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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1938

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PRIESTHOOD, 1938 (January-April).

1938:    25 Jan.:    Instructions on appeals of court decisions.

“1. Upon your having received from the Bishop notification of an appeal, it is your duty to acknowledge in writing the receipt of such notification.

2. Set the date for the hearing and notify the appellant, giving him due notice of such hearing.

3. Upon the convening of the Council (consisting of twelve members), the councilors should draw numbers.  Those who hold even numbers, that is, two, four, six, eight, ten and twelve, are to represent the accused; those who have odd numbers, one, three, five, seven, nine, and eleven, will represent the accuser.

4. The President of the Stake should then designate one or more (depending upon the gravity of the case) to be spokesmen in each group.

5. Since it is assumed that each one present is only desirous of ascertaining the facts in the case, there can be no reasonable objection to questions being asked by any member of the Council.  However, in an orderly conducted trial such questions should be propounded through those appointed to speak.

6. As the six men named above are appointed to ‘prevent insult or injustice’ to the accused, there is no reason for his bringing in other and outside counsel.

7. The accused may of course present any witness that he wishes.

8. After all evidence is in those appointed to speak will make their summary.

9. The President and his counselors will then retire, and after consultation with his counselors, the President will render the decision.  The presumption is that the three of the Presidency will be united in this decision.  The High Council will then be asked either to approve or disapprove of the decision.  If a majority of the High Council endorse it, it then becomes the decision of the High Council.

10. If any of the High Councilmen or Presidency are interested in the case pending, or if they are in any way interested in the question, they should not act either as judges or as Councilmen.”  (25 Jan., 1938; Rudger Clawson “Book of Decisions-2”; in Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government (1939 edition), pp. 230-231)

Jan.:  Further details of New Priesthood Plan.


Dear Brethren:

In the December, 1937, number of The Improvement Era is published the New Priesthood Plan.  In paragraph number 5, page 768, under Stake Supervision is indicated how each stake is to organize in order to supervise Melchizedek Priesthood quorum work.  The purpose of this letter is to call this plan to your attention and to ask that you organize this stake committee without delay so that it will be ready to function early in January.

One or more Seventies are needed on the stake committee, for these brethren will be the contact agents of the stake committee with the quorums of Seventy.  The High Priest members, as members of the committee, will likewise contact the quorum and groups of High Priests.  Any of the members of the committee may, of course, contact quorums of Elders.

This stake committee is an extremely important one.  Its members should be wise, active, capable, and faithful.  The General Authorities must hold the stake presidency and this Committee responsible for results.  Every quorum of Priesthood should be brought into activity and vigor as soon as possible.

Will you please give the organizatino of this Committee your early attention?  One of the stake presidency is to be chairman.  Further details concerning the organization, duties and activities of this Committee will be published in The Improvement Ear for January, 1938.  Please let all concerned take notice.

Sincerely your brethren,


By Rudger Clawson, President.


All quorum members should read with care the above letter from President Rudger Clawson of the Council of the Twelve, addressed to the presidents of the stakes of Zion.  It shows the importance which is being placed upon proper supervision and coordination of the work of the quorums of the Priesthood.

In the December issue of The Improvement Era, page 768, under paragraph 5, stake supervision is explained.  The Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee should consist of at least four brethren, a member of the stake presidency, acting as chairman, with a High Priest, a Seventy, and an Elder as members.  In the larger stakes, or wherever desired, it would be perfectly proper to have a representative on the stake committee from every Priesthood quorum in the stake.  In such an event, the chairman of the committee, with one representative from each of the Elders, the Seventies, and the High Priests, might act as an executive committee; but the whole committee should meet frequently to discuss the work of the quorums, to coordinate their activities, to prevent unnecessary overlapping and duplication, and to supervise the Priesthood quorum work by actual visits so that proper reports may be made to the stake president.

Projects for the economic welfare of its members, an important quorum activity, should be undertaken in harmony with the efforts of the Church Security Program.  For that reason, and to prevent unnecessary duplication, the member of the stake presidency who is chairman of the stake security committee should be the chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.  The two committees need not have the same membership; but the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee could sit in, as desired, with the stake security committee, to discuss projects of mutual interest to the two committees.

As will be found under the instructions of the Presiding Bishopric, a representative of the Adult Aaronic Priesthood of the stake should also take part in such joint deliberations.


The supervision of the Seventies, under the direction of a stake committee, relates exclusively to local activities in stakes and wards, and comes rightly under their supervision, whatever plan may be adopted to make their work more effective; and does not in any way conflict with the present system of supervision of the Seventies by the First Council in collaboration with the presidents of stakes as outlined in the joint letter of The Council of the Twelve Apostles and The First Council of the Seventy dated June 25, 1930, addressed to all stake presidencies throughout the Church, and from which we now quote:

The presidents of the quorum will be expected to be in frequent consultation with the stake presidency, and wherever it is deemed by the presidents of the quorum necessary to make changes, to add members, or to take any other action promotive of quorum interest, the presidents of the quorum should seek an interview with the stake presidency, discuss the matter, and cause recommendations to be made to the First Council.

The presidency and general supervision of the Seventies remain as heretofore with The First Council of the Seventy.  The splendid new program now being adopted in the stakes both as to the change of time for holding meetings, the course of study, and the various activities such as Church Security projects, does not and is not intended to make any change whatever in the present system of supervision under the direction of The First Council of the Seventy, who, in collaboration with stake presidencies provide for the integrity, missionary labors, and steady development of the quorums of Seventy.

The representatives of Priesthood quorums who are members of the ward security committee should act as a ward Melchizedek quorum committee to assist in furthering projects of common interest to the quorums and the Security program.  The Adult Aaronic Priesthood of each ward, under the policy of the Presiding Bishopric, should have representation on the ward Security committee.


During the ten months ending October 31, of this year, 962 persons have been baptized and 2,073 inactive members brought into activity, as a result of the stake missionary work conducted under the auspices of the First Council of Seventy.  The October report shows 99 stakes reporting with 1,839 missionaries.  This is a vivid picture of the fine work now being carried on by the stake missions.

Inasmuch as the term for missionary service is fixed at about two years–the same as in the foreign missions–stake presidents will soon be confronted with the problem of supplying recruits for those who will shortly be released.  Plans should be laid in such manner that there may be no weakening of the local missionary work when these releases are made.

In the meantime, missionaries now laboring in the stake missions, who have been called and set apart to labor under the direction of the stake mission president, should be allowed to continue in this service until the terms of their missions are completed, and they have been honorably released.

