← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism Index

Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1917

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1917.” You can view other years here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.


1917:  Jan.:  Activities of the Priesthood Quorums.



Every person in each ward who holds the Priesthood should be enrolled in the proper class, regardless of whether he has been received as a member of the quorum which has jurisdiction in the ward, and encouragement should be given all the members of all classes to attend regularly.

Let the priests be presided over by the bishop personally, that they may have his watchful care and fatherly guidance during the critical period of their lives.  Let the bishop encourage them to perform their duties with precision and faithfulness; commend their good works, and by his personal influence and example lead them in the way that will make for high ideals in temporal and spiritual affairs.  A faithful priest who develops in his calling, will become a valuable elder, seventy and high priest.

All who have received the Priesthood should be looked after, and efforts made to keep them interested in their callings.  When any begin to grow indifferent or neglectful, a personal labor ought to be taken with them.  In some instances returned missionaries have been assigned to this duty.  If they are filled with the missionary spirit, and are diligent and earnest in their labors, realizing that the salvation of man is just as important at home as abroad in the world, they can do much good, and will be amply rewarded for the efforts they put forth.  Men specially called to this labor will visit the homes of delinquent brethren and labor with them just as they visited the homes of delinquent members or investigators while in the mission field.  The same missionary service rendered at home will produce larger results than in the mission field.  Abroad the elder seldom ceases to visit the investigator until he converts him or finds that his visits are not desired, and at home he should persevere until the delinquent brother is interested in his Priesthood duties and activities, and takes part with the other members of the quorum in the work of the ministry.

Another successful method is for the class instructor to call to his aid another faithful member of the class, and together take up a personal labor with the delinquent members of their class.  Such work performed under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit is usually effective, if persisted in with patience and love.

In some wards the bishopric takes a direct interest in the indifferent members who hold the Priesthood.  A list of these is made up, and divided among the members of the bishopric, each one taking the names of those whom he knows he will have the most influence with, and labor with them in a serious heart to heart way.

Of course, the teachers should always be alert to their duties in this matter.  Just as the bishop is the father of the ward, they are the fathers of their districts, and exercise an influence over those whom they visit.  From time to time let Priesthood work and duties be made the special subject for the month.

Selecting a Leader

Some men cannot be persuaded to attend their classes out of a sense of mere duty.  Such men can usually be reached by making the classes worth their while.  To do this a man who is a real leader must be selected as class instructor, and must possess a goodly measure of those qualities that go to make a real teacher.  Too much stress cannot be given to the selection of one to fill this important place.  The leader must be well prepared with his subject, and by his example encourage the members of the class to prepare the lesson in advance.  He must let the members of the class do the work, he acting simply as their teacher and guide.  It is also his duty to see that the lesson is confined to the subject assigned, and prevent as far as possible rambling and unprofitable discussion.

Social functions among the Priesthood classes and quorums will also serve to arouse interest.  Such occasions should be made pleasant and agreeable in every way for all who attend.

But the best way to keep up interest is to give every man who holds the Priesthood something to do, and encourage him to perform his duties faithfully.  We naturally take the most interest in those things in which we are engaged.  By making a careful study of each man’s character it is usually possible to find something that will interest him, and his sympathy can be won and his help secured by appealing to this side of his nature first.

The Presiding Bishopric are very much interested in the work of the Priesthood classes and quorums and desire to help solve the problems that arise.  Therefore, they offer these suggestions, and shall be glad to hear about the conditions in the wards and stakes, and the difficulties which have to be overcome and how the officers are overcoming them.

. . . .

Weekly Priesthood Meetings

In every ward of the Church a priesthood meeting should be held on Monday evening, or at such other time as may be designated by the stake presidency.  Every person in the ward holding the priesthood should be enrolled, and it is his duty to attend.  These meetings begin for the year’s work in January, and continue until the end of the year.  The bishop will preside at the weekly priesthood meeting, and he should preside in person over the priests of the ward.  All who attend should meet in general assembly for the opening exercises; following these exercises, brief and timely instructions may be given by the bishopric, and the ward clerk should read that part of the current number of the Improvement Era which gives instructions on priesthood matters; then the members should adjourn to their class rooms, and proceed with their regular lessons.  In very small wards where the number holding the priesthood will not justify having six separate classes, it is suggested that the high priests, seventies and elders might meet in one class.


