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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1908

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1908.” You can view other years here.

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1908:  Jan.:  Presidents of 70s not to be Bishop’s counselors.

“It should be understood that it is the policy in the Church not to take presidents of Seventies for Bishop’s counselors, where it can possibly be avoided.  Bishop-material, it is conceded, is extremely limited; and the First Council, recognizing that fact, have no objection to offer when a man among their presidents is found possessing the qualities necessary to a Bishop is wanted.  We say that it is all-right, and yield gracefully: but with Bishop’s counselors it is different.  Material suitable to that office is more abundant, and our councils should not be disrupted to supplyit, where it can possibly abe avoided; and never only with the consent of the First Council.  Such is the decision of the First Presidency of the Church, and our presidents should take note of it.  It is desirable that the councils of the quorums shouled be as little disturbed as possible.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(3):226-227, Jan., 1908)

Jan.:  Did Aaron hold the MP?

“Question from One of the Quorums.–‘Did Aaron hold the Melchizedek Priesthood?’  The above question is answerd in the affirmative; for the reason that all priesthood is, from the nature of it, (delegated authority from God to man) one, a unity; and hence Melchizedek.  Aaron held a priesthood pregvious to the designation of what we now know as the ‘Aaronic Priesthood,’ so that priesthood previously held by him, must have been Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Prophet Joseph said, ‘Although there are two priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic and is the grand head.’  (History of the Church, Vol. IV, p. 207.)  Again he said: ‘In viewing the Church as a whole, we may strictly denominate it (i.e. the priesthood) one priesthood.’  (History of the Church, Vol. II, p.l 478).”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(3):227, Jan., 1908)

Mar.:  Use of 70s as Ward Teachers.

“We hope the members of our quorums will cheerfully respond to any appointments made for them by the bishops as ward teachers.  We urge this on two accounts, just as we do in saying a word for the use of our Seventies as home missionaries; namely, first, we desire our Seventies to be useful in the ministry at home, as both the bishops and the people have need of their labors in this calling; and, secondly, the Seventies need just the kind of training that is possible to acquire in acting as ward teachers.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(5):391, Mar., 1908)

4 Apr.:  Status of quorum movement.

“Several very important movements have been inaugurated of late among us for the advantage of the Saints, and especially for the benefit and advancement of those who are associated with the various quorums of the Priesthood.  I desire to mention the effort that is being made by our Seventies in their organization of classes and schools for the instruction of the members of their quorums, that they might be qualified for the great work of the ministry to which they are dedicated.  Efforts are also being made to organize and put to usefulness the quorums of the Lesser Priesthood.  In my judgment, we are progressing rapidly in these directions.  It is also understood that those of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the presidents of High Priests quorums, and the High Priests throughout the Church are instituting methods by which those who are members of these quorums may learn their duty and become familiar with the laws of the church, which should govern their actions, that they may be, indeed, fathers among the people, exercising the functions that belong to their calling as High Priests in Zion or in the Church.  They should be examplars; they should be teachers.  They should understand, above all other men, the principles of government and the order of the Church.  They should move forward solidly in the exercise of their influence, individually and collectively, against all evil, against the spirit of indifference, the spirit of neglect and unbelief.  Every man who holds the office of High Priest in the Church or has been ordained a High Priest, whether he is called to active position in the Church or not–inasmuch as he has been ordained a High Priest, should feel that he is obliged,–that it is his bounden duty to set an example before the old and young worthy of emulation, and to place himself in a position to be a teacher of righteousness, not only by precept by more particularly by example–giving to the younger ones the benefit of experience of age, and thus becoming individually a power in the midst of the communities in which they dwell.  Every man who has light should let should let that light shine that those who see it may glorify their Father which is in Heaven, and honor him who possesses the light and who causes it to shine forth for the benefit of others.  In a local capacity, there is no body of Priesthood in the Church who should excel, or who are expected to excel, those who are called to bear the office of High Priest in the Church [?].  From among those who hold this office are chosen the presidents of stakes and their counselors, and the High Councils of the fifty-six stakes of Zion which are now organized; and from this office are chosen the bishops, and the bishops’ counselors, in every ward in Zion; and heretofore, of this office are those who have been called to take charge of our stake Mutual Improvement organizations.  Those holding this office are, as a rule, men of advanced years, and varied experience, men who have filled missions abroad, who have preached the Gospel to the nations of the earth, and who have had experience not only abroad but at home.  Their experience and wisdom is the ripened fruit of years of labor in the Church, and they should exercise that wisdom for the benefit of all with whom they are associated.

The Seventies are laboring for the purpose of qualifying themselves for the work of the ministry abroad among the nations of the earth, which is their legitimate calling.  I commend the efforts of our brethren of the Seven Presidents of Seventies in their endeavor to bring about the good reults they have in view in this direction.

The Elders’ quorums should also be looked after, and those who preside in them should be active in season and out of season.  They should be vigilant and faithful in looking after those intrusted to their care, and are subject to their direction and counsel.

