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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1912

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1912.” You can view other years here.

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1912:  30 Jan.:  Cowdery reminiscence of priesthood restoration.


My father, Jacob Gates, while on his way to England, in 1849, stopped at the town of Richmond, where lived at that time Oliver Cowdery.  Hearing that Oliver was in poor health, and wishing to renew old acquaintance, as they had been friends in earlier days, father called on him at his home.  Their conversation, during the visit drifted to early Church history, and to their mutual experiences during the troublous times in Missouri and Illinois.  Finally father put this question to him: ‘Oliver,’ said he, ‘I want you to tell me the whole truth about your testimony concerning the Book of Mormon–the testimony sent forth to the world over your signature and found in the front of that book.  Was your testimony based on a dream, was it the imagination of your mind, was it an illusion, a myth–tell me truthfully?’

To question him thus seemed to touch Oliver very deeply.  He answered not a word, but arose from his easy chair, went to the book case, took down a Book of Mormon of the first edition, turned to the testimony of the Three Witnesses, and read in the most solemn manner the words to which he had subscribed his name, nearly twenty years before.  Facing my father, he said: ‘Jacob, I want you to remember what I say to you.  I am a dying man, and what would it profit me to tell you a lie?  I know,’ said he, ‘that this Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God.  My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true.  It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind–it was real.’

Then father asked him about the angel under whose hands he received the priesthood, to which he made answer thus: ‘Jacob, I felt the hand of the angel on my head as plainly as I could feel yours, and could hear his voice as I now hear yours.’

Then father asked this question: ‘If all that you tell me is true, why did you leave the Church?’  Oliver made only this explanation; said he: ‘When I left the Church, I felt wicked, I felt like shedding blood, but I have got all over that now.’

State of Utah, County of Salt Lake, ss.  Jacob F. Gates, of Salt Lake City, Utah, being first duly sworn, deposes and says, that he is a citizen of the United States, of the age of fifty-seven years, and that he is the son of Jacob Gates, who, prior to his death, related to affiant a conversation which he had with Oliver Cowdery, at the town of Richmond, State of Missouri, and that the above and foregoing is a true and correct statement of said conversation as given to him by his father.

Jacob F. Gates.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 30th day of January, 1912. 

Arthur Winters, Notary Public.”  (“Editor’s Table,” IE 15(5):464-465, Mar., 1912)

Jan.:  “Important instruction by the First Council.”

Communication to the Quorums of Seventy


“Differences of views seem to exist in some cases between our Seventies quorums and the local authorities of wards and stakes in relation to the extent and kind of local work our Seventies may be required to do, and what their obligations are with reference to local appointments in ward or stake work, and in auxiliary associations.  The differences of opinion existing concerning these matters, and the desire of the First Council to have a perfect understanding among the quorums with reference to them, prompt the writing of this communication.


In discussing this subject, we call attention to the fact that the Seventies differ from other officers in the Priesthood–except the Twelve Apostles–in that they are called to preach the gospel ‘and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world.  Thus differing from other officers in the Church in the duties of their calling’ (Doc. & Cov. 107:25).  Also:  ‘The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve . . . in building up the Church and regulating all the affirs of the same in all nations . . . 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 . . . the gospel instead of any others. . . . And these seventy are to be traveling ministers, unto the Gentile first and also unto the Jews; whereas other officers of the Church who belong not unto the Twelve, neither to the Seventy, are not under the responsibility to travel among all nations, but are to travel as their circumstances shall allow, notwithstanding they may hold as high and responsible offices in the Church’ (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 107).  This sets forth the specific calling of the Seventy, and in what the office of the Seventy differs from other offices in the Church.  Accepting the foregoing as marking out the specific calling of the Seventy, it wil go without saying that the purpose for which the Seventies’ quorums exist, primarily, is to prepare their members to meet those responsibilities, by instructing them in the doctrines of the gospel and training them to express the truth learned, in a manner and spirit that will make it clear and convincing to those to whom they are sent as messengers of life and salvation.


But while the foregoing represents undoubtedly the special calling of the Seventy, and the purpose for which Seventies’ quorums exist, we cannot ignore the fact that the greater part of the Seventies’ time, under our present circumstances, is spent at home., within some one or other of the organized stakes of Zion.  Indeed, the very general rule is that only from two to three years out of a possible teh, twenty, and, in rare cases, thirty years of an elder’s connection with the Seventies’ quorums is spent abroad on missions; as for the most part men do not go upon more than one mission, the proportion being not more than from one to five in a hundred that ever fill second missions.  Moreover, under existing circumstances, very many of our Seventies never go on missions at all, as Seventies; for while it is true that very many in our Seventies’ quorums have been upon missions, they did their missionary work while they were yet elders, and then were brought into the Seventies’ quorums, to go no more out as missionaries, as a rule.  At present it is a conservative estimate to say that less than eighteen per cent of the mission work of the Church is done by Seventies, nothwithstanding all that is said in the revelations about the Seventies being called to this work ‘instead of any others.’  According to the report of our General Secretary, for 1910, we have, in the 162 quorums organized, a membership of 8,894; but of this number only 340 were upon missions!  These facts prove conclusively that the great bulk of the Seventies’ work, under our present circumstances, will be done at home.  Indeed, it is now being done there; for while we have such a paltry number of Seventies engaged in the missions abroad, as compared with the whole number of Seventies enrolled in our quorums, yet according to the report here quoted, we have engaged as teachers in the bishop’s wards, 3,136 Seventies; in the Sunday schools, 1,667; in the Y. M. M. I. Associations, 1,236;; in the religion class work, 299; in the home missions, in the stakes of Zion, 676.  This represents a very large volume of work being done in the stakes and wards of Zion by the Seventies.  If this volume of work was being done by the Seventies abroad, those interested in Seventies’ work would doubtless be very proud of it, and justly so.  But why not be proud of it any way, at least enough so to rejoice in the fact that our Seventies find so much to do while at home in Zion?  

If Seventies may not, from force of circunstances which environ them, ‘travel continuously’ in the world as propaganda, as ideal conditions for Seventies would seem to suggest, why not accept cheerfully and willingly the service for the Church which so abundantly presents itself to them while at home, and which in reality is being done by them?

It should be remembered that the Priesthood and calling of a Seventy is primarily for use, for service; specifically and especially, to constitute the foreign ministry of the Church; yet he is fully competent to engage in nearly all the labors and activities of the Church in the organized stakes and wards of Zion, certainly competent to act in all the labors he is now called upon to perform.


It is at this point, however, that the differences of view, respecting the obligations of Seventies, to well recognized duties to their quorum, and this local work, arise.  The local work has to be done under the appointment and direction of the local authorities; the quorum work, under the quorum authorities, and the First Council of the Seventies; and in case of conflict between quorum duties and local duties, the question is asked, which shall have pre-eminence?  The difficulty need have no existence at all, in the nature of things with which we have to deal.  Accepting the quorum as an educational institution, where men are taught and trained for service merely, when the opportunity for service comes, whether it be at home or abroad, shall it be insisted upon that the Seventy, so called, shall remain in the training class, or shall he accept service?  The question admits of but one answer–let him accept service.  And if his acceptance of service takes him from his quorum meetings and appointments, his quorum can well afford to excuse him, and account for him as upon mission service; and while perhaps his quorum associates regret his absence and the withdrawal of the strength his presence in quorum work would give, yet they can rejoice at the service he is rendering to the Church and make it part of the record to the quorum’s achievements, which should be as acceptable to his fellow Seventies as the record of his faithful attendance upon quorum meetings, or service in the mission field abroad.  The Seventies exist primarily for service in the Church, rather than in the quorums.  The quorums are subordinate to the Church.  Her needs, therefore, must be considered first, father than the needs of the quorums.


It will be said, of course, under such a regime as these primciples would approve, that the attendance upon quorum classes and quorum meetings would be depleted; and in some cases that might be true, but not to a very great extent.  But if it were true to a large extent, what then?  If the depletion occurred because of so many being called into the foreign ministry of the Church, as are called into local work, how tolerant of the depletion the rest of the quorum would be–nay, proud of it!  Why not be equally tolerant of it, and proud of it, when the service is at home?  It is the Church that requires the service in both caes.  And, remember, the Seventies exist primarily for service in the Church, not for attendance upon quorum meetings, merely.


