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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1909

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1909.” You can view other years here.

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1909:  1 Jan.:  All homes to be visited by bishop annually.

“We heartily commend the most excellent services rendered by the bishops and the brethren who so loyally supported them in the recent house-to-house visiting of the Saints.  No one can estimate the amount of good this splendid movement has already accomplished.  It opens to our view the vast field there is for the activities of our teachers among whom should always be found the most capable men among us.

Cottage meetings should be held in every home at least once a year, at which prayer, song, instruction and earnest exhortation should be conducted; and a blessing should be left with every family.

. . . .

The bishopric will make a personal visit to every family in the ward during the months of November and December, and as far as practicable meetings should be held with each family.  The bishopric should sing and pray with the family, teach them their duties, and try to get those who are dilatory to be more diligent and faithful; and not only take up a labor with the heads of families, but with the young people as well.

Members of the Stake Presidency, High Council and other prominent brethren may be asked to assist in making these personal visits when the size of the ward is such that the bishopric cannot attend to it in person.  It is surprising how much good the bishopric of the ward can do when they come into personal contact with the members of the Church in their own homes.”  (First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric, Annual Instructions, 1909, Circular No. 10, to Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, Presidents of Missions, Bishops and Counselors, Stake Mission and Ward Clerks, and All Church Authorities, 1 Jan., 1909, pp. 1-2, 4-5)

1 Jan.:  Record of GA Instructions to be kept in stakes.

“Hereafter a record should be kept in every stake and mission to contain an epitome of all instructions of a permanent character that may be received from the First Presidency, Presiding Bishopric, or other general Church authorities, each entry to be dated and to have a suitable heading.  If the instructions are received by letter, its date should be noted, if they are given orally, the name of the person imparting the same should be recorded.  The object of this record is to enable the stake and mission presidents to refer to instructions of the general authorities and to enable their successors in office to become familiar with previous instructions.  Further details may be obtained by communicating with the Presiding Bishopric.”  (First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric, Annual Instructions, 1909, Circular No. 10, to Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, Presidents of Missions, Bishops and Counselors, Stake Mission and Ward Clerks, and All Church Authorities, 1 Jan., 1909, pp. 26-27)

1 Jan.:  Weekly priesthood meetings encouraged.

“Special attention is called to the weekly meetings of the priesthood quorums in all the wards.  We believe this movement will not only increase the proficiency of the priesthood by reason of its educative features, but by bringing all the brethren together once a week they will acquire the habit of regular activity as servants of the Lord.  It has the additional advantage of putting the bishop in communication with every home once a week.  We like the idea of these weekly reunions of the fathers of the ward with their sons and associates.

. . . .

Pursuant to a resolution adopted at the special priesthood meeting held in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, October 7, 1908, we recommend the following outline for ward priesthood meeting.

A weekly priesthood meeting should be held in every ward on Monday night, the attendance to consist of the Bishopric of the ward, ward clerks, presidents and members of quorums of the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood.

A special effort should be made by presidents of stakes and bishops to get every worthy male member ordained to the priesthood and enrolled in the quorum of which he can be of most efficient service in the Church; and we also desire all the presiding officers of the stake and ward to make every reasonable effort to organize the quorums of the Aaronic priesthood, so that the Monday night priesthood meetings will be composed of all active and worthy male members of the ward.

The bishop will preside at the ward priesthood meeting, but when any of the stake authorities are present the bishop will, of course, consult their desires in regard to conducting the exercises.

The time to commence the meeting is optional, each ward choosing that hour which is most convenient to the majority of the priesthood of the ward, the meetings to be held not more than one hour and forty-five minutes.

All the priesthood will meet in general assembly for opening exercises and one of its features should be a singing practice not to exceed fifteen minutes.  To conduct this successfully, the meeting should be divided into four parts, namely, first bass, second bass, first tenor and second tenor, and the chorister of the ward, or someone else capable of giving musical instruction, should have charge.  This exercise should be followed by brief and timely instructions by the presiding authorities, after which the quorums should adjourn to their respective places or rooms and take up their quorum lessons for that evening.  After adjournment for quorum work, the presidents of quorums will take charge of and conduct all business of the quorum meeting, including the opening and closing exercises.  