The Bishops and the Lesser Priesthood should be very active and energetic.  We should look after our boys who have been ordained Deacons, Teachers, and Priests in the Church.  We should find something for them to do in their callings.  Let them be appointed to active labors in their several spheres.  Put forward those who have not had experience to accompany those who have, and give them something to do.  Let the Deacons not only assist to keep the meeting houses in repair and their grounds in proper condition, but let them be set to work to look after the welfare of the widows and fatherless, the aged and the poor.  Many of our young men who are idle, languishing for the want of something to do, could be made most useful in helping the poor to clean up about their homes and make them comfortable, and helping them to live in such a way that life would be pleasant to them.  There is no reason why the members of the Lesser Priesthood should not be engaged in missions and labors of this kind.  Instead of calling upon the Trustee-in-trust for the tithing to pay for planting trees to ornament the grounds of the meeting houses, or to paint the woodwork, or to renovate and cleanse the houses of worship, to make them suitable for the worship of God,–call the Lesser Priesthood to the work.  Give them something to do that will make them interested in the work of the Lord, and above all things direct their energies in such a way that they will be helpful to the needy, helpful to the poor, helpful to themselves and to the Church.  It will benefit them not only as regards their standing in the Church, and their faith in the Priesthood which they bear, but it will help them to become better boys at home.  They will be more dutiful to their parents, more respectful to their brothers and sisters and others.  They will become more mindful of their duties at home and abroad.  This is in the line of discipline, of instruction and of gaining practical experience.  Instead of leaving these young people, who are full of energy, to roam the streets, to congregate upon the corners, or to idle away their time in folly, and in contracting, perhaps foolish habits and practices, give them something to do that will be uplifting, something that will be enlarging to their souls, and that will be an instruction to them that they will remember all their days.”  (Joseph F. Smith, 4 Apr., 1908; CR Apr., 1908, pp. 5-7)

8 Apr.:  Establishment of General Priesthood Committee.

“President Joseph F. Smith & Counselors,


Dear Brethren:

With a view to putting into some definite shape the instructions you gave at conference, relative to the work and duties of the Lesser Priesthood, we respectfully suggest that a General Board might be appointed to prepare outlines for studies of the different quorums; this Board to abe continuous or permanent.  It will require several months to properly develop this work, and if it is taken in hand now, it can be all gotten ready and in good shape for the next fall and winter work.

We assume that the Presiding Bishopric would naturally be associated with this Board, and in connection with them we suggest the following names, which list may be added to now or at any later time that you may see fit, or that we may find brethren who are especially adapted for this class of work:  David O. McKay, Joseph B. Keeler, Stephen L. Richards, Nephi Anderson and David O. Willey, Jr.

Respectfully submitted,

C. W. Nibley

O. P. Miller

David A. Smith

Presiding Bishopric”

“Bishops Charles W. Nibley

Orrin P. Miller

David A. Smith

Dear Brethren:

Your letter of today’s date, suggesting the appointment of a committee to prepare outlines for the Lesser Priesthood, as an aid in their theological studies, in keeping with the instruction given on this subject at the general conference just closed, was considered by the Council of First Presidency and Apostles at our meeting today, resulting in the following action: that Elders David O. McKay, Joseph B. Keeler, Stephen L. Richards, Nephi Anderson and David O. Willey, Jr., act as the suggested committee to assist you in preparing the outlines referred to.  Also that the same committee, with Elder Rudger Clawson added, prepare outlines for the High Priests and Elders quorums as well.

Your Brethren,

Joseph F. Smith

John R. Winder

Anthon H. Lund

First Presidency.”

(Presiding Bishopric to 1st Presidency, 8 Apr., 1908; and 1st Presidency to Presiding Bishopric, 8 Apr., 1908; in (Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” pp. 28-29)

Apr.:  Order of the priesthood.

“An officer in the Church in one of the stakes of Zion asks whether a man’s Priesthood may be taken from him in any other way than by excommunication.  In other words, can a man’s ordination to the Priesthood be made null and void, and he still be permitted to retain his membership in the Church; or must he be excommunicated before the Priesthood can be taken from him?  The reply must be that only by excommunication in the appointed way can the Priesthood be taken from a person.  We know of no other means provided by which a man who has had the Priesthood conferred upon him can be deprived of it.  The constituted authorities of the Church may, however, after proper authorized hearing, decide that a man has forfeited his right to act in the Priesthood, and for this cause, he may be silenced, and his certificate of ordination be taken from him, and thus have his right suspended to officiate in the ordinances of the gospel, or to exercise the Priesthood which has been conferred upon him.  Then, if he persists in exercising his Priesthood and former calling, he may be taken to account for insubordination and excommunicated.

Several examples have occurred in the history of the Church where men through transgression, duly proved and decided upon by the constituted authorities, have been stopped from acting in the Priesthood, which is just as effectual as taking away their Priesthood would be, if it were possible; but this has taken no ordination from them, and if in such cases the trnasgressors should repent and make complete and satisfactory restitution, they would still hold the same Priesthood which they held before they were silenced, or stopped from acting.  A person once ordained a bishop, an elder, or high priest, continues to hold those offices.  A bishop is still a bishop though he may remove to another ward, or for other reason temporarily lose his calling.  But in case he is wanted to act in a new office, or place, and the proper authorities call him to act, it is not necessary to re-ordain him a bishop; he would only need to be set apart for his new calling.  So with other officers in the Priesthood, once having received the Priesthood, it cannot be taken from them, except by transgression so serious that they must forfeit their standing in the Church.  But, as stated, their right to officiate, may be suspended or stopped.  The Lord an take away the power and efficacy of their ordinations, and will do so if they transgress.  No endowments or blessings in the House of the Lord, no patriarchal blessings, no ordination to the Priesthood, can be taken away, once given.  To prevent a person for cause from exercising the rights and privileges of acting in the offices of the Priesthood, may be and has been done, and the person so silenced still remain a member of the Church, but this does not take away from him any Priesthood that he held.”  (Joseph F. Smith, IE 11(6):465-466, Apr., 1908)

Apr.:  Regular 70s council meetings.