It will be asked, howefver, how all this is to be reconciled with the principle emphasized hitherto, that a Seventy’s first allegiance is to his quorum.  Well, if there are elements of the case that have been overlooked, there ought to be no hesitancy in accepting modifications of conclusions which those overlooked elements suggest.  But surely one gives his first allegiance to his quorum, when he heartily and faithfully responds to the purposes for which his quorum exists; namely, for service to the Church, whether that service is home service or foreign.  To do less than this would not be loyalty to his organization, or allegiance to his quorum, first or otherwise.

It is not for the individual Seventy to determine whether service required of him is more important or not than his attendance upon quorum meetings for the preparation for service; but surely, it stands to reason that the service itself is the sequence, the culmination of the preparation, and if those properly directing the required service are satisfied with the work of preparation made, that the efficiency of the Seventy whose service is required is adequate, we see not on what grounds the service can be withheld.


To this point the matter has been presented strongly in favor of the local service being rendered, irrespective of the interests of the quorums; but what has been said may be modified in certain particulars.  Surely the quorums of Seventy are worthy of some consideration.  If they are subordinate to the Church, which is freely and overwhelmingly admitted, they still are agencies of education for the instruction of a very large and important body of the Priesthood of the Church; and the desire to perpetuate them, and aid them as an efficient means of education of both the foreign ministry and the home ministry, ought to be universal.  They ought to be as much the object of solicitude on the part of local authorities, Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics, as any other quorums, because upon their efficiency as a teaching and training institution depends in large degree the efficiency of the men sent out from these quorums into the service of the Church, both at home and abroad.  Wisdom, therefore, would suggest the policy of maintaining these quorums at the very highest point of their efficiency, and the granting to them every means possible to enable them to effectually perform their work, in preparing men for service in the Church, both at home and abroad; and this by guiding into those quorums the very choicest young men to be found, and plenty of them, as also by affording the quorums every possible facility in time and place of meeting; also interfering with their class and quorum work, by calling upon their presidents and members for other service at the time the quorums meet, to as small an extent as will be consistent with the full and perfect service of the Church, in the department where their assistance might be thought to be needed.


Much of the friction between Seventies’ quorums and local ward and Church authorities might be removed, if proper courtesy was observed at the time our Seventies are called upon to accept service in other departments than their quorums.  That courtesy would suggest that the council of the respective quorums should be consulted with the view of obtaining their consent and approval of the appointment, and thus be given an opportunity to present reasons why the appointment should not be made, if any exist, or the chance of suggesting what might be a better arrangement than the one proposed, if that were possible.  Courtesy in the case, however, is a matter that Seventies may not control in others, beyond making it understood that they know what courtesy is due in the premises; but if not accorded, they will be under the necessity of bearing  t with such Christian patience as they may summon to their aid.  Meantime, however, they can instruct their own members that when they are called upon for service which interferes with their quorum appointments, they can ask the privilege of presenting it to the council of their quorum, that they may, in the first place, show proper respect to those who immediately preside over them in the Priesthood; and, in the second place, go with their approval and good will.

Moreover, in the case of the special appointments of the quorums’ annual meetings in November, and in the regular monthly meetings of the quorums, arrangements could doubtless be made by which all the members engaged in other service could be excused, in order to attend them.


But to return to the general principles here sought to be set forth:  Let it be held in mind that Seventies exist primarily for service in the Church, especially for service in the missions outside the stakes of Zion; but, in the last analysis of the whole matter, for service wherever the Church needs and calls for that service; and it is in the amount and quality of the service that the respective quorums are able to give the Church that their success consists, even as quorums, rather than in large percentages of attendance in quorum and class meetings.  The matter of percentage of such attendance can well be subordinated to an account of the amount and kind of work being done by the Seventies in the respective quorums, a full and careful record of which should be kept and reported annually, both to the respective quorums and to the First Council.  And let pride, so far as pride may be a proper element in the matter at all, center in the amount and quality of the service rendered by the respective quorums to the Church, whether at home or abroad.”  (First Council of Seventies, IE 15:273-279, Jan., 1912)

“We endorse the foregoing letter of instructions to the Seventies, issued by the First Council; and we request the local authorities in the respective stakes and wards of the Church to so arrange their requirements of the Seventies for home service work, as mentioned in the letter, that their duties to their quorums will not be unnecessarily impaired.”  (First Presidency, IE 15:279, Jan., 1912) 

Jan.:  Missionary correspondence course.

“A missionary correspondence course of study will begin, under the auspices of the Church schools, January, 1912.  This course has been established especially for missionaries, and will be conducted in connection with the office of the general superintendent of Latter-day Saint schools, Salt Lake City.  After consulting with the mission presidents, First Council of Seventies, and the General Church Board of Education, a course of study has been prepared by the office, which will include instructions in the principles of the gospel, the scriptures, Church history and English; besides hints about travel, etiquette, statistics, and answers to questions often asked about our people, and much other information that every missionary needs.  This course will enable young men who work, to study during evenings and at odd times, to prepare themselves for this great calling.  A course of this kind has long been needed.  Undoubtedly many young people will take advantage of it.  Elder Edwin S. Sheets, an experienced teacher and missionary. will conduct the study, and it is desired that at least one person from each ward shall take the course.  A fee of $10 is charged, and must be paid in advance.  The course will last one year.”  (“Editor’s Table,” IE 15(3):279-280, Jan., 1912)

Jan.:  Who should preside in absence of the bishopric?

“The following question is frequently asked, with others of similar import:

If the bishopric were absent from a ward meeting, and the bishop failed to appoint anyone to preside, and several high priests and elders were present, whose right would it be to preside at the meeting?

The right of presidency rests with the bishop.  If he should neglect to ask or appoint anyone to preside in his absence, the body of the Priesthood present at a meeting would necessarily be the authority which would have the right to call or appoint a temporary presiding officer, in the absence of the regularly constituted authority.  No man, without the consent of the Priesthood present, would have the right to assume to preside, unless he was called to do so by the Priesthood present, who generally choose the senior high priest.  It would not be necessary, however, to submit the choice of a presiding officer, in a case of that kind, to the Saints for their decision or even approval, except in case of question or division.  It is eminently appropriate and in order for the Priesthood present to select the senior high priest, by ordination, to preside.  In fact, by practice, it has become a custom, all conditions being favorable, to call upon the senior high priest present to officiate on occasions like those in question.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(3):282, Jan., 1912)

Feb.:  Local missionary work.

“The fact that we need missionary work performed in the stakes and wards of the Church, as well as in the nations of the earth, is dawning upon the authorities of the Church in a number of stakes.  Early in September the presidency of the Granite stake called sixty-one seventies, and on October 26, ordained them to labor in the various wards of the stake, among the people who were not members of the Church, as they would with people in the mission fields.  Other stakes, notably Cassia, Duchesne, and Cache, have moved in the same direction.  Good results have come from this in many ways.

On the 31st of December last, the presidency of the Utah stake of Zion addressed the following communication to the First Presidency of the Church, relating to similar work:

Dear Brethren:  It has occurred to the presidency of this stake that it would be a good thing to appoint some special missionaries to operate in the Utah stake of Zion, exclusively among the population not belonging to our Church.  In Provo, there are about two outsiders to every five Latter-day Saints; and outside Provo there is about one outsider to every five Latter-day Saints; and the prospects are that within the very near future we shall have even a larger population of non-“Mormons” within our stake.

Already we have emphasized this feature with our ward teachers; but we fear they will not be as successful in placing the gospel before the outside population as would special missionaries called for this purpose.

It seems to us that here is an excellent opportunity for the seventies to do a good work.  Very few seventies are now in the mission field.  Last year there were only five representatives from the five quorums of seventy in the stake.  Our foreign mission work is carried on almost exclusively by the elders and high priests.  We believe that we could select brethren from the seventies quorums who are capable, and who are willing to work exclusively, say for six months, putting in all their time; at any rate, we could find brethren who would put in part of their time, and no doubt would accomplish much.