Remember always that these brethren and sisters are on missions and therefore, not subject to local appointments of any kind–neither in the auxiliary organizations, Priesthood quorum activities, Church Security program, nor other Church duties.  They must be considered as being absent on missions as are those who have been sent abroad.

This reservation may however be made:

Missionaries should attend Sacrament meetings, and Priesthood quorum meetings to get the benefit of the instructions there provided, unless such meetings should interfere with their missionary appointments, perhaps away from home in some other part of the stake.  In such cases they should attend these meetings in the locality where their appointments have taken them.

Any effort to use the missionaries in local ward or stake activities must be abandoned, for to use them so would completely demoralize the stake missionary work.

Let us quote from Letter No. 4:

The stake mission should be just as completely separate and apart from all other stake work as are the missions abroad–in the Northern or Southern states, in England or Germany; and those who are now called into this service should be released from their stake and ward activities in order that they may devote their entire time to the missionary work to which they are now called, by which we mean the time they are now able to devote to Church work.  It is not intended to interfere with their employment by which they earn their living.

We trust that we may receive the hearty cooperation of the local authorities of the Church in carrying into successful operation the suggestions made herein.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(1):38-39, Jan., 1938)

Jan.:  Increase in young Ward Teachers desired.

“During 1938, an effort is to be made to have each stake increase the number of young men serving as Ward Teachers.  Attention is called to the fact that this service is definitely an assignment to the Aaronic Priesthood, and, that as far as possible, the work should be done by them.

An effort is also to be made to have as many adult members as possible, who are worthy, assigned to this service.”  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 41(1):43, Jan., 1938)

3 Jan.:  Priesthood meetings to be separate from others.

“January 3, 1938

To All Ward Bishoprics.

Dear Brethren:

As you are informed from the letter of President Rudger Clawson of the Council of the Twelve, under date of October 28th, the Priesthood of each ward shall henceforth meet at a suitable time each week to be chosen at the option of the Bishopric and Priesthood of each ward, with the approval of the stake presidency.  In connection with this change there are two things that we desire especially to call to your attention:

First.  In view of past unsatisfactory experience in having the Priesthood meet either conjointly, or at the same time, with other organizations, it is now decided that the Priesthood shall meet each week separately from any other organization.

Second.  That this weekly meeting is to include all Priesthood–Melchizedek and Aaronic–in the ward, and should, preferably, meet as a general gathering under the direction of the bishopric to consider briefly any matters of general concern, and receive any instructions from the bishopric; to be followed by separation into quorums or groups for the Priesthood lessons and activity work.  In connection therewith the important matter of ward teaching should be followed up.

We feel certain that, if the instructions previously given are carried out, and if the above items are kept constantly in mind, the coming year will show great improvement in the Aaronic Priesthood activity.

With best wishes for a successful and happy New Year, we are, 

Sincerely your brethren,

Sylvester Q. Cannon,

David A. Smith,

John Wells,

The Presiding Bishopric.”

(“Aaronic Priesthood,” IE 41(2):109, Feb., 1938)

Feb.:  The New Plan in operation.

“We are pleased to report that in most of the wards of the Church the new Priesthood plan is already in full operation.  Where the program is being followed carefully, encouraging results are being obtained.

In some wards the Priesthood meeting precedes, in others it follows the Sunday School.  Experience will show which method will be most satisfactory to the Priesthood quorum.  It is reported that in a few wards the Priesthood meets on a week night.

Communications relative to quorum experience under these various plans will be welcomed by the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee of the Council of the Twelve, 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(2):104, Feb., 1938)

Feb.:  The Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee.

“Questions have been asked on how this stake committee shall function.  In this connection please read again on page 768, The Improvement Era, December, 1937, what is said under ‘5. Stake Supervision.’

It is again recommended that the stake committee meet monthly with the officers of the quorums and quorum groups to consider reports, problems, activities, programs, etc., and that each group and quorum be visited in its weekly meeting at least once a quarter by one or more members of the stake committee.  In a few stakes, where the wards are widely scattered, it may be wise to attempt to hold only district monthly meetings, and stake meetings only quarterly.  These are matters for each scattered stake to work out for itself.  The objective is to secure results in a feasible and economic way.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(2):104, Feb., 1938)

Feb.:  Quorum funds.

“The Church Security program does not relieve quorujms from the responsibility of finding and caring for members who are in need.  The high ideal of the quorums should be to care, as a quorum, for all members who find themselves in unfortunate conditions.  This may be accomlished if the committee on personal welfare does its work faithfully.

Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are advised that all funds derived from quorum projects, after the assigned contribution has been made to the Church Security program, should be retained and disbursed by the quorum for the benefit of quorum members who may be in need.

Quorums will shortly be advised of a plan by which their quorum funds may be protected from loss until such time as they may be disbursed for quorum purposes under proper authority.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(2):104, Feb., 1938)

Feb.:  Missionary classes.

“Several years ago missionary classes in the Sunday Schools of the Church were instituted for the purpose of preparing young men and women who are prospective missionaries with the fundamentals of the Gospel.  The First Presidency gave their endorsement to this movement and requested that these classes be supervised by the stake presidencies in the several wards of their respective stakes.  A two-year course of study was prepared, but for some reason in many of the stakes of the Church this class has been permitted to die or has been indifferently held.  It is imperative that this course of study be given, and prospective missionaries be invited to take the course according to the former instructions.  Will the stake presidencies please take this matter in hand and see what can be done to increase the efficiency of these classes?”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(2):105, Feb., 1938)

Mar.:  Quorum funds.

“Quorum funds, really trust funds, must be carefully safeguarded.  Receipts and disbursements should be properly and promptly entered in the books of the quorums.  Authority for and approval of every expenditure should be shown on the quorum records.  The following procedure, approved by the General Priesthood Councils of the Church, should be observed by quorum officers and members.

I. Funds should be conscientiously expended for the purpose for which the funds are collected, such as the maintenance of the central office (in the case of the Seventy), missionary support, help for the needy, contributions to the Church Security Program or for general quorum support.

II. Quorum Presidencies are the quthorized receivers and custodians of all quorum funds.

All proposed expenditures, before being made, should be presented to the quorum for approval

Withdrawals, properly authorized, should be made by checks signed by the president and secretary of the quorum, or by the finance committee, if one has been appointed.

All funds collected for special purposes, and also the quorum allotment for the Security Program, may be disbursed as above.

Before quorum help is given missionaries or members in need, consultation should be had concerning each case with the bishop or ward security committee, to determine the worthiness of the case and to avoid duplication of effort.