“We trust that the presidents of Seventies are not losing signt of the fact that they should hold regular council meetings in the interest of their respective quorums and their work.  Nothing will contribute more to the success of a quorum than council meetings of the presidents regularly held.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(6):475, Apr., 1908)

1 May:  Relationship of quorum and Sunday School duties.

“Now, my brethren and sisters, another thing.  While we would urge upon the officers and the teachers, both brethren and sisters, to attend their several fast meetings, sacrament meetings, and the priesthood meetings to which they belong, we would, on the other hand, respectfully request of the various quorums of the priesthood to which these men do belong, not to impose upon these brethren who are engaged in the Sunday School work tasks and burdens that will be too heavy for them to bear.  It is not infrequently the case that our young men who return from missions are put to work in the wards, to teach on their blocks and to attend gatherings at the ward meetinghouse, and many other duties, which actually take them away from their homes and almost comsume their entire evenings, week in and week out.  We ought not to make these labors burdensome upon our elders or brethren that are willing to work and to do all that they can reasonably.  Men ought to have the privilege of visiting with their families occasionally in their homes, with their wives and their children, and it should not be necessary for them to be occupied every night and every moment of their leisure time in duties that may be required of them by their Bishops or by their quorum authorities to the extent of making their lives burdensome.  Let us strive to strike a happy medium in these things.  But I will say to my brethren of the Sunday Schools, attend to the other duties as well as the Sabbath School.  Do your duty at the Sabbath School, but also do your duty toward your council meetings, your priesthood meetings; and let us all attend our sacrament meetings, and partake of the sacrament with clean hands and with pure hearts, without animosity in our souls towards any living being, eradicating from our hearts anger, envy and feelings of strife of every character, and the spirit, above all things, of unforgiveness and of unrepentance.  Let us banish these thoughts and these feelings from our hearts when we go to partake of the bread and water in commemoration of the sacrifice made by the Son of God for our redemption, for if we will go thus and partake of this ordinance with clean hands and with pure hearts, we will receive encouragement and approval of the Spirit of the Lord, and we will feel satisfied that we have done our duty.”  (Joseph F. Smith, April, 1908, General Conference address, in JI 43(5):196, 1 May, 1908)

May:  1st HP conference ever held in Davis Stake.

“The following May [1908], I attended the first High Priests Conference ever held in the Davis Stake of Zion.  It was held in Farmington, Utah.  It was a time of rejoicing, and we all received some very good instructions.  All the authorities were sustained by those present.”  (Thomas Briggs journal; in Our Pioneer Heritage, 3:329, 1960)

May:  Jesus and the Melchizedek Priesthood.

“‘How, when and by whom did the Savior receive the Melchizedek Priesthood?’  This question has been asked a very great many times of late.  Six letters from various quarters are now before us, which in various forms ask the above question.  In answer we are under the necessity of saying, frankly, we do not know; and the reason for that absence of knowledge ought to appear on very slight reflection.  That authority of God which we call ‘Melchizedek Priesthood’ was anciently called by the Church ‘The Holy Priewsthood After the Order of the Son of God; but out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid a too frequent repetition of his name, they, the Church in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.’  (Doc. and Cov., sec. 107).  This passage clearly establishes the fact that the Melchizedek Priesthood existed before the great High Priest Melchizedek, but that it existed under another name, viz–‘The Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God.’  That is to say, it was the same kind of priesthood, the same order of priesthood, that the Son of God held.  But this was before the days of Melchizedek, before Abraham, and hence hundreds of years before the birth of the Christ into the world.  Jesus therefore held a priesthood in his pre-existent state, and the priesthood like unto it held by men afterwards in this world, in very early days, was called ‘The Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God;’ and subsequently the Melchizedek Priesthood, for the reason already given.  Jesus, then, held what we call now the Melchizedek Priesthood before he appeared in this world, and doubtless before the world itself was formed, and it was called by his name, the Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God, but ‘how, where and by whom’ he received it, no man knoweth, except perhaps as to the last, viz., ‘by whom.’  He must, of course, have received it of God.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(7):557, May., 1908)

5 Jun.:  Lack of central direction of Aaronic Priesthood.

“In terms of organization, the priesthood quorums generally lacked strong central direction.  Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley stated that as of June 1908, he had ‘no way of becoming directly in touch with the work that was being done in the diferent quorums of the lesser priesthood.'”  (General Priesthood Committee Minutes, 5 Jun., 1908; in Hartley, BYU 13(2):138, Winter, 1973)

5-23 Jun.:  General Priesthood Committee on Outlines.

“David O. McKay stated that he rejoiced to see that steps had been taken toward the preparation of a regular course of study for the different quorums of the Priesthood throughout the Church.  He stated that while the plan was given in the Doctrine & Covenants, there had been no system throughout the Church for the carrying on of this work, but that each quorum was choosing its own course of study, and he felt that a great deal of good could be accomplished if the efforts of all the quorums could be directed in the same line.  He suggested that the outlines to be prepared should be a progressive course, to cover a period of three years for each quorum.

1. That the course of study for three years be outlined for the High Priests.

2. That a course of study covering a period of three years be outlined for the Elders.

3. That a course of study covering a period of three years be outlined for the Priests.

4. That a course of study covering a period of three years be outlined for the Teachers.

5. That a course of study covering a period of three years be outlined for the Deacons.

6. That the work be prepared to commence immediately after the October conference; a preparatory course to last from October until the first of January, 1909, at which time the regular three years’ course was to be taken up.

7. That as far as possible the age should be considered in ordaining persons to the Priesthood, in order that those holding the Priesthood could advance from quorum to quorum, and yet keep in touch with the work being done.  The age of deacons to be from 12 to 15; teachers from 15 to 18; priests from 18 to 21; elders when they arrive at the age of 21.