We recommend that for the Aaronic priesthood quorums able brethren be selected as instructors to conduct the lesson exercises.  We cannot urge too strongly the necessity of choosing men for these positions who are adapted for the work of instructing the young.  The success of class work depends almost entirely upon the choice of good instructors.

A course of study consisting of a series of outlines or lessons and suggestions dealing with official and personal duties of the members of the various quorums is being prepared.  No quorum should be dismissed without having a definite assignemnt of work for its members, as suggested in part two of the lesson, to be performed during the week.  Much of the present indifference among members of quorums is due to the failure of presidents of quorums to make definite assignments for the next meeting.

. . . .

Young men should be advanced in the Aaronic priesthood whenever in the opinion of the bishopric of the ward they are worthy of such advancement, and unless there are special reasons to the contrary they should be advanced in the priesthood from deacon to teacher and from teacher to priest.  There can be no set age when persons should be ordained to the various offices of the Aaronic priesthood, but we suggest that as near as circumstances will permit boys be ordained as follows:  Deacons at twelve, teachers at fifteen and priests at eighteen years of age.

We trust that this movement among the priesthood will receive the hearty support of presidents of stakes, bishops, and quorum officers jkointly, so that ‘every man may learn his duty and act in the office in which he is appointed in all diligence.'”  (First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric, Annual Instructions, 1909, Circular No. 10, to Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, Presidents of Missions, Bishops and Counselors, Stake Mission and Ward Clerks, and All Church Authorities, 1 Jan., 1909, pp. 2, 36-37)9

1 Jan.:  Designated ages for Aaronic Priesthood offices.

“. . . before appropriate lessons could be written for each quorum, the [General Priesthood] Committee found it necessary to establish age groupings for the lesser priesthood.  After 1877 it had been customary in the Church for boys at age twelve to be ordained deacons.  But standard age practices for ordaining teachers or priests, or for advancing young men through the priesthood were lacking.  The Committee therefore suggested specific ages at which specific Aaronic Priesthood ordinations should occur.  Bishops were then instructed by the Presiding Bishopric to advance boys when worthy,

‘and unless there are special reasons to the contrary they should be advanced in the priesthood from deacon to teacher and from teacher to priest.  There can be no set age when persons should be ordained to the various offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, but we suggest that as near as circumstances will permit boys be ordained as follows:  Deacons at twelve, Teachers at fifteen and Priests at eighteen years of age.'”

(Hartley, BYU 13(2):142, Winter, 1973; quoting Presiding Bishopric, Circular Letter File, 1 Jan., 1909, HDC)

8 Jan.:  Relationship of 70s to new priesthood program.

“To the Quorums of Seventy.–Your attention has undoubtedly been called to the fact that a great movement has just been inaugurated by the presiding authorities of the Church with the object in view of improving the various priesthood quorums.

For a number of years past there has been a strong feeling among the presiding brethren, and with many observing members of the Church, that closer attention should be given the quorums, and that work of a more systematic and educational character should be introduced, such as would hold the attention of the brethren, prove interesting as a study, and gradually give to the members of the quorum a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of the duties pertaining to their various callings.

Several months ago a committee was appointed by the First Presidency to prepare outlines of work for the quorums of the Aaronic priesthood and for the Elders and High Priests of the Melchizedek priesthood.  This committee has accomplished the task assigned it, and the result of its work is a splendid course of instruction for each of the quorums named.

The launching of this praiseworthy work has brought up the question as to the time of meeting of the quorums of Seventy.  Some prominent brethren feel that it would be an advantage to the movement if the quorums of Seventy were to hiold their meetings at the same time and under the same general rules governing all the other quorums.  This question has been freely discussed by the presiding authorities of the Church, and by them it has been unanimously decided that the Seventies unite with the other quorums in the holding of their class and quorum meetings.

You are therefore instructed to make such arrangements as may be necessary to have the members of your quorum meet with the priesthood of the ward, or wards, where they reside on Monday night of each week.  The plan is for all the brethren holding the priesthood to meet conjointly for opening exercises in their respective wards under the direction of the Bishop.  After these exercises, the various quorums are to separate for class work under the direction of their presidents, as heretofore.

The Seventies’ second year book will continue to be the line of study for the quorums of the Seventy.  Other text books will be prepared, under the direction of the First Council, for use in class exercises, as may be necessary in the future.