Extraordinary or large disbursements, such as loans, investments, etc., should be made only after consultation with the stake presidency.  Special care should be taken to secure properly any loans made by suitable collateral or reliable endorsement.

Before making any loan or investment or any appropriation of funds careful consideration of the quorum presidency and authorization of the quorum members should be received.

III. All quorum funds should be deposited in properly safeguarded banks.

The First Presidency have created a non-profit organization known as the ‘Cooperative Security Corporation’ in order to legalize business transactions in the Church Security Program.  If desired, quorum funds may be deposited with this corporation, and withdrawn at the pleasure of the quorum as above indicated.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(3):168, Mar., 1938)

Mar.:  Mingling of priesthood groups or quorums.

“In a number of wards groups of High Priests and Seventies have been consolidated for the regular weekly meeting.  This should not be done.

The essence of the present Priesthood program is to develop to full capacity quorum consciousness and activity.  This cannot be accomplished if quorums meet together in their weekly meetings, or if they unnecessarily undertake joint activities.

It is better to have a group each of Seventies and High Priests, even though the numbers be small, than to combine these groups to win advantages accruing to a larger class.

Bishops and quorum officers should take notice of this ruling, which is very important in the development and maintenance of quorum individuality.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(3):168, Mar., 1938)

Mar.:  The Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee.

“A considerable number of stakes returning the questionnaire relative to the organization and functioning of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, ask questions concerning these matters.  The following is a brief reply to most of the questions asked:

Please be advised that the new committee should supercede the old or former High Council committee.  Of course, the members of the former High Council committee may be appointed on the new stake committee, the chairman of which in every case should be a member of the stake presidency; which one is a matter to be determined by the stake presidency itself.  But in addition, every stake committee should have one or more Seventies and one or more Elders, depending on the number of groups and quorums of Seventy and of Elders in the stake.

The stake committee will make its contacts with groups and quorums of Seventy through the members of the committee who hold the Priesthood of a Seventy and the Stake Presidency in supervising the work of the groups and quorums of Seventy in the stake.

Elders quorums should also be represented on the stake committee as a means of increasing quorum consciousness.


The stake committee is to be responsible to the stake presidency which in turn is to be responsible to the General Authorities for the functioning of all the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums in the stake.

An analogy is the way stake auxiliary boards now function.  The Council of Twelve is the General Board, assisted by the First Council of Seventy, of all the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.  In this matter of stake organization and supervision the Council of Twelve and First Council are in entire agreement.

Where conditions will permit, it is desired that the stake committee hold a monthly union meeting with the officers of the quorums, again taking a hint from the auxiliaries.  In addition, each group and quorum meeting should have a visit from one or more committee members at least once a quarter.  Where a quorum membership is all in one ward, it is not expected that they will hold a monthly quorum meeting separate and apart from their weekly meeting.

The stake Priesthood committee should be represented on the Stake Security Committee and each quorum of Melchizedek Priesthood on the Ward Security Committee.  In their security program activities all quorums of Priesthood should act in harmony and cooperation with the Security Program Committees.

Questions and suggestions are invited from the stake Priesthood committees.  Replies will be made by letter or through the issues of the Improvement Era.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(3):170, Mar., 1938)

Mar.:  To all acting ward teachers.

“Consideration of the most desirable method of Ward Teaching has brought us definitely to the conclusion that each teacher, or pair of teachers, with the printed monthly message as a guide, should prepare a presentation of the subject indicated, and carry that message into each home, discussing it with the members in the home, and adding such individual exhortations or subjects as may seem desirable.

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 exhorting them 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 harshness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the Church meet together often and also see that all the members do their duty.’–Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 20.

Again the Lord says, ‘And I give unto you a commandment, that you shall 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.’–Doctrine and Covenants, 88:77-78.

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: . . .

To aid teachers in this work, uniform monthly messages are prepared in this office and furnished without charge to the wards.  There is a growing tendency to secure enough leaflets to provide one for each home,–the teachers leaving the message for the members to read.  This plan deprives the teacher and the fmaily of the development which comes to the teachr from the preparation of his presentation and the family of the benefits which will come to them through a careful discussion of this subject.  In order to accomplish fully the purpose of teaching, as outlined in the commandments, there should be actual preparation on the part of the teachers, careful presentation and then discussion of the subject.  Merely to leave printed messages does not meet the requirements.  If that were the main purpose, the message could be left at each home by boys.

We, therefore, urge that this plan which, judging from reports, is bringing very satisfactory results, be adopted by all stakes and wards using the message as an aid to the ward teachers only and not have distribution in the homes.

We believe that this will bring far more satisfactory results and that their teaching will reach a higher and more efficient standard.

We are sending this recommendation to you with the approval of the First Presidency.

The Presiding Bishopric.”

(“To All Acting Ward Teachers,” IE 41(3):174, Mar., 1938)

Apr.:  The Ward Teachers’ Duties.

“For example, the Lord has said just what the Teacher’s duty is:

The Teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with 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 the members do their duty.

And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest.  (Doc. & Cov. 20:53-56.)

A careful analysis of these duties discloses the fact that the Ward Teachers possesses six leading qualifications; viz., those of watchman, strengthener, arbitrator, guide, exemplar, and leader.

The responsibility of seeing that there is no ‘hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking’ is particularly significant.  In the performance of this duty there is manifest the principle of arbitration, expounded by the Prophet Joseph Smith over a century ago; yet today civilized nations are just beginning to apply it to the settling of international difficulties and disputes, and that seemingly with little success.

What does this responsible official–the Ward Teacher–now do under present general practice?  And in asking this question, and answering it, there is no thought of casting reflections, but we must face the facts.  First, he visits once a month or less frequently.  Yet he is appointed ‘to watch over the Church always.’  Second, he either reads the message of the bishop, or leaves it for the family to read.  Third, he asks few, if any, questions regarding the attitude toward Church doctrine.  Fourth, he makes only cursory inquiry, if any at all, regarding hard feelings towards other members of the Church.  Fifth, seldom, if ever, does he ask about attendance at Sacrament meetings, and yet that is one of his specifically assigned duties.  Sixth, very few teachers keep personal records of individuals in their district regarding Church activity and assignments.

If you will turn to your reports, you will find that the statistics relate more to the labors of the teachers than to conditions or duties or well-being of those visited.  On a typical report card, appear these items:

Husband’s name.

Wife’s name, etc.

Times attended Sacrament meeting.

Number of persons in family.

Number of those present at the visit.

Number families visited.

Number called on and not at home.

Number not accesible.

Number not called on.