8. That each month, when the Stake Priesthood meeting is held, these outlines could be taken up by the heads of the different quorums as the work is now done in the Sunday School Union meetings.  For an example, the High Council should be divided, certain ones appointed to meet with the high priests, some with the elders, some with the priests, teachers and deacons; that the Presidency of the Stake meet with the Bishops of the different wards and in this way those in charge of the different quorums would come directly in touch with the Presidency of the Stake and would be better able to prepare themselves for the proper conducting of their class exercises in their respective wards.

9. That the different quorums in each ward meet once each week, and that all quorums meet together for the purpose of holding opening exercises, and then separate for the purpose of taking up their class work.

Upon motion of Bishop Nibley and by the unanimous consent of those present, Brother David O. McKay was appointed as chairman of a committee on outlines, said committee to be chosen by himself.”  (General Priesthood Committee on Outlines minutes, 5 Jun., 1908; in Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” pp. 29-31)

“To spearhead a more ordered priesthood program, the First Presidency established a General Priesthood Committee on Outlines, which served as a ‘standing committee on Priesthood work’ until its release in 1922.  Its primary responsibility was to prepare lesson outlines for the quorums, which in turn involved it in almost all aspects of priesthood work.  The committee initially included Rudger Clawson and David O. McKay of the Council of the Twelve, plus Charles W. Nibley, Orrin P. Miller, and David A. Smith of the Presiding Bishopric.  It was soon enlarged to nearly twenty members, half of whom brought with them valuable experience as general board members of the Sunday School, the YMMIA, and religion classes.

At its first meeting the Committee sensed that a great work was commencing.  Stephen L. Richards felt that quorum work had been neglected, and that disinterest by priesthood leaders was due to the ‘lack of having a general plan to follow.’  Joseph J. Cannon noted that ‘the auxiliary organizations had been actually doing the work that the quorums should do.’  David O. McKay rejoiced that the plan given in the Doctrine and Covenants was finally being systematized so that each quorum would no longer choose its own course of study.  Rudger Clawson reported that the First Presidency expected that the Committee’s work ‘would be the means of bringing in a great many young men who are now neglecting this work.’  But it was fully realized that their work required ‘the combined efforts of all those in authority’ in order to succeed.”  (Hartley, BYU 13(2):141, Winter, 1973; quoting General Priesthood Committee Minutes of 5, 16 and 23 Jun., 1908)

Jun.:  Correct spelling of Melchizedek.

“‘Question: Please give the correct spelling of Melchizedek. . . .

The name of the great High Priest is spelled correctly (see Genesis 14:18-20; Oxford editions) in the above title (see any authentic Bible Dictionary).  There is one other way that is frequently adopted, viz:, Melchisedec (see Hebrews 7, Oxford editions).  In many of our Church works and publications the name is spelled incorrectly, Melchisedek.”  (“Editor’s Table,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, Editors], IE 11(8):630, Jun., 1908)

Jun.:  70s quorums neither ward nor stake organizations.

“Excusing Seventies from Class Meetings.–This question is submitted: ‘Have the presidents of stakes or bishops of wards any authority to excuse a Seventy from attending his class meetings without the consent of the presidents of his quorum?’  Certainly not.  Common courtesy would say ‘no,’ if no other principle governed the matter.  But other principles do govern the case.  The Seventy’s quorums are not ward organizations, nor stake organizations, but are general Church quorums, having their local presidency in the councils of the respective quorums, and a general presidency in the First Council.  In their aquorum capacity and labor, they are under the jurisdiction of these councils, and may not be properly excused from quorum duties and appointments, except by consultation had, and consent obtained, from the local council as to members, and with the First Council as to presidents.  See also the Council Table, in the May number of the ERA, page 557.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(8):634, Jun., 1908)

12 Jul.:  Ward Bishopric has jurisdiction over 70’s.

“An important ruling on the role of the seventies was made by the First Presidency in 1908 when they decided that a ward bishopric had jurisdiction over the work of the seventies in the ward.  See the First Presidency to President F. S. Bramwell, 12 July 1908.  Record of Matters of Special Importance, pp. 24-25.”  (Mouritsen Diss. p. 149)

14 Jul.:  Which officers can perform civil marriages?

“The late legislature of the State of Idaho enacted a law requiring all who perform the marriage ceremony in that State to keep a register of time, place, and other particulars of such marriages, and file quarterly with the County Recorder a certified copy of their registers; and in connection with the operation of this new law, the following question was asked us by one of our Stake Presidents in Idaho:

‘How many of the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are recognized by the First Presidency as having authority to perform the marriage ceremony as ministers under the law, and are thereby entitled to registers?’

This question was duly considered by us, and we concluded, and so instructed, in the interest of Church discipline, also in order that all doubt and uncertainty might be removed, that this authority is vested in Bishops and Stake Presidents, the former to act in this capacity within the jurisdiction of their own wards, and the latter within the jurisdiction of the Stakes over which they preside.  

This applies also to the State of Utah, and in fact, to every State or Country wherein a Bishop’s Ward or Stake exists.”  (First Presidency to Stake Presidents, 14 Jul., 1908.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:176-177)

Jul.:  Endorsement of Bishops for 70s for missions.

