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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1915

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1915.” You can view other years here.

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1915:  Mar.:  Instructions on Ward Teaching.

“The Lord has decreed that his people shall be brought to a unity of the faith, has restored the priesthood and given many instructions as to the exercise of that priesthood; among others that those holding it ‘shall preach, teach, expound, exhort, * * * * and visit the house of each member, and exhort the people to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties; and strengthen them, and see that there is no iniquity in the Church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the Church meet together often, and also see that all members do their duty.’–Doc. and Cov., 20.

THE WORD OF THE LORD.  Again the Lord says: ‘And I give unto you a commandment, that you teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom; teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.’–Doc. and Cov. 88:77, 78.

WHO ARE LIABLE TO SERVICE.  We have been told by those in high authority in the Church that ‘The work of teaching the principles of the gospel within the boundaries of Zion devolves upon all who bear the priesthood.’  That means, then, that members of high councils, bishoprics, and high priests, seventies, elders, priests, and teachers, whether they be in presiding positions or not, or whether acting as officers, teachers, or class leaders in auxiliary organizations, are subject to this duty, one of the most important in the Church.

A TEST OF LOVE.  Is it not reasonable for us to suppose that the test of our love for the Lord will be the same as it was with Peter, as disclosed in the conversation found in John 21:15-17: ‘So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith unto him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.  Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep.’

To properly perform the great duties of ward teacher requires: the authority of the priesthood; a knowledge of the gospel; a love for the work, and a determination to do one’s duty. 

* * * *


The Lord has decreed that his people shall come to a unity of the faith.

He has restored the priesthood that the gospel principles may be taught, gospel ordinances be performed.

He requires the teaching of the people in their homes, which duty rests upon all those holding the priesthood.

The bishop must secure a complete and correct census of his ward.

If possible, from the priesthood, giving preference to the most able, but including ordained teachers and priests, he should secure enough teachers to permit the districting of the ward so that each pair of teachers shall have about six families to visit.  In such case it is reasonable to expect that those called upon to be teachers will willingly respond as they will recognized that the duty imposed will not interfere with other duties resting upon them, nor become burdensome.

The bishopric, while not being given a district, shall nevertheless lead out in the work of visiting and teaching the people in their homes.

Each member of the bishopric to be responsible for seeing that teaching is done in his particular division of the ward–or where the ward is so large that it would require more than three divisions, that division presidents be appointed, charged with such responsibility.

Each pair of teachers to be provided with a ‘monthly report book’ and charged with filing with the bishop promptly, on or before the Sunday preceding the monthly meeting night, a full report of his activities and failures.

The bishop shall take such steps as may be necessary to have done, before the monthly meeting night, what those reports show has not been done, so that one hundred per cent of visits shall be made each month.

The bishop shall cause to be abstracted the reports, including items of special interest to the whole corps.

He should designate some certain night as the official visiting night upon which the people have a right to expect the teachers.  Every teacher should prepare himself for his labor by prayer and study.

Each pair of teachers should know the members of their flock–ascertaining as to their attendance at quorum or other organization meetings, from the rolls thereof, studying their characters and characteristics, noting their environments, their line of work, sounding their souls by the power of the Spirit, and striving unceasingly to demonstrate to them that they are interested in their welfare, anxious to benefit and bless them, and willing to serve them, thus winning their confidence and love.

Enter their homes as teachers in very deed, teachers of the gospel, and with a special message from the bishop, in addition to meeting the individual needs they have observed.

Praying with the family whenever opportunity offers.

As a rule making the maximum time for a visit thirty minutes.

Being on hand to assist in time of trouble and distress.

Settling difficulties without recourse upon the bishop if possible.

Striving to make visits suit the convenience of the people.

Note the coming into the ward of new people and advising the bishop of such, whether they are in your district or not.

Calling upon new comers in your own district at the earliest practicable date.

Attend sacrament meetings and look out for your flock.

Make special efforts to meet and introduce to the bishop and others, new members.

Be prompt in making out and sending in monthly reports.

Be regular in attending the monthly meetings, and taking active part therein.”  (Charles B. Felt, “Teaching in the Home,” “One of a number of papers read at a three-day convention of the Stake Presidency, High Council, Bishops and Counselors, and Ward Clerks of the Granite skake of Zion.” IE 18(5):434-444, Mar., 1915)

Mar.:  Boys in the office of deacon.