At a recent stake Priesthood meeting of the Ensign stake, Elder John Wells, of the Presiding Bishop’s office, gave an enlivening talk on how to improve the attendance of Priesthood quorum and class meetings.  We believe the folowing synopsis of his remarks will be of interest and value to teachers, officers, and members generally:

Quorum Presidency

Priesthood means service.  Every person holding the priesthood should be actively engaged.  The officers should feel a personal responsibility for the success of the quorum.  They should be aggressive; should act as shepherds.


Assign to each member of the presidency, for personal visits where needed, one-third of the members of the quorum.  In the case of Seventies, one-seventh.  Arrange visits according to personal convenience.  Each member of the presidency should have a small pocket roll book.  He should ascertain the attitude of each ember about prayers, lessons, sacrament meetings, discussions in quorums; also should have the address, telephone number, occupation, etc., of each member assigned to him.


He should keep the authorized roll and record book, and have it always ready for inspection, and at the presidency’s council meetings.  Three days before the council meeting, he should, under their instructions, send post cards, srite letters, or in any other manner co-operate wih the presidency in securing attendance of the members.

Council Members

The presidency and the secretary might meet the day prior to the regular meeting and consider the absentees.  Every name should be looked over; the program prepared, and a member of the presidency assigned to tkae charge of the meeting.  Thoroughly consider the lesson.


Use the telephone to remind members; arrange for post card notices to those who prefer that method; or letters to those who prefer letters.  Each member of the presidency should do this himself.  Make personal visits when necessary, learn the cause of constant absence and adjust, if possible.  Evey person absent or excused the previous meeting should be reminded.  Encourage members to come, although they may take no active part.  Where the visit of one member of the presidency does not bring results, all three should call.  Enter into this work with the missionary spirit, and don’t be discouraged if immediate results are not apparent.

. . . .

Elders’ Duties

It is the duty of the presidency of the quorum to teach every elder how to act in his office and calling.  The quorum presidency should feel it is a reflection on them for a member of the quorum, who has been a member for a reasonable length of time, not to know how to bless an infant; how to consecrate oil; how to administer to the sick; how to baptize, and the words to use; how to confirm; how to ordain to the Aaronic priesthood; how to ordain to the Melchizedek priesthood; how to administer the sacrament.  Every elder should be impressed with the importance of his quorum work.  In some quorums, members report when they are out of employment, and each member of the quorum should feel it his duty to help the members who are out of work to obtain employment.  Each elder should also feel that he should help to support the missionaries from that quorum, and it is an excellent practice to send (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) remittances to elders.  At regular periods, the members of the quorum should be taught the law of tithing; the giving of fast offerings; the proper observance of the Sabbath day, and all other similar duties.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 20(3):267-270, Jan., 1917)

1 Feb.:  Nephite Twelve held Melchizedek Priesthood.

“The Nephite Twelve were ordained elders, holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, and they were special witnesses of the name of Christ to all amongst whom they ministered.  They officiated in the sacred duties of the Apostleship, for to such they were appointed; but they were called ‘disciples,’ and, as the Book of Mormon makes plain, will be judged by, and therefore are under the presidency of, the Apostles who labored on the eastern hemisphere in the earlier dispensation.”  (James E. Talmage, “The Ancient Apostles and the Nephite Twelve,” JI 52(2):60, 1 Feb., 1917)

Mar.:  The blessing of babies.

“This question comes to the Era:

If a baby is blessed by its father at home, when it is eight days old, should it afterwards be taken to Fast meeting on Fast day and blessed there?  If so, of which blessing should the official record be made by the ward clerk?

If a baby is blessed by its father at home, a note shold be made of the blessing in the family record; but to comply with the requirements of the revelation in reagrd to the blessing of children, found in section 20, paragraph 70, Doctrine and Covenants, it will also be necessary to take the child ‘unto the elders before the Church’ which is generally done in fast meeting.  It is evidently intended that the record to be made in the ward shall be of the public blessing.  The paragraph reads:

Every member of the Church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto the elders before the Church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.