“It seems difficult to get our presidents to rightly understand the modus operandi of recommending the names of members of their quorums for prospective missionaries.  Irregularities in this line are occurring more or less all the time.  Whenever the First Council sends for the names of Seventies who are worthy and probably in condition physically and financially to fill a mission, it is understood that when the presidents, to the best of their ability, make the selection for the required number, for two, or three, or four, they will present the names they have selected–together with the result of their inquiries in regard to age, knowledge of the gospel, physical condition, whether they have filled missions, whether they speak one or more languages, if they are married, healthy, etc., etc.,–to the bishop for his endorsement.  Every blank returned to the general secretary with these names should have the endorsement of the bishop to each name so recommended and when the individual Seventy is corresponded with, his answer to the First Council’s inquiry should also receive his bishop’s endorsement.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(9):722, Jul., 1908)

26 Aug.:  Negroes and the Priesthood.

“At 10 a.m. All of the Presidency and Prest. F. M. Lyman, Myself and H. J. Grant, Rudger Clawson, Geo. F. Richards, O. F. Whitney and A. W. Ivins and Secretary Geo F. Gibbs met in the Temple.  Prayer by Prest. Jos. F. Smith.  Mouth at the Altar A. W. Ivins.  The minutes for the Past two weeks were read and approved.  Routine business was gone through with.  The question of the Negro Race receiving the Priesthood was discused and it was decided they could be Baptised but could not receive the priesthood.  This has always been the Rule in the church.”  (John Henry Smith diary, 26 Aug., 1908)

Aug.:  Tracing the genealogy of ordination.

“Question:–‘I was ordained to the office of an elder, receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Jacob Gates, who was a seventy.  Later I was ordained to the office of a seventy under the hands of President Wilford Woodruff, and still later, to the office of a high priest under the hands of Apostle Heber J.l Grant.  Which line of ordination shall I trace in order to get the genealogy of my ordination complete?’

Answer:–Through the genealogy of Jacob Gates who originally conferred the priesthood upon you.  In case the line of ordination cannot be traced through him, then, of course, either of the others will serve the purpose.  The priesthood was conferred upon you by the first person who ordained you, and for that reason, he is the proper one through whom to have your genealogy traced.”  (“Editor’s Table,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, Editors] IE 11(10):809, Aug., 1908)

Aug.:  Witnesses for ordinances.

“The Following Questions Are Asked by the Sixty-Eighth Quorum of Seventy.

1. ‘Is it necessary to have witnesses to baptisms, if so, why?’  Answer.  We know of nothing in the written word that positively asserts that it is necessary to have witnesses to ordinary baptisms of the living.  Certainly there were no witnesses to the baptism of the officer of Queen Candace’s Court, except Philip who was on this occasion the administrator (See Acts, 8); and it may frequently occur with traveling elders that baptism without witnesses will take place.  In the organized wards and stakes of Zion, however, baptism should only be performed with the knowledge and approval of the local, presiding authorities, and usually others will be present; but, as already stated, we know of no rule that absolutely requires witnesses to be present.

2. ‘If witnesses are necessary, why are they not recorded?’  Answer.  The fact that there is no absolute requirement for witnesses to be present in baptisms for the living, is doubtless the reason why no record of witnesses present is kept.

3. ‘Who may be witnesses as to priesthood, etc.?  Answer.  No provision is made for witnesses of any grade of priesthood.

4. ‘Is it proper that the place where the ordinance of baptism is to be performed should be dedicated before the baptism takes place?’  Answer.  There is nothing in the written word so far as we know that positively requires that the place where baptisms are performed for the living should be dedicated; but a beautiful custom has grown up in the Church, from the practice of the elders, of dedicating the place of baptism for the sacred rite to be enacted there, and we think it is worthy of all acceptation, and should be followed as a beautiful and appropriate custom in the Church.”

(B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(10):814, Aug., 1908)

2 Sep.:  Negroes denied priesthood.

“[Meeting in the Temple] It was agreed that the Rule made in the past and adhered to by all of the former Councils of the church [is] that the Negro Race might be baptised but could not have the Priesthood.”  (John Henry Smith diary, 2 Sep., 1908)

9 Sep.:  Amendment of policy on who may perform marriages.

“The circular letter addressed by the First Presidency to each and all of the Stake Presidencies, designating Stake Presidents and Bishops to perform the civil marriage ceremony, was discussed, and the understanding reached that in the absence of the Stake President the acting President, and in the absence of the Bishop, the acting Bishop would be authorized to perform this service.  And it was understood during the discussion, that should an Apostle be asked to solemnize and civil marriage, that it will be in order for him to remind the parties of this rule adopted by the Church, referring them to their Bishop or Stake President.  This became the sense of the meeting, on motion of Brother John Henry Smith.”  (Journal History, 9 Sep., 1908.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:177)

15 Sep.:  Recommendations of Gen. Priest. Comm.

“Their [General Priesthood Committee on Outlines] final recommendations for revitalizing the Priesthood, intended to become operative the first week in 1909, had three main parts.  First, all quorums except the seventies were to meet in Monday night ward priesthood gatherings.  Also, thirty-six lessons were designed by the Committee for each of these quorums, to be studied in the weekly meetings.  Finally, monthly stake priesthood meetings would be held to preview the next month’s priesthood work and to develop classroom teaching skills.”  (Hartley, BYU 13(2):141-142, Winter, 1973; quoting from General Priesthood Committee Minutes, 15 Sep., 1908)  [Footnote to the above:  “High priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons met as localized quorums, while the seventies, due to their unique missionary responsibilities, functioned as general quorums directed by their own general authorities, the First Council of the Seventy.  Their organizational independence caused many seventies to hold feelings of exclusiveness from other quorums and from ward and stake leaders.  As a result of this reform movement, the seventies quorums became more fully integrated into ward and stake priesthood programs, with a simultaneous decline in their importance as general quorums in the Church.  They became, in fact, standing ministers at home, and their quorum work became subordinate to the needs of the wards and stakes.”]