We feel to commend most heartily the splendid work that has been accomplished by the Seventies during the past fifteen months.  We hope all of our brethren will give earnest and cheerful support to this new move, endeavoring to make the success of the future surpass all former records.  The new working conditions are to begin the first Monday in February.

The success of our work will depend very largely upon unity of action.  We urge, brethren, that you avoid creating any obstacles; go to work with determination to remove all hindrances that you may see before you, remembering that this movement has not only the endorsement of the presiding authorities of the Church, but that it has also been approved by a vote of the priesthood of the entire Church as represented in the general conference priesthood meeting of April last.

We regard this movement as of great importance and as one that marks the dawn of a new era.  The quorums of the Priesthood are to assume their proper place and take the lead in the theological training of their members and in qualifying them for their respective duties and callings in the Church.

Seymour B. Young,

In behalf of the First Council of Seventy.

Salt Lake City, Utah.  January 8, 1909.”

(“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(4):319-320, Feb., 1909)

12 Jan.:  No smallpox in homes which had been dedicated.

“Brother Judson Tolman and myself went to Centerville, and dedicated the home of Brother David Smith.  I was mouth, and I bore my testimony to them of the goodness of the Lord to me; and then Brother Randall bore his testimony and said that when the smallpox was very bad in Centerville, the disease never entered one of the homes that had been dedicated.”  (Thomas Briggs diary, 12 Jan., 1909; in Our Pioneer Heritage, 3:329, 1960)

Feb.:  Too many organizations in the Church.

“None will deny that there are enough organizations in the Church to suffice both for young and old, and for men and women.  The complaint is rather that there are too many.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Should Exclusive Clubs be Organized by Church Members?,” IE 12(4):313, Feb., 1909)

Feb.:  Priesthood Quorums’ Table.

[The section by this title first appeared in IE 12(4):319, Feb., 1909.]

Feb.:  Monday night meetings.

“Beginning Monday evening, February 1, 1909, all the Seventies are requested to meet in their respective wards conjointly with the other quorums of the Priesthood for opening exercises, after which they will separate and conduct their regular class exercises.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(4):320, Feb., 1909)

Feb.:  Seventies Quorum Meetings.

“Presidents of quorums are to understand that the new arrangement for the holding of class meetings on Monday night of each week is not intended to do away with quorum meetings.  Where a full quorum resides in a ward, each meeting will, of course, be an official quorum meeting.  Where a quorum district covers two or more wards, it will be necessary to provide at regular intervals for the full quorum to meet in an official capacity.  In compact districts there should be a meeting of this character once a month; in widely scattered districts, once in three months.  Where quorum meetings are held but once in three months, it is suggested that they be held at the time of holding stake conferences.  A regular time should be designated for these quorum gatherings, and an understanding arrived at with local authorities in relation to the matter.  On such occasions, concise, comprehensive reports should be given, covering the work accomplished in the several class meetings during the month, or three months, as the case may be.  All such reports should be particularly noted by the secretary, and recorded in the official record of the quorum.  Where quorum meetings are held once every month, Monday night is to be the time for such meetings, and the regular lesson for that date is to be considered.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(4):320, Feb., 1909)

Feb.:  No classes for acting ward teachers.

“There is a wrong impression out in some localities regarding the duty of acting teachers in connection with the new Priesthood movement.  In a stake recently visited by one of the presiding brethren, it was found that classes for acting teachers had been organized in the wards.  The local authorities expected the brethren of all quorums who were laboring as acting teachers, to give allegiance to these classes in preference to their various quorum classes.  This is a mistaken view.  There are no classes for acting teachers in connection with the Priesthood meetings on Monday night.  No outlines have been prepared for any such classes.  Ordained teachers are to meet in their respective quorums for class exercises.  Acting teachers are to meet in the priesthood quorum classes to which they belong.  If the acting teachers in the various wards throughout the Church were to meet in classes provided for ordained teachers, the various quorums of the Melchizedek priesthood would be seriously hampered in their work, and in very many cases the class work of these quorums would be entirely broken up, for the reason that quite a percentage of the wide awake, active brethren who are Elders, Seventies or High Priests, are engaged in the work assigned to the ward teachers.  The brethren of the Seventies are expected to meet in the wards where they reside on Monday night of each week in the Seventies classes, and continue the work that has been outlined for them in the Second Year Book of the Seventies’ Course in Theology.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(4):320-321, Feb., 1909)

Feb.:  ERA now organ of quorums as well as MIA.