We have a great many people in our stake who have recently come among us from the various states of the Union, and who are wholly unacquainted with the principles of the gospel, and doubtless they are as good people as the elders find when they go abroad; and should missionaries not succeed in converting many to the gospel, it would at least do one thing, and that is, it would create a friendly feeling among the “Mormons” and non-“Mormons,” which, of course, is desirable.

We sidh to know if a move in this direction would be approved by you.  We do not intend to slack our efforts in this direction with our teachers, but we thought that more good might be done if some brethren were specially called for this purpose.

Very truly, your brethren,

Joseph B. Keeler,

J. William Knight,

Amos N. Merrill.

The Presidency of the Church, as in the case of the Granite stake authorities and others, approve of the suggestion to have men act as missionaries to labor among the non-members of the Church within the boundaries of Utah stake, and doubtless the subject will be taken up in other stakes of Zion.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(4):377-378, Feb., 1912)

2 Mar.:  Formal course of preparation for missionaries.

“There are now more than 2000 missionaries in the field, most of whom are young men.  Many of this number, according to the reports of the Presidents of Missions, have not had the advantages of a thorough public school training.  In this respect they do not represent our people fairly, nor do they accomplish as much good as they would if they were better informed.  In some instances it requires the first year of their mission to prepare them for their calling.  This is a great loss to themselves, their parents and the cause they represent.

To remedy this condition, classes for missionaries have been maintained in all of our larger Church Schools for many years, and while they have done much good, they do not satisfy all the needs of the missionaries.  To quit work and go to a Church School for one or two years, and follow that with a mission of two or three years, is a greater sacrifice than many feel that they can make.  For all such as need the work and cannot take a regular course in a Church School, a Correspondence Course has been provided.  This Course includes thorough instruction in the principles of the gospel, the leading facts in our Church History, a practical course in English, and some statistical and other information that every missionary should possess.  All the work in this course can be done by the students at home, without interfering with their earning capacity, utilizing evenings that otherwise might be wasted, and thereby establishing good habits to displace poorer ones.

The services of Bishop Edwin S. Sheets have been secured to conduct the course.  He is a practical teacher and an experienced missionary.  The text books used during the first part of the course are:  ‘A Young Folks’ History of the Church,’ by Nephi Anderson; ‘The Gospel,’ by B. H. Roberts; ‘Mormon Doctrine,’ by Charles W. Penrose; and a good text on English, the cost of said books is $2.50.  The books used in the second part of the course are:  ‘The Articles of Faith,’ by James E. Talmage; ‘Ecclesiastical History,’ by B. H. Roberts; together with a brief outline of statistics and other general information pertaining to the Church and also to our State.  The cost of the books for the second part of the course is $2.25.  Those who already have the above books will have no other expense than the $10.00 tuition fee, which is payable in advance.

Students may enroll at any time.  The length of time required to complete the course will depend largely upon the ability of the student and the time that he can devote to the work.  The course not only prepares brethren and sisters for the mission-field, but also for a life of usefulness at home in the quorums and the auxiliary organizations.

I request that you send at least the name of one person from your Ward who will enroll at once in the Course.”  (Joseph F. Smith to all Bishoprics, 2 Mar., 1912.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:267-268)

2 Apr.:  Priests & teachers too young for Ward Teaching.

“Also, it was admitted by Church officials that ordained priests and teachers were too young to be the backbone of ward teaching, so in their places ‘acting teachers’ were called from among the elders, seventies, and high priests.”  (Hartley, BYU 13(2):151, Winter, 1973; quoting GPC Minutes, 2 Apr., 1912–difficult to tell from the footnote if this is the correct reference.)

6 Apr.:  Did Joseph see entire Church organiz. in vision?

“Not only by the gift of prophecy, but by the power of seership, Joseph Smith was able to forecast the future.  It was by that miraculous power that he saw the Father and the Son.  It was by that wonderful power that he and Oliver Cowdery saw Jehovah, Moses and Elijah in the Kirtland temple; and by which also Joseph and Sidney gazed upon the glories of the celestial, terrestrial and telestial worlds.  By that marvelous power the Prophet, in all probability, beheld the great organization of the Church of God in heaven; for while organizing the councils and quorums of the Priesthood, he said:

And it is according to the vision, showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the Seventy.  (D&C 107:93)

Now, if he saw the Seventies in vision, why not the Apostles?  Why not the First Presidency?  Why not the stakes and wards, with their presiding officers, and even the auxiliary organizations?  Who can say that he did not see them?  Who can say that these quorums of the Priesthood, these auxiliary societies and associations, the Church of God in its entirety as it exists upon the earth, is not a reflex of the Church of God in heaven, so far as it is adapted to our present conditions, so far as it has been found necessary to organize it here; the eventual outcome to be a perfect Church, corresponding in every particular to the Church of the First Born; and this that the will of God may be done upon earth even as it is done in heaven?”  (Orson F. Whitney, 6 Apr., 1912; CR Apr., 1912, p. 51)

9 Apr.:  The Priesthood in the Sunday School.

“As the mother is the proper custodian and teacher of the infant and from the infant on up to the child that would rank with the Kindergarten class, so it is proper for the sisters to teach this class in the Sunday School, and be associated with it.  But I can scarcely conceive that it would be good propriety to exclude all the influence and guiding power of the priesthood from any other department of the Sunday School, and especially from those classes where our boys are a little wayward sometimes, and hard to get along with and properly control, and especially very difficult for the sisters to control.  All these classes should be directly under the general supervision and direction of those holding the priesthood.  One reason why this should be so is this: that our children should begin to learn from the beginning that there is Divine authority in the Church, and they should be taught to respect that authority, and if they are in a class in school where they suppose there is no authority or priesthood, they are liable to take greater liberties and become more unruly by far than they would if they were taught properly that under the guiding influences of the priesthood they should be decorous and well behaved.  I think that our Bishops and Sunday School superintendents, from the superintendency of the ward upward, should see to it that every Sunday School should be supplied with capable teachers who carry with them the authority and the rights of the holy priesthood.  I think that our brethren should not exclude themselves for any reason from this meritorious work.  One of the greatest, one of the most important organizations in the Church is the Sunday School.  It has to deal with that element amongst us that needs to be started out right; for if children are not brought under proper influences at home and in the Sunday School, and have not the privilege of being started out just right, they may get started off wrong, and when they do get started off wrong, it may be a very difficult thing to turn them around and get them to go right.  No man, it seems to me, could be better qualified for this labor than one holding the priesthood, in connection with other needful qualifications.  A man holding the priesthood ought to be fully as well qualified, if not a little better, than one not holding the priesthood, in the management of children.  There ought to be a sacredness connected with divine authority, exercised in love and kindness, but in firmness and with dignity, and with all other appropriate means to impress the children with the sanctity of an authority that has been restored from the heavens to the earth, from God to man, in the dispensation of the fulness of times.  The authority and right of presidency and of guiding, directing, counseling and advising belongs to the priesthood, and it should be exercised in our Sunday Schools for the benefit of the rising generation.

Now all I need to say more perhaps is this: I think that our Sunday School superintendents, those who have this work in hand, the Bishops who have much to do with assisting in this great Sabbath day work, and those holding the holy priesthood–the Seventies, the Elders the Priests and the Teachers, or anyone holding the priesthood, who can be utilized for this great work, their efforts should be freely given, that all the good that can be brought out of the Sabbath School work for our little folks, for our children all the way up from  the kindergarten to the theological class, should be brought out in the work done in the Sunday School.

