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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1911

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1911.” You can view other years here.

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1911:  Jan.:  Should covenants be required prior to baptism?

“An elder in one of the stakes writes that he differs in some thing with some of his brethren concerning the proper preparation of candidates for baptism.  He thinks there is negligence on the part of officers in that they fail to give proper instructions, and demand required promises from candidates for baptism.  They are sometimes baptized without being questioned, and without having promises exacted from them to serve the Lord.

We hear much about the necessity and mode of baptism (Matt. 3:13-15; Doc. and Cov. 20:73, 74) and about the fallacy of infant baptism, but seldom anything relating to the faith, desire, worthiness and willingness that should characterize the candidates for baptism, nor of the requirements to serve the Lord that should be made before the holy ordinance is administered unto them.  He wishes these points discussed.

The scriptures are very plain on these subjects.  No person can be properly baptized unless he has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has repented of his sins, with a repentance that need not be repented of.  But faith comes by hearing the word of God.  This implies that the candidate must be taught.  Efficient teaching and preparation must precede the ordinance, so that the candidate may have a proper appreciation and conception of its purposes.  The call to baptism, in the mission of our Savior, was always preceded by instructions in the doctrines which he taught.  His injunctions to his disciples always tended in this direction: ‘Go preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15).  ‘He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved’ (16).  ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them’ (Matt. 28:19), were his words to his disciples.

The forerunner of the Savior was also careful to baptize only those who were prepared, and therefore properly taught; for when the people, who were without faith and determination to live righteously came to John the Baptist to be baptized of him, he called them a generation of vipers, and asked who had warned them to flee from the wrath to come.  Then he taught them to live righteous lives, and exclaimed, ‘Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance’ (Luke 3:7,8).

So in the Apostolic age, Peter taught the people the gospel, showing them that Jesus, whom they had crucifieed, God had made both Lord and Christ, and when they had become interested unto faith and repentance, he declared unto them baptism as a means of escaping from their sins.

This exercise of faith and the working of repentance, as a preparation for baptism, is specifically made plain in modern revelation as a requirement of the candidate, and, of course, these doctrines cannot be understood unless they are properly taught (Doc. and Cov. 20:37, 71; 68:25-28).

Missionaries should exercise care before administering this ordinance.  A case came up recently, illustrating the need of proper teaching, in which a person had been baptized possessing no knowledge at all of the Church into which he thereby had gained membership.  When he later learned that it was the Church founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that authority to baptize had come through him, he demanded a release from his obligation.  He had not been taught right.

These scripture citations, aside from one’s own common sense and reason, are sufficient proof that people must be taught before they are fit candidates for baptism.  Now, what shall they be taught?  Why, faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; faith in the efficacy of prayer, and in the ordinances and principles of the gospel and all its powers, to the Prophet Joseph Smith; faith in the Church which he was instrumental in establishing; faith in the priesthood, as authorized servants of the living God; faith in the revelations received in modern times; faith in the performance of the works required of a Latter-day Saint; faith in the principle of tithing, and in all other requirements, temporal and spiritual, mentioned in the law of God; and, finally, faith to live lives of righteousness before the Lord.

Before performing a baptism, it should be known to those who officiate, and, in fact, to the Church, that the candidate for baptism is willing to conform to all these things.  Further, that he is willing to take upon himself the name of Jesus Christ; to speak the truth in soberness; that he has determined to serve God to the end, and that he is willing to manifest by his works that he has received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of his sins.  And, again, it should be known that the candidate is firm in the testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that the Church founded by him is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ; that he understands and believes the law of tithing, and is willing to abide by the covenants he is about to make before the Lord, in the waters of baptism, and to walk uprightly before him (Doc. and Cov. 20:37; Moroni 6:1-3).

It is true that some of the elders become negligent in requiring a promise and a covenant to this effect from all whom they lead into the waters of baptism.  They sometimes baptize without questions or instructions, taking it for granted that candidates have been thoroughly taught, and that they mentally covenant with God in all these things, without words.  It would be well for presidents of stakes and bishops, presidents of missions and mission conferences, and elders in mission fields everywhere, to look into this matter, and require a more strict observance of the word of the Lord on this subject on the part of those who are chosen to officiate at baptisms.