These are statistics which do not cover, excepting in two instances, the specific points that the teachers is required to teach.  All this is very good, but is it not possible for us to change our attitude and include some of the fundamentals given by revelation?  Let us see: Divide the ward, as it is now, so that each group will contain, let us say, no more than five families.  Assign to each group of five families one member of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and one member of the Teacher’s quorum.  Let that ordained Teacher–not Deacon; not Priest–whose duty it is, take care of the statistics, assist in reporting removals, arrivals, new appointments in quorums, auxiliaries, wards, and missions.  He will be glad to do it, and he is capable of doing it.  But the duty of the adult member is to watch over the Church always.  For what purpose?  To perform the six specific duties God has given him; viz., to guard, to strengthen, to arbitrate, to be exemplary, to admonish, and to lead.  When he enters the home he enters it authoritatively, and the father, or the mother if the father be absent, respectfully turns over the household to him.  The Adult Teacher will take the lead in ascertaining by such authoritative visits the standing and attitude of each member of every family.  Do not say that this is difficult or is making your duties more arduous.  It is a necessary service and a privilege.

Some families do not need so much attention.  You may already know of their circumstances and spiritual condition.  You can casually call and find out how they feel and how harmoniously they are living with their neighbors and with the Church.  But here is a young man in your district who is indolent, neglectful, sour, spiritually sick.  Be with him to comfort him, to strengthen him, not on the formal visit alone, but at every opportunity you can make.

So much for the Teacher.  Now what about the Priest?  It is the duty of the Priest ‘to preach, teach, expound, and to exhort all to come to Christ.’  He can hold cottage meetings as some are doing now.  Let us lay emphasis upon such meetings.  Those young Priests will come to the house of Brother Brown and say: ‘We should like to hold a cottage meeting in your house for this district.’  Having obtained Brother Brown’s permission, those young men will invite the non-members and members alike to come to their meeting, to be conducted under their direction.  They are teaching; that is the duty of the Priest, to preach, teach, exhort, and invite all to come to Christ.

But the adult member of the Priesthood and that ordained Teacher will act independently of the Priest.  They will be in Sacrament meeting next Sunday and note those who are present at the meeting.  They know all of the members in their district, will note the presence or absence of any one of their charges, and when they meet any they will commend or exhort as occasion merits or demands.  A casual remark such as ‘We missed you at Sacrament meeting last Sunday evening,’ may inspire to action more than a fifteen minute lecture.  The Ward Teacher’s duty is to see that all members do their duty.

Then, in the monthly report, there may be given in addition to other statistics such facts as follow:


Priesthood held

Office or Church Activity

Attending to Church duties

Harmony–Yes or No

(Some men holding the Priesthood will be face to face with a man who is out of harmony, who is finding fault.  Give him a chance to express himself, then the Teacher, who has the right, can wisely and kindly set him right.)

Position–(President of the High Priests’ Quorum, Sunday School Superintendent, or whatever it is.)


Does he keep the Word of Wisdom?  Yes or No.

(The question of tithe-paying and fast offerings should be left to the bishop, who will instruct Brother Brown, the bishop’s representative and senior member over those five families, to admonish Brother so-and-so in the payment of tithes and offerings.)

The the monthly report to the bishop may include, for example, the following:


Total number in the district.

Number of visits made.

(These will include the visits of those two teachers who go on their regular work, and also any special visits of the adult member.)

The number in harmony with members and neighbors in the Church.

(If we have 25 in the five families, and 20 are in harmony–80%.)

Number attending meetings–15–60%

Number attending to duties–88%

Keeping the Word of Wisdom–96%

The teacher hands this to the bishop who has, then, the report of the standing of the membership of the Church.

I believe that in Ward Teaching there is one of the greatest opportunities in all the world to awaken in those who are negligent, discouraged, down-hearted, and sad, renewed life and a desire to re-enter into activity in the Church of Jesus Christ.  By such activity they will be led back into the spiritual atmosphere which will lift their souls and give them power to overcome weaknesses which are now shackling them.

To give help, encouragement, and inspiration to every individual is the great responsibility of Ward Teachers.”  (David O. McKay, “The Teacher ‘Watches over the Church Always,'” IE 41(4):200-201, Apr., 1938)

Apr.:  Priesthood and Security.

“The divinely inspired L.D.S. Church Security Program has made great progress, more than expected, in the time since it was undertaken.  However, there is much yet to be done.  Provision has beed made for caring for the poor; but the relief of unemployment is yet to be fully accomplished.  The future of the Program, the accomplishment of its purposes, depend on the activity of the Priesthood of the Church.  Indeed, the Church Security movement will succeed in proportion to the support given it by the Priesthood bearers of the Church.

The life and vitality of the Church are drawn from the Priesthood with which the Church has been endowed.  Auxiliary organizations and all similar helps can give but feeble service if the power of the Priesthood be withdrawn from them.  Even so with the Security Program, the progress of which depends upon the exercise of the power of the Priesthood.  As men use the Priesthood conferred upon them, so will the Church and all its activities prosper.  When the men of the Church holding the Priesthood perform their duties, the Church is always secure.  the Church can not rise above its body of Priesthood.  No law is more clearly set forth in sacred history.

Priesthood, always preeminent in the Church of Christ, is the power of God.  It has been with the Lord from the beginning; it is eternal.  It is the force or tool, the creative element, by which the heavens and the earth were made and fashioned, by which they are held in their places and positions, by which all creation may win the happiness of existence.  It is also the authority by which mortal man may assist in the consummation of the purposes of the Almighty with respect to the human family and all created beings.  Through it are manifested the attributes and the works of God.

In the words of Brigham Young (Discourses, p. 201):

The Priesthood of the Son of God, which we have in our midst, is a perfect order and system of government, and this alone can deliver the human family from all the evils which now afflict its members, and insure them happiness and felicity hereafter . . . it is the law by which the worlds are, were and will continue forever and ever.  It is that system which brings worlds into existence and peoples them, gives them their revolutions–their days, weeks, months, years, their seasons and times, and by which they are rolled up as a scroll, as it were, and go into a higher state of existence.

When the Priesthood is conferred upon a person, he receives a portion of this matchless, divine power, by which, if he obey the laws of the Gospel, he may actually perform with more ease and certainty every task of life, whether of a spiritual or a temporal nature, for personal or general human welfare.  Whenever the bearers of the Priesthood exercise this power, and all acts should be directed by the Priesthood, they move conclusively to the full accomplishment of every righteous undertaking of the Church.  Therefore, in their hands lies, primarily, the future of the Security Program.  This should be the sober thought of every man upon whom the Priesthood has been conferred.