“A correspondent writes:

Please explain I Tim. 3:8-13.  When and by what authority was this portion of the priesthood taken from men of mature years and given to boys of twelve and thirteen years of age?

It was customary in Paul’s days to ordain mature men to the office of deacons, because the conditions of the Saints were such that only elderly people could be used to advantage.  The Church was new, and adults wer converted; perhaps only few, if any, were born and educated in the Church.  But even in our day, there has been no departure from the counsel of Paul to Timothy, say in the missions and at home also, where similar conditions prevail.  His counsel and advice are good, and should be followed.  This priesthood has not ‘been taken from men,’ though it has ‘been given to boys.’  There are many men holding the office of Deacon, and many more who hold the Higher Priesthood who act in the office of Deacon.  It is true the Priesthood is conferred on boys of twelve and thirteen who are found faithful and worthy.  But that is no sign that such action is not acceptable to God, as some have argued; nor is it an indication that the Latter-day Saints make light of the Priesthood, conferring it upon those who cannot understand the importance of it.  In this Priesthood dispensation, when children are born in the covenant, and trained under the guidance of the gospel, much may be done that could not be done in times such as Paul experienced when he wrote to his friend Timothy.  We believe in the guidance and inspiration of living oracles who are authorized to conduct the affairs of the Church as the Spirit may direct and the exigencies of the times may demand.  The appointment of boys to the deaconship is done under the direction of the constituted authority of the Lord, though the exact date of its beginning is perhaps not on record.  It is an action that could not have been taken without the sanction of the Priesthood, acting in the regular order.”  (“Editor’s Table,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, editors] IE 18(5):452-453, Mar., 1915)

4 Apr.:  Concerning the duties of Seventies.

“I desire to draw your attention, my brethren, to the fact disclosed in these words of the Lord–that the Twelve are traveling elders, and that the seventies also are traveling elders and are expected to join in the ministry of the Lord to preach the Gospel throughout the earth; and I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Twelve are now and have always been so engaged since they were chosen in this generation; they have been minute men and traveling elders.  Though composing the traveling presiding high Council of the Church, they are always in the field, always traveling and laboring.  You have seen them and you do see them from week to week, from month to month, and from year to year.  They come in your neighborhood and they assist you in regulating and setting in order the affairs of the Church in your stakes and wards, and they give careful attention to the preparation of the elders that are called into the ministry abroad.

Now it is disclosed here that instead of other men it is required of us to first call upon the seventies to assist us in the preaching of the Gospel; and we have set a proper example by taking hold of the first seven presidents, the first council of seventy, and you will notice that they always travel with us.  Have you noticed that they go from stake to stake as we do, that they labor with us, and assist us, and are in council with us, and that they give attention to the calling of seventies, the organization of quorums, and so forth, and preparing the brethren for their ministry abroad?  Now we have latterly been giving a little more definite thought to the ministry in the world, a little more definite than we have done in the past, and we have found this to be the case, that other brethren of necessity–I want to say of necessity–have been called into the field, and they have answered the call.  The High Priests and the elders have generally gone into the field, and are today accomplishing the work of preaching the Gospel more generally than ought to be required of them, for the reason that the seventies have not been called.  The reason that they have not been called is because they are men occupied in all business affairs, their hands are full of business of all kinds, and they have been excused.  We have excused them more, possibley, than we ought to have done, I rather think; but at any rate, we have come to the conculsion it is time now that the thousands of seventies that we have in the Church should have the right of way, to give them opportunity so that every seventy shall go into the field at least once and preach the Gospel.  If he is very suitable and able, and conditions and necessary circumstances such that it is reasonably possible for him, he can go twice, and then possibly a third time.  I remember going myself when I was a seventy, and I have been a seventy always since.  I went abroad also when I was a high priest, and have gone since I was in the Council of the Twelve, and have been a minute man in preaching the Gospel at home all the time, when I have been at home.  It is quite proper that the seventies while they are at home should be employed, and they are being faithfully and well employed at home by the bishops, and the presidents of their stakes in Zion.  It is all right that they should be employed there, but we do want to come to the time when the seventies will be preaching the Gospel quite generally in the world, every man having one opportunity, or two or three as the case may be.