29 Sep.:  Formal report of Committee on Outlines.

“Salt Lake City, Utah

September 29, 1908

To the First Presidency and Council of Twelve,


Dear Brethren:

Your committee appointed to prepare a course of study for the High Priests, Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons Quorums in the Church, beg leave to report as follows:

We first found it necessary to call to our assistance the following named brethren:

Joseph B. Keeler

Charles C. Richards

P. Joseph Jensen

Stephen L. Richards

Nephi Anderson

Edward H. Anderson

David O. Willey Jr.

Henry H. Blood

Joseph J. Cannon

Sylvester D. Bradford

John M. Mills

The general committee was then divided into sub-committees as follows:

High Priests

Elder Rudger Clawson, Chairman

Edward H. Anderson

Nephi Anderson


Elder David O. McKay, Chairman

Stephen L. Richards

Sylvester D. Bradford

John M. Mills


Bishop Charles W. Nibley, Chairman

Pres. Joseph B. Keeler

David O. Willey Jr.


Bishop Orrin P. Miller, Chairman

Charles C. Richards

Bishop Henry H. Blood


Bishop David A. Smith, Chairman

Joseph J. Cannon

P. Joseph Jensen

The committee recommends that each quorum following a definitely prescribed three years course:

1. That there be prepared for the different quorums of the Priesthood, 36 lessons for each year, leaving the other meetings during the year to be filled in by the different quorums as may be thought best under the direction of the different stakes.

2. That the lesson be divided into two divisions: division one, lesson on the course to be adopted, to take up about thirty-five minutes; division two, practical work, assignment of duties, etc.

3. That the following should be constantly kept in mind:

a.  The learning of the duty.

b.  Acting in performance of duty.

4. In taking up these outlines the following should be constantly in view:

a.  To know the lesson.

b.  To know the pupils.

c.  To know the purpose.

High Priests:

1909 – Church Organization & History

1910 – History of the Gospel

1911 – Principles of the Gospel


1909 – Book of Mormon – Divine Authenticity

1910 – Doctrine & Covenants and Modern Revelation

1911 – Principles of the Gospel


1909 – Restoration of the Gospel and Church History

1910 – Divine Mission of the Savior

1911 – Growth of the Church during the Apostolic

Age, and Apostasy


1909 – Old Testament & Pearl of Great Price

1910 – The Life of Christ

1911 – Lives of the Apostles – all to be historical


1909 – Old Testament

1910 – Book of Mormon

1911 – Church History – all to be biographical

It is recommended that the Priesthood be graded substantially as follows:

Deacons from 12 to 15 years of age

Teachers from 15 to 18 years of age

Priests from 18 to 21 years of age

Elders at the age of 21 years

The committee recommends that at the special Priesthood meeting to be held October 7th, 1908, the following suggestions be presented and adopted:

1. That before December 15th, 1908, presidents of stakes and bishops of wards make special efforts to get every worthy member ordained to the Priesthood, and properly enrolled in the quorum in which he can do the most efficient service to the Church.  In connection with this, effective work may be done among young men and older ones too, who are addicted to evil habits, in influencing them to make a general ‘clean up’, preparatory to joining this great quorum movement.

2. That in every ward a weekly Priesthood meeting be held on Monday night.  The membership and order of business to be as follows: . . . .

3.  That in each stake a monthly Priesthood meeting be held, the membership and order of business to be as follows: . . . .

The Presidents of Stakes will meet with Bishops and Counselors and one or more High Councilors, or alternates appointed for that purpose will preside in each of the other departments (quorums or auxiliary associations) at the monthly meetings.

4. The first weekly Priesthood meeting to be held in every ward in the Church, on the first Monday night in January, 1909, and that each quorum take up the first lesson in its prescribed course.

5. That special stake conferences of the Priesthood be held in every stake throughout the Church; commencing November 29th, and continuing each Sunday thereafter until December 27th, these appointments to be made after the schedule of conferences is made out for the next six months.  It is recommended further that at these conferences three meetings be held as follows:

One with the Stake Presidency and High Councilors.

One with the Stake Presidency, High Council & bishoprics.

And another with all the Priesthood.

6. That at each of these conferences there be at least two elders representing the general authorities of the Church, one of whom should be a member of either of [sic] the Council of Twelve, or the Presiding Bishopric, or of the special committee on course of study for the Priesthood.

Respectfully submitted,

General Priesthood Committee on Outlines.”  (Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” pp. 32-37)

Sep.:  Priesthood quorums and fraternal feelings.

“The quorums of the priesthood are especially adapted to the promotion and growth of social and fraternal feelings.  There should be a nearer brotherhood among the members, which may then be extended to all men.  Outside of their immediate families none should be quite so near and dear to them as their associates in their quorums.”  (“Editor’s Table,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, Editors], IE 11(11):886, Sep., 1908)

Sep.:  As to adjournments of Quorum Meetings.

“Much to our surprise, the First Council learn that here and there a quorum has discontinued the Sunday morning class meetings, chiefly because of the hot season.  This certainly was not down on the program, and is not approved by the First Council.  There is no arrangement made in the plans outlined for this year’s work for any vacation or summer adjournment.  One of the main reasons that was urged why Sunday morning should be given to our quorums was that we might have a meeting once every week throughout the year, except for the necessary adjournment to attend the Stake conferences and the Ward conferences in the respective quorum districts.  But it is all wrong to adjourn these quorum meetings on account of hot weather, or because a few of the members may be so fortunately situated as to take a summer vacation and go to the sea-coast or to the mountains.  To adjourn through the hot months would bespeak a lack of interest in the work outlined for our quorums, which, if well done, will require all the meetings that can be crowded into the fifty-two weeks of the year.  No adjournment, then, of quorum meetings, brethren.  You need every Sunday available to accomplish the labors laid out for you in the first Year Book.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(11):891, Sep., 1908)

Sep.:  Sacrament Meeting attendance of 70s down.