Priesthood implies leadership.  The revelations of the Lord declare repeatedly that those who have received the Priesthood bear the responsibility of leading out and carrying forward every project for the advancement of the restored Church of Christ.  They must be the foremost laborers in the Kingdom of God.  Nor can this responsibility be shifted to others, to presiding officers or to helps to the Priesthood, such as auxiliary bodies, but it must be accepted and borne individually by the Priesthood bearers themselves.  Activity among the Priesthood in behalf of the Security Program or any similar need will stir the whole Church into corresponding action.  This is the great responsibility of the Priesthood.

The organization of the Priesthood into quorums, really groups of brethren blessed with the Priesthood, makes it easy for the men of the Church to perform their priestly duties.  The relatively small number assigned by revelation to each quorum enables the quorum-group to know intimately the condition and needs of every member.  Moreover, such a group may function more effectively, as a unit, in accomplishing assigned and accepted tasks such as the helping of their brethren who may be in distress, or the carrying out of quorum projects, those for example now being established for the Security Program.  There is no conflict here between quorum and ward bishop or stake president.  These officers, in the last analysis, are administrative officers of the Priesthood as well as of the lay members of the Church, and therefore a part of any righteous Priesthood movement to bless and help.

The high ideal of a Priesthood quorum is that of true brotherhood, under the laws and requirements of the Lord.  The spirit of Priesthood is simply the spirit of true brotherhood.  A group of brethren working toward such an ideal become irresistible in overcoming difficulties and acnieving desired results.  The world is waiting for the service of such brotherly organizations.  Peace on earth will come when men look upon one another as brethren.

Four great objectives have long been set up for the quorums of the Priesthood:

1. To become better acquainted, through careful study, with the doctrines of the Gospel and their applications to life.  The Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School and the regular Priesthood courses of study offer the means for such instruction.  Ignorance has no place among the quorums of the Priesthood.  The Gospel is ever characterized by the possession of truth and the use of truth for human good.

2. To render regularly some service to the Church.  By such activity a man not only learns more intimately the workings of the Church, but finds the joy that always comes from unselfish service in helping to advance the cause of the Lord.  He thus prepares himself to accept from time to time the call to official position that may come to every man in a Church in which all righteous men do or may hold the Priesthood.

3. To care for the personal welfare of every quorum member, temporally, intellectually, and spiritually.  This means that the quorum should provide for their needy brethren from the resources of the quorum and application to the established relief agencies of the Church.  Also, and more important, this means to help their member-brethren become self-sustaining, by securing for them opportunities for self-help and by teaching them the principles of industry and thrift upon which all temporal security rests.

4. To engage in miscellaneous activities, socials, outings, etc., etc., by which the quorum members may find outlets for their normal social needs, give employment to their families, and extend their companionship with other quorums and groups within the Church.

Every quorum shoul dhave four standing, active committees, representing the above mentioned activities: 1. Class Instruction, 2. Church Service, 3. Personal Welfare, and 4. Miscellaneous.  No quorum is fully prepared to function in the Church unless this organization is perfected.

Quorums so organized and active, such groups of united brethren, would become the strength of Zion, of the Kingdom of God on earth.  They would make the Church a power on earth among all men, to bless and redeem the nations now lying in discord, unrest, and unhappiness.

The call has come to the quorums of the Priesthood to use their power in establishing firmly the Security Program to which the Church has set its hand.  This program may appear at first to be purely material in its objective, but in reality it is as truly spiritual as its results.  Those who give to the cause will experience the great joy that comes from helping others; those who receive, in the right spirit, will not only be fed but will be made to rejoice in the brotherhood of man.

The problem of the Priesthood quorums with respect to the Security Program is threefold:

1. To help feed, clothe and house the needy.

2. To help the unemployed find employment.

3. To help raise the standard of living of those who are barely subsisting.

In facing this threefold problem, quorums should remember that it is not necessary to look far away.  The elements of wealth lie all around us, awaiting the application of the time and strength of men.  The earth offers riches to humanity, on the condition that men labor to master and acquire them.

Every quorum should look about in its immediate vicinity for opportunities on which to base security projects.  Is food needed?  There are vacant lots, or unused farm lands that may be cultivated.  Is clothing needed?  A few sheep may be placed with the flock-master’s herd, or food products may be exchanged for clothing.  Is shelter needed?  Wood may be within reach for lumber, or gravel for concrete, or clay for adobes or brick.  United quorum labor on such projects would soon bring rich results to bless the needy.  Every quorum may list many unused opportunities.

Similarly, employment for the unemployed should be sought.  Again, home conditions and possibilities should be surveyed.  Are any jobs available?  May irrigation water now used excessively be uased to increase the farming area?  Are small storage sites available on which labor now wasted might be used to impound early water?  Can more intensive crops, requiring more labor, be grown, such as beets, fruit, garden truck, peas, beans, etc.?  Is dairying being following to a sufficient degree?  Are the products of the farm, fruits and vegetables, prepared properly, by added labor, for the market, to secure the best prices?  Is the locality suited to some of the so-called Chemurgic crops, combining the farm and factory, such as power alcohol?  Are there possible hand industries, for the slack season?  Perhaps an investigation into the things now imported by the locality would reveal many things that might be produced by the community.

Help might be given also to those who are on the margin of self-help.  Are they making the best use of their resources?  Are they spending their income wisely?  What unused possibilities are within their reach?  

The quorums of the Priesthood should lead out in all such projects, for they are singularly fitted, by organization and size, as well as by spiritual power, for the work.  Their wives and children would rejoice to be sharers in the quorum projects.  Through wisely directed quorum efforts might come not only help for immediate needs, but also the directing of attention toward cooperative effort or capital investment in industrial enterprises of large and lasting benefit to the people.

Every quorum should at once set about to find and plan its projects for the present year.  That which already has been done so successfully by the quorums is but evidence of what may be done by quorum activity.

Careful attention should be given to the new Priesthood plan, with its weekly meeting, course of study, stake committee and activity projects–as published from month to month under the Melchizedek Priesthood department of the Improvement Era. 

Again, let it be said that the future of the Church Security Program is largely in the keeping of the quorums of the Priesthood.  May the Priesthood of the Church, individually and as quorums, rise to full realization of their responsibilities and possibilities.  May the Priesthood of the Church read a lesson in successful brotherly effort, under divine authority and power, to all the world.

‘Up, awake, ye defenders of Zion!’”  (John A. Widtsoe, “Priesthood and Security,” IE 41(4):202-203, 250-253, Apr., 1938)

Apr.:  Status of week-day quorum meetings.

“In a number of stakes, week-day evenings are now being used for quorum meetings.  This is perfectly proper, if those interested so desire.