It took me forty years to perform my three missions abroad, and the balance of myi life has been in missions at home, before I was in the Council and since.  I have been in the field all the time, like President Joseph F. Smith, and many others of the brethren.  We have been in the field and there has never been a moment but what we were minute men and ready for the fray.  I state this matter now, because I want to draw the attention of the bishops to it.  I see the bishops are gathered here, the high councilors, and presidents of stakes and so forth, and patriarchs in front; and I would like everry bishop and every president to bear in mind and take home with them the spirit of the remarks that I am about to make here to you.  We want you to consider the seventies; we want you to look after them; we want you to breathe the spirit of their ministry into them and consider them when application is made for missionaries from your stakes and wards.  Consider first the seventies; and as far as they are able and can help each other, able to take care of themselves, and with what assistance they can get at home, we want them to come into the field.  The presidents of the missions have been asking for them, that is, asking for men of experience, men of age that have been proven and tried, that have been in the field abroad or have been workers at home.

We want to put able men into the field, now that the spirit is in the earth and liberty is being extended, and especially religious liberty throughout the earth; we expect it to be much extended after the war is over and peace is declared.  The Twelve have been out; they have been in the world; they have been in all the countries of the earth pretty near, and have blessed the countries and blessed the people and prepared the way for the preaching of the Gospel.  We have had this in our hearts and souls for many years, and are laboring for it, and we want the way prepared; we want the seventies that are here in the sound of my voice and those other brethren that are here, bishops and presidents of stakes, to talk upon this subject.  We want them to get ready and prepared for the ministry.  We want them to do what they are able to do, and we don’t want them discouraged; for there are many of them, although they have business of all kinds, and have families and are building their homes, and accomplishing wonders at home; but most of them will find the way to go into the field and teach the Gospel, and they can afford to make some sacrifices.  We must make some sacrifices and overcome some difficulties in order to accomplish what the Lord requires of us abroad as well as at home, and at home as well as abroad.  UInder the direction of the Presiding Seventy, as we have been talking to them latterly and considering this matter, we desire this call and this consideration to go to every stake and ward, and to every council of the seventies, to councils that are complete or not complete.  We want the seventies to come to the rescue and help us in preaching the Gospel, and we expect to call upon them instead of any others.  But remember that the seventies may not be able to monopolize the whole field, hence there will be room for elders and high priets, and for other experienced men outside of the seventy, and we want them considered also.  While we have been, for a number of years, asking that one experienced and trained man should be furnished for every two of the younger men that are sent out, we ask now that there be two well trained and experienced men sent out for each young and inexperienced man that is sent.  We want able and experienced men that have been abroad, or have been laboring most faithfully at home.

I want to say to the brethren, the high priests at home, that we do not want them overlooked; we want them considered; men that have been bishops or high-counselors, and have held responsible positions and had great experience.  We want them to have opportunity to go abroad as well as the seventies; also, we want the balance of the room that is to spare abroad occupied by able elders.  We prefer that you should keep the young men–such as deacons and teachers and priests–at home and given them thorough training in the lesser priesthood; and remember that the deacons have a ministry as well as the teachers, and the deacons’ ministry is that of assisting the teachers when occasion requires; and I have always interpreted it that the occasion always requires it.  We want these young men given opportunity, and we want them employed.  We want the teachers employed; we want them to accompany the brethren that are called, the seventies and high priests, and elders that are operating as teachers at home.  We want the teachers of the lesser priesthood, and the deacons, to have opportunity to visit with them, that they may be trained and have experience here at home before they are sent abroad.  You would be astonished to see the companies of young men that are sent to us, inexperienced young men, only recently ordained elders in order to go on missions.  When they give their genealogies we find they are teachers, sometimes deacons and sometimes priests, that they are just ordained elders in order that they may go abroad to preach the Gospel,–untrained, inexperienced.  They should work at home and train themselves, and be prepared so that as the seventies are depleted and pass into the high priests quorum, at the age of fifty or sixty years, and there is room there, we want the able, well trained and experienced elders to fill their places, so that we may have seventies enough to take care of the ministry abroad, as a rule, the exceptions being where we need to use the elders and high priests.