This example of public blessing was set by the Lord Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament, and also in the Book of Mormon, III Nephi 17:11-13, 23, 24.  In these examples the blessing was done publicly, and that is the method that should be pursued by the parents who have children among the Latter-day Saints.  This does not imply that a father should not bless his child when eight days of age, neither does it imply that a record should not be made of such blessing, for we believe that it is not only the privilege but the duty of the father to so bless his child, also to record the blessing in his family record.  But the blessing of which the Church takes cognizance is the blessing that is given when the child is brought ‘unto the elders before the Church.’  It becomes the blessing of public record.  Of course, in case of any inability to have the child taken before the public, for any cause, the blessing which the father gives becomes official when reported to the bishop, and it should be recorded in the ward records, but this would be the exception, and not the general rule.”  (“Editor’s Table,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, editors] IE 20(5):451-452, Mar., 1917)

Mar.:  Time of priesthood class meetings.

“Meeting on Sunday morning with the Sunday School, but in distinct Priesthood classes, has been very satisfactory.  Many of the boys have said that they have here stronger incentive to magnify their callings.  The motives for observing the Sabbath day are stronger.  There is much more satisfactory response on the part of instructors.  The session of the Sunday School begins at a time when temptation to stay away because of being tardy is minimized.  In insures better attendance at the sacrament meeting.”  (P. Joseph Jensen, “Priesthood Quorums’ Table–Helpful Hints on Priesthood Activities,” IE 20(5):460, Mar., 1917)

6 Apr.:  Importance of ward teaching.

“There has been a very marked improvement in ward teaching, both in the quality of the teaching ahd in the regularity of the visits to the homes of the Latter-day Saints by the teachers.  Some of the stakes of Zion have had every family visited every month of the year, and in two or three stakes of Zion, every family has been visited every month for several years past.  This regular work of the ward teachers is having its effect in improved attendance at sacrament meetings, priesthood meetings, and other ward and stake activities.  As you know, my brethren and sisters, the main object ot his work, the visiting of the teachers to the homes and the families of the Church, is to ascertain whether there is any need there, whether any are sick or poor or faithless, or in any way in need of succor and assistance, that that which is needful might be rendered unto them.”  (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Address, 6 Apr., 1917, IE 20:645-656)

26 Aug.:  Home Evening:  Began with John Taylor?

“I have been asked, my brethren and sisters, to speak a few words about Home Evening, a topic that has been discussed in this Tabernacle a number of times in the past.  It does seems strange that we are so forgetful, that we are so careless and indifferent and that it is so necessary to remind us continually of what is for our good.  This, perhaps, is not because we do not believe; not because we are not in sympathy with what we are advised, instructed and urged to do, but because of conditions by which we are surrounded. 

Under the best of circumstances life, with the average man and woman, is strenuous; there is a struggle; duties and obligations are numerous; we have much to do; and because of these conditions, we sometimes are unable to do what we perhaps would like to do, because we are weary or because there are other things that more or less interfere.

I do not know how many of you Latter-day Saints remember, as I very vividly remember, when President Taylor presented this topic to us in the Tabernacle a number of years ago.  I never shall forget the spirit that impressed him and the promises he made to us at the time if we would accept the advice that he gave.  I believe–I know–that he spoke under the inspiration of his calling and of the Almighty; that he spoke words of truth, and that the promises he made were the promises of our Father unto us.  He was the mouthpiece, giving us the word of the Lord.  Do you remember that he promised us that if we would observe Home Evening faithfully and diligently, that no member of our family would ever be lost; that there would be in the homes of the people of this stake of Zion, a peace and love, a purity and joy, that would make our home life ideal; that the fathers and mothers would have such influence for good with their children that they would have the indescribable joy of seeing them faithful and true and grow up pure and remain pure, and their feet would be preserved from the snares and pitfalls of the evil one?

Notwithstanding these promises and notwithstanding the fact that we have urged the observance of Home Evening in the wards of this stake, there is no question but that at the present time there are but few people who observe it.  And yet, I know, my brethren and sisters, that those who have truly observed it can testify that there has come to their homes the blessings promised by President Taylor.  But strange to say–even those in charge of ward affairs sometimes forget.  And so we have public meetings of various kinds arranged on Home Evening, when it was the advice that every Latter-day Saint family spend that evening at home, and that public meetings and affairs be placed at other times.

. . . .

My brethren and sisters, in every home in this stake of Zion we should like to have Monday evening observed as Home Evening.”  (Joseph F. Merrill, of the presidency of the Granite Stake, remarks at the Granite Stake Quarterly Conference, 26 Aug., 1917; IE 21(3):203-206, Jan., 1918)

Aug.:  Rebaptism.