In the Franklin Stake of Zion the Priesthood meets Monday evening; the sisters meet then also, but in separate rooms.  Both men and women study the Priesthood course of study.  After the quorum meeting is over, the men and women reassemble, and those who care to do so remain for a thirty-five minute period of instruction in genealogy.

It is commonly reported that the new quorum movement is improving the spiritual condition genearlly of the members of the Priesthood.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(4):232, Apr., 1938)

6 Apr.:  “Apostle and Associate of the Council of the 12.”

“General Authorities . . . as sustained by the membership of the Church assembled in General Conference, April 6, 1938.”  [Sylvester Q. Cannon listed as “Apostle and Associate of the Council of the Twelve.]  (IE 41(6):326, Jun., 1938)

May:  Official Restatement of MP Organization, etc.

“Under the direction of the Council of the Twelve, and with the approval of the First Presidency, a special meeting for all Stake Melchizedek Priesthood committees was held, as part of the April Conference procedure, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, April 5th, in the Assembly Hall, President Rudger Clawson presiding, with members of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee of the Council of the Twelve discussing topics which are summarized here for the permanent record and instruction of all Melchizedek Priesthood officers and members throughout the Church:


Replies made to the questionnaire from President Clawson’s office relative to the organization of a stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee in every stake indicate some misunderstanding relative to this matter.  Those concerned are referred to published information concerning this matter to the following references in The Improvement Era: December, 1937, p. 768; January, 1938, p. 38; February, p. 104; and March, p. 168.

To summarize and further clarify the matter we make the following statements:

1. The stake presidency in every stake is requested to organize a stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee.

2. The active chairman of this committee is to be one of the stake presidency; which one is optional.

3. The other members of the committee must include at least one High Priest, one Seventy, and one Elder.  If desired, there may be more than one of each of these orders of Priesthood–in fact, if desired, each quorum of Priesthood in the stake may have a member on the committee.  But as an aid to quorum consciousness each order of the Priesthood is to be represented on the Committee by at least one member.

4. If desired, there may in addition be as many as three high councilors–not more–on the committee.

5. Through this committee the stake presidency shall give active and thorough supervision to all the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums in the stake.

6. This committee shall keep in close touch with the work of all the Melchizedek Priesthood groups and quorums in the stake.

7. Supervision of the quorum sof Seventy shall be made on behalf of the Committee by its chairman and the Seventy or Seventies that are members of the committee.

8. It shall be the duty of this committee to hold joint monthly union meetings with the officers of all the quorums.  (In a few widely scattered stakes quarterly union meetings only may be all that wisdom would indicate should be held.  These are special cases and correspondence relative to them is invited by the Council of Twelve Committee.)

9. As to what these union meeting shall do and how they are to be conducted we suggest that stake Sunday School Unions furnish the answer.  The stake Priesthood committee and the officers of all the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums meet in joint assembly, attend to common business, and then separate into three departments–High Priests, Seventies, and Elders–for the consideration of quorum business, reports, study course, projects, etc.  Obviously each of these departments shall have one or more leaders who shall be members of the Committee.

10. It shall be the duty of the Committee to keep in close touch with the meetings and activities of all the groups and quorums.  To this end more or less frequent visits to the meetings, etc., will be necessary.

11. The Stake Committee may not wisely be larger than is necessary to attain all these ends.  The Committee should hold frequent meetings–possibly weekly–in order that it may get and keep in hand all the things necessary to do to bring all the quorums to a high degree of activity.  Membership on the Committee should therefore mean humility, devotion to duty, conviction of the great opportunity of the position to render a much needed service, and freedom to give considerable time to the job.

12. The General Authorities must rely upon these stake committees to bring new life and activity into the Priesthood quorums.  These committees are therefore to be regarded as of great importance, providing opportunities for service that are a challenge to the wisest and ablest brethren in the stakes who may be called to the committee.


Note:  Other Convention topics including Quorum Social Events, Quorum Music, and Quorum Funds will be considered in next month’s Era.


The following irregularities in the present organization and function of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committees are indicated by the questionnaire sent out some time ago:

Eighteen stakes have committees organized without at least one representative from the quorums of Seventy or from the quorums of Elders or both.  According to the instructions in the December number of the Era, page 768, and the January number, page 38, there should be at least one representative on the committee from each of the offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood–High Priests, Seventies, Elders.

Some stakes have named a member of the presidency as chairman of the committee, but the active responsibility of leadership has been turned over to a member of the high council or a High Priest.  This is contrary to instructions.

Other stakes would like to have the committee made up entirely of high councilmen.  That defeats the whole purpose of the committee.  This is not a high council committee–it is a Priesthood quorum committee.  Therefore, not more than three high councilmen should be on the committee.

The program provided by the Authorities of the Church should be followed.  If it does not please us, we can write in and let the authorities know.  They will be sympathetic, and a good suggestion will be considered.

Eight stakes have not replied to President Clawson’s questionnaire  of January 29th, even though a postal card was sent out March 10th and a letter March 31st asking for the return of the questionnaires.  That is not right.  Two copies of the quarterly report must be secured by the committee from each quorum, and one copy sent to President Clawson’s office without delay at the end of each calendar Quarter.–Joseph Fielding Smith.

Quorum Reports

As far as reports are concerned, members of the Council of the Twelve visit the stakes once every six months, to conduct a Priesthood conference.  The first conference session is devoted to an inspection of quorum reports.  The presidents of High Priests, Seventies, and Elders are given the chance to report concerning their stewardship.  Quorum officers carry a definite responsibility, and should make reports.  The quorum presidents have been asked to stand and answer the questions put by the quarterly report.  This has sometimes been embarrasing, because the quorums have not done much; or because it has been more or less monotonous to have them say ‘No,’ ‘No,’ ‘No,’ to so many questions.  The method was started to emphasize the responsibility resting upon quorum presidents.

Now another step will be tried.  The Council of Twelve will compile the reports sent out from President Clawson’s office.  The representative of the Council of the Twelve who comes to the stake, will have this compiled report in his hands, and will summarize it, giving the quorum credit for its activity.  Quorum presidents should, however, sit in the stand and assist as may be desired.  If the report has not been sent in, the quorum president must stand up and give the report.

If we will take interest in the work we can get these quorum reports and have them as correct as possible.  You are the shepherds of the flock; and it is important, as presidents of the quorums, that you look after the men who are placed under your jurisdiction to see that they live up to their professions, that they may magnify their callings.–Melvin J. Ballard.