The better plan is to follow the instructions of the Lord strictly in this regard, and perform the ordinance according to the words which are written (Doc. and Cov. 18:21-25, 30; 20:37, 72, 73).  It is necessary to question the candidate as to his belief and feelings, and to have him signify by words, and the uplifted hand, that he has truly repented of his sins, and is willing to keep the commandments, and take upon himself the name of Christ and all the obligations that are implied in this holy covenant between him and his God.  This applies also to children who have arrived at the years of accountability.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Editor’s Table,” IE 14(3):266-269, Jan., 1911)

6 Apr.:  MP holders not enrolled in quorums.

“On December 31st, 1910, it was reported that there were 444 high priests, 632 seventies, 2,200 elders who are not enrolled in any organized quorums of the priesthood.”  (Joseph F. Smith, 6 Apr., 1911; CR Apr., 1911, p. 4)

7 Apr.:  “To the Priesthood Quorums Generally.”

“The following important report, made by a sub-committee to the General Priesthood Outlines Committee of the Church, was read at the General Priesthood meeting of the Church held at the annual conference, April 7, and unanimously adopted.  It thus becomes the working guide of all the Priesthood quorums of the entire Church:

Brethren:–Your committee, appointed to make suggestions regarding missionary work and methods of making the outlines more effective, beg to report:

Recognizing the great advantage to the Church that has come through the establishment, by the authorities, of the weekly priesthood meetings, we deplore the custom that exists in some stakes, of adjourning them for a long period during the summer.  If the labors of the brethren in the agricultural communities do not permit of a meeting on a week night during their busy season, we feel that some time on Sunday should be arranged for taking up the lessons, so that every week of the year a meeting may be held for study and preparation for the duties of the priesthood.  Any break in the classes causes a loss of interest and seriously detracts from the success of the outline work.  The summer time is particularly the season of pleasure-seeking; and the boys and young men are naturally subjected to greater temptations.  At no time is it so necessary for them to have fresh in their memories the sacred calling and authority given them of the Lord.

There is a tendency also to interrupt class work by calling other meetings or transacting business on the night that is set apart for priesthood meeting.  All such matters should be attended to some other night.

As the studies are now taken up, each quorum or division of a quorum must have an instructor to conduct the lessons.  This instructor may be one of the officers of the quorums, or some one else appointed to that work.  It is very difficult to secure men who do justice to this calling, and many a young man, who could be held by well-presented lessons, loses interest and stays away because of haphazard methods and lack of preparation.  Too much emphasis, your committee believes, cannot be placed on the necessity of having every instructor of the lesser or higher priesthood go before his brethren prepared to feed them the words of life.  To secure this result, preparatory instructions of those who are called to teach in the quorums is imperative.  [Precursor to teacher training?]  The stakes that are obtaining the best results in the priesthood work, have adopted some method of securing this preparation, the method differing in different places.  Some stake presidents have very successfully used their stake priesthood meetings for such preparation, following a plan similar to that of the stake Sunday School Union.  Others have held a meeting of the instructors at a different time, and still others are spending part of their stake priesthood meeting in considering general stake matters and the other part in pre-viewing the month’s work among the instructors of the various quorums.  Such a method as the last, if no better is employed, it has appeared to us, could and should be adopted in all the stakes.  Greater brevity in the opening exercises would make this easier.  In some places an extraordinary amount of time is consumed in roll call, minutes and other preliminaries.  If for such purposes fifteen minutes were placed as the limit, valuable time might be saved for work in the instruction of class teachers.  Such a method, too, would give the stake presidency and clerk an opportunity of meeting the bishops and ward clerks and taking up the problems that are of particular interest to them alone.  It happens not infrequently that several hundred men and boys have to sit and hear some technical instructions given that are of little if any interest to them.

As to direct missionary work with quorum members, your committee recognizes that the Lord placed officers in each quorum and that it is their special duty to look after the welfare of the members.  We believe that these officers should be primarily responsible for having every slothful or absent quorum member visited, not occasionally only, but repeatedly, until there is awakened a desire to fulfil the obligation accepted when such member received ordination.  We fear that too much delicacy is felt by quorum officers that deters them from doing earnest work with derelict members.  What seems to be needed in the quorums at home is more of the true missionary spirit that actuates those who enter zealously into the work of preaching the gospel abroad–a spirit that makes them fearless in the advocacy of right, and that fills them with the love of souls.  Every officer should be a quorum missionary in all that the word has come to mean in this Church–a seeker after those who are not in the right path, a pastor to his flock.  The absence of quorum members from meetings should be quickly noticed and inquired into, and the cause of such absence learned.  If it is found to be sickness, a call from quorum officers will be welcomed.  If lack of interest is the reason, how could a better influence be brought to bear than by a call from the brethren who preside in the quorum of the careless one?  If the absence is found to be legitimate, the call or inquiry will still have a good effect on the member, who will be made to feel, in any event, that he is thought worthy of being looked after.

