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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1927

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1927.” You can view other years here.

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1927:  Jan.:  Program for Priesthood Conventions.

[This followed the format of 1926, with no message from the 1st Presidency, and a program for a Woman’s Meeting.  The only noteworthy address was “The Value of the Priesthood as Shown in Temple Marriages and in Temple Ordinances for the Dead.”  (“Priesthood Conferences, 1927,” [pamphlet], xerox)

Jan.:  Supervision of absent members of AP quorums.

“In a number of wards throughout the Church, some of the young men bearing the Aaronic Priesthood find it necessary to leave home not only during the Summer, but sometimes for longer periods to find employment or to attend school elsewhere.  In all such cases it is the duty primarily of the ward supervisors of the Aaronic Priesthood to endeavor to secure the prospective addresses of the members before they leave home; or, failing in that, to get their addresses later from their parents.

The supervisors should then se to it that encouraging letters are sent these members at least every two or three months during their absence, if this is at all possible.  The letters can be prepared and signed by the quorum presidency, the supervisor of the quorum or a member of the bishopric.  Or, any member of the quorum might be appointed to write such letters.  Appointments for this purpose should be distributed to each one in turn.  They need not be lengthy and should be entirely friendly and informal.

. . . .

The purpose of this activity, along with all of the supervision of the Aaronic Priesthood, is to give individual attention and direction to every member in order that each one shall develop an appreciation of his part in this great work.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 30(3):286, Jan., 1927)

1 Feb.:  Dedicating a home.

“The Latter-day Saints believe in dedicating their homes to the Lord and to the ‘highest service of the family.’  That this belief is shared in by others besides our people is indicated by the following interesting account, contained in a recent number of the Youth’s Companion.  In this case, however, the chief ceremony was omitted, i.e., the dedicatory prayer.  Had this been added the simple service would have been ideal.”  (JI, Editorial, 62(2):78-79, 1 Feb., 1927)

Seventies not to be ordained in mission field.

“Seventies should not be ordained in the mission fields, unless exceptional circumstances make such ordination necessary.”  (1 Feb., 1927; Rudger Clawson “Book of Decisions-1”; in Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government (1939 edition), pp. 347-348)

Mar.:  Comments and suggestions solicited.

“We are very much interested in the work of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums throughout the Church.  In order to stimulate interest in the work and to gather information and suggestions that will be helpful to these organizations throughout the Church, we invite suggestions and comments.  We also suggest that stake supervisory committees, who desire to know more concerning the activities of the Granite stake, may communicate with President Frank Y. Taylor, 50 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.–The Presiding Bishopric, by David A. Smith.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 30(5):467, Mar., 1927)

26 May:  PBO concerns over Priesthood-SS Program.

“May 26, 1927

President Heber J. Grant and Counselors,


Dear Brethren:

With reference to a letter addressed to you by the Council of the Twelve Apostles under date of May 12th, recommending certain changes in Priesthood and Sunday School meetings and activities, wherein it is stated that the Presiding Bishopric concur in the recommendations, you are advised that the recommendations as submitted do not quite express the conclusions arrived at, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding of the discussion and of the conclusions and of our attitude we desire to express briefly the status of this important matter.

When the recommendations of a Committee of the Council of the Twelve–essentially those presented in a letter to you–were submitted for our consideration and discussion with the committee, we gave the matter careful attention and thereupon prepared a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposition as we understood it.  A copy of this summary is hereto attached and is self-explanatory.  That was then and is now in large measure our best judgment in the matter.

In the discussion that ensued it developed that only two stakes out of ninety-six so far as we know have any connection or conflict, if it may be called such, between the Priesthood quorums or classes and the Sunday School, while one or two other stakes had considered the advisability of following the arrangements carried out in Granite or Liberty stakes, it was only a temporary arrangement planned for the summer season.  It appears that there is no general desire throughout the stakes to change from the present arrangements which permit the weekly meetings of all grades of the Priesthood not only for the promotion of the quorum activities and of lesson work, but also for instructions and counsel with the bishopric on general matters affecting the ward as a whole, such as ward teaching and other important activities.

Since the concensus of opinion at this committee meeting was strongly in favor of the recommendations made, the Presiding Bishopric took the attitude that the members of the Aaronic Priesthood at least should continue to meet weekly to follow up the performance of duties and to promote the training of these 61,000 young men in this great responsibility that has come to them.  We felt at the time and still feel that if the plan proposed were adopted it would be a step backward instead of forward, as far as the Lesser Priesthood is concerned.  The plans being carried out for the development of interest and activity of all members of the Aaronic Priesthood are receiving such encouragement generally throughout the stakes and wards that we regret exceedingly any change such as this, which in our judgment will have an adverse effect.

In view of the fact that the various stake presidencies are directly responsible for and are most thoroughly familiar with all the details of administration of all Church activities in their various divisions including the Priesthood as well as the auxiliary organizations, would it not be very enlightening and helpful to have consultation with them before deciding upon any changes in such a vital matter?