I think that wherever the services of the Seventies are needed in this Sabbath School work, they ought to be freely given; they ought not to be withheld.  This organization or order of the priesthood is expressly called and it is their express duty to be teachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only at home but abroad.  Now I don’t think that the Seventies or the High Priests or Elders can find any sort of employment that will give them better experience, that will call out better service from them, or that will better qualify them to become teachers of men than to become good teachers of children and the youth.  Here is the opportunity then for them to develop their adaptability for teaching in the Sunday Schools, that they may be the better qualified to teach in a broader sphere when they may be called to go out to teach in the world.  I advise that the authorities of the Church, both of wards and stakes, and the authorities of the various councils of the priesthood co-operate as much as they possibly can by lending their services for the benefit of the Sabbath Schools throughout all Zion, that there may be nothing lacking, that there may be efficiency, that there may be proper authority exercised in the schools to bring up our children in the way they should go, that when they get old they will not depart from it.  Every little boy attending the Sabbath School ought to be taught from the beginning the importance of the restoration of the holy priesthood to the children of men.  They ought to be taught that every man called to an official position in the Church is endowed with a certain calling pertaining to this holy priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, or after the order of Aaron.  I had occasion to speak to a little boy not long ago, not quite twelve years of age, with reference to being ordained.  He had notice from his Bishop that he would be acceptable to be ordained a deacon in the ward, and the Bishop indicated his willingness for him to come to this father to be ordained, and he did.  I tllk the matter up with the boy.  I wanted to know what he knew about the duties of a deacon.  I wanted to learn what he knew about the authority of that office in the lesser priesthood.  I wanted to find out what he knew about when the priesthood was restored to earth and unto whom it was restored, and what the meaning of it was, that is, the lesser priesthood.  Well, notwithstanding he had been a faithful member of the Sunday School, he did not seem to be posted in relation to these matters.  He could not tell who brought the Aaronic priesthood to earth in this dispensation, nor upon whom that priesthood had been conferred.  He had not been posted as to the importance and effect of the restoration of that priesthood or what it meant to the children of men.  I proceeded to convey to his young mind the importance of the office of a deacon in the lesser priesthood.  I used this comparison to him, that there is not a king or a potentate sitting upon a throne and exercising power in any of the nations of the earth (except he has been called of God as was Aaron and endowed with the holy priesthood by ordination by one having authority) who possesses the authority which a Deacon did, or that was as sacred as that propsed to be given to him when he was ordained a deacon.  All these little things that seem to be small ought to be instilled into the minds of our little boys from the time they begin to go to school, or as soon as they are able to go to school, and those ordained to the priesthood ought to take up these things and see to it that the youth of Zion, the children of the people of God, shall be taught in these principles of the gospel and of the holy priesthood, with all their bearings, meaning, influence and power for good among men?  So that I think we should not deprive our Sunday Schools of men who are clothed with the holy priesthood, and should be there actively engaged as teachers of our children.  They should take up these questions and teach them to the children, in order that they may be brought to a proper conception of what they are, what they mean, how sacred they should be held, and that they should not be regarded lightly, but with great reverence.  The priesthood is sacred.  It is God’s power restored to man on earth.  It is God’s authority delegated to man, and our children should be taught it from the very cradle up.”  (Joseph F. Smith, address at DSSU Conference, 9 Apr., 1912; in JI 47(6):311-313, 1 Jun., 1912)

Apr.:  Labors of special missionaries.

“At a recent conference of the Granite stake, Elder T. J. Yates, of the High Council, gave a report of the work of the special missionaries who were called last October to labor in that stake of Zion among the people who are not of our faith, and also those who have membership in the Church but who are neglecting their duties.  Seventies were called to do this work, a committee from the High Council, under the Stake Presidency, being called to organize them and to preside over and have general supervision of the work.  The stake was divided into five conferences, each conference made up of four wards–five presidents of Seventies were chosen to preside over the five conferences, and the Seventies of each conference were assigned to their fields of labor by their respective presidents.  Each pair of Seventies made a weekly written report to their president of the work done.  The missionaries were called for six months to spend at least three nights (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) of each week in the field.  They were greatly assisted by the bishops and ward teachers, who furnished them with lists of names to be visited, arranged for cottage meetings, notified the people to attend these meetings, and in some cases helped to conduct the meetings.  The missionaries visit the people in their homes, discuss the gospel, and distribute tracts and books.  They made special efforts to loan the books, thus opening the way for re-visits.  They also held cottage meetings wherever possible, and public meetings in all the wards.  These meetings were previously announced, and in every case were well attended.  Altogether the results of the labors of these special missionaries have been very gratifying.  Many of our friends who have lived among the people for years know little or nothing of the gospel as taught by the Saints, and these received the missionaries very kindly.  Quite a number have been baptized into the Church, and many others have applied for baptism.  Some were found who had been baptized in their youth, and others who had once been ordained teachers or deacons, but had drifted away from the Church.  These were labored with, and the results are good.  A number of men and women who were married outside of the Church have welcomed missionaries to their homes, and have found joy in having the gospel taught to their husbands and wives.  the missionaries keep a record of all the families they visit, how they are received, what they teach, etc., and from this information will make a report, at the end of their term of six months for which they were called, to the bishop of the ward, so that the work may be followed up by the teachers and special visits during the summer, and not wasted.  Work will in a measure be thus continued for the summer months so that the people who have been interested may be looked after and kept under the influence of the gospel.  Some of the missionaries were at first reluctant to take up the work, but they are not enthusiastic and thoroughly love it, and feel well paid for the effort which it has cost them.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(6):563-564, Apr., 1912)

Apr.:  Report of General Priesthood Committee.

“RESPONSIBILITY OF ORDINATIONS TO THE PRIESTHOOD.  If deference is merited by the honor conferred upon men by man, what can we not say that honor merits which is conferred upon men by the Lord?  Such an honor is the priesthood.  ‘It is nothing more nor less than the power of God delegated to man, by which man can act on the earth for the salvation of the human family in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and act legitimately’–(Pres. Joseph F. Smith).  Now, there is a noticeable lack on the part of bishoprics and other presiding authorities in the Church in impressing upon those who are considered worthy to receive it, the sacredness of an ordination to the priesthood.  Young boys, for example, are given the Aaronic priesthood without a realization of the responsibility that goes with it.  Every deacon should be instructed that an ordination to the priesthood carries with it a requirement of better habits and actions, particularly in regard to language, smoking cigarettes, non-attendance at meeting and so on.  At the organizing of a deacons’ quorum in one of our new wards recently, several boys and young men accepted the invitation to come forward after the dismissal of the meeting.  They varied in ages from 12 to 23.  Seven of these had been ordained deacons in other wards.  When it was discovered that three were users of tobacco, the eldest was asked how long he had been a smoker.  He replied:

‘About ten years.’

‘Did you use tobacco when you were ordained a deacon?’

‘Yes, sir,’ was his reply.

‘Did your bishop know you used it?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Did he not question you about it?’

‘No, sir.’

‘Didn’t he say anything about your abstaining from the use of tobacco and strong drink?’

‘No sir; I do not remember of his saying anything.  Our names were read in the meeting and we were told to go to deacons’ meeting and be ordained.’

Thus it was learned that through carelessness or neglect that bishop had lost an excellent opportunity to impress upon this young man the dignity and requirements of the holy Aaronic priesthood.

REGARDING THE HISTORY OF PRIESTHOOD.  Instructions should be given in regard not only to personal habits, but to the history of this priesthood among men.  Explanation should be made that it is called Aaronic priesthood because it was conferred upon Aaron and his seed forever (Doc. and Cov. 107:13); also how the Lord chose the tribe of Levi, from the children of Israel, to be given to Aaron, and to his sons, to minister in the outward ordinances of the Lord’s house (Num. 3:5).  No one should be ordained before he is told about the restoration of the Priesthood to Joseph Smith by John the Baptist.  The account of this heavenly messenger’s visit to the youthful prophet and Oliver Cowdery, on the 15th of May, 1829, will not only interest the boys but impress upon them the great truth that ‘No man taketh this honor to himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron.’

DUTIES AND POWERS.  Then should follow instructions in regard to the duties and powers of this lesser priesthood, showing that ‘It holds the keys of the ministering of angels,’ and gives power ‘to administer in the outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel–the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.’

THE ORDINATION.  The ordination itself should be made impressive also, as is clearly indicated in the account given in the Book of Mormon as follows:

After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, and said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a Priest (or, if he be a teacher, ‘I ordain you to be a teacher’), to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end.  Amen.’  And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost which was in them. (Moroni 3:2-4.)