We therefore recommend that in all quorums where such work is not now being done, there be established a systematic visiting of members who are not regularly in attendance at the Monday night meetings; that reports of such visits be made to the quorums, so that all members shall be advised of the reasons assigned for absence, and that in this missionary work the quorum officers lead out, calling to their assistance such help as is needed, but not shirking the responsibility placed upon them by their calling.

Not only should visits be made to members of quorums, but also to those who should be members.  The following startling figures show the number of persons holding the priesthood who are not enrolled in any regularly organized quorum.  The report is more or less incomplete.  A number of stakes having made no report whatever, and only about half the stakes have given a report of the Melchizedek priesthood:  High priests, 444; seventies, 632; elders, 3,200; priests, 926; teachers, 1,387; deacons, 3,679; total, 10,268.

The division of the High Council into committees to oversee the work of the different quorums is a necessity, if the best results are obtained.  These men, who are frequently not trained teachers, need not necessarily be burdened with the work of teaching the class instructors.  Others may be found who can do this work more skillfully, but general supervision by a committee of High Councilors and their direct responsibility for the progress of that order of the priesthood cannot fail to spur on the slothful and encourage the earnest.

The cultivation of a spirit of fraternity has been neglected in most quorums, and yet it is a strong, beneficial influence.  The Lord knew the tendency of boys to group themselves into little bands of about a dozen–a rusty dozen it might be–and he fixed that humber for the membership of the deacons’ quorum.  As the boys grow into youth they appreciate the association of a larger number.  These natural groupings are doubtless meant to bring into close association and companionship the members of the quorums.  The spirit of the priesthood, and the fact of this division into compact bodies, would indicate that the members of the quorum should be more to one another than if they were not united by this tie.  As an illustration of the good results of feeling this responsibility for the welfare of one another, let us cite the case of the quorum of elders in a nearby stake.  One of their number is on a mission.  His mission president sent word that unless means were furnished him he would have to go home.  The quorum took the matter up, and within a few minutes from the time the news was given to them, provision had been made for a month’s allowance for their absent brother, and later arrangements were made by which he should be kept in the field, through their help, until his mission was completed.

The committee is seriously considering, but is not yet ready to report a plan to offer the priesthood of the Church such life insurance as will take away all inducement for our young men to join fraternal societies for the sake of securing the protection these societies offer.

This year should be more than ever a year of application.  It has been the purpose of the committees, in preparing the outlines, to make the work practical.  Every lesson, if it is successful, must arouse determination to do the works of the priesthood and the gospel.  During this year, when no new outlines have been given, it is hoped the instructors and presiding officers will make practical lessons for the members.  We feel that while it is important for them to have the priesthood come to their classes prepared to recite on the lessons assigned, it is far more important for them to send the priesthood away from their classes prepared for the duties of the week.

Besides the strictly official duties, the presiding officers of the quorum should provide for the members’ work which is in harmony with their calling.  During the summer, particularly, under the excellent juvenile laws of the cities and the state, somebody should be working to keep the children from being on the streets at night, and from other evils.  The juvenile courts are calling for earnest men to help save the boys and girls.  That work is properly the duty of the priesthood.  At the present time, there is a splendid opportunity and duty to carry out the resolution adopted at the general conference of the Church some time ago, pledging our efforts towards closing the saloons.  On the 27th of June, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet and Patriarch, the citizens of every city and town of Utah must vote as to whether they wish the saloon to continue its soul-destroying business.  It seems to the committee that a rare opportunity is here given for the priesthood of the Lord to combat one of the most powerful means that Satan has ever been able to employ against the souls of the children of men.

David O. McKay, Chairman.

David A. Smith, Secretary.

Approved by the General Priesthood Assembly, April 7th, 1911.”

(“To the Priesthood Quorums Generally,” 7 Apr., 1911 [pamphlet]; xerox; also in IE 14(7):650-653, May, 1911)

Jun.:  A suggestion for priesthood conventions.

“The following encouraging letter and excellent suggestion relating to Priesthood work of the Church was addressed to Elder David O. McKay, Chairman of the Priesthood Committee, and comes from the President of the Juab stake of Zion, under date of Nephi, April 17, 1911:

Dear Brother McKay:–I felt to glory and praise the Lord when the report of your Committee was read in the priesthood meeting of the Church, and I sincerely hope that there will be a mighty revival in the quorums of the priesthood, and that ere long they will occupy the place the Lord has designed for them.

While much work has been done, and great good accomplished, during the past two years, the thought presented itself to me that the movement would be given much zest if the committee could visit the various stakes and hold conventions similar to those held with the auxiliary organizations.