“The question has been asked why ‘rebaptism was established in the day of the Prophet Joseph Smith and why it was continued for a number of years in Utah under the direction of President Brigham Young, and why it is now abandoned?’

There is really in the Church no such thing as ‘rebaptism.’  Baptism, as we understand it, is one of the cardinal principles of the gospel, commanded primarily for the remission of sins and secondarily as the door by which we enter into the Church.  It was first made known and taught as one of the ordinances of the gospel to Adam who was commanded to instruct his children and call upon them to be baptized for the remission of sins.  The ordinance of baptism was known and practiced in ancient Israel and in all ages of the world as one of the essential ordinances of the gospel where the gospel has been found on the earth.  It is just as necessary today as at any other period in the history of the world, for without it the sinner cannot receive a remission of his sins and be admitted into the kingdom of God.

It is true that during the administration of the Prophet Joseph Smith some members of the Church were again baptized, without having lost their membership by excommunication but who were in transgression, and so it has been from that day down to the present, where the repentant transgressor has desired that the ordinance be performed for the remission of sins.  Frederick G. Williams was ‘rebaptized’ and confirmed August 5, 1838, at Far West, Missouri, although he was then a member of the Church (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 55).  

After the arrival of the Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, and subsequently for a considerable period, all those who entered the valley were baptized anew at the request of President Brigham Young who, with the Council of the Twelve, set the example to the people who were gathering from all parts of the world.  There were various reasons for this action on the part of President Young and the leading brethren.  They stated that it was for the ‘renewal of their covenants.’  They came into the valley rejoicing after many trials and untold hardships from a land where they had been subject to mob violence and dictation on the part of enemies who denied to them the privilege guaranteed in the Constitution of our land, to worship God according to the dictates of conscience.  After their arrival in this western land they were free from molestation, and in humility they approached the Lord, not because of transgression, but because of thankfulness for their deliverance from wicked enemies, and knowing no better way to express their gratitude decided to make covenant with the Lord that from that time forward they would serve him and keep his commandments.  As a token of this covenant they entered the water and were baptized and confirmed, renewing their covenants and obligations as members of the Church.

Another reason that caused these brethren to take such a step to make the renewal of the covenant general, applying to all who came into the valley, was the fact that during their drivings, mobbings and persecutions and final exodus, many branch and ward records had been lost, and when the people entered the Salt Lake Valley and sought a standing in the communities of the Saints, many of them were without certificates of baptism and were unable to point to the records from whence they came to show their proper claim to full fellowship among the Saints.  As it is essential that a record of the members be kept, it was thought well to have all such do their first works over again that the record might be made and thus no question could be raised in later years regarding their standing in the Church.  To make the matter fair and avoid feelings that otherwise might have arisen, the requirement was made of all.

Another reason was the fact that following the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith some members of the Church had actually strayed away and in their darkness had followed after false shepherds such as James J. Strang, William Smith, Zenas H. Gurley, and Jason W. Briggs, not knowing what to do and not being firmly founded in the faith by which they could recognize the true Shepherd, and after their repentance and return to the fold, they desired to renew their covenants and be again established to their full standing in the Church.

For these reasons and others of lesser import the practice of ‘rebaptizing’ all who entered the valley of Salt Lake prevailed at that early day.  As already stated baptism is for the remission of sins on the part of those who have not come into the Church, and the door byi which they enter.  Those who have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church who transgress may receive the remission of their sins through the atonement of our Savior on conditions of their humility and repentance without again entering the waters of baptism.  Should a person sin to that degree that it would be necessary to deprive him of his membership in the Church, it would be necessary, of course, for him after repenting to again enter the Church through baptism.  ‘Rebaptism’ as understood in the question has not been done away, for even today where persons feel that they have transgressed to such a degree that they cannot conscientiously claim membership in the Church, and request baptism, even as new members, in order to be restored to fellowship among the Saints, their request may be granted.  It is unnecessary, however, to rebaptize persons merely as a renewal of their covenants every time they transgress in order that they may obtain forgiveness, for this would greatly cheapen this sacred ordinance and weaken its effectiveness.  One baptism by water for the remission of sins should be enough, and there are other means by which sins may be forgiven those who have made covenant with the Lord, provided they do not sin away their right to a standing in the Church.  The rebaptism spoken of in Section 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants applied to those who had been baptized into some other organization, without authority from the Lord and who afterwards desired to unite with the Church and be accepted on their unauthorized baptism which had been performed by one without the Priesthood and power to officiate in gospel ordinances.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Editor’s Table,” IE 20(10):916-918, Aug., 1917)