There is opportunity for all abroad; and if there is anything lacking, and they want opportunity, we have it at home, for the field at home will never be overstocked with men.  The high priests and elders at home, and the seventies who are generally at home, and will be generally at home, because they are not expected all to be in the field; a thousand or fifteen hundred or two thousand on missions at a time will leave about eight thousand of them always at home, and we want them to work at home as well as they have been doing.  Don’t use them any less at home, but give them opportunities to preach the Gospel at home as well as abroad.  The able and successful bishops, presidents of stakes, presidents of seventies and of elders, and of high priests will furnish employment; they will arrange affairs and labors at home so that there is employment for every man who bears the priesthood.  Every man who bears the priesthood is entitled to the right and privilege of magnifying that priesthood, at home or abroad, and we exhort you my brethren who have charge of these matters and are appointed and ordained for that purpose, we want you to see to it that employment is furnished every man that you lay your hands upon and  ordain to the lesser priesthood or to the Melchizedek priesthood.  Furnish them employment at home, and don’t be satisfied with having ten or twenty seventies doing something, preaching the Gospel at home to the strangers, to those that are not of our faith, but let the whole army of seventies at home get into the field, and the armies of high priests and elders be in the field, every man magnifying his calling at home as well as abroad.  Let that be done.  We want that to be done and we will not be quite satisfied until the brethren can report that every member of our quorums of the priesthood is doing something, accomplishing something, and you will be astonished at the converts that can be made at home.

There are many reported now from various directions, but many more will be in a little while, and you will be astonished–if you go home from this conference and take this spirit among the seventies,–you will be astonished at the number of seventies that will be ready at the call and recommendation of the presidents of stakes and bishops of wards, under approval of the presiding seventy.  They are acquainted with them as they are with the other elders, and they know how to recommend them, and to consider them and weigh them.  You will be astonished to see how the spirit will take hold of the seventies, and they will be prepared and ready for their work abroad.  I want you to bear in mind that the body of the Twelve are giving careful attention to these matters.  Every man that goes abroad comes immediately under the hands of the Twelve and the first council of seventies.  We bless every man and set them apart, and our sisters also who go into the field; quite a number of them are being sent.  We are looking after this matter, and we want everybody bearing the priesthood, every member of the priesthood, we want them to have opportunity to magnify their priesthood.

Take labor upon yourselves, brethren and provide labor for your neighbors until every man is cared for, every high priest that is now careless and unemployed.  It is reported that there are many of the priesthood unemployed, not fully occupied, not doing any good work–nothing is laid out for them.  It is not every man that knows how to employ himself, but every man should know how to employ himself especially when he has had experience, been abroad in the field, or laboring at home in important positions.  These brethren should know how to set themselves to work and do many things that they are not told to do that they discover ought to be done, for the inspiration of the priesthood should dwell in the heart of every man who receives it; his eyes should be opened, his ears should be opened, his heart should be touched, ready and prepared to do some work for somebody; and when you labor for your brother you always get the chief reward yourself.  You may help him some, you may do him good, a world of good, but there is always greater good comes to you who do the labor–everyone–and we want that fashion followed.  We don’t want to give our entire attention now to the seventies, in getting them in their field, but we want the high priests taken care of, and we want the elders taken care of; for the elders are two or three times as numerous as sre the seventies, two or three times as numerous as are the high priests.  The high priests compare about with the seventies, but the elders are much more numerous, and it will put you to your wits’ end to find something for them to do.  If they are idle they are mischievous and liable to get into trouble and difficulty, and they should be taken care of.  If they labor, if they work day by day and magnify their calling they will grow stronger and stronger unto their perfect day.

Now I feel delighted with this privilege of speaking to this body of men, and I want you to remember what I have said, in connection with what we have heard here–the testimonies that have been given us by the Presidency today.  Bear in mind this mission, and the suggestions and instructions in regard to the magnifying of the priesthood here at home, and magnifying it also abroad.  Brother Hyrum M. Smith has sent quite a requisition for some able elders that can come and labor with him, whose conditions and circumstances at home will allow them to stay until they have finished their missions, and that call will be a small one comparatively.  We want at least one seventy from every quorum; we want five seventies from every quorum that is able to send them; or seven, that will only be one man out of ten, something like that, to go abroad, and the others remaining at home and helping each other when it is necessary.  But you will be astonished, when you inquire after the seventies and look right after them, to find the great number of them that are able to take care of themselves and their families, and go and preach the gospel for three years and then come home and stay six or ten years and then go again when they are wanted.