I have this to suggest: that once a year, (during summer and fall) at the time quarterly conferences are held in the stakes, conventions be held on Friday evening with the stake authorities and bishops, and the officers and class leaders of the quorums, so that various topics may be discussed with members of the quorum of apostles and your committee.  Then a general meeting of the priesthood on Saturday morning could be held, so that all the brethren might be informed of the importance of this movement, and thus a closer harmony and brotherhood may be made to prevail.

Don’t you think a labor similar to this would accomplish as much as a large corps of missionaries?  I am sure that the stake, ward and quorum officers would all appreciate it, and go to the work with much better heart.  The prospects for good in this movement is worth a strong effort, and I feel that the priesthood generally would be very much benefited if the supervision of the general committee could be taken more directly into the classes.  The priesthood quorums afford the very best means for the very highest spiritual education, which is the very thing most needed for the advancement of the Church, at least as far as my personal observation goes.

If the suggestion strikes you favorably, I would like to hear from you, and have it acted upon in the Juab stake before next winter.  We could arrange the Friday night meeting all right; and if we may have Saturday morning too, we would make an effort to get the majority of the brethren out.  Then, I think the spirit of it should be imparted to the general meetings of the Saints at the conference, and thus give this worthy movement such a strong boost that it would put the priesthood work away ahead.

Wishing you success, sincerely your brother in the cause of truth,

James W. Paxman.

The matter will receive careful consideration by the Committee.”  (“Priesthood  Quorum’s Table,” IE 14(8):749-750, Jun., 1911)

15 Jun.:  OK to adjourn priesthood meetings during summer.

“At our Council I opened by prayer.  The question of adjourning Priesthood meetings during the summer was left to the Bishops with the counsel of the President of Stake.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 15 Jun., 1911)

6 Oct.:  Report of the Priesthood Committee.

“IMPORTANT REPORT OF THE PRIESTHOOD COMMITTEE–In a report dated Salt Lake City, Oct. 6, 1911, and which was read at the priesthood meeting at the general semi-annual conference, the needs and importance of the quorums are set forth:

To the officers, teachers, and members of the Quorums of Priesthood in the Church.  DEAR BRETHREN:–In a revelation on Priesthood, given through Joseph the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, 1835, the following admonition is found:

Wherefore now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.  He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved, shall not be counted worthy to stand.

The two principal elements of these summarizing paragraphs are, first: The learning of one’s duty; second: The faithful performance of duty.

These two purposes should ever be kept in mind by priesthood quorums.  Indeed, men who hold the authority of the priesthood are united in quorums to the end that individuals may learn why the priesthood was given them, what it comprehends, and how the power they hold may be best exercised in establishing truth and righteousness among men.

The priesthood meetings, Monday nights, are only a means to this end.  They are supposed to be favorable opportunities for receiving increased knowledge of the gospel; of learning one’s duty, and of receiving special appointments for labor during the week.

Now, upon whom does the responsibility of giving this instruction depend?  Plainly, upon the presiding authority of each quorum; for the Lord has specifically stated that the duty of officers is to sit in council with the members of their quorum, and to teach them according to the covenants.  In many cases, the presidents of quorums, and stake or ward authorities, have appointed special instructors; indeed, this is a necessity where quorums are divided into several classes, as many of them are.  Thus the direct responsibility of teaching devolves upon (1st) the officers of the quorum, and (2nd) upon class instructors.  Upon the efficiency of these brethren as leaders and teachers depends the success of quorum work.  If these men be careless in their habits, neglectful of their prayers, indolent in their study of the gospel, unheedful of the need of the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit, their success in their classes and quorums is impossible.

PREPARATION OF INSTRUCTORS.  It is, therefore, urged as the present greatest need in the Priesthood movement that the best judgment be exercised in the appointing of class instructors, and that some provision be made in each stake whereby these teachers may themselves be taught.  In several of the leading stakes, such provision is made at the regular monthly priesthood meeting.  Here every officer and class instructor, and as many members as can possibly attend, are expected to be present.  After general opening exercises and instructions from the stake authorities, the officers of each quorum then devoted an hour or so to special consideration of its outlines, lessons and duties.  In this way the leaders in the various quorums receive renewed encouragement and additional inspiration in their work, and by subsequent study and necessary application, they meet their classes full of the true spirit of the lesson; and members of the class are led to drink, not at a stagnant pool, but at a clear, sparkling fountain of truth.