11 Sep.:  Honor the priesthood.

“You brethren hold the Priesthood: do you honor it?  You Elders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: do you respect the office that you hold?  Do you honor the key of authority that you possess in the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God?  Will you who hold this Priesthood profane the name of Deith?  Would you be riotous and eat and drink with the drunken, with the unbelieving and the profane?  Would you, holding that Priesthood, forget your prayers and fail to remember the Giver of all good?  Holding that Priesthood and possessing the right and authority from God to administer in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, would you violate the confidence and the love of God, the hope and desire of the Father of all of us, in bestowing that key and blessing upon you, that you magnify it?  Would you, as an Elder in the Church, dishonor your wife or your children?  Would you desert the mother of your children, the wife of your bosom, the gift of God to you which is more precious than life itself?  For without the woman the man is not perfect in the Lord, no more than the woman is perfect without the man.  Let the man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, honor that Priesthood in himself.  If he will do that, he will then honor it in his bishop; he will honor it in the teacher that comes to his home to administer to him in his house and to teach him and his family the duties of home living and of righteous living.  He will honor the Bishop’s Counselors; he will honor the Presidency of the Stake; he will honor the High Council and their decisions, as well as the decisions of the Bishop and Presidency of the Stake–if he will honor the Priesthood in himself.  Any man who will not submit to the authority of the Holy Priesthood, in humility, in meekness and in submission, as the Lord submitted to the will of his Father who was in heaven, is not worthy to be exalted to a presiding and authoritative position in the Church.  Every man should be willing to be presided over, and he is not fit to preside over others until he can submit sufficiently to the presidency of his brethren.  Now, what I wish to impress upon the minds of my hearers to-night is this:  Will you honor the Priesthood?  Will you honor those who preside?  Will you honor it ihn yourselves?  If you will honor it in yourselves, in your homes, in your outgoing and incoming, as individuals, then you will hold it in reverence not only in your fellow men, in your associates in the Holy Priesthood, but you will honor it in the Son of God Himself and will hold it as the most sacred gift of God to His sons in the world.  You know our wives and children enjoy the blessings of the Priesthood with us, the gifts of the Priesthood that are bestowed upon us.  The rights and privileges of that Priesthood which God has bestowed upon His sons are enjoyed by their wives and by the children who are obedient to the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The wife goes to the Temple where the man can only go when he is an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; but the wife may go with him and receive the same blessings that he receives in the House of the Lord.  She is sealed to him for time and for eternity, and their children are sealed to them for time and for eternity, if they were not born under the covenant of the Gospel.  Will the Elder in the Church live worthy of these blessings, whether he is acting as a Deacon, or as a Teacher, or as an Elder, or in any capacity in which he may be called to act?  Will that man honor the law of tithing?  Will he honor the Sabbath day and try to keep it holy?  Will he observe the principles of the Gospel, which enjoin upon the father and the mother the bounden duty to teach their children faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; so that the children will desire baptism when they are eight years old?  Will you do it?  You who hold the Priesthood, will you do this?  Will you hold these things in remembrance, and will you honor the Priesthood that you hold in observing these commands of the Lord?  We have come to teach there principles.  We want you to observe all these things.  You men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood as well as those who are only coming up, so to speak, who are yet enjoying but the gifts of the Lesser Priesthood, will you honor these things–the Word of Wisdom, the Sabbath day, love for your neighbor, equity and justice in your treatment of all men, charity and forgiveness, patience, forbearance, the spirit of the Gospel of Christ, the spirit of the Son of God who forgave all men, even those who put Him to death; for He cried unto the Father: ‘O, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’  My brethren and sisters, my duty, my mission, the obligation that weighs heavily upon my mind, day in and day out, is that the people of God shall be united; they should see eye to eye in matters of doctrine and precept, in union of heart and love and action.  They should honor the Priesthood that they bear themselves; they should honor those who are placed to preside over them, and they should not allow that which is sacred to spoken of lightly in their presence.  They should condemn wickedness, condemn sin and the transgression of the laws of God, by their displeasure toward it, by their denunciation of it and by their reproof of those who are indulging in that which is wrong in these respects.”  (Joseph F. Smith, address given at Nephi, 11 Sep., 1917; in JI 53(2):70-72, 1 Feb., 1918)