“In a letter recently received from a Presidency of one of the Stakes of Zion the following passage occurs:

Since the movement inaugurated last November in conducting Seventy’s meetings, we have had but little active service from the —– —– Quorum in a public way.  That they have taken greater interest in their Quorum meetings, we are free to admit; but their usefulness in a general way has ceased almost entirely at that point.  But few of them attend sacrament meetings on Sunday afternoon, excusing themselves on the ground that they have attended to their quorum meeting.  We have been unable to use them as home missionaries to any extent, for the reason that they do not care to fill appointments that would take them away from their quorum meetings, and we do not feel that it is doing justice to other home missionaries to require them to fulfil all appointments in the most distant wards, and leave the near-by wards to the Seventies.”

(B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 11(11):893, Sep., 1908)

2 Oct.:  Jurisdiction of Church Courts over debts.

“Met with Bros. [Francis M.?] Lyman and [George F.?] Richards and made report on the question of jurisdiction of Church Courts in the collection of debts.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 2 Oct., 1908)

6 Oct.:  Joseph held no office until Church organized.

“Some have wondered that the Prophet was ordained an Elder on the 6th of April, 1830.  He held the Melchizedek Priesthood before, but the offices in the priesthood did not exist until the Church was organized and gave its consent; then he was ordained an Elder.”  (Anthon H. Lund, 6 Oct., 1908; CR Oct., 1908, p. 118)

6 Oct.:  Committee on priesthood quorum study.

“Priesthood Quorum Study.–The report following has been adopted and will be carried out in the various stakes.  It is a very important movement in which presidents of stakes, bishops and the priesthood generally, are specially interested.  The report explains itself, but a letter of instructions will accompany the report to presidents of stakes:

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1908.

We desire to announce that a committee has been appointed to prepare a course of study for the various quorums of the priesthood, namely, high priests, elders, priests, teachers and deacons.

The personnel of the committee is as follows:  Rudger Clawson, David O. McKay, Charles W. Nibley, Orrin P. Miller, David A. Smith, Joseph B. Keeler, Charles C. Richards, P. Joseph Jensen, Stephen L. Richards, Nephi Anderson, Edward H. Anderson, David O. Willey, Jr., Henry H. Blood, Joseph J. Cannon, Sylvester D. Bradford and John M. Mills.

The lessons have been in course of preparation for months past.

By and with the consent of the First Presidency, the following suggestions are presented for your consideration and adoption:

1. That before December 15th, 1908, presidents of stakes and bishops of wards make special efforts to get every worthy member ordained to the priesthood, and properly enrolled in the quorum in which he can do the most efficient service to the Church.  In connection with this, effective work may be done among young men, and older ones too, who are addicted to evil habits by influencing them to make a general ‘clean-up’ preparatory to their joining this great quorum movement.

2. That in every ward a weekly priesthood meeting be held on Monday night.

3. That the first weekly priesthood meeting be held in every ward in the Church on the first Monday night in January, 1909, and that each quorum take up the first lesson in the prescribed course.

4. That special stake conferences of the priesthood be held in every stake throughout the Church, commencing November 29th, and continuing each Sunday thereafter until December 27th, these appointments to be made after the schedule of conferences is made out for the next six months.  It is recommended further that at these conferences three meetings be held as follows:  One with the stake presidency and high councilors; one with the stake presidency, high council and bishopric; and another with all the priesthood.

5. That at each of these conferences there be at least two elders representing the general authorities of the Church, one of whom should be a member either of the council of twelve, or the presiding bishopric, or of the special committee on course of study for the priesthood.”

(IE 12(1):78-79, Nov., 1908)

7 Oct.:  Special priesthood meeting:  weekly meeting urged

[Special priesthood meeting was held in the Assembly Hall on 7 Oct., 1908]

7 Oct.:  Who may perform marriages outside temples?

“[General Conference, Priesthood Session] Prest. [Joseph F.] Smith made remarks on subject of marriage in Church outside of temple.  Presidents of stakes & bishops to solemnize marriages or any other H.P. may do so under the direction of the bishop.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 7 Oct., 1908)

7 Nov.:  How many to constitute a partial quorum?

“A stake president asked in 1908 if a priesthood quorum was properly organized if it had fewer than a majority necessary to fill it, e.g., can an elders quorum be organized with less than forty-nine members?  The President of the Church and the Twelve responded that it could not.”  (Mouritsen Diss., pp. 150-151.  Also Record of Matters of Special Importance, p. 27, 7 Nov., 1908.  Cf. George F. Richards diary, 4 Nov., 1908)

11 Nov.:  Secret societies discouraged.

“In council of the First Presidency & the Twelve in the Temple Nov. 11, 1908.  Decided.  Woodmen of the World should not be affiliated with.  Members of the Church are advised against joining any Secret or Fraternal organizations.  Evidence has taught us, they have the effect of weaning away from their faith those who have become members.  The insurance offered not considered reliable.”  (George F. Richards, quoted in Mouritsen Diss., p. 153.  See “Record of Matters of Special Importance,” p. 27)

29 Nov.:  Elders Quorum President for 31 years.

“Sunday 29th.  After the Public meeting this afternoon J. Amos Holt called the Elders togeher for an Elders Quorum meeting.  I have been President of this Quorum for 31 years, and now I supose I am out of a good job.

December 1908.