MEMBERS AS TEACHERS.  This thorough preparation of officers and instructors, by study and also by faith, is emphasized as the first necessary condition leading to the awakening of interst and a desire to study on the part of quorum members.  Certain it is that not only officers and instructors are to learn their duty and to act in all diligence in the performance of it, but every man in the quorum as well; and to this end all stake and ward authorities are urged, first, to teach the instructors how to teach; and second, having led quorum members to learn what their duty is, to make intelligent assignments that each member may exercise his priesthood effectively among the saints whom he may be called to teach.  Thus, every man who holds the Priesthood becomes a teacher as the Lord intends he should be.

WARD TEACHERS.  In this connection, the duty of the ward teacher should be considered one of the most important callings in the Church.  He who labors in this capacity is never free from the responsibility of teacher.  His duty is not wholly performed when he visits the homes in his district once a month; but, as the Lord says, in Doc. and Cov. section 20, he is to watch over the Church always, to be with and strengthen them.  In this constant care and supervision the ward teacher encourages each individual member of the Church to perform his duties faithfully, whether that duty be preparation of lessons, payment of tithing, observing the Word of Wisdom, keeping holy the Sabbath day, living at peace with his neighbors, or attendance at sacrament meetings.  In illustration of this point, the following incident may be cited:

In a ward fast meeting held not long ago, a brother in giving his testimony quoted impressively from the Book of Mormon; following him a ward teacher arose and prefaced his remarks by expressing his gratification at seeing so many of the members of his district present, and then added, ‘I wish to call your attention again to the quotation given from the Book of Mormon by Brother —–; I suggest that you read the entire chapter, and we will talk about it when I visit this month.’

Here was a teacher who made the Saints feel that he was interested in their welfare, whose actions proved to them that he was watching over them always, that he was ever ready to be with and to strengthen them.  If every ward teacher would attend sacrament meetings, note those present from his district, as well as those who are absent, and at the first opportunity commend the former, and extend a kind invitation to the latter, the attendance at our sacrament meetings would be materially increased.  In this connection, it is urged that bishops hold, regularly, the ward monthly priesthood meetings, at which teachers may report their labors and receive instructions from the presiding authority in the ward.  There is not time for this work at a regular Monday night Priesthood meeting, unless class work be dispensed with.  It is necessary, therefore, to set this monthly meeting at another time, most convenient for all interested.

SUMMER WORK.  Recent inquiry of stake presidencies made known the fact that reports from 36 stakes showed that 40% of the wards had continued Priesthood meetings through the summer, some on Monday night, and others at an hour on Sunday that did not interfere with Sunday school, Sacrament meeting or other established meetings.  Some of these wards, we know, have had difficulty in doing satisfactory work, but others have been exceptionally successful.  On the whole, success in Priesthood work is much more promising than discouraging.  The present urgent needs are first, a keener realization of the importance of quorum influence; second, officers filled with the spirit of their calling; third, intelligent, inspirational class instructors; fourth, active membership, fostering the true spirit of the brotherhood of Christ, and fifth, active supervision by the Stake Presidencies, High Councils and Bishoprics.

. . . .

Respectfully your brethren,

The Priesthood Committee,

By David O. McKay, Chairman,

David A. Smith, Secretary.”

(“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(1):92-94, Nov., 1911)

6-8 Oct.:  Responsibilities of the Ward Teacher.

“I believe that one of the weaknesses in our Church work today is the neglect of ward teachers to regularly visit the homes of our people.  It is true that we are all teachers, but there are certain men selected in every ward whose special duty it is to visit the homes of members of the Church.  It is the teacher’s duty to call at every home, no matter what position the head of the house occupies, whether it be the President of the Church, a member of the quorum of the Twelve, the president of a stake, bishop of a ward, or the humblest member in the ward.  As soon as the teacher enters the door of a home, if it is the home of a Latter-day Saint, the family should be called together for instruction.  The teacher then presides, and it is his duty to expound the principles of the gospel, to inquire as to the faith of each member of the family; whether they are attending to their prayers, whether there is anything in their home life contrary to the teachings of the Church and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.  From the reports we receive, there are homes that are not visited once a year.  This is not as God intended.  I plead with the bishopric of every ward where such a condition exists, to rectify it as quickly as possible.  Instruct your teachers to visit every home at least once a month, and oftener if necessary.  I believe that if this is done there will be a reformation in the lives of many.”  (Reed Smoot, 6 Oct., 1911; CR Oct., 1911, p. 27)

The reference of the brethren to the question of teaching among the Latter-day Saints has given me a desire to speak a few words upon the same subject.  It has come prominently before the attention of the General Authorities of the Church that there is a great lack of teaching among the stakes of Zion, and in the wards of the Church, a very great neglect of duty on the part of those who are called to be teachers among the people, and, as a consequence, the Saints in their families are not being visited and instructed as the Lord designed that they should be.