May the Lord bless you my brethren.  Think of these matters, give attention to them, and you will find the presiding seventy around looking after you and feeling after the members of their quorums,, and they will be calling upon you and want you to consider them.  They have felt just a little bit overlooked.  I believe the seventies have been overlooked too much, and we have depended upon elders, and young men and inexperienced men to go out and preach the Gospel in the world, and we want all the brethren to have opportunity to magnify their calling as they are required.  You notice whenever we call men to preside over stakes, or over wards, or over quorums, or to go on missions, that they are expected to go at once into the field, and so it should be with every man who receives the priesthood.  He receives a commission from the Lord, and he should take hold of it and magnify it to the best of his ability, and the Lord will open the way for the good that is possible for him to accomplish.”  (Francis M. Lyman, 4 Apr., 1915; CR Apr., 1915, pp. 43-48)

[Rebuttal from Rulon Wells?]  “It is true that the Lord has instituted the office of a Seventy for the express purpose of proclaiming the word of God to the nations of the earth; and in our labors among our brethren we have discovered this, that more than half of them have already filled missions in the world, and, although we now have comparatively few doing missionary work out of the vast army of the Seventy, there are, however, many who are supporting their sons now laboring as elders in the missionary field–some of them having two or three–the expense of whom are being met by their fathers, who are numbered among the Seventy.  So I don’t think that we ought to reproach our brethren of the Seventy because of the fewness of their numbers now in the field, for they have done valiant service, and many of them have filled one or two, and some of them three missions abroad, and I glory in the work which they have performed.”  (Rulon S. Wells, 6 Apr., 1915; CR Apr., 1915, p. 135)

6 Apr.:  Let locals, not 1st Pres. answer questions.

“It is surprising to hear the multitude of questions that are continuously sent to the Presidency of the Church, and to others of my brethren who are in leading positions, for information upon some of the most simple things that pertain to the Gospel.  Hundreds of questions, communications, and letters are sent to us from time to time asking information and instruction on matters that are so plainly written in the revelations of God–contained in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Bible–it seems that any one who can read should understand.  Why Elders and Bishops and missionaries should be under the necessity of writing to inquire about many of these things is mysterious to me.  They have the books and other sources of information within their reach; they should have every facility to acquire the knowledge that is necessary to fit them for their duties, if they will only pay attention to them; but they don’t always do it.  Some people seem to like to ask questions.  I have been so bored at times with questioners that I have said to them: ‘Answer your own questions yourselves and submit them to me, and I will tell you whether you are right or wrong, as near as I can.  But if we were to devote ourselves to answering questions that the Bishop should answer for the people, and attend to duties that should be attended to by the Teachers in the wards, we would have very little time for doing anything else.  When the brethren and sisters want to know anything about temple work, about the ordinances, about the precepts and principles of the Gospel or the obligations of members in the Church, let them go to their Bishops and find out; and, if the Bishops can’t inform them, let them go to the presidents of their stakes, and let the president of the stake and his counselors and the Bisohp and his counselors get together, if necessary, and answer the question.  Then if they are not satisfied about it let them appeal to the Presidency of the Church or to the Twelve, or the Seventy or Presiding Bishopric as the case may require, and possibly we may help you out.”  (Joseph F. Smith, 6 Apr., 1915; CR Apr., 1915, pp. 138-139)

27 Apr.:  Family Home Evening.

“To the Presidents of Stakes, Bishops and Parents in Zion:

Dear Brethren and Sisters:  We counsel the Latter-day Saints to observe more closely the commandment of the Lord given in the 68th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her Stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism band the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents;

For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her Stakes which are organized;

And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of hands,

And they shall also teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord.

The children of Zion should also observe more fully the commandment of the Lord given to ancient Israel, and reiterated to the Latter-day Saints: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother: that their days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’

These revelations apply with great force to the Latter-day Saints, and it is required of fathers and mothers in this Church that these commandments shall be taught and applied in their homes.

To this end we advise and urge the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord.  They may thus learn more fully the needs and requirements of their families; at the same time familiarizing themselves and their children more thoroughly with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This ‘Home Evening’ should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture-reading, family topics and specific instruction on the principles of the Gospel, and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society and the Nation.  For the smaller children appropriate recitations, songs, stories and games may be introduced.  Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served.

Formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises.

These gatherings will furnish opportunities for mutual confidence between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, as well as give opportunity for words of warning, counsel and advice by parents to their boys and girls.  They will provide opportunity for the boys and girls to honor father and mother, and to show their appreciation of the blessings of home so that the promise of the Lord to them may be literally fulfilled and their lives be prolonged and made happy.

We request that the presidents of stakes and bishops throughout the Church set aside at least one evening each month for the purpose; and that upon such evenings no other Church duties shall be required of the people.