“Now that the quorums of the priesthood are engaged in the formal study of theology, and meet weekly with this commendable object in view, there arises a need for a means of communication between the general officers who have the study and the direction of the quorums in hand, and the members and teachers of the quorum.  This need, it has been decided by the Presidency of the Church, the Presiding Bishopric, the committee on course of study for the Priesthood, and the General Board Y.M.M.I.A., will be supplied by the IMPROVEMENT ERA which from this date on becomes the organ of the Priesthood quorums and the Y.M.M.I.A.

A department in the magazine will be devoted to the interests of the quorums, in which methods of teaching, answers to questions, and other instructions and information will be given.  Presidents of stakes, bishops and quorum officers and members are invited to take notice of this arrangement.  All correspondence for this department should be sent to the editor of the ERA, Salt Lake City, Utah.”  (“Mutual Work,” IE 12(4):323, Feb., 1909)

Mar.:  Progress report on new Priesthood movement.

“The new Movement Among the Priesthood Quorums of the Church has been desired for many years.  It appears from the way the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops generally are receiving and adopting the instructions and the Courses of Study that the important and long-needed movement will be a success from the beginning.

What is the new movement?  It is a system of providing the High Priests, Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons’ quorums of the Church with a uniform Course of Study.  It contemplates that each quorum or part of a quorum shall meet in each ward of the Church on every Monday evening for instruction in the formal study of the doctrines, principles and history of the gospel.

The Seventies were the pioneers in the matter, beginning their uniform weekly study in the fall of 1907, and they have so far issued two year books, and made splendid progress in qualifying themselves for the work of the ministry abroad among the nations of the earth, which is their legitimate calling.

At the April, 1908, general conference of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith highly commended the efforts of the Seventies.  He also sounded the key note for similarly organizing all the other Priesthood quorums, with uniform courses of study, for the purpose of formally studying the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and for qualifying themselves in the active duties and labors of their several callings.  Give the Lesser Priesthood something to do, was his admonition to the bishops, that will interest them in the work of the Lord, and direct their energies in such a way that they will be helpful to the needy, the poor, themselves and the Church–in the line of discipline, instruction, and practical experience.  (See Conference Report, April, 1908; also Improvement Era, Vol. XI, pp. 547-50.)

Soon after this date, a special committee on Course of Study for the Priesthood consisting of Elders Rudger Clawson, and David O. McKay, both of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles; with Bishops Charles W. Nibley, Orrin P. Miller, and David A. Smith, the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, were chosen to take the initiative in carrying out the instructions, and to prepare courses of study for all the quorums, except the Seventy who already had their manual.  The committee set to work upon the subject with energy.  A system of work for the priesthood quorums had already been inaugurated in a number of the stakes, notably in Weber and Granite.  These were investigated and finally a three-year course was decided upon.  The original committee then selected the following additional names:  Edward H. Anderson, Nephi Anderson, Stephen L. Richards, Sylvester D. Bradford, John M. Mills, Joseph B. Keeler, David O. Willey, Jr., Charles C. Richards, Henry H. Blood, Joseph J. Cannon, and P. Joseph Jensen.  During the summer and fall of 1908, the committee met regularly once each week, organized the membership into sub-committees, decided upon a three-years’ course for each quorum, and set to work upon the five manuals for the first year’s study.  As the manuscript was prepared it was submitted to an editing committee with Elder David O. McKay chairman, and finally printed under the supervision of a printing committee with Bishop David A. Smith, chairman.  The outlines were distributed from the office of the Improvement Era to all the wards fo the Church in early January.

At the Priesthood meeting, at the general conference in October, the committee by Chairman Clawson presented the whole subject to the assembled Priesthood, and the plan outlined was considered and unanimously adopted.  It was decided that presidents of stakes and bishops of wards should get every worthy member ordained to the Priesthood and enrolled in the quorum where he could do the most efficient service to the Church; that in every ward a weekly Priesthood meeting be held on Monday night, beginning on the first Monday night in January, 1909; and that commencing November 29, and continuing to December 27, a special stake conference of the Priesthood be held in every stake in the Church, at which representatives of the General Authorities were to attend to present and explain the movement.  (For a copy of this report, see Improvement Era, Vol. XII, p. 78-9.)