With cordial wishes, we are

Sincerely, your brethren, 


(Presiding Bishopric to First Presidency, 26 May, 1927; in Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” pp. 167-168)

22 Aug.:  Who should be made Seventies?


In regard to the class of men who should be recommended to the office of Seventy, we suggest that: First, only such men should be called to this office as show evidence of ability to expound the scriptures and to present in a convincing manner the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A man’s ability to do this may be judged (a) by his pleasing personality; (b) by his integrity, dependability and faith; (c) by the power he possesses to express himself freely; and (d) by his manifest desire to bring the Truth before others.

Second, men may be called who have already filled missions and have thereby demonstrated their worthiness and capability and who may be able to fill other missions.  The fact that one has served in the Mission Field should not in itself be considered evidence that one be not retained in Seventies Quorums.  Fitness for the office and ability to serve the Church as a Seventy should be the only guides in choosing men to this office.

Third, not infrequently it will be found that young men will best fit into the missionary service.  When this is the case, their youth should not be a bar to their ordination.

Fourth, to all recommended to the office of Seventy, the term ‘Minute-Man’ should have deep significance; for upon the Seventy rests the direct responsibility of preaching the Gospel, at home and abroad.  All Seventies therefore, should hold themselves ever in readiness to answer the call of the Presiding Priesthood, ‘to be a traveling minister unto the Gentiles first and also unto the Jews.’

Every man, therefore, who is recommended to be ordained a Seventy should receive personal and careful consideration as to his fitness and ability to perform the duties required of him in this important calling.

August 22, 1927

Council of the Twelve (signed) Rudger Clawson, President

First Council of Seventy (signed) Rulon S. Wells, One of the Presidents.”  (Typescript, LDS Archives, Pq M251.3 B855 195-?; xerox; also in Rudger Clawson “Book of Decisions-1”; in Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government (1939 edition), p. 119)

Aug.:  Classes to continue during summer.

“Reports received at the Presiding Bishop’s Office indicate that many of the Priesthood organizations are discontinuing Priesthood quorum work during the summer months.  The excuse given is that farm work, vacations and the warm weather make it impossible to get members of Priesthood quorums to attend to their duties. . . .

We strongly advise that Aaronic Priesthood work be not discontinued, but that class work, with regular weekly assignments, be continued throughout the year.  The time of holding these meetings is immaterial.  The thing of greatest importance is the opportunity for training and service which comes to these young men only by appointment.  After all, is it not the duty and responsibility of those who are called as leaders to provide for this work and encourage all to labor in their office and calling in faith, seeking the blessings of the Lord?”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 30(10):926-927, Aug., 1927)

3 Oct.:  Proposal to place ward teaching in MP quorums.

“The Presiding Bishopric urged that the Melchizedek Priesthood also be included.  Although bearers of the Higher priesthood had been called as ward teachers, they functioned completely apart from the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, and were even listed as separate groups in ward attendance reports.  The Bishopric now proposed that this be changed by recommending that: ‘in order to vitalize ward teachers and to give the classes and quorums of the high priesthood more local work, the classes and quorums of the high priesthood be called to labor, when necessary, as ward teachers: several districts of the ward to be assigned to high priests, seventies, and elders as occasion may require.’  The Presiding Bishopric therefore requrested that the Melchizedek priesthood be included in the weekly half-hour priesthood gatherings.”  (Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” quoting from Presiding Bishopric’s Journal, 9:283, Meeting of First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric, 3 Oct., 1927)

21 Oct.:  Weekly meetings still desirable.

“Even though the Twelve’s official instructions concerning the Church Sunday School recommended only monthly rather than weekly priesthood meetings, the General Authorities–notably the Presiding Bishopric–still felt the need of the weekly gatherings.  The Bishopric stressed the need for ‘the training of all priesthood members in the performance of their duties and for developing quorum identity.'”  (Richard O. Cowan, “The Priesthood-Auxiliary Movement, 1928-1938,” BYU Studies 19(1):110, Fall, 1978; quoting from Presiding Bishopric circular letter, 21 Oct., 1927)

“October 21, 1927.

To All Bishops and Counselors,

Dear Brethren:

Some material changes are contemplated in the Gospel teaching for the year 1928, in lieu of the courses of study heretofore provided for the various priesthood quorums.  It is proposed to have all Gospel subjects taught in the Sunday School.  It is also proposed that on and after January 1st, next, the Sunday Schools will commence at ten a.m.

After consideration of this matter with the First Presidency, we desire to advise you that while this contemplated change will modify somewhat the plan for the weekly ward priesthood meetings and the quorum and class work in connection therewith, it is nevertheless important that these meetings should continue, but that they be shortened and the time applied chiefly to the consideration of the specific duties of the members of the various quorums, the making of assignments and reporting thereon, and other pertinent matters.

There are certain particular duties that need frequent, systematic attention.  They are:

(a) The important work of Ward Teaching, which concerns practically all members of the priesthood.

(b) The making of assignment for the members of the various quorums for the performance of specific weekly duties, and the reporting regularly on such assignments.

(c) The training of all members in the understanding of the functions of the priesthood.

(d) Promoting the social and fraternal interests of the quorums.