We further request that all the officers of the auxiliary organizations throughout the Church support this movement and encourage the young people to remain at home that evening, and use their energies in making it instructive, profitable and interesting.

If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result.  Love at home and obedience to parents will increase.  Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.

Your brethren,

Joseph F. Smith,

Anthon H. Lund,

Charles W. Penrose,

First Presidency.

Salt Lake City, Utah, April 27, 1915.”

(IE 18(8):733-734, Jun., 1915)

“On Apr. 27, 1915, a letter was written to ‘presidents of stakes, bishops and parents in Zion’–signed by President Joseph F. Smith, who was also general superintendent of the Deseret Sunday School Union, and by his counselors–formally establishing ‘Family Home Evening.’  After quoting the Doctrine abnd Covenants, Section 68:25-28, they wrote: 

‘These revelations apply with great force to the Latter-day Saints, and it is required of fathers and mothers in this Church that these commandments shall be taught and applied in their homes.

To this end we advise and urge the inauguration of a “Home Evening” throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord. . . .

We further request that all the officers of the auxiliary organizations throughout the Church support this movement and encourage the young people to remain at home that evening, and use their energies in making it instructive, profitable and interesting.'”

(George R. Hill, General Sunday School Superintendent, Instructor 92(3):76, 1 Mar., 1957)

Apr.:  Attendance during 1914.

“The percentage of membership attending sacrament meetings [in 1914] was 20.  The percentage of Melchizedek Priesthood who are inactive is 28, and the percentage of Aaronic Priesthood who are inactive in the Church is 33; while the average percentage of families visited by ward teachers is 45.”  (“Editor’s Table,” IE 18(6):546, Apr., 1915)

Apr.:  General Priesthood Committee report.


The Priesthood Committee reported as follows at the April Conference:

Dear Brethren:  The Committee on Priesthood outlines respectfully report and refer to two important items of progress inaugurated during the past two years, and to a new slogan for the year to come.

First–The proper organization of Priests’ quorums and classes throughout the Church.  This succeeded to such an extent that whereas, a few years ago there were in fact only a very small number of Priests in the Church, and very few bishops presiding personally over Priests quorums, now there are 8,830 Priests in the Church, over 6,000 of whom are attending their quorum meetings and classes.  These Priests, the choice young men of the community, are being instructed and presided over by the bishops of the Church.  The results arising from such instruction by the bishops, and the contact of the young men with the presiding authorities, of the Church, are themselves very satisfying, and a great impetus to progress.

Second–The second item is improvement made in ward teaching.  The work in this line was practically followed up by the Presiding Bishopric, until there resulted a complete revolution in the matter of ward teaching throughout the Church.  The per cent of families throughout the Church visited monthly by the teachers has grown from a very small proportion to a very satisfactory proportion.  In some stakes little if any teaching was done; in others it was very indifferently and unsystematically attempted.  Through the efforts of the committee, supplemented by the splendid work of the Bishopric, the committee, supplemented by the splendid work of the Bishopric, the average percent of families visited during each month of the year by the ward teachers in the various stakes of Zion now totals forty-five, or practically one-half of the families of the Church visited monthly by the ward teachers.  The results of these visits, the contact of the people with the teachers, the number of men put into active service, and the instructions given have awakened a great interest in the doctrines of the Church, and in their practice among the Saints.  Spiritual growth has been promoted, and the spirit of the gospel has been fanned into flame among many members of the Church.

The prosecution of this noble work should continue until there shall be greater efficiency in every department, until practically every family in the Church shall be visited by faithful teachers each month; every bishop throughout the Church shall have a class of Priests under his tutelage, and until every Priest in the Church shall be active in his duties and brought in contact with the spirit of the gospel through his presiding officer.

And let us here revert to the special labor of quorum officers.  Upon them rests the responsibility in the first place to see that their members continue in all good effort, faithfully to perform their duties.  And not only that, but their specific duty is to maintain the identity and high standard of their quorum, and look to it that its record as a quorum shall equal the good standing of its membership.  The quorum as an entity should be ambitious to do something worthy, and as a quorum be alive to the opportunities to render practical help to the work of the Lord.  What have yoiu done as a quorum?  That is a question quite as pertinent as, What have you done as a member?  The officers are responsible for the proper answer.

