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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1931

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1931.” You can view other years here.

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1931:  23 Apr.:    Printed forms for ordinances: only by GA’s.

“Printed or written forms for ordinances of the Church should never issue except from and under the authority of the General Authorities themselves.”  (23 Apr., 1931; Rudger Clawson “Book of Decisions-2”; in Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government (1939 edition), p. 367)

Jun.:  The New Priesthood Movement.

“At a meeting held in the Assembly Hall on April 4, 1931, an announcement was made that should be of great interest to parents, to all young men between the ages of 12 and 20, and to all who are interested in the welfare of these young men.  This plan has been adopted after a careful survey of study, training and activities conducted through the Aaronic Priesthood quorums, the Sunday Schools, and the M.I.A., and is offered by the leaders of these organizations to those concerned or those who should be concerned with this work.

This plan provides for a complete census of each ward, giving a record of all young men of the ages mentioned, showing their Church activities.  (The survey required by the General Sunday School Union, if completed, will give this information.)  It provides for a monthly meeting at which the bishopric, ward Priesthood supervisors, Sunday School teachers of the departments affected, Scout leaders, Vanguard and ‘M’ Men leaders are expected to be present.  At this meeting this survey will be discussed, plans carefully made and adopted which will provide for a personal labor with each individual who is inactive.

At the next meeting, the record will again be carefully reviewed, together with the results obtained during the month.  If a re-arrangement of assignments is necessary, that should be done.  Otherwise, the first assignment will continue until each individual who holds the Priesthood will be taking part in at least one of these organizations, the objective being to have him become active in all three organizations.

. . . .

A complete outline of this work and plan of operation has been forwarded to all stake and ward officers, and it is hoped they will receive it with the same feeling of hope and adopt it with the spirit of determination that has been manifest by those who have been instrumental in bringing about this united plan.

Sincerely your brethren, 

The Presiding Bishopric.”  

(“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 34(8):479, Jun., 1931)

Jul.:  Work with older, inactive AP holders.

Through cooperation of the Melchizedek quorums with the bishoprics of the various wards in Mt. Ogden stake, systematic effort is being made to promote the interest and activity of older, inactive members of the Aaronic Priesthood, in order that they may go forward and enjoy the blessings that follow increased devotion.  In a letter to the Presiding Bishopric from Elder W. H. Reeder, Jr., chairman of the high council committee of that stake, the plan is explained as follows:

Last night at the meeting of the stake presidency and high council of the Mount Ogden stake your letter soliciting suggestions with respect to Lesser Priesthood work was read.  All present were of the opinion that I should write you this letter explaining an activity recently outlined in our stake which we consider to be of considerable importance.

In our stake there are a number of grown men, some of them of mature age, who have advanced no higher than the Aaronic Priesthood.  In many instances these men take no interest in Church affairs and, if an interest were aroused, would refuse to take any interest in the quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood.  For that reason we have enjoined upon the elders the responsibility of working with adult deacons, the seventies with adult teachers, and the high priests with adult priests.  This work is not laid uopn the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums as an independent responsibility, but must be done only with the consent of the bishop and under his direction.  The verbal instructions are that the class instruction committee of the elders’ quorum shall go to the bishop and get a list of the adult deacons from him.  The officers of the elders’ quorum, with the counsel and recommendation of the bishop, shall select the best man in the quorum to do the service required with respect to a certain adult deacon.  This is true with respect to the other quorums.

The aim is that the most suitable and advantageous service shall be rendered to each adult member of the Aaronic Priesthood so as not to affront or offend him.  The appointment is not to be made unnecessarily public and the missionary work is not to consist of preaching.  The primary object is to have the man who is appointed to do the missionary work establish a friendly confidence which will result in some kind of association.  This association is ultimately to result in an invitation to the deacon to attend neighborly gatherings with the missionary, and then ward socials and other activities as the interest of the deacon is gradually stimulated.  If the adult deacon is interested enough to attend a quorum meeting, he will be invited to attend the meetings of the quorum to which the missionary belongs.  When his interest is sufficiently enlivened the deacon will be made an elder or he will be ordained to some other office suitable to his age, interests and activities.  By the way, if it is found that a deacon is too old to associate normally with elders, instead of an elder being assigned to him an exchange will be made with the seventies or high priests’ quorums, and this will be done under the direction of the bishop.  It is not intended that this work shall relieve the bishop of his responsibility to the Aaronic Priesthood members in any sense of the word, buit that the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood shall assist him in a responsibility which is probably too broad and extensive for his efficient attention.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 34(9):546, Jul., 1931)

Aug.:  What is Priesthood?


If you had a horse or an automobile or a piece of land to sell and were going away where you would be unable to transact that business, you still might effect the sale by asking one of your friends to do it for you.  That delegation of power or authority might be done by word of mouth or by a written statement signed byi you and perhaps witnessed by some one else.  

If your friend made the sale, it would be as valid as if you had done it in person, and it would stand in the courts of the state as a legal transaction.

This act of giving your permission to sell to another is called, in the language of the law, a ‘power of attorney.’

Priesthood is something like that.