Much of the indifference on the part of the young men who now hold the office of deacon, teacher or priest, can be traced back to the neglect on the part of (1st) parents and (2nd) of presiding brethren in properly instructing them in regard to the duty of divine service required of them.

It is suggested, therefore, that before young men are given the priesthood they be instructed (1) in regard to their personal habits and actions.

(2) In regard to the history of the Aaronic priesthood.

(3) In regard to the restoration of the priesthood in this dispensation.

(4) In regard to the duties and powers that follow the true exercise of this divine commission.

In short, that men who hold the Priesthood should be the very choicest men on earth, and that they consecrate their lives to works of righteousness.  So will the children of men be led to honor the representatives of God on earth as they are now pleased to respect the representatives of the established governments among men.

TEACHERS’ AND PRIESTS’ QUORUMS.  One of the most difficult problems the priesthood committee has before it is how to obtain successful quorums of teachers and priests.  The counsel has been given the bishops of the Church, to ordain boys deacons, unless there are good reasons for disregarding the rule, at about the age of twelve, teachers at about fifteen, priests at about eighteen, and elders at about twenty-one.

Between the ages of 14 and 20 the boy is changing into a man.  He does not understand himself and he is rarely understood by others.  That the problem is the same difficult one confronting the Young Men’s Association and the Sunday School is the best of reasons why the Priesthood should find a solution.

The deacons of the Church are generally in fair condition, though there are, astonishing as it may seem, fourteen bishops who have not a single deacon in their wards.  Usually, however, it is not hard to start and maintain a deacons’ quorum of some kind.  That order is extremely hard to keep, and that the teaching is throughout the Church very difficult and very poor, is acknowledged.  However this may be, the fact remains that, generally speaking, boys at about the age of twelve are ordained deacons.

But when the time comes for the boys to be promoted, for many reasons the logical order of things is changed.  One trouble is with the boys themselves.  Sometimes their indifference makes the bishops reluctant to advance them.  Left without ordination they soon outgrow their fellow deacons and naturally will not associate with them.  It is sometimes the fault of the ward authorities.  It is still the custom in some places to leave the deacons until they are called on missions, or desire to get married, or for some other reason need to be ordained elders, and then bestow on them the Melchizedek priesthood.  Such inexcusable neglect, however, we are glad to say, is disappearing rapidly.  There are practically as many youths between the ages of fifteen and eighteen as between twelve and fifteen.  The fact that there are only 9,300 teachers as compared with 20,255 deacons is an alarming situation.

We believe that the main cause is deeper and more widespread than the neglect of the bishops or the real indifference of the boys.  It is in our system itself.  The local authorities generally fail to grasp the dignity and importance of the calling of the teacher and priest, and the boys cannot help but feel, as far as quorum work is concerned, that the organization has broken down and that they are being held on a kind of waiting list until they are old enough to be ordained elders.

The Lord has urged the necessity of these offices; yet, in sixty-seven wards there is not a single ordained teacher; and in seventy-one there is not a priest.  In slightly over one-third of the wards only, is there over half a quorum of teachers, and in only fifty wards is there one-half of a priests’ quorum or more.  For some reasons that certainly are not sufficient, we have failed in most cases to live up to the Lord’s plan.

To the youth from fifteen to twenty years of age organization appeals more strongly than at any other period of his life.  In this age his heroes are generally military men.  And yet at this age our priesthood organization is weakest.  What we need is such concentrated attention on this matter that every boy will feel that his ordination to a teacher brings him into as much stronger and more active a quorum as twenty-four is greater than twelve and the office of teacher larger than that of deacon.

Every bishop, no doubt, feels a general interest in the welfare of the Church, but he feels a particular interest and responsibility in the welfare of his ward.  In much the same way he feels a general interest in the priesthood of his ward, but he should feel a particular interest in those holding the office of priest, for he is the president of this quorum, and is responsible for it.  His relation to it is identical to that of the president of the deacons’ quorum to his body of twelve deacons.  In practice we have generally forgotten that the bishop has a quorum.  Where there are priests’ classes he often gives them only general attention.

The Lord’s plan seems a very beautiful one.  Under it the little boys, innocent and enthusiastic, enter the holy order of the priesthood in groups of twelve, a unit allowing close companionship, as is natural with the boy.  As puberty begins to come, and he feels the mysterious awakening within, a larger field of activitiy opens before him.  He is now becoming a man, a man’s work is put upon him and he is allowed to labor in the companionship of men.  During this time he feels himself under the watchful eyes of the bishop and his counselors.  They should be jealously guarding him through this work, preparatory to his becoming a priest.  If he falls away and loses interest now, they will have lost him, possibly forever, for this is a critical time indeed.  But if they can keep him active and interested and thus prepare him to enter their own quorum, the ship of his soul will haved passed safely through its first great storm, possibly the very greatest of its voyage.

As the youth is ordained to the office of priest, he should feel himself in a different atmosphere.  How greatly his powers have been enlarged!  aHe has now the authority to baptize for the remission of sins, to bless the emblems of the body of Jesus, and for the first time he is given that wonderful creative power, the privilege of transmitting to others the authority of the Lord which he holds.  His presiding officer is not now one of his own number merely; it is the bishop of the ward himself.  Where in the world could be found choicer leader of young men than the bishops of the Church?  They should draw from their band of forty-eight priests the loyalty of a guard of honor.  They should make this to the young men of the ward the most instructive period of their lives, a period of close companionship and warm sympathy that will last as long as they live.  What quorum presidents in all the body of the Church are so well fitted to establish the gospel in the hearts of young men at an age when skepticism begins to attack them as are the bishops?  For the sake of such leadership it would be better rather to hold the young men back than to hurry them on to ordination in the Melchizedek priesthood.

RESPONSIBILITY OF QUORUM PRESIDENTS.  What is said in regard to the responsibility of the bishop as president of the priests’ quorum is equally applicable to other presidencies.

There are today in the Church 62 quorums of high priests, 164 quorums of seventy, 302 quorums of elders, (there should be) 49 quorums of priests, 274 quorums of teachers, and 1,142 quorums of deacons, comprising a membership of over 80,000.

Over each of these quorums men are specially chosen and set apart to preside, whose duty it is to sit in council with them and to teach them their duties according to the covenants.  If in an army of 200,000 and over, every man’s duty can be assigned and his daily actions known, as was the case in Napoleon’s army, Grant’s and others; surely in the war against evil and unrighteousness every man in this army of priesthood divinely organized, may also be taught his daily responsibility to himself and his fellowmen.  Officers are too prone to leave this instruction to stake presidents and bishoprics, when in reality the Lord explicitly states that it is the duty of the respective quorum presidencies to instruct their members.  Such officers are among those set in the Church ‘for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness–whereby they lie in wait to deceive.’

In this ‘work of the ministry,’ then, let quorum officers be more active.  If there be a man in your organization who, for instance, is violating the word of wisdom, teach him according to the covenants.

If there be one ‘tossed to and fro,’ by the so-called ‘Higher Criticism,’ or by a mistaken conception of the theory of evolution, teach him the gospel to the convincing of his vascilating mind that to be a true follower of Jesus Christ is to be in harmony with all truth.

Teach tithing to the non-tithepayers, respect of the authorities to the fault-finder; industry to the idler; temperance to the intemperate, etc.  But let the quorums do much of this as quorums and not leave all such teachings to the bishops and stake authorities.

In this way the high priests, seventies, and elders will be qulaified for the service required of them, as directors of the young in Mutual Improvement work, in the Sunday School and Religion Class, and particularly as class instructors in Priesthood meetings.

CLASS INSTRUCTORS.  In this connection, it is urged that any member of a class or quorum should be readilyi excused from attendance at his particular class recitation whenever the bishop requires his services as a teacher in another department; for that quorum has attained the highest record whose members are all serving either as missionaries, presiding officers or instructors.  If this idea be kept in mind, bishops will have less difficulty in securing efficient help.  Quorum books should indicate just what service each member is rendering the Church.  As a means of qualifying to be a successful class instructor, ‘How to Teach Religion,’ will be found helpful.