In the organization of the Church, the Lord has provided officers in the Holy Priesthood, and has defined their duties.  We have been informed that it is the teacher’s duty to be a watchman over the Church, to strengthen them, and to see that there is no iniquity in the Church, neither backbiting nor evil speaking, and to see that the people attend to their family duties and their Church duties.  Brethren, we who are called to be teachers, many of us at lest, have not as fully as we should have done, performed the labor allotted unto us.

Now, there is a certain preparation that should be had on the part of a teacher prior to his entering into the homes of the Saints to instruct them in their family and religious duties.  In the first place, he should be duly ordained to the holy Priesthood, and called and set apart to labor among the people.  Now, authority is not all that is necessary in order to be a successful teacher.  He must have knowledge also, for except he have knowledge concerning the things of God, how can he impart instruction unto the Latter-day Saints?  Therefore, the brother holding the Priesthood and designated as a teacher among the people, should have a knowledge of the truth.  He should be well informed upon the principles of the gospel.  He should be familiar with the doctrines of life and salvation.  He should be a student of the Scriptures.  He should understand the word of the Lord, and be familiar with His commandments.  And when he has this knowledge, then he should have a desire in his heart to impart of this knowledge unto the people, and to see that the people are instructed in the gospel, and are obedient thereto.  Before a teacher attempts to go into the homes of the people on any special visit, he shouild make his going a matter of paryer before the Lord.  As has been suggested by President Lyman, he should go before the Lord and ask His blessings upon his labors, that he might enjoy the inspiration of the Spirit, that by the Spirit he may be directed in whatsoever things he should say and do.

When he has made this preparation, and is qualified through knowledge and testimony, then when he enters into the homes of the Saints he can make inquiry of them concerning their condition and their conduct and their standing as members of the Church.  The authority of the Priesthood gives him the right to ask questions of the family as to their diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, as to their faithfulness in performing the duties that the gospel enjoins upon them.  The teacher has the right to inquire into everything pertaining to the welfare and standing of the people who call themselves Latter-day Saints.  He may ask them if they live in peace together, if there is love and affection existing between husband and wife, if there is proper affection and love in the father and the mother for the children, and whether or not the children respect and honor their fathers and their mothers, as the Lord has commanded.  He may inquire if the children live together in love and peace as brothers and sisters ought to live, and if the family engage in prayer night and morning; and if the parents teach their children to pray vocally, and believe in and remember their secret prayers, as commanded in the revelations of the Lord.  He may inquire of the Saints if they backbite or speak evil of their neighbors, or of one another, or if there is quarreling or contention, or dissension and lack of brotherly love and kindness exhibited in the family, on the part of any member towards any other member, or on the part of members of the family towards their neighbors and friends.  He may inquire if the Saints sustain and uphold the Priesthood of God, and those whom the Lord has called to preside as general authorities in the Church, or as the local authorities in stake or ward or branch; whether or not they accept the restoration of the gospel and believe in it and believe in the Prophets who have been inspired and raised up to perform the work the Lord has allotted them in the latter days; and whether or not they accept the organization of the Church.  The teacher may inquire of the family if they attend their sacrament meetings on the Sabbath day, and partake of the sacrament and if they do so worthily; and if they honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  These servants of the Lord may also inquire if there are members in the family who take the name of the Lord in vain; if they are honest and if they are truthful, and if they are pure.  All these things the teacher has the right to inquire about, and it is his duty to inquire about them.

As a part of the preparation of a teacher it would be well, it seems to me, to find out the condition and the standing of the members of the Church in the district, as shown by the ward records, and besides this, as I have shown, he has the right to inquire of the family and the members thereof in all things pertaining to their standing and fellowship and conduct as members of the Church.  The teacher should be prepared, and able to expound the word of the Lord, and to preach the gospel, and to correct whatsoever ought to be corrected that he discovers in the family, or in any member thereof.  He should also teach the first principles of the gospel.  He should inquire of the parents if they have taught their children the gospel of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance of sin, and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost; and if they have taught them to pray, and walk uprightly before the Lord.  And then, according as his findings may be, he can preach or give counsel or instruction.  He should be prepared to answer questions that might be asked of him by members of the family, thereby enlightening their minds or removing therefrom doubts that may be lurking there concerning the doctrines of the Church or the principles of salvation.  He should be able to make clear to the understanding of all the members of the household everything pertaining to this glorious latter-day work.

Now let the teachers go forth and do their duty, and accomplish the strengthening of the Church, and the increasing of faith among the people and stir up the Saints to greater diligence in the performing of the duties and obligations of their membership in the Church.