We call the attention of stake and ward authorities generally to another work that we desire to inaugurate among the Priesthood during the coming year.  It is class leadership, and more direct and specific supervision in the Teachers and Deacons’ classes.  Improvement here may be more difficult than in ward teaching and Priests’ organization.  Buit it can be and should be made.  It is one of the crying needs of our quorums at the present time.  Proper leadership and supervision and a better teaching corps in the Priesthood quorums throughout the Church should be our next slogan.  Much difficulty is being experienced by the bishops in obtaining the proper material for instructors.  There is also great chaos in methods of supervision.

We suggest that in every stake of Zion there be appointed a committee from the high council to take supervision of the training of teachers for the Lesser Priesthood quorums; that this training be given by specialists once each month.  This should be done by competent instructors, who should be filled with the spirit of the gospel, and selected in the various stakes to instruct and prepare class instructors for the quorums.

The lessons which the quorums are studying should not, as is now the cse in most instances, be made the ends in themselves, but be practically applied, so that the members of each quorum may take active part in the work of the Church.  The lesson in itself is of only little use unless it is applied; an emotion is simply an excietment, and is useless unless the sentiments of that emotion are put into active work.  Our present method of teaching is often merely intellectual.  It ends with knowledge, which in itself, of course, is good, but which, without work, is vain as far as practical results go.

The task before us, then, is to provide practical instructors who not only know how to teach the theories and doctrines of the gospel, but who can show the members of the quorums how these theories may be put into practice; how these doctrines may be made applicable to their daily lives.  Every instructor should be required to make assignments of work, so that each member shall have some weekly duty to perform, in which the theories, and the doctrines which he has learned shall be put into practice in his life.  This means assignment each week for some useful action, deed or work.  It means that the following week these assignments shall be reported in class, where free discussion should follow, and the problems temporal and spiritual that have been met shall be solved practically, and to the satisfaction of the quorum members.

To inaugurate and direct in the details of this work, we have the members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, supplemented by efforts of brethren who may  be selected by them.  These men are competent and anxious to instruct the stake presidents and high councilors who, aided by such men as they may select, are competent to put into practice the instructions of the Twelve.  The bishops, with the instruction of the stake presidency, and supervising high councilors, and with the help of such men as they may select in every ward, are competent to teach instructors training them in detail how this work may be accomplished.  Then it will be the duty of the instructors in these various classes to make assignments, to teach theories, and to hear such reports and introduce such discussions as shall make the members of the class competent helpers and workers in the Church.

This is the work that should be made the battle cry for Lesser Priesthood quorums for the year to come.

As far as the Higher Priesthood is concerned, competent men as a rule are placed as leaders in these classes, but in these quorums also more practical and efficient work may be done, by which more service, spiritual and temporal, shall be rendered to the people.  The Priesthood are the servants of the people, and it is their duty to render the most efficient service in their power to the members of the Church.  When wwe shall have our present large number of 11,450 High Priests; 11,112 Seventies; 27,382 Elders; and 750 Bishops engaged in rendering magnificent temporal and spiritual service to the people and to each other, unitedly teching not only the theories and doctrines of the gospel, but the practical methods of putting these theories and doctrines into effect, we shall have service unequaled in the world.  Their efforts being aided by the Spirit of the Lord, no power can hinder his blessings from resting upon those who are engaged in this marvelous work among the Latter-day Saints.

Our suggestion, then, is better leadership through proper supervision and training of instructors, more efficient work in the classes, the application of knowledge gained to service among the people, the assignment of weekly duties to the members, report weekly on such duties, free discussion of conditions and problems with a view to rendering practical aid, spiritual and temporal.

Our prayer is, therefore, that the various authorities of the Church named will take these thoughts into consideration and, with the aid that will be rendered them by the general authorities of the Church, execute this work unitedly so that the leadership and service of the Priesthood shall become more efficient.

Rudger Clawson, Chairman.

David A. Smith, Secretary.”

(“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 18(7):649-651, May, 1915)

17 Jun.:  Standardization of spelling of “Melchizedek.”

“Our attention having been called to the different forms of spelling the proper name Melchizedek (as, for example:  Melchisedek, Melchizedec, Melchisedec, etc.,), at our request Dr. James E. Talmage made a critical investigation of the subject with a view to learning the biblical and philosophical consensus of authority and opinion concerning it.  In harmony with Elder Talmage’s report, and expressing our own views, the Council of the Presidency and Apostles has decided that the proper noun, and the adjective as applied to the High Priesthood should be spelled MELCHIZEDEK (as it appears in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon) in all publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  (First Presidency “Official Announcement,” 17 Jun., 1915.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:339; also in JI 50(6):357, 1 Jun., 1915; IE 18(9):832, Jul., 1915)

Sep.:  “Active” and “Inactive” Members.