13 Sep.:  Right of appeal of Church decisions.

“It is my duty to honor the bishopric of my ward.  It is my duty to hold in reverence the authority of the bishopric of the ward in which I live; and if the bishopric in that ward have any business with me and my neighbor, and they render a decision with respect to the differences between me and my neighbor, though their decision be against my will and my thought, it is my business and my duty to observe and obey the decision of my bishopric, unless I have reason and good evidence that the judgment has been rendered partially and without due consideration.

In the event that the bishop’s decision is perhaps partial in my opinion, there is another course for me to obtain what I believe to be justice and righteousness in my case.  What is that?  Shall I go over the heads of the presidency and the high council of the stake, and make my appeal?  Shall I ignore them, and lay my complaint before the presiding authorities of the Church, in order to have the decision of the bishop amended or reviewed?  No, that is not my business.  What shall I do, if they have not dealt justly with me?  I have a right to appeal to the president of the stake and his counselors, and the high council of that stake, and they possess power and authority to deal with me to the full extent of my fellowship in the Church–they have a perfect right to do it.  We hold that the presidency of a stake of Zion will be required to exercise that authority and not throw it on to us.  We have enought to do without carrying their burdens, or taking from them responsibilities which rightly devolve upon them.  We have concluded not to do that.  So, therefore, if I am not satisfied with the decision of my bishop and his counselors, after they have heard the evidence in my case and rendered a decision, and I have reasonable cause for believing that the decision is not just, not what it ought to be, then I have the liberty and the right of appeal to the presidency of the stake and high council, and they will take it up.  Instaed of three high priests listening to the evidence, there will be the three high priests in the presidency of the stake, twelve high priests in the council, and these fifteen high priests in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will certainly weigh my complaint and my case, and consider it thoroughly, from every angle and point of view, and in ninety-nine times out of a hundred they will render a just and impartial judgment.  Therefore, ninety-nine times out of a hundred it becomes my bounden duty to receive the judgment of the high council and not appeal it.

But even then, after the presidency of the stake and high council have decided my case, if I feel that still I have evidence that they have not properly considered, or properly weighed the evidence produced, or that I can bring forth at another trial, review, or rehearing, if permitted to do so by the First Presidency of the Church of Christ, then I can appeal my case from the decision of the high council to the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  If it is a case of sufficient importance, and the Presidency of the Church are not really satisfied with reference to the decision of the high council, they may, if they desire, call to their assistance the Twelve Apostles.  They may sit in council and decide the case, and from their decision there is no appeal.  Now, that is the order of the Priesthood.

There have been complaints sent to the First Presidency of the Church over the dicisions of bishops in cases that have come to us before they were heard in the proper way in the stakes where the difficulties have occurred.  The case is not heard by the high council.  It is heard by the bishopric, and then the parties aggrieved have, in some cases, gone over the heads of local authorities and asked that one or two of the apostles or that somebody else should be sent there to take up the case and try it, after it has been decided by the bishop.  For a number of years there have been a few cases of this character that have been responded to without reference to the proper procedure in such matters.  Apostles have been sent all the way from Salt Lake to consider local difficulties.  I have known apostles to be sent away over to a stake in Colorado to settle difficulties that should have been settled by the bishopric and left there.  Or if not left there, they should never have gone beyond the high council.  But, in order to do justice, in order to show mercy, in order to be lenient, in order to yield to the appeals of those who were aggrieved, and because they were aggrieved, the Presidency of the Church have sent the apostles or others to settle difficulties entirely out of order; and we are going to stop that.  We will not do it any more.  The local authorities of the Church are now held, by the Presidency of the Church, and by the Twelve Apostles, as authorized and qualified and amply empowered with authority to decide all matters that pertain to membership in the stake in which they reside.  We will require them to handle all such difficulties, and we will not listen to any complaints, from any individual, that do not come in the regular order of appeal as it is designated in the law of God.  Now, this is the proper order of settling difficulties among the Latter-day Saints.