God delegates to man the power or authority to do something–the power to baptize, to confirm, to administer the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to lay hands on the sick in the healing ordinance, and so on.  And when a man is so delegated and when he performs a religious ordinance by virtue of his Priesthood, the act is as valid as if the Lord performed it in person.

Priesthood, then, is the authority to act for God.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 34(10):614, Aug., 1931)

Aug.:  Ordinations in the Aaronic Priesthood.

“In order to be assured of the worthiness of those who are to be ordained in the Aaronic Priesthood and to promote appreciation of the dignity and importance of these callings, it is appropriate that in the presentation of their names for the approval of the members in any ward a little formality should be attached thereto.

Therefore, everyone whose name is to be presented to the ward members in Fast or Sacrament meeting should be on the stand at the time.  In the case of those to be ordained deacons, it is suggested that the chairman or other member of the ward Aaronic supervisors should be invited to be on the stand, as also the president or other officer of the Primary.  At the bishop’s request they should, in turn, state what preparation the boys have had and what evidence they have shown of worthiness for the ordination to the Priesthood.

For instance, the chairman of the Aaronic Priesthood supervisors could very well be called upon to make a statement such as the following:

Bishop _____, brethren and sisters, the Aaronic Priesthood supervisors have had (Wayne Brown, John Thomas, etc.) in preparation for this ordination for the past (seven) months and have been in contact with their parents.  These boys are all living clean lives.  They are keeping the Word of Wisdom.  They do not use profanity.  They attend to their prayers and are otherwise worthy to be ordained deacons.  They are willing to perform the service attached thereto.  I am glad to recommend them to you for your favorable consideration.  (If any boy is not worthy of such recommendation he should not be ordained until he reforms.)

The bishop should then arise and ask each boy to stand.  He should then present each by name for the separate vote of the congregation.

This same procedure should be followed with teachers and priests, except that in such cases the Primary officers would not be called upon to make recommendations.  In very small wards where there may be no supervisors, a member of the bishopric who has had charge of the preparation of the boys or young men, should make the recommendation.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 34(10):614, Aug., 1931)

Sep.:  Stake quotas of missionaries?

“Is this Stake maintaining its quota of missionaries?”  (“Priesthood Conferences, Season of 1931-32,” [pamphlet], xerox)

Oct.:  Why Priesthood at all?

“Can any one, without the Priesthood, pray and have his prayers answered?  Or receive the Holy Ghost, with its gifts and manifestations?

The answer is Yes.  Men, women and children who do not hold the Priesthood have had their prayers answered millions of times in the history of Christianity the world over and in the history of this dispensation.  Men, women and children also receive the Holy Ghost after baptism through the laying on of hands.

May one have revelations and visions of heavenly beings, without the Priesthood?

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did so.  In May, 1829, John the Baptist appeared to them, and that was before either of them had been ordained.  It was John, in fact, who conferred the Priesthood upon them.  This function of having visions, of course, was exceptional in their case.

If, then, one may pray, may have his prayers answered, may have the Holy Ghost bestowed upon him, and may exercise many of its gifts, without holding any Priesthood, what is the place of Priesthood on the earth?

Chiefly Priesthood functions in connection with organization.  That is, the greatest need of Priesthood is where there is a service to be performed to others besides ourselves.

Whenever you do anything for, or in behalf of, someone else, you must have the right to do so.  If you are to sell property belonging to another, you must have his permission.  If you wish to admit an alien to citizenship in our government, you cannot act without having been commissioned to do so by the proper authority.

Now, a religious organization, or the Church, is in the last analysis a matter of service.  You baptize someone, or you confirm him, or you administer to him in case of sickness, or you give him the Sacrament or the Priesthood, or you preach the Gospel to him–what is this but performing a service?

Now, when it comes to earthly power to perform a definite service, we call it the power of attorney in the case of acting legally for someone else, or the court and the judge where it is a question of acting for the government.

But in the Church of Christ this authority to act for others is known as Priesthood.”  (“Priesthood Quorums–Why Priesthood At All?” [“All Melchizedek priesthood material is prepared under the direction of the Council of the Twelve”]; IE 34(12):735, Oct., 1931)

Nov.:  Block teaching by the Ordained Teacher.

“In the Thirty-third ward, in Salt Lake City, the ordained teacher takes his place in the great organization of the Church by actually going out block-teaching.  No doubt, he does so in other wards, too, but in this particular ward, he is meeting with unusual success.

Once a month he goes out on his block.  Sometimes he goes with an older man, often called a ‘teacher’ merely, without the adjective ‘ordained’ before it.  But often he goes out with another ordained teacher as his companion.

But before he goes he prepares on the subject that has been chosen for the month; for the Liberty stake, in which this ward is, selects a theme for each month, to serve as a subject of conversation–a thing that is rather common nowadays.

Often the teacher is a high school student, and, as such, is able to make a pretty good study of the subject.  He looks up references, if any, and consults the wisdom of older men.  Hence, when he enters a home in his capacity of teacher, he can teach.”  (“Priesthood Quorums,” IE 35(1):41, Nov., 1931)