“In answer to a question from one of the presidency of a stake the Presiding Bishop’s Office has given the following answer as to what constitutes ‘active’ members of the Church: 

The interpretation of ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ is largely one which should be settled in each community.  We are satisfied that with a discussion of this matter by the presidency and high council of the stake, some satisfactory conclusion will be arrived at as how to apply ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ to members of the Church.  It does not appeal to us that a man who pays tithing, attends sacrament meetings, and holds the priesthood, is for that reason ‘active.’  It would be very much better to apply the word ‘active’ to some labor or duty under the direction of the stake presidency, or the bishopric of the ward, or to an active worker in one of the auxiliary organizations.  That is the intent and spirit of the inquiry concerning ‘activities.'”

(“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 18(11):1024, Sep., 1915)

Sep.:  Priesthood attendance figures.

“It appears from the reports at the Presiding Bishop’s Office that the weekly priesthood meetings for the six months ending June 30, in 1913 showed 16% of the priesthood in attendance; in 1914, 17%; in 1915, 18%.  The increase in the percentage of attendance at sacrament meetings shows as follows: 14.5, in 1913; 16.5, in 1914, and 17%, in 1915.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 18(11):1024, Sep., 1915)

Sep.:  Ward Teaching statistics.

“In the various wards of Zion this great work is increasing in efficiency and in scope.  It appears from the summary of stake reports for the six months ending June 30, that the number of families in the stakes of Zion who were visited in June, 1913, was 21,825; June, 1914, 30,022; June, 1915, 42,437, showing a commendable increase in the activities of ward teaching.  The percent of families visited for the three years was respectively, 42, 51 and 63.  When we consider that the increase of families from 1913 to 1915 in the Church was 14,939 the growth of the work is really remarkable.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 18(11):1024, Sep., 1915)

5 Nov.:  Quorum leaders to visit quorum members annually.

“President S. F. Ballif and Counselors,

Cache Stake.

Dear Brethren:

The success which has attended the annual visits of the Bishoprics to all the members of their respective wards suggests the importance and probable good effects, if the officers of the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood in each stake would also make an annual visit to those members of the quorums to which they belong.

It must be well known to these officers that there are great numbers of brethren holding the priesthood who are either not enrolled in the proper quorum, or, if enrolled, do not attend their meetings or engage in duties that belong to their high calling.  This shows that a good missionary work might be performed among such members, and that the quorums as well as individuals, would be greatly benefited thereby.

As far as circumstances will permit, this annual house to house visit should be made personally by the Presidents of each quorum, but where this is impracticable, class instructors and other active and capable members of the quorum should be enlisted in this service, with instructions to report to the Presidents of the quorum.

We desire that you will give this matter full consideration, bringing it to the attention of the High Council, and endeavor to carry it into effect in every quorum of the priesthood under your jurisdiction, and before the close of the year.

With sincere regards, we are,

Your brethren in the Gospel,

Joseph F. Smith

Anthon H. Lund

Charles W. Penrose

First Presidency”

(5 Nov., 1915, First Presidency Circular Letters, LDS Archives, CR 1/1)

Nov.:  Geo. F. Richards ordained elder and endowed at 15.

“When I was fifteen years of age I was permitted to receive the ordination of an elder and my endowments in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City.”  (George F. Richards, “The Lesson Taught by a Healing,” IE 19(1):61, Nov., 1915)

18 Dec.:  Importance of ward teaching/home evening.  

“Throughout the Church a spirit of unity, devotion, and faith prevails.  The visits of Teachers to the members help greatly in the diffusion of this happy influence, and in the settlement of such differences as may arise in families or in neighborhoods.  Therefore, Bishop’s courts and High Council trials are few and far between, and civil litigation is rendered infrequent, and in many places almost unnecessary.  The introduction of the home-meeting movement has been an aid in this direction.  One evening a week, or at least a month, for home family recreation, improvement and enjoyment, conducted in order and under a religious spirit, proves successful in the desired direction, and is to be heartily recommended everywhere.”  (First Presidency Christmas Message, 18 Dec., 1915.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 4:347)