I wish to say right here, that I have asked the Stake Presidency several times the last few years to release me from this office.  As I have held it so long, I thought a change would be a good thing, and it was geting to be atask for me to do my duty in Presiding over a quorum that scattered so far apart as this one is.  It took in Hebron, Pinto, Pine Valley, Hamblin, Clover Valley, Panaca, Eagle Valley and White Pine.  It now takes in Enterprise.  Hebron is left out, making over three hunderd miles to travel to visit all.  Ninety six in a Quorum of Elders, but this one has one hunderd and seventy four Elders in it, as there is not anuf for two Quorums, and they are so widely scatered.

It is expected that each branch should be visited at least once a quarter by one or more of the Presidency of the Quorum, and my counclors did not want to go, and I was like them but I would leave my work time and again, and travel by teams or on ahorseback.”  (Orson W. Huntsman diary, 29 Nov., 1908; LC Collection)

Nov.:  2nd annual 70s General Conference.

“Saturday evening, October 3rd, the second general conference of the Seventies quorums since the Church removed from Nauvoo, was held in Barratt Hall, President Seymour B. Young presiding.”  (IE 12(1):73, Nov., 1908)

Nov.:  Throwing delinquents out of the quorums.

“A Word as to Delinquents.–From various quorums complaints come that notwithstanding the very favorable time which our quorums now hold their meetings, and notwithstanding presidents, and in some instances fellow members, have urged them to faithfulness, and have especially urged them to attendance upon quorum meetings, there are Seventies who choose to ignore all these admonitions of their brethren, and absent themselves from the meetings without any just excuse for their non-attendance.  Their absence is not only a matter of months, but in some cases extends over a year, and in some cases they have not attended their meetings in two or three years.  The question is repeatedly asked, what shall the course of the quorum be towards such delinquents.  In answer to that inquiry we submit the following suggestions to quorum presidents.  It is not the desire of the First Council that in the administration of the affairs of your quorum local presidents should in any sense be harsh in the treatment of indifferent and careless brethren.  But now, assuming that they have labored with said delinquent members in all faith and patience and brotherly love until just forbearance is exhausted–assuming, we say, that this is the case, then the following course should be pursued.  Let those persistently delinquent brethren be notified that all in the way of forbearance and mercy has been done that can be done; that by their persistently ignoring the counsel and the urging of their presidents and the quorums to be in attendance upon the regular quorum meetings, they are treating the quorums with contempt, a thing which cannot be tolerated.  The efficiency of the quorums, and the maintenance of respect for the priesthood require that there shall be compliance with the appointments and orders of the quorums, and that heed must be given to the instructions of the presidents thereof.  Therefore unless these delinquents will repent and come forward in a proper spirit and attend upon their duties as Seventies, it will be the proper thing for each quorum to take action upon such delinquents and drop them from the quorums for contempt of said quorums of the holy priesthood; and such action of the quorum should be reported to the High Council.  This may sound harsh, but it is time that the quorums insisted upon being respected by the membership of said quorums.  Our Seventies are not children, but, as a rule, are men of understanding who ought to know that the priesthood to which they belong and the quorum of which they are members cannot be trifled with continually in such matters.  The First Council will justify local presidents in taking a firm stand in relation to these things.”  (B. H. Roberts, “Seventy’s Council Table,” IE 12(1):76, Nov., 1908)

2 Dec.:  New guidelines for 70’s.

“Eighteen months later the authorities concluded that the seventies should meet at the same time as the other quorums of the priesthood instead of Sunday morning.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 149; also George F. Richards diary, 2 Dec., 1908)

17 Dec.:  Resistance of First Council of 70.

“In presenting their decision [of 2 Dec.] to the First Council of the Seventy for endorsement, there was resistance and a final decision was postponed.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 149; also George F. Richards diary, 17 Dec., 1908)

22 Dec.:  Further disagreement over 70’s.

“Nor was agreement reached a week later when Church leaders spent nearly nine hours discussing the issue.”  (Mouritsen Diss., pp. 149-150)

“I attended Council meeting in the temple from 10 until 3:20 at which Elders Whitney and H. M. Smith were severely reproved by Pres. Lyman & Pres. Jos. F. Smith for not standing in with the Twelve after a decision was reached by the First Presidency & Twelve on the matter of changing time of Seventies meetings–when we took the matter to the Seventies.”  (George F. Richards diary, 22 Dec., 1908.  See also entry for 23 Dec., 1908)

“Attended meeting of Council of Twelve and First Presidency of Seventy to consider the question of changing the hour of holding meetings of Seventy from Sunday morning to Monday night.  Meeting commenced at 10 a.m. and closed at 9 p.m.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 22 Dec., 1908)

“[Meeting of 12 and 7 pres. of 70]  We were together about 9 hours and all talked and some many times.  The question was shall the Seventies Quorums continue to hold their meeting on the Saboath day.”  (John Henry Smith diary, 22 Dec., 1908)

26 Dec.:  Summary of priesthood organization.

“At a stake conference, Elder [George F.] Richards summarized some of the priesthood organizational arrangements as they existed at that time.  He declared that high priests quorums are limited only to the geographical boundaries of stakes.  Regardless of the number of high priests, there is only one high priests quorum per stake.  Other quorums have specified constituencies buty any number of such quorums could be organized.  The number of seventies in a quorum, for instance, is seventy but the number of seventies quorums that could be organized was indefinite.  In a given stake, Elder Richards continued, any number of elders quorums could be organized but only within stake boundaries and presided over by the stake president.  In a given ward, moreover, any number of Aaronic priesthood quorums could be organized but only within ward boundaries and presided over by the bishop.  Elder Richards concluded that no quorum should be organized with less than a majority of the number designated by revelation to fill the quorum.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 151; also George F. Richards diary, 26 Dec., 1908)