It is felt that the business of the ward priesthood meeting and the quorum or departmental work associated therewith need not require more than one-half hour.  It is suggested, therefore, that this meeting could be held very suitably on Sunday morning from 9:25 to 9:55 a.m.  However, should some other time be considered more suitable by the Stake Presidency and Bishoprics of any stake in the interest of securing larger attendance and better results, there is no objection.  The details of the order of business to be carried out in the ward priesthood meeting and the quorum or class sessions in connection therewith, will be submitted to all the Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics before the end of this year.  In the meantime, this letter is forwarded to you in order that you may understand the proposed plan and be making preparations to carry the same into effect.

With cordial wishes, we are

Sincerely your brethren,

The Presiding Bishopric.

By Sylvester Q. Cannon.”

(Presiding Bishopric to All Bishops, 21 Oct., 1927; in Richard O. Cowan, “Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century–Under the direction of Dean Jesse, Melchizedek Priesthood Research Task Committee, March, 1974,” pp. 169-170)

Oct.:  Necessary numbers for organizing AP quorums.

“In practically every ward and branch of the Church there should be a sufficient number of deacons to form at least one quorum, and enough teachers and priests to form separate classes for these grades of the Priesthood.  The average proportion of deacons throughout the Church is 6.3 per cent, of teachers 3.8 per cent, and of priests 3.6 percent of the total membership.

Taking this as a basis in a ward of 200 members and children, there should be about 12 deacons, 7 teachers and 7 priests.  Under such circumstances, it should be possible to organize a deacons’ quorum, and a teachers’ and a priests’ class.  The bishop should have direction of the priests’ class, one counselor, of the teachers’ class, and the other of the deacons’ quorum.  If possible, a supervisor should also be appointed for each grade.  However, in the instance of such a small ward, if the members of the bishopric can give the individual attention necessary to the members of each grade, and carry out systematically the program provided, the same results can be obtained.

In larger wards, where there are two or three quorums of any grade, the same arrangement of separate departments should be provided.  The Lord has revealed the number of members that form each quorum; and it is for a wise purpose.  It should be our business, then, to see to it that each quorum or fraction thereof shall maintain its identity by holding its own gathering.

Wherever there are more than one-half the number required to form a quorum of any grade of the Priesthood in a ward or branch, the quorum should be organized with a presidency.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 30(12):1141, Oct., 1927)

11 Nov.:  Change in Priesthood Classes/Sunday School.

“Dear Brethren,

In amplification of the announcement made by President Heber J. Grant, at the General Priesthood meeting, held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, October 8, 1927, regarding the proposed change in the time for holding Priesthood classes for study, we are requested by the First Presidency to send you further general instructions, and sufficient details to enable you to make necessary preparation for the introduction of the new system January 1, 1928.


It is recommended that all Quorums of the Priesthood meet as Quorums at least once a month.  This shall be the official meeting of the Quorum at which a full and complete consideration of the duties of Quorum members will be considered; reports of service received; assignment to new duties made; significance of Priesthood explained; new avenues of service opened up; committees appointed, etc.  Priesthood signifies service, and this regular meeting should be the means of making the service of Quorum members not only profitable and helpful, but delightful.

The hour chosen should be the most convenient for the majority of the members.  It need not necessarily be uniform throughout the Stakes.  

Suggestions for the improvement of Quorum work will issue from time to time from the Council of the Twelve, the First Council of Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.


As heretofore, regular courses of study will be prepared by the General Authorities for Priesthood classes, but these courses will be considered not in the monthly Quorum meeting, but in the classes to be held each Sunday in Sunday School.

The hours from ten to twelve Sunday morning have been designated as a most suitable time for the study of the Gospel by all members of the Church, both male and female.  It is suggested, therefore, that all members holding the Priesthood meet at this time, not as Quorums, but as members of the Church Sunday School, in which classes will be organized to suit the age, capacity, and calling of each.


. . .

It is expected that the complete co-operation of all who have jurisdiction over members of Priesthood Quorums and the teaching of the Gospel to other members of the Church will be secured.

It is designed that all classes shall be co-educational.  It is preferable, but not mandatory, that all classes which include members of the Priesthod shall be presided over by teachers who hold the Priesthood.  Sisters may serve as associate teachers.


This new plan is presented after most careful consideration extending over a number of years.  It has the following advantages:

1.  The emphasizing of Quorum duties and activities supervised by the Quorum.

2.  Quorum Fraternity and Fellowship.

3.  The convenient time, Sunday morning, for intensive and profitable study.

4.  The opportunity to secure more competent teachers.

5.  The mutual benefit and inspiration derived by adults, youth, and children meeting in general assembly.

6.  The possibility of giving over-burdened Ward members fewer meetings.

7.  The continuation of class study during the entire year.

These and others we might name are advantages which will justify the united effort of all in the inauguration of a policy, which will prove helpful and inspirational to the entire Church.

Every praying the Lord to bless you in your responsible positions as servants and guides to the people, we remain,

Sincerely your brethren,

The Council of the Twelve

By Rudger Clawson, President.”

(Council of the Twelve to Stake Presidencies, 11 Nov., 1927, JI 62(11):620-621, Nov., 1927)