Priesthood Responsibility

This convention represents an increasing movement in behalf of the Priesthood activities of the Church.  The idea back of the movement, is to preserve and develop quorum consciousness and activity as never before.  It was intended by the Lord that the quorums of the Priesthood should function for the upbuilding of the Church.  With the increased responsibilities placed upon the Church as it increases in numbers and spreads over the earth, it becomes more and more important that the quorums of the Priesthood bear their share of the burden in carrying forward the Lord’s latter-day work.

Quorum Projects

Some may say that as we do the required work of the Church: ward teaching, meeting attendance, payment of tithing, keeping the Word of Wisdom, we are sufficiently active in the matters required of members of the Church.  Of course, such activities are properly drawn from quorum activities; but there are specific activities concerned primarily with the quorum as a whole, over, above and beyond the ordinary requirements made of every faithful Latter-day Saint.  Every quorum should engage its members in some type of activity leading to a definite quorum goal to supplement the regular work required of all faithful Latter-day Saints.  That is the meaning of a quorum project.

There are two varieties of projects within a quorum.  Each of the four committees which shoiuld be found in every Priesthood quorum, may have its own committee project.  The class instruction committee, for example, might have a project to discover material bearing upon the study course, to make the instruction more instructive and interesting.  The Church service committee could have several definite projects.  The anti-alcohol and tobacco campaign in the Church today is a proper project for the quorum as a whole and also for the Church service committee, and there may be other projects of the kind thought out by the committee.  The personal welfare committee has any number of opportunities to set up committee projects.  Helping the needy in the quorum, finding employment for them, and all questions that arise in connection with personal welfare would lead to worth-while projects.

We have in mind particularly projects in which the whole quorum is engaged, projects in which all the committees and members take part.  Such projects are undertaken for general quorum purposes.  Any quorum need or desire may be set up as a quorum project.  Such quorum projects, furnish opportunities by which all members of the quorum by being together, and working and building together, establish more completely the feeling and spirit of brotherhood which should be at the bottom of all Priesthood activities.  For that reason projects which do not lend themselves to cooperative action are not the best quorum projects.  Projects should be chosen that bring all members of the quorum together, if possible, in one concerted effort to achieve a common goa.  We should foster the brotherhood spirit through our quorum activities and projects.–John A. Widtsoe.

. . . .


Question:  How should the quorums handle their finances: within the quorums or in banks?

Brother Widtsoe:  Quorum funds should be deposited locally in some safe bank, in the name of the quorum.

. . . . 

Question:  Should the Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee replace the present High Council Priesthood Committee or should it be a part of the present High Council Committee?  Also should the Stake Priesthood Committee include the presidents or selected members of the quorums of High Priests, Seventies, and Elders?

Brother Ballard:  When your Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee includes representatives of the Priesthood quorums of the Stake, or at least a High Priest, a Seventy, and an Elder, there would be no objection to having not more than three members of the high council associated with the member of the presidency who stands at the head of the committee.  There would then be no further need of the present High Council Committee.  The new committee becomes in fact a Stake Priesthood Supervisory Board.  We would like to have on the committee the presidents of the quorums of High Priests, Seventies, and Elders in the stake, but, if a quorum desires that one of the counselors act it is all right, or if thought best a member of the quorum may be selected for this post.

. . . .

Question:  It was said by Brother Widtsoe that before we give help to a member of a quorum his case should be referred to the bishop.  Should it not be referred to the ward welfare committee as a whole rather than just the bishop?

Brother Ballard:  That is on the question of security.  Brother Widtsoe said that if the quorum have decided th assist a worthy quorum member they should consult with the bishop before they do it to find out what his program is.”  

(“Melchizedek Priesthood–Official Restatement of Melchizedek Priesthood Organization, Relationships, Duties, Functions and Activities,” IE 41(5):294-297, May, 1938)

Aug.:  Dealing with doctrinal questions.

“In every quorum many questions arise.  Some deal with the theology of the Church; others present Priesthood problems; and others again refer to quorum administration.  Answers should be secured for all serious questions.  To leave such questions unanswered often has a disturbing effect upon the questioner.

Problems and questions that arise in the quorum can usually and should be solved and answered by the quorum itself.  If the quorum and its officers are unable to answer a question, or when in doubt about the correctness of the answer the problem might well be submitted to the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.  In the event that this committee should need help, the matter could be laid before the Melchizedek Priesthood committee of the Council of Twelve.

It is unprofitable to allow long discussions when different opinions exist concerning a question.  It is better to present it to the proper authority for answer.  But, questions that arise in the quorums should be answered without too much delay.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 41(8):489, Aug., 1938)

22 Sep.:  New Correlation effort.

“The problem of correlation of auxiliary curriculums became acute again in about twenty years.  In 1938 the First Presidency appointed a Committee of Correlation and Coordination to be composed of ten groups, the Council of the Twelve, the First Council of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric, the Relief Society, the Department of Education, the Sunday School, the Y.M.M.I.A., the Y.W.M.I.A., the Primary, and the Genealogical Society.  Examples of pertinent original working materials are here presented.

September 22, 1938

Working Draft from President McKay

The continuing expansion of the fields of activities of the several auxiliary organizations, the increasing overlapping of these fields, the incomplete understanding and appreciation of the actual needs and facilities of the people outside this immediate area and in the mission fields, the mounting burdens and demands upon the people, both as to their time and energy, as well as to their financial requirements, the failure always to hue to the line in matters of doctrine and Church discipline, with the final result that the youth of the Church are left with too fragmentary, sometimes almost chaotic notions and information regarding the principles of the Gospel and the organization and history of the Church, the necessity to provide a course of study and of activities that shall bring the young people of missionary age to a substantial and rounded knowledge of the principles of the Gospel, all require that the work of the auxiliary organizations and of our educational institutions should be coordinated, and (as among the various organizations) delimited as well as unified and standardized to avoid duplication and overlapping, and to provide the training which is required by the young people.  Therefore, the First Presidency has determined to set up a Committee of Control and Coordination, to be composed of

1. The Advisory Committee of the Council of the Twelve to the Church Board of Education, who shall constitute the presiding authority in the Committee.

2. The Committee of the Twelve on Priesthood activities.

3. The Presiding Bishopric.

4. Representatives of the following organizations:

a.  Board of Education

b.  The B.Y.U.

c.  The Relief Society

d.  The Sunday School

e.  The M.I.A. Boards

f.  The Primary Association

g.  The Genealogical Society

h.  The Music Committee

The First Presidency desire that this Committee shall outline courses of study and activities for each of the organizations named above, in order to accomplish the purposes herein stated.