An adulterer, when proved beyond doubt, who will not repent of his sins, should be called up before the bishop’s council in the ward, and there he should be disfellowshiped, and that action of the bishopric should be reported up to the high council, who hold the higher authority of the priesthood, and when they consider the actino or the matter and find that the decision of the bishopric is just and right, then it becomes the duty of the high council and presidency of the stake to cut the offender off from the Church; because an adulterer, if he will not repent, is not entitled to a membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He is a pest-breeder; he is a nuisance.  He is not worthy of a standing in the Church, and he ought to be disfellowshiped, and he ought to be excommunicated from the Church, inasmuch as he persists in his unrepentance and the pursuite of his wickedness.  Now, all manner of crime may be dealt with upon the same basis–I mean crimes that would justly bar membership in the Church.

A man who says he does not believe in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but who ignores and repudiates the doctrine of the atonement, and the fact, revealed to us and which is a part of our religion, that God our heavenly Father is the Father of Jesus Christ–the man who denies that truth and who persists in his unbelief is not worthy of membership in the Church.  He may be considered harmless and of no great danger to others, particularly, as long as he keeps his mouth shut and does not advocate his pernicious doctrines, and be permitted to remain a member of the Church; but the moment you find him trying to poison the minds of somebody else–the innocent, the unsuspecting, the unwary–trying to sow the seeds of death and apostasy and unbelief and infidelity in the minds of innocent people, that moment it becomes the duty of the bishop of the ward where the man resides to take him up and try him, and if he is unrepentant and will not confess his sins, disfellowship him and refer him to the high council to be finally dealt with for his membership in the Church.  Let him be cut off; let him go his way; but let it be understood that it is because of his unbelief, his unrepentance, his unwillingness to hearken to the law of God, and to the right of the presidency in the Holy Priesthood of the Church.

Now, there are many other things.  These are only incidents.  Here is a man who says: ‘I do not have any faith in the bishop.  I do not like the bishop.  I do not believe in him, he is incompetent; he is partial; he is injust; and I will not sustain him in his position in the Church.’  What will you do with such a member?  Well, he may be a pestiferous sort of a person; he may say and do a great many bad or foolish things for himself.  For that alone, you can’t very well cut him off from the Church, but you can hold him in disfellowship because of his unwillingness to recognized divine authority; for the bishop and his counselors, when they are appointed there by divine authority, have this right.  Don’t you forget it; they are there, not because we of our own will put them there.  They are there because the Lord has designated that as the order of presidency in a ward, by divine authority, and the bishop holds authority there from God, not from man.  Therefore, the man who says, ‘I will not fellowship the bishop,’ and who is obstreperous, and will not yield, may be held in suspense as to the rights and privileges of the Holy Priesthood.  He may not go to the temple to get his endowments, or be sealed; he may be barred.  He may not be permitted to be baptized for the dead; because he is in disobedience to the Holy Priesthood; and he may be held in suspense or be disfellowshiped, although he may not be cut off from the Church.  But if he gets to preaching about it, or sowing the seeds of dissension and of disobedience and rebellion in the hearts of others, he becomes a dangerous person, poisoning the minds of the innocent, misleading those who are unwary, stirring up dissension and discontent in the hearts of those who ought to be in harmony with the bishop and with the ward, and thereby sowing the seeds of disunion, disorganization and disintegration.  Such a man becomes dangerous, although he may be moral and virtuous, and a strictly temperate man, so far as his life is concerned.  At the same time he is persisting in a wrong course.  He is persisting in that which is in opposition to the Priesthood and to the organizations of the Church.

Therefore, he is in opposition to divine authority; he is sowing the seeds of dissension in the hearts of others; and if he carries that to the extreme, like the murderer or the adulterer, or like the thief and the robber, he may be dealt with for his fellowship in the Church and for his membership, and be cut off from the Church, just for his rebellion.  I don’t care how much he professes to believe in the gospel.  What!  A man profess to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet rebel against the very principle that the Lord has instituted to secure the rightful government of his people, the rightful conduct of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  He profess to be a Latter-day Saint and to understand the principles of the gospel?  Why, it is nonsense!  When a man says: ‘I am a Latter-day Saint; I am a member of the Church, in good standing, because I know what the principles of the gospel are, and I know what the principles of government are in the Church,’ for that man to say, ‘I oppose the bishop because I don’t like him’ or ‘because I haven’t faith in him,’ is proof by that very act, that he does not understand the principle of government and submission to divine authority.  He therefore becomes obstreperous, unyielding, ungovernable, undesirable, and worthy to be dealt with according to his merits or demerits.