FELLOWSHIP.  If, then, all members of a quorum be employed as teachers in other quorums, how, it may be asked, can we foster the spirit of brotherhood?  We answer, by daily ministry among the members.  The fraternal spirit and true brotherly love develop and flourish best in an atmosphere of kind deeds, such as:

(1) Quorum members teaching one another as suggested above.

(2) Rendering each other help and comfort in time of misfortune or sickness.

(3) Expressions of sympathy and love from the quorum when a member is in bereavement.

(4) Sending letters and means to missionaries.

(5) Administering to the needs and comfort of missionaries’ families.

In these and many other ways try to make each of your members say:

‘I think, am sure, a brother’s love exceeds all the world’s loves in its unworldliness.’

True brotherhood in quorums demands commin interests, mutual service, and lofty purposes.  Indeed the bond of priesthood alone should be sufficient, for

‘Great souls be instinct to each other turn,

Demand alliance, and in friendship burn.’

SUMMARY.  In conclusion, then, brethren, let the interests of the priesthood be fostered by teaching the importance and sacredness of an ordination to the priesthood, and by so doing make higher the character of membership, and lessen the spirit of indifference now manifest.

Let special attention be given to the organization, duties, and privileges of teachers’ and priests’ quorums, so that during the year every ward in the Church may be profited by the services of this army of young men now left, in too many instances, undisciplined, untrained.

May the 3,000 presiding officers in quorums be more diligent in the work of the ministry among their own members, and by a hundred deeds of kindness, thought out and acted upon each week, foster the spirit of true fellowship–the brotherhood of Christ.


David O. McKay,

David A. Smith,

Joseph J. Cannon, Committee.

In behalf of the General Priesthood Committee.”  (Report in General Conference Priesthood Meeting, April, 1912; in “Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(7):655-660, May, 1912)

2 Jul.:  Formal covenant at baptism proposed/defeated.

“Bro. Richards, Long [?], Proposed formal covenant before baptism.  No.”  (Meeting of Quorum of 12, Anthony W. Ivins diary, 2 Jul., 1912)

29 Sep.:  Bishop to begin meeting with Priests.

“For a long time in our weekly Priesthood meetings I have met with the High Priests, but the Presiding Bishop insists that I meet with the Priests of the Lesser Priesthood, so I will begin to do so Oct. 6, 1912.  [Savage was Bishop.]”  (Levi Mathers Savage diary, 29 Sep., 1912; LC Collection)

Sep.:  Bishops as Presidents of Priests’ Quorums.

“At the late general conference of the Church, the Priesthood Quorums Committee presented a report placing special stress upon the usefulness of the Priests’ quorums to the bishoprics of the various wards, and the necessity of having a Priests’ quorum in as many wards as possible.  A ward of seven hundred souls should have enough young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one to form a majority of a Priests’ quorum of forty-eight.  The bishop of the ward must preside personally over these priests, sit in council with them, and teach them the duties of their office, because the president of the Priests’ quorum, according to the word of the Lord, is the bishop, and to preside over them is a part of his duties.  He should do so in person, and should never substitute anyone else to preside over this quorum.  It would be as inappropriate as to call a Seventy to preside over an Elders’ quorum, or an Elder or High Priest to preside over a Seventies’ quorum.

The bishop, as the president of the Priests’ quorum, should teach the members of that quorum how to develop faith, how to expound the principles of the gospel, including repentance, baptism, and other fundamental doctrines of the Church.  They should be taught to memorize the covenant of baptism and how to baptize.

They should be taught to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, to memorize the prayers, and to conduct themselves properly while officiating in this sacred ordinance of the gospel.  They should be trained to act as messengers of the bishopric, visiting from house to house, announcing special meetings, meetings of quorums, and local business, tithing settlement, etc.; and should be assigned their duties for the coming week and required to report at the next meeting.

The bishop has a splendid opportunity to teach the members of this quorum temperance, morality, chastity, truthfulness, observance of the Word of Wisdom, the law of tithing, honor, and general good deportment, as well as their duties as defined by revelation which, as we have it in section 20:46 of the Doctrine and Covenants, is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and administer the sacrament, also to visit the house of each member and exhort him to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties.  The Priest may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons, and take the lead of meetings, when no Elder is present, and assist the latter in his duties if occasion requires; all this, of course, under the direction of the presiding authority.

If the bishop and his counselors should feel that they themselves are not qualified to teach the Priests’ quorum in these matters, they may invite members of the ward who are specially qualified to teach the Priesthood on these various topics, to do so, but such subjects should always be discussed in the presence of the bishopric of the ward.

Let us ask what better persons are there in the Church to teach the Priests how, when, for what, and where, to pray than the bishopric of the ward?  This same may be said in regard to teaching the Priests how to present to the Saints the principles of the gospel, the law of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, priesthood-quorum duties, the value and importance of the auxiliary organizations, etc.  Properly taught these things, they could be sent out two by two to visit the delinquent members of the ward with conclusive arguments on these subjects.

There is no quorum in the Church that needs the fatherly care and constant attention and companionship of the bishopric more than the Priests’ quorum.  They need to have developed in their hearts faith in the gospel, and confidence in the presiding officers of the Church.  And to the extent that the bishop teaches them these things, and gives the members of these quorums his companionship, sitting in council with them, teaching them their duties, to that extent will the labors and burdens of the bishopric be lightened.  Think of having a quorum of twenty-five to fortyi-eight young men in a ward in close touch with the bishop, working with him, calling upon persons who have recently arrived in Zion or who have recently moved into the ward, inviting them to meetings, and notifying the various quorums and auxiliary organizations of these new arrivals in the ward!  The burden to a great extent of looking after the people would be taken from the shoulders of the bishop, and a new strength heretofore unfelt would permeate the bishopric, and at the same time would build up the community, as well as the workers themselves who would be a power of strength to the ward and the Church.  Besides this, the Priests might assist or direct auxiliary organizations in taking charge of the social activities of the ward, under the direction of the bishopric, and would thus prove a valuable aid in controlling the younger boys, and in some cases setting a good example to the older persons.  And in as much as it is the duty of the Priest to teach, preach, expound, exhort, etc., he should be actively engaged in the Sunday school, the Mutual Improvement Association, and other organizations of the ward; and, when circumstances will permit, take charge of classes in these important organizations.  He may also make special visits under the direction of the bishopric to those who are neglectful in their attendance at sacrament meetings.

Thus taught and given work, the young men would be prepared to go into the world and preach the gospel, if necessity required, as Priests, accompanied by men holding the higher Priesthood.  Here in the mission field they could develop themselves to a greater extent in the work of the Church, in preaching the gospel and teaching the people until they would be found competent and worthy of receiving the higher Priesthood and the ordinances of the House of the Lord.  The present complaint which we sometimes hear that young boys are sent upon missions who are not prepared, and even, sometimes, not worthy of the authority of the higher Priesthood which is now in all cases conferred upon them before their departure for the mission field, would be silenced and avoided.

In any event, no bishop should be satisfied until every member of his ward, of the proper age, is enrolled in the Priests’ quorum and becomes an active member therein.  The age of the Priest, from eighteen to twenty-one years, is the critical period in the life of a young man when he needs the fatherly care and influence of God-fearing men such as comprise the bishoprics of wards; and not only the fatherly care, influence, and attention, but the training and discipline that the duties of a Priest, if properly attended to, would naturally provide him.

In the regular weekly meetings, the Priests might be materially aided in their preparation for their important work, if the bishopric would read to them extracts from the Doctrine and Covenants, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and other selections, such as would bear upon their duties, and impress upon them the important labors which devolve uopn them.  In view of the specific instructions to the bishop contained in Doc. & Cov. sec. 107:87, 88, to preside and sit in council with the Priests, it is hoped that every bishop in the Church will make a strong effort to form a quorum or class if only of three or four, of Priests in his ward, and preside personally over them, and teach them their specific duties, set them to work, and make them living factors in the building up of the Church in their wards, and also prepare them for missionary work at home and, it is to be hoped, abroad, if conditions are so changed that labors in foreign mission fields, under the direction of the Higher Priesthood, shall be assigned to Priests.  With the present population of the Church, there should be in the neighborhood of ten thousand Priests actively engaged in the work, and one can easily comprehend what an immense impetus for good, not only for the Priests themselves, but for the wards of the Church in general, if this great body of young and vigorous men were actively engaged in the performance of their important duties.”  (Charles W. Nibley, Presiding Bishop, “Bishops as Presidents of Priests’ Quorums,” IE 15(11):1039-1041, Sep., 1912)

Sep.:  Do other factions of the Church have authority?