This arrangement was carried out universally, as nearly as circumstances would permit, and by the middle of January, the movement was making commendable headway in nearly all the wards of the Church.

The bishopric, ward clerk, and quorum officers, and all the Priesthood of the ward compose the membership of these quorum meetings.  They meet together conjointly, have opening exercises, roll call of officers, a singing practice of fifteen minutes, give general instructions, then separate into quorums.  Here in the classes there is a roll call of members, minutes, then the regular lesson as outlined in the Course, which should occupy one hour.  In some wards the quorums reassemble for adjournment, in others not; this and the hour of meeting is left optional with the authorities, but the time of meeting should not exceed one hour and forty-five minutes, one hour of which should be devoted to quorum work.  Thirty-six lessons for each year are provided, the balance of the time is to be filled in by the different quorums as they think best, under direction of the Presidency of the different stakes.

This movement to give the Quorums of the Priesthood a progressive Course of Study is meeting everywhere with hearty approval.  Its ultimate success will, of course, depend upon the selection of good class instructors, the energy and spirit of the authorities and officers, attention to details, regularity, punctuality, preparation of lessons, and the selection of capable and energetic men to supervise the labors.”  (First Presidency, “Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(5):397-398, Mar., 1909)

Mar.:  Monday night the time of meetings.

“One of the stakes of Zion has requested that the deacons of that stake be permitted to hold their priesthood class meeting on Sunday morning as a part of the Sabbath School instead of attending the regular priesthood meeting on Monday night.  The Committee on Course of Study, to whom this matter was referred, have unanimously decided that the meeting of any of the quorums of the priesthood at any other time than Monday night, the time now fixed for all the quorums to meet, be discouraged.  If one quorum is permitted to meet at a separate time from that appointed, it would give license for other quorums to do the same, and the result would be a lack of uniformity, which is one of the principle advantages in the present arrangement.  Having one evening for the quorums to meet, enables everybody to so arrange their affairs as to set that night apart for that purpose, and every person holding the priesthood should make it a point to be present on every Monday evening, and make that a uniform rule throughout the Church.”  (First Presidency, “Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(5):399, Mar., 1909)

Mar.:  ERA official organ of quorums.

“Now that the quorums of the Priesthood are engaged in the formal study of theology, and meet weekly with this commendable object in view, there arises a need for a means of communication between the general officers who have the study and the direction of the quorums in hand, and the members and teachers of the quorums.  This need, it has been decided by the Presidency of the Church, the Committee on Course of Study, and the General Board Y.M.M.I.A., will be supplied by the Improvement Era which becomes the organ of the Priesthood Quorums and the Y.M.M.I.A.  A department in the magazine will be devoted to the interests of the quorums, in which methods of teaching, answers to questions, and other instructions and information will be given.  Presidents of stakes, bishops, and quorum officers and members are invited to take notice of this arrangement.”  (First Presidency, “Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(5):400, Mar., 1909)

5 May(?):  Deacons shouldn’t be ordained until 15 years.

“One [General Priesthood] Committee member, for example, urged that the ordination age for deacons be raised to fifteen, for ‘as a rule boys were too young to have this honor conferred upon them.'”  (Hartley, BYU 13(2):150, Winter, 1973; quoting GPC Minutes, 5 May, 1909 (may also be 10 Dec., 1909–difficult to tell from Hartley’s footnote.)

May:  Even if a literal descendant of Aaron were found.

“Even if a literal descendant of Aaron were found, he would have no right to preside as a bishop unless he were called, set apart, and ordained in like manner to the high priest, by virtue of the authority and keys held by the president of the Church.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(7):574, May, 1909)

May:  Authority of 1st Quorum of 70 vs. Quorum of 12.

“The first quorum of Seventy is equal in authority with the quorum of the Twelve Apostles under certain conditions; and the first quorum of Seventy is composed of the first seven presidents (First Council) and sixty-three presidents of the next sixty-three quorums.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 12(7):575, May, 1909)

7 Jul.:  Relationship of High Council & Auxiliaries.

“[Meeting of Quorum of 12] Discussion of question of appointment of members of High Council to have special charge of work of auxiliary associacions discussed.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 7 Jul., 1909)