Now, these are some of the things that belong to the government of the Church, the Priesthood of the Son of God.  I know whereof I speak, and no man can dispute what I say from the law of God.  I have been led to these remarks by the thought that perhaps some people may be called up for their misconduct and be tried.  They should be given every chance, of course, to rebut the accusations made against them, although we do not expect a man to prove his innocence.  If a man is accused we do not expect him to prove his innocence in the Church any more than he would be expected to prove his innocence under the laws of the land.  We expect the evidence to be brought to prove his guit beyond all question, if he is guilty; and when we receive that evidence we must deal with it according to righteous principles, exercising all the mercy and charity we can, looking always for the salvation of men and not for their destruction.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Principles of Government in the Church,” 13 Sep., 1917; in  IE 21(1):4-9, Nov., 1917)

Sep.:  Working with the Lesser Priesthood.

“The Presiding Bishopric has sent to the bishops of the Church and their counselors the following instructions vital to the progress of priesthood work throughout the Church:

No doubt you have been as much interested as we in the annual report of the Aaronic priesthood in your ward.  This report will become a permanent Church record and is only the beginning of a movement which we hope will bring about a greater interest on the part of the bishopric and other ward officers, so that this important branch of the priesthood may increase in activity in the avenues where the membership can, and should be engaged.

The bishop of each ward should preside over the priests in harmony with the instructions of the Lord.  He should sit with them in council and teach them their duties.  This is so plainly expressed in the Doctrine and Covenants that we cannot see how any one can substitute the bishop as the president of the priests’ quorum or class.

In many of the wards there are not enough priests to form a quorum, but where there is a majority of the required number, a quorum should be organized.  Where there is not a majority, a class should be organized and the bishop should preside.  Such excellent results have followed where the bishops have taken personal charge of the priests that we feel justified in urging you to give this method a trial at least.  We hope you will have the same gratifying results that have followed in the instance of those bishops who preside over their priests.

In many of the wards of the Church one of the bishop’s counselors personally supervises and directs the labors of the teachers, and the other counselor acts in the same capacity with the deacons.  The bishopric see to it that the members of the Aaronic priesthood are actively engaged in the duties of their office and calling.  Boys as a rule are good followers and are always glad and willing to follow an active, energetic leader, and with encouragement will readily take upon themselves responsibility and duties.

In the instance of the teachers and deacons, when organized in a quorum capacity, they should be presided over by their officers, who should at all times be in charge and direct the affairs of the quorum, subject to the kindly supervision and aid of the member of the bishopric.

The boys are the future officers of the stakes and wards, and in later years will bear the standard of the gospel to the nations of the earth.  The foundation for their future success and efficiency is now being laid by you as the bishopric of the ward, and as the presidency of the Aaronic priesthood of the ward.  Boys who have been taken in hand by their bishops, and who have been in classes under their supervision, are the most successful types of young men we have in the Church, and many instances have occurred where they have been transformed from wayward and indifferent young men to sincere, capable, active and useful members of the Church, because the bishopric of the ward took a fatherly and kindly interest in them when they held the Aaronic priesthood.

We hope you will not feel that we are trying to place uon you an added burden, but we realize that upon the faithful performance of your duties depends the future progress of the Church, and we are anxious that the young men of today shall be fully prepared for all the duties and responsibilities which will come to them hereafter,–hence are anxious that you shall render unto them all the servide and assistance within your power, to accomplish this end.  We trust that you will receive these suggestions with the same spirit in which they are made.”  (“Priesthood Quorums’ Table,” IE 20(11):1021, Sep., 1917)

5 Oct.:  Roster of priesthood holders.

“We have in the Church today a great army of priesthood:  11,835 high priests; 10,497 seventies; 30,017 elders; 9,387 priests; 11,429 teachers; 23,623 deacons, making a total of 96,788 who bear the authority of the Holy Priesthood.”  (Rudger Clawson, 5 Oct., 1917; CR Oct., 1917, p. 29)