“‘Do you acknowledge that the other factions of the Church held or do hold the authority of the priesthood, inasmuch as they honestly fulfil the law of the Church, so far as they understand it?’

Answer:  There are no ‘factions of the Church’ which was organized April 6th, 1830, and has continued as an unbroken entity and organism from that day until the present.  Those persons who go out from the Church no matter how they may establish themselves or what name they may take are not and cannot be parts of the one Church which Christ set up, nor do they hold authority that he recognizes, for that would be contrary to his own repeated declarations, as well as order and common sense.”  (Charles W. Penrose, of the First Presidency, “Editor’s Table:  Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered,” IE 15(11):1044, Sep., 1912)

4 Oct.:  Committee on Ward Teachers & Teaching.

“[General Conference, Priesthood Session] Bro. Lyman & Prest. [Joseph F.] Smith, Bro. Blood read the report of Priesthood committee on Ward Teachers & Teaching.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Oct., 1912)

“WARD TEACHING.–The following report, suggestions and recommendations were read at the semi-annual general priesthood meeting, Oct. 4, and ordered published:

We consider this an opportune occasion to call the attention of the priesthood to the importance of the work of ward teaching; the necessity of organizing and maintaining, in every ward, a system adapted to our present-day needs, and to place before the priesthood information obtained by the General Committee on Priesthood Outlines, and the Presiding Bishop’s Office concerning the progress made in some stakes of Zion with this important and beneficent movement in the Church.

The records of the Presiding Bishop’s office show that the families in the stakes of Zion are divided into 5,303 ward teachers’ districts.  There are over 12,000 persons laboring as ward teachers.  Of this number 4,546 attended the teachers’ monthly report meetings for April, 4,080 for May, and 3,875 for June.  There are 715 organized wards in the stakes of Zion, hence there should have been held 2,145 ward teachers’ monthly report meetings during the three months ending June 30; but there were only 1,245 of such meetings held, or about 55 per cent.  Of the families living in the organized stakes of Zion, the average number visited monthly, as stated on the records for the three months ending June 30, is only about 25 per cent per month.  We are gratified to report that there has been developed in some of the stakes and wards a system of supervising and directing the work of ward teachers that is bringing about a gratifying improvement in all that pertains to the spiritual and temporal welfare of stakes and wards.

The work of teaching the principles of the gospel within the boundaries of Zion devolves upon all who bear the Priesthood.  It certainly pertains more specifically to the priests than to the teachers, for the Lord states (Doctrine and Covenants 20): ‘The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties. * * * It all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.’  It is also ‘the duty of the elder to watch over the Church.’  The responsibility of the calling of the Seventies and High Priests, while they are peculiarly missionaries and presiding officers, should make them, when not engaged abroad or in presiding positions, active in this work at home.

The priests, elder, seventies and high priests of the Church, when called to labor in bearing the gospel directly to the homes of the people, should not consider that they are called away from their own responsibilities to take up the work of a lesser office in the Aaronic Priesthood.  Ward teaching is a calling, just as missionary work abroad is a calling, and no quorum is solely responsible for the performance of this duty.

Another phase of ward teaching, illustrating its difference from the temporal duties of the ordained teachers, is the custom adopted in some wards of having the teachers visit also regularly the homes of non-members who are willing to receive them, as well as those of members.  There are few wards that do not have families who have never joined the Church, or who have forfeited their fellowship by indifference or other causes.  Those who most need the shepherd are directly among us.  We are commanded to warn our neighbors.  How can we do it more effectively than by regular visits of men who go in the spirit and authority of their calling prepared to teach the gospel?  In some stakes, missionaries have been appointed to this special labor.  This is commendable, but we know of no such work that has been of a regular and permanent character.  Even where it is carried on, the visits of the ward teachers to non-members would be very helpful.

Proper supervision should insure the work being done at regular times during the month, instead of being left till the last few days, and then partially done.  In some wards, experienced and energetic brethren have been chosen to supervise several districts.  In other cases, the ward has been divided into three divisions, the bishop and his counselors each holding himself responsible for one of these.  Some of the bishops require weekly, written reports from each pair of teachers, in order that they may be able to put new help into the district, if found necessary.  This insures each family an actual visit, and not merely a hurried call.  But in the stakes where the best work is being done, the bishops are not left with the whole responsibility.

The presidencies of stakes should take an active interest in this work, not only for the purpose of overseeing and encouraging bishops in this important labor, but for establishing uniformity in the work of the ward teachers, which shall be adapted to the local conditions of each stake.

In some stakes a high council committee, consisting in some instances of one high councilor to each ward, keeps in immediate touch with the work.  In at least one stake of Zion, the president, by hearing a brief report from this committee, knows exactly the amount of teaching done in his stake not only at the end of each month, but at the end of each seven days.  In this stake, members of the presidency found it necessary to go to one of the wards and help do the teaching before the bishop became sufficiently aroused to his own responsibility.

As the quantity of the work increases it seems certain to us that the standard of quality will be improved.  To secure this, teachers should not be asked to visit too great a number of families.  Eight seems to be about the limit, if one hour’s time is spent with each family.  This would require one night a week, two visits being made each night.  By reducing the size of the districts, the labor is distributed among a larger number of the priesthood of the ward, and teh teachers are thus able to spend more time with each family.

In order to improve the quality of work, it has been tried in a number of wards, and found desirable, to assign a subject for each month.  Preparation is made on this by the teachers, and when they go to the homes of the people, they do so with the instruction to take up with the family the subject for the month, unless they are directed by the Spirit to consider some other matter.  Frivolities, gossip and light conversation will thus be replaced by instruction, and by discussion of the gospel.

The bishop should receive written reports from each district weekly, or, if a monthly report is made, it should be handed to him early enough to allow him time to consider it carefully prior to the monthly teachers’ meeting.  Such report should contain the number of families in the ward; the number who have been visited during the month, and the general condition found; also a report of the births, deaths, marriages, departure from and arrival of members in the district, and such similar information.

If such a plan is adopted, he can utilize most of the time of the teachers’ meeting in a discussion of the topic for the coming month, and the preparation of the teachers for their labors.

Some of the stakes have printed each month and distributed to the wards a little outline that helps in the preparation of the topic to be considered.  This is handed to the family at each monthly visit with the explanation that next month, unless something more important arises, the teachers will discuss the matter contained therein.  In the homes where spiritual and intellectual fires are burning brightly, this method provides the certainty of interesting, successful visits.

The quality of teaching can be improved also by choosing more experienced men for the work.  We see no reason why the most capable men in the ward cannot be secured to teach, nor why such men should not be glad to do their part in this labor.  The superintendency and teachers of Sunday schools, the presidencies of quorums, and instructors of priesthood classes, and members of stake boards, for example, should be ready to work in this calling.  That does not prevent younger men, who hold the Aaronic Priesthood, from being employed also.  In fact every priest should be asked to work in this calling, but it provides that the people shall receive benefit from the visit and that inexperienced young men will be properly trained.

That there is a profound necessity for intelligent teaching, by men endowed with the Holy Spirit, is apparent to all.  To the homes of many of the Saints must be carried a large part of the spiritual food that they receive, for the record of attendance at sacrement meetings in a number of wards is regrettably low.  In many homes the teachers find it desirable not alone to converse with the people, but to hold cottage meetings to which the neighbors may be invited.  In this way, the gospel is carried to the people who would not otherwise receive it.  There are many fathers and mothers who themselves are well grounded in the faith, but who for some reason cannot influence their children as they desire.  The visit of the ward teachers offers a fine opportunity for them to gather their children in, and have them listen to the doctrines of the gospel presented differently, and often more effectively, than they themselves have presented them.