4 Oct.:  Concerning officers who wish to resign.

“The special feature that I desire to bring to the attention of the officers in the Church is this, that in my opinion the freedom with which men who hold office in the Church, resign that office, is altogether out of keeping with the responsibility of their calling, and with the work that the Lord has for them to do, and which He has called them to do, in giving them the office and the authority.  This applies more especially to the bishops in the Church.  It was not so formerly, as now, that men upon this whim or that whim, would resign their positions.  Some feel that they are at liberty to resign and get out from under the responsibility and authority the very moment they find their duties becoming a little irksome or strenuous, or troublesome.  I think that disposition and that spirit altogether wrong, brethren.  I think it is wrong with respect to presidents of stakes; I think it is wrong with the bishops; I think it is wrong when it is found among superintendents or presiding officers, in any capacity whatsoever, who have been called and placed in their positions by the inspiration of God through His servants who preside over them.  They ought to accept these offices with a determination to remain in them until such time as those who place them there say it is enough.  There are times, of course, when changes are necessary and have to be made, when men in office, because of neglect and indifference, prove themselves incompetent to carry on the work of the Lord.  But, as a general rule, in such cases the officer never resigns; it is the man who has the ability, and who could do the work if he would, he is the one who may want to resign.  If his church duties interfere with some desire, or some business interests, or he finds difficulties arising, that are burdensome; perhaps someone has criticised or found fault with him; why, for these and other unworthy reasons, he resigns his most sacred and holy office in the Church.  There are some Bishops who have gone so far as to deliberately remove from one ward to another, in order to be relieved of their duties in the Bishopric.  That is not the proper spirit that a Bishop ought to have.  During this year, sixty-eight re-organizations among the Bishoprics in that many wards of the Church have taken place.  There are six hundred and eighty-five wards in the Church.  That means that ten per cent of them have had a re-organization in their Bishoprics during this year–altogether too many resignations.  I may say that most of these re-organizations have been made necessary because the Bishops had resigned.  Very few of them were brought about or found necessary because of the death of the Bishop.  I fear many of these Bishops resigned because they wanted to get out from under the responsibility of the Bishopric.  I say, brethren, this is not right; it ought not to be.  You never hear–at least I have never heard, and I don’t think you have heard–of the presidents in the mission field sending in their resignations, because they find some difficulties in the preaching of the Gospel.  The Elders sent abroad rarely resign from their missions before they are released.  I think this same loyalty should be found among us who hold general and local offices and authority in the Priesthood, in the stakes and wards of the Church.  If a ward is suffering because of its Bishopric, the president of that stake ought to know it; and if it is advisable that a re-organization should be made, then the president shouild bring that condition to the attention of those whose right and duty it is to make the re-organization.  If a president of a stake is incompetent, or cannot perform his duty because of business interests and other inclinations on his part, and he desires to be relieved of his presidency and wants to get out of it, the Twelve will very likely discover it, and when they receive the proper inspiration from the Lord, will make the change.  Men in this Church ought not to feel that they are free to resign at their own will the positions that the Lord God of Heaven has called them to occupy, and in which He has for them a work to perform, in the carrying on of this great latter day work, in this dispensation.  The Lord’s will rather than man’s should be done.”  (Hyrum M. Smith, 4 Oct., 1909; CR Oct., 1909, pp. 75-76)

4 Oct.:  Improvement in Elders Quorums.

“So many of these quorums are lying in inactivity; dust is accumulating.  Shall we not work and get them into prominence, bring them into operation?  As presidents of quorums, let us meet in council; let us think over what men in our quorums are neglecting their duty.  In 1899, in one of the Elders quorums in this city, three young men were called to preside.  At their first meeting there were only six men present in the Elders quorum.  ‘Well,’ they said, ‘this will not do; let us institute systematic visiting.’  And so they did.  Those men, as presidents, carrying the responsibility, went out to visit the Elders of that quorum.  They went into one house, and asked the man to take up Elder’s work, but he said, ‘No, I will not go to Elders meeting.’  ‘May we have a meeting here tonight?’ was asked.  ‘Yes.’  They sang, prayed, spent an hour or so with the man and his wife.  At the conclusion of it, the man promised that he would attend Elders’ meeting.  The wife, who was unconverted, and who knew little or nothing of the workings of the Church, who lacked a knowledge of it, because of inactivity, began to cry because her husband’s going to meeting would take him away from home.  ‘A mission will be next,’ she said.  However, that young man promised to go to meeting on this condition; that he would not be asked to take part.  ‘All right,’ waid the brethren.  But it was not long before he was willing to take part on the program.  They assigned him a subject, and the brother who told me of this incident, said it was painful to see what that poor man suffered the first time he stood up before his brethren.  Those in the meeting deeply sympathized with the man who was making his first effort in public.  At the conclusion of it the brother said, ‘You did well.’  ‘No,’ said the man, ‘I want another chance; I believe I can do better.’  He did do better, and he became a strong power in influencing other Elders of his crowd to come out to their meetings.

