings – Use of Visual Aids

President Tanner, in fulfillment of an assignment to him, read the following statements on the use of visual aids in Church buildings:

‘Any part of the Church building, other than the chapel, may be used for the showing of visual aids on Sunday or on week days in presenting principles of the Gospel, Church organization, teaching principles or teaching methods.  These visual aids may be still or motion pictures, film strips, slides, transparencies or other representations thrown on a screen.  However, they should not be shown during Sacrament Meeting nor to members of a Ward of Branch at a time which conflicts with the Sacrament Meeting or that Ward or Branch.

‘We should like in summarizing to emphasize:  First, that no motion pictures of any kind should be shown in any Sacrament Meeting;  Second, that no motion pictures of any kind should be shown in the chapel on Sunday; Third, that only with the permission of the Bishop and Stake Presidency should motion pictures be shown in the chapel at any other time.’

I approved of this statement.

Fri., 21 Jul., 1967:

“Was up at the usual early hour, and at my desk by 7:00 a.m. attending to letters and memorandums.

9:15 a.m.

Met with the First Presidency — President Hugh B. Brown out of the city and President Thorpe B. Isaacson absent on account of illness. Some of the items considered were:

Presiding Bishopric – Authorization to Perform Ordinations and Settings Apart 

President Tanner mentioned the restriction placed on members of the Presiding Bishopric in the matter of ordaining and setting apart Bishops and also setting apart Stake Presidencies when visiting Stake Conferences. He suggested that consideration be given to permitting the members of the Presiding Bishopric to ordain Bishops and set apart members of Stake Presidencies. President Tanner explained that under the present arrangement when members of the Presiding Bishopric visit stakes they are not authorized to do this and that it would help the situation if this authorization were given.

I gave my approval and authorization for the preparation of a letter authorizing them to do these things.

(See copy of letter following.)

Wed., 7 Aug., 1968:

“9.00 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency. Presidents N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer were present.

Many matters were discussed, among which were the following:

Melchizedek Priesthood – Ordination for Member with Cerebral Palsy

Consideration was given to correspondence with President AlDean Washburn of the Mojave Stake regarding the desire of the parents of Edgar Palmer Arnold of Lucerne Valley Branch, Mojave Stake, that their 41 year old son who has Cerebral Palsy and has never been able to walk or control his head or eye movements, be given the Melchizedek Priesthood. He has the Aaronic Priesthood. His father is Bishop of the ward where they reside. This brother has had a patriarchal blessing in which he was promised that he would receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. The brethren decided to leave this matter to the judgment of the local people who know the man best.

Wed., 12 Feb, 1969:

“9:00 a. m. First Presidency Meeting in President McKay’s Apartment. Present were: Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

Samoa–Baptism of Children Six and Seven Years of Age

A letter was read from President R. Wayne Shute of the Samoan Mission stating that in Samoa they frequently encounter situations where children have been baptized at seven years of age, and on one occasion they found a boy who had been baptized when six. President Shute said that this happens because Samoans often do not know or care about birth dates and no one bothers to check the records.

It was the decision of the brethren that where one was baptized in his eighth year the baptism should be considered valid, but that if he was younger than that he should be rebaptized after his eighth birthday.

Fri., 14 Feb, 1969:

“I held no meetings today. However, the following three matters of importance were discussed at a meeting of the First Presidency with the Presiding Bishopric.

Marriages — Indian 

Attention was called to a letter from Bishop W. Earl Merrill of the Papago Ward, Maricopa Stake, regarding membership records for couples on the Salt River Valley Indian reservation who are living together under what is called “Indian Marriage”, which is somewhat akin to common law marriage. The First Presidency will answer this letter giving the ruling to the effect that the Church acknowledges marriages that are legally in accord with the marriage laws of the area.