Where teaching is intelligently and persistently followed, month by month, there is a marked improvement in the attendance at sacrament meetings, and a better feeling of sympathy and fellowship in the ward; the attendance at the meetings of the auxiliary organizations is increased, and the payment of tithes and offerings is made more faithfully than before.

In visiting the homes of non-members, it will frequently be found that one of the parents has been born in the Church, and in some cases that both are of Latter-day Saints families.  When this condition exists, we are only reclaiming our own.  Where they are strangers to the truth, there is as good an opportunity to convert them as exists with most of the people in the world who accept the visits of the elders.  Indeed, in many cases much more substantial results can be obtained at home, by converting the indifferent Latter-day Saints to a full and sincere appreciation of the gospel, and in bringing the gospel to strangers, than in many of the missions of the Church.

In any event, prejudice is allayed, a new current of thought is created, and frequently non-members are induced to permit their children to accept the advantages of our organizations, and receive instruction in the gospel.  In some families that are not in the Church, also, there will be found servants who are in great need of the teachers’ watchcare and instruction.  This applies particularly to the cities into which girls from the country come to seek employment in domestic service.  Perhaps not a few tragedies in this life of these girls would have been avoided had the teachers become acquainted with them and exercised over them a friendly and spiritual influence.

By labor, the presiding authorities of wards and stakes must implant one element in the teachers that is essential to real success.  This is a love for the work.  It cannot be looked upon as drudgery, and draw from a man his best efforts.  It is an important part of the redemption of mankind; in some respects, even more important than missionary work abroad.  It should command the best ability among the priesthood.

It is not with the thought that ward teaching has failed in accomplishing the purpose of its institution in the Church, but for the purpose of stimulating greater activity in a field that offers rich returns for persistent and intelligent labor by the Priesthood, that these suggestions are offered.  As each year goes by the character of the ward teachers’ work is being improved.  In some stakes, it has reached a high state indeed.  When it is properly performed, we believe there will be a great spiritual awakening in Zion.

In conclusion, let us summarize our suggestions and recommendations:

1–That ward teaching is a calling in the priesthood.

2–That ward teaching requires the most experienced men in the ward.  High priests, seventies and elders should look upon it as one of the most important duties of their calling.

3–That the presidency of each stake of Zion should take up an active campaign in their respective stakes for the improvement of this work.

4–That the presidency and high council decide upon and adopt a system in harmony with the ideas outlined in this address, suitable to their local conditions.

5–That where local conditions will permit, a high councilor should be assigned to aid and advise the bishopric of each ward.

6–That the bishopric of each ward organize the ward into districts of about eight families, more or less, as local conditions may render it necessary.

7–That the bishopric call to their aid the best men in the ward to labor as ward teachers, and that every young man holding the office of priest be appointed to labor in this calling, associated with an older and experienced person.

8–That a teacher’s monthly report meeting be held during the last week of every month, or the first week of the following month.

9–That every family in the ward or district be visited once a month.

10–That the teachers of each district make a written report of their labors and deliver to the bishop; this report to contain the number of families in the district, the number visited, a statement of births, marriages, deaths, arrivals in and removals from the ward; and other information that may be required by the bishop.

11–That the bishopric instruct the teachers on the subjects to discuss at their next visit, unless the teacher is otherwise directed by the Holy Spirit.

12–The essential element in the success of ward teaching is love for the work to be developed in the hearts of the teachers themselves through the example of, and the energy displayed by, the presidency of the stake, high council and bishoprics of wards.

David O. McKay,

For the General Committee on Priesthood Outlines.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 16(1):79-83, Nov., 1912)

Oct.:  Seventy’s Conference.

“A conference of the Seventies of the Church, held in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, during the general October conference, was attended by close on to five hundred of the brethren. . . .

It is the intention of the First Council of Seventy to hold such a conference semi-annually along with the general conference of the Church.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 16(2):174, Dec., 1912)

Oct.:  Bishops and Priests Quorums.

“From statistics in possession of the Presiding Bishop’s office, it is ascertained that out of the seven hundred and thirteen wards in the Church, there are only one hundred and eight in which priests’ quorums, or parts of quorums, are presided over directly by the bishops.  In the remaining six hundred and five wards, the bishops have not yet taken direct charge of their priests.  This matter is engaging the attention of the Priesthood Committee, and every effort is being made to have a priests’ quorum, or class, organized in every ward where possible, and have the bishops take it directly in hand.  To this end bishops are invited to read Presiding Bishop C. W. Nibley’s article on this subject in the September ERA, copies of which have been sent to all the bishops, and additional copies may be obtained on request to the Presiding Bishop’s office, and then to put forth their efforts, as far as possible, to establish a quorum of priests and preside directly over them in their respective wards.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(12):1129, Oct., 1912)

Oct.:  What deacons can do.

“As one more example of what deacons of a ward can do, we have an illustration from Burnham, New Mexico, where the meeting house is chiefly cared for by the deacons who keep it clean both outside and in.  The visiting authorities, at a recent conference, were greatly delighted with the neatness and cleanliness of the house and premises.  Even a deacon was stationed at the entrance with green branches of trees to keep out flies when the screen doors were opened.  Inside it was cool and refreshing, notwithstanding the day was hot, and the hall was refreshingly free from flies.  The deacons seemed to take special delight in thus keeping the hall comfortable and the public grounds in good order.  The activity of the deacons in this ward may well serve as an example which, adopted in other wards, will not only tend to the comfort of the people but to give the youth useful work and teach them to respect and hold in reverence public property, church buildings, and grounds.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 15(12):1129, Oct., 1912)

30 Oct.:  Confirmed validity of sealings, blessings, etc.

“I attended meeting in the Temple.  Bro. Hawkins of Payson had received his sealings in the Temple and had not been ordained an Elder and he feared he had not received his blessings in a right way.  He had now been ordained a Seventy.  I took him up in the Temple and confirmed the validity of the sealings, blessings and ordinations bestowed upon him.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 30 Oct., 1912)

30 Oct.:  Pilot program to reduce number of meetings.

“Attended meeting of the Y.M.M.I.A.  It was voted to let the Ensign Stake try a new procedure in regard to have our children out so many evenings.  They will only have two mutuals and two priesthood meetings in that Stake.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 30 Oct., 1912)

8 Nov.:  Formation of Correlation Committee.

“Upon the suggestion of the Deseret Sunday School Union, President Joseph F. Smith (who also served as general Sunday School superintendent) formed the Correlation Committee composed of representatives from the various auxiliaries.  On November 8, 1912, he named Elder David O. McKay (an assistant in the general Sunday School superintendency) to be committee chairman.  The new committee was organized ‘to prevent unnecessary and undesirable duplication of work in the various auxiliary organizations of the Church, and for the further purpose of selecting suitable dates for the holding of stake meetings called by the auxiliary associations, and for the general purpose of unifying the work and advancing the cause of each organization.'”  (Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” p. 15; quoting from “Correlation Committee Minutes,” quoted by Marion G. Romney, “The Basics of Priesthood Correlation,” p. 2)

22 Nov.:  Charge must first be preferred before the teachers.

“A Mrs. Hopson came and told me all her troubles.  Her husband was one of the lowest men and yet the bishop gave him temple recommend.  I told her if he was guilty as she stated she should prefer a charge against him before the teachers and let it go higher up; but we could not begin at this end.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 22 Nov., 1912)

Dec.:  The duty of presidencies of the various quorums.

“The duty of presidencies of the various quorums, and particularly those in the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to meet in council and consider the welfare of their respective quorums.  This is in harmony with the revelation of the Lord which provides that the president is ‘to meet in council with the members and to teach them their duties.’  It is particularly the duty of the presidents of the Melchizedek Priesthood to provide each class with the most capable instructor obtainable.  This duty is now frequently left entirely to the bishops, and when presidents of quorums neglect to perform this duty the bishops, of course, are obliged to look after it.  It will relieve the bishop greatly to have the presidents of quorums freely consult with the bishopric of the ward, and see to it that each class is provided with an efficient instructor; and where the presidency themselves are qualified, they should act as teachers.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 16(2):176, Dec., 1912)