They went into another home and met a similar spirit of indifference.  They asked permission to pray, and were told ‘No.’  They talked to the man a little while, and finally he said, ‘Well, you may kneel down and pray, if you want to.’  ‘Will you kneel with us?’  ‘No.’  After a little kind persuasion, he knelt down.  At the conclusion of the meeting in that home, this second Elder, following the brethren to the door, broke down and cried, confessed that he had been out away from the influence of the Church, had been in another environment, and said, ‘Keep with me, work with me, and help me to get back into Church environment.’  The president of that Elder’s quorum is now sitting on this stand, a member of the presiding bishopric.  He and his fellow-workers increased the attendance of the quorum from six to over one hundred during that year.”  (David O. McKay, 4 Oct., 1909; CR Oct., 1909, p. 93)

Nov.:  Bishops to select Seventies for missionary service.

“For several years it has been the rule for all seventies chosen for missionary service abroad, to be selected and recommended under the immediate authority of the First Council of Seventy.  Bishops have been restricted in the filling of requisitions made upon them, for missionaries, to the elders, high priests and the quorums of the lesser priesthood.  The reason for introducing this double system of making recommendations for missionaries was to do away with occasional misunderstandings, and more or less confusion that had been arising, through Bishops, and Presidents of Seventies, now and then sending in the name of the same individual for a missionary call.  To avoid this duplicating of names, the presiding authorities of the Church decided that seventies should be sought after for missionary service, through the First Council and local Councils of Seventy, and missionaries from all the other quorums of priesthood, through the various bishoprics.  At a special priesthood meeting held in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Wednesday, April 7, 1909, it was decided that the bishops of the various wards should recommend brethren for missionary labor from the quorums of seventy, just as they have heretofore done from all other quorums of priesthood.  Presidents, and members, of the quorums of seventy, will therefore understand that requisitions for missionary calls from their ranks will hereafter come from the bishops.  The word of the Lord is:

The seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world. * * * * It is the duty of the traveling High Council to call upon the seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the gospel, instead of any others.

The bishops are urged to keep in mind the doctrine here set forth, and in filling the requirements made upon them for missionaries to choose, if possible, from the ranks of the seventy to fill the requisitions wherever it is consistent from their numbers, instead of any others, as the Lord has said.  When bishops come to scan the quorums of seventy for missionaries, if they find there are not sufficient men of missionary calibre to meet the demand, let this lack of proper material be an incentive to them to use their influence towards having the quorums of seventy filled with the right class of men; that the quorums may become what the Lord intended them to be; that is, the missionary force of the Church.  Bishops, the First Council again urge you to recommend from the seventies as many men as possible for missionary work abroad.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 13(1):91-92, Nov., 1909)

10 Dec.(?):  Boys should have missions before MP is given.

“Bishop [Charles W.] Nibley proposed that boys prove themselves on missions before being given the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.”  (Hartley, BYU 13(2):150, Winter, 1973; quoting GPC Minutes, 10 Dec., 1909–difficult to tell from Hartley’s footnote.)

18 Dec.:  Progress report on weekly quorum meetings. 

“The responsibilities resting upon the priesthood in caring for the flock is of the greatest importance and requires faithfulness and perseverance.  These duties and responsibilities are increasing, due to the progress being made, and the peculiar conditions surrounding us.  At the beginning of the year the various quorums of priesthood were each provided with a course of study enbodying the doctrines of the Church and items of Church discipline and government.  Monday night each week was set apart for the members of the quorums to gather in their several wards to receive instruction and inform their minds, that they might qualify themselves for their duties in the Church.  The plan adopted has resulted in great good, and through this cause the priesthood meetings and the regular gatherings of the people have been better attended.  We feel gratified with the results growing out of the activity engendered in these meetings.”  (First Presidency Christmas Message, 18 Dec., 1909. In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:208)