Now, my brethren and sisters, I would like to say a word pertaining to the duties of the Saints.  You fathers and mothers, you parents of children who have homes in Zion, and you children, what is your duty with relation to the coming of the teachers into your households?  It is the duty of the father or the head of the house to welcome most earnestly the servants of the Lord, to call his wife and his children together, and to bring order and peace in the house, and to introduce to his children or family the teachers as the servants of the Lord, who have come in the name of the Lord, and with the authority of the Priesthood, to teach the family and to inquire into their welfare and their conduct.  Then the family shall submit to the instructions that the teacher shall be led to impat unto them, and there shall be no spirit of resentment or objection on the part of members of the family to the questions or inquiries that may be made of them by the servants of the Lord.

I have been informed by some teachers that there are some members of the Church who object to the teachers inquiring into their personal lives, and conduct, and questioning them about their faith in the gospel and their obedience in keeping the commandments of God considering them impertinent and unnecessary.  Well now, you Latter-day Saints, if there are any who take such a position as that, you are in error, you are mistaken, and you don’t understand the rights of the Priesthood as you should, nor the object of the coming of the teachers to your homes, as you should, neither have you the proper spirit in your own heart, if you resent the good will of the teachers when they ask these questions in order to find out your condition, that they may help you and bless you, and be a strength and a power to you in helping you to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh.  You cannot show disrespect to the Priesthood without bringing upon yourselves the displeasure of the Lord.  Most of us men in the Church hold the Priesthood ourselves, and if a teacher comes into my house and he holds a lesser office in the Priesthood than I, and for that reason or any other I resent his making inquiry into my personal life and conduct, and standing in the Church, I disrespect the Priesthood.  If I disrespect the Priesthood as it is held by another, I dishonor the Priesthood as I may hold it myself, and I should not do that.  We should respect the Priesthood and honor it, no matter who holds it, and especially should we honor and respect a man who endeavors to magnify his calling in the midst of the Saints.

Now, I would like to say that much for both teacher and those who shall be taught, that we shall teach our children and set them the example, when the teachers come into our houses, of respect for them as the servants of the Lord; show them that if they respect the teacher who holds the Priesthood, they likewise respect their father who also holds the Priesthood, and that in dishonoring any servant of God who holds that Priesthood, he dishonors his own father, and himself, and whosoever dishonors the Priesthood of God, shows dishonor to God Himself.  Therefore, welcome the teachers to your homes, listen to them, answer their questions.  We all may rest assured that whenever we object to any question that a teacher may ask, as he is moved upon and inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, we condemn ourselves.  Where is the man who pays an honest tithing who will object to the teacher asking him if he pays his tithing?  Why, instead he will feel a little sorry if the teacher does not ask him that question, so that he may answer, yes, honestly, before the Lord I pay my tithes and my offerings.  We will only object to those things wherein we fail to do our duty.  If we object it will be when we are at fault.  If we do not pay our tithing and offerings we do not want to be asked if we do pay them.  If we are not pure in heart we would not like to be asked if we are.  If we take the name of God in vain, why some of us would not like to have the bishop, or his representative, the teacher, inquire of us if we keep the Lord’s name holy; and if we desecrate the Sabbath day we may feel a little offended if we are asked about it, but we should not be.  If we have the proper spirit, the proper understanding of the rights of the Priesthood, and of the organization, and authority of the Church, then even if we have offended in some things, we will have the spirit of humility and confess our sins, acknowledge our shortcomings, and have in our hearts the desire and show a willingness to be assisted by the teachers in overcoming these things; that through the instructions and the counsel and the good feelings of these servants of the Lord, we ourselves may be helped in overcoming these weaknesses of the flesh.

Now, I pray the Lord to bless us all, that we may put into effect the organization of the Church, to the end, that every home shall be visited by those holding the Priesthood, and that every man visiting shall be endowed with knowledge and inspiration and ability to teach, and that every family will have the spirit of reception, to receive and rejoice in whatsoever instructions may be imparted, and to receive likewise with humility whatsoever reproof may be found necessary to be given by those who are our instructors.  Thus may the Church be indeed blessed and benefitted, and the people strengthened, and iniquity be done away, and sin be repented of, and righteousness and good feeling and love for God and man, and a determination to serve Him and keep His commandments, be manifest on the part of every member in the Church of God, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.”  (Hyrum M. Smith, 7 Oct., 1911; CR Oct., 1911, pp. 39-43)

“There is just a fe words that I desire to say in relation to the subject on which some of the brethren have dwelt this morning, which I have no doubt they perfectly understand, but which, so far as I have heard, they omitted to say, and that is this: that the teachers who visit our homes do not come to visit us as Elders, or Seventies, or High Priests, or Apostles or Presidents.  The teachers have jurisdiction over the membership of the Church, or the members of the Church, and when they come to visit us in our homes they, in their calling as teachers, visit us as members of the Church, and not as officers or members of the Priesthood.  Consequently it is the duty of all members of the Church, no matter who they are or what Priesthood they hold, nor what office they hold in the Church,–it is their duty to disrobe themselves, if you please, of all authority except the right of membership, or to be members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for it is the duty and prerogative of the teacher to inquire into the standing of members of the Church.  Now, if we will only bear that in mind we will have no difficulty at all with reference to our ‘high and mighty’ positions in the Church.

When the teachers visit us we will remember that we are simply members of the Church, and it is the duty of the teachers to visit the members and to teach the members and to instruct the members of the Church, and to see that the members of the Church have no hard feelings, one against another; that the members of the Church are united in their family capacities, and that they are in fellowship with the people of God, with their neighbors and with all mankind, and especially that they are in fellowship with God.  That is the duty of the teacher, and when we keep that in mind everything respecting the duties and authority of the teachers will be plain and clear to us.  I want to say this too, that if somebody should happen to mount upon the ‘high horse’ of his authority in the Church, it will be very becoming in the teacher to gently take him off his ‘high horse’ and bring him down to the level of his membership, and let him understand that he (the teacher) is there to teach him as a member of the Church, and not as an officer of it.  The teacher has a right to inquire into the performance of the duties of all members and learn whether they are doing their duty as members in all things, or not.”  (Joseph F. Smith, 7 Oct., 1911; CR Oct., 1911, pp. 46-47)

“I pray God to bless the teachers, the men that are called by the bishops and sent out among the Latter-day Saints to teach them the principles of right living, principles of unity, of harmony, of righteousness and of equality and justice, the principle of love and kindness between husband and wife, between parents and children, between neighbors, and in every way to teach the people righteousness, faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father and the Son, and bears witness of them to the children of men; faith in the Prophet Joseph Smith and in the divinity of his mission, faith in the intent and purpose and power of God to carry out His purposes and designs among the children of men, and faith in the destiny of His people, that we may not wanter away nor be misled into error and doubt by those who are cunning and crafty, and who lay in wait to deceive and mislead the people of God, from their righteous ways.”  (Joseph F. Smith, 8 Oct., 1911; CR Oct., 1911, p. 131)

2 Nov.:  Change in nomenclature of auxiliary leaders.

“Elder Richards noted in 1911 that the Council of the Twelve decided to permit the presiding officers of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations to be designated as presidents.  These leaders had made the request.”  (Mouritsen Diss., p. 146; also George F. Richards diary, 2 Nov., 1911)

Nov.:  A word to Ward Teachers.

“There are just a few words that I desire to say in relation to the subject on which some of the brethren have dwelt this morning, which I have no doubt they perfectly understand, but which, so far as I have heard, they omitted to say, and that is this: that the teachers who visit our homes do not come to visit us as Elders or High Priests or Apostles or Presidents.  The teachers have jurisdiction over the membership of the Church, or the members of the Church, and when they come to visit us in our homes they, in their calling as teachers, visit us as members of the church, and not as officers or members of the Priesthood; consequently it is the duty of all members of the Church, no matter who they are, or what priesthood they hold, nor what office they hold in the Church,–it is their duty to disrobe themselves, if you please, of all authority except the right of membership, or to be members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for it is the duty and prerogative of the teacher to inquire into the standing of members of the Church.  Now, if we will only bear that in mind we will have no difficulty at all with reference to our ‘high and mighty’ position in the Church.  When the teachers visit us we will remember that we are simply members of the Church, and to see that the members of the Church have no hard feelings, one against another; that the members of the Church are united in their family capacities, and that they are in fellowship with the people of God, with their neighbors and with all mankind, and especially that they are in fellowship with God.  That is the duty of the teacher; and when we keep that in mind, everything respecting the duties and authority of the teachers will be plain and clear to us.  I want to say this, too, that if somebody should happen to mount upon the ‘high horse’ of his authority, in the Church, it will be very becoming in the teacher to gently take him off his ‘high horse,’ and bring him down to the level of his membership, and let him understand that he (the teacher) is there to teach him as a member of the Church, and not as an officer of it.  The teacher has a right to inquire into the performance of the duties of all members, and learn whether they are doing their duty as members in all things, or not.”  (Joseph F. Smith, October, 1911 General Conference, in IE 15(1):78-79, Nov., 1911)