Each of the organizations willl consider as its primary reason for existence the purpose for which it was originally created.  The Committee will therefore in its work plan restrict each auxiliary organization within these limits.  These limits will not be extended except after consultation with the First Presidency.

Broadly speaking, the reason for all these auxiliary organizations, including the educational, genealogical, and musical, is to instruct the people in the Gospel, to lead them to a testimony of its truthfulness, to care for those in need, to carry on the work entrusted to us by the Lord, to promote culture among the people, and to encourage, foster, and secure among the people the living of righteous lives.”

(Antone K. Romney, “History of the Correlation of L.D.S. Church Auxiliaries,” prepared for the Research Committee of the Melchizedek Priesthood Education Committee, Aug., 1961, part F; xerox)

23 Sep.:  Widtsoe to Clark on Correlation.


September 23, 1938

Would not many of the difficulties of the auxiliaries, such as have developed in recent years be overcome if

1. The present system of advisors for each organization be abolished;

2. A committee on auxiliaries were appointed from among the Twelve (of perhaps five members) similar to other existing major committees of that body;

3. The policy-making power be centered in the ‘Council’ rather than in the Auxiliary Boards.

Sucn a Committee would function well if instructed by the First Presidency to 

1. Formulate general auxiliary policies, after hearing the auxiliary executives, and obtaining the approval of the Council;

2. Inform the auxiliaries of approved policies to be carried out;

3. Secure approval for the Council of all extra-ordinary ventures, such as the present cavalcade;

4. Coordinate all study courses and activities, to avoid duplication and increase the value of auxiliary work;

5. Supervise the preparation of all material to be used in auxiliary activities.

If I am not greatly mistaken, most of the auxiliary executive would welcome such collaboration and direction–of which there is real need.

While it would mean considerable work for the Committee, yet perhaps not as much as is now required for example of the Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee of five members.

The records show that such a committee of two was appointed by President Clawson some years ago, but has never functioned, as advisors are appointed by the Presidency.

John A. Widtsoe.”

(Antone K. Romney, “History of the Correlation of L.D.S. Church Auxiliaries,” prepared for the Research Committee of the Melchizedek Priesthood Education Committee, Aug., 1961, part F; xerox)

7 Oct.:  “Associate of the Council of the Twelve Apostles”

Sylvester Q. Cannon was listed as “Associate of the Council of the Twelve Apostles” in the Conference Report, p. 1.  He was listed similarly in the April, 1939 and October, 1939 Conference Reports, then was sustained as an Apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve in April, 1940.

8 Oct.:  Preparation of missionaries.

“In 1925 the Missionary Home was established.  The first group of missionaries came to that Home March 4, 1925.  There were only five missionaries in that group.  The thought behind the Missionary Home was to check up on the missionaries recommended by the Bishops and the Presidencies of Stakes, and to try if possible to make these young men who are going out realize what it means to be a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Twelve thousand missionaries have gone through the home since that time, and it has served a good purpose.  The benefits were so apparent that some brethren have urged that the time should be extended to six months at least; others have said a year.  Careful thought shows the impractability [sic] of these suggestions.  Extending the time in the Missionary Home only increases the expense to parents who are already overburdened.  It is found also to be advantageous to have fewer numbers in each group, thereby enabling the one in charge of the Home to make more personal contacts.  The principal aim, therefore, in the Missionary Home is to check on each one’s fitness, and worthiness, and to impress each and all with the idea what it means to go out to represent the Church and to be ordained and set apart to represent the Lord Jesus Christ.

Preparation for this responsibility should be carried on at home.  To this end, it is recommended that prospective missionaries take at least one year’s training in the local missionary class.  Formerly membership in these classes was restricted to young men and women who were specially chosen by the Bishopric as prospective missionaries.  Now, however, we find the privilege of enrolling therein is extended to all yong men and young women who are prepared to join.  The General Secretary of the Sunday School Board informs me that there are now 466 missionary classes in the Stakes, and 85 in the Missions, or a total of 551 in the Church with a membership in the Stakes of 12,124, and in the Missions, 1,165, or a total of over 13,000 taking that class.

Thus you see that what we are recommending is already established.  What we should like to ask now is that Bishops see to it that their prospective missionaries take advantage of the opportunity thus provided to study the Gospel.  If the proposed plan be ideally carried out, every prospective missionary would spend two years in that class at little or no added expense.  What an opportunity for study and training! . . .

It is suggested that hereafter before the call is issued every prospective missionary be interviewed by either one of the Council of the Twelve or one of the First Council of Seventy.  The advantages of this are apparent:  First, the Bishop will be aided in his desire to choose the very best representatives in his Ward.  Second, these brethren will interview and report on special qualifications of the missionary which will aid in assigning missionaries to those fields in which they can render the most efficient service.”  (David O. McKay, General Priesthood Meeting address, 8 Oct., 1938; in Instructor 74(1):6, 1 Jan., 1939)

9 Oct.:  True brotherhood in quorums.

“The quorum meetings, too, in this respect have a vital purpose to conserve.  A quorum is three things: first, a class; second, a fraternity; and third, a service unit.  Within it the men of the Priesthood learn of the principles of the Gospel, establish true brotherhood, and carry forward the work of Christ.  It is a God-given association from which they derive more of lasting advantage than from any other fraternal organization in our society.  Its prime purpose is to encourage and safeguard the individual.  You can’t tell me that men can absent themselves from their quorum meetings without losing something vital to their own well being and that of the Church also.

I fear we have some men who have received the Holy Priesthood who feel themselves too big and too important to associate with their brethren in the quorum.  I am sorry for them.  They are making a great mistake.  For it is they, chiefly, who are retarding the progress of the work of God.  I am certain that I am right when I say that if all of the men of the Priesthood would be loyal to their quorums the work of the Church would be accelerated beyond anything we have ever known.”  (Stephen L. Richards, 9 Oct., 1938; CR Oct., 1938, p. 118)

9 Oct.:  Growth in interest in priesthood quorums.

“The spiritual progress of the Church also is equally encouraging.  Tithing has increased; so has the fast offering.  The growth in interest in the Priesthood quorums, while it is not yet what it should be, indicates clearer vision on the part of officers as to the responsibility of these groups.”  (David O. McKay, 9 Oct., 1938; CR Oct., 1938, p. 132)

Nov.:  General guidelines for MP quorums.

“To the Melchizedek Priesthood:  All its Offices and Members.


As you are well aware, the General Authorities of the Church for many years past have been earnestly pleading with the brethren who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood to magnify their respective callings and in the spirit of faith and humility feel the weight of the responsibility which is upon them.  In behalf of the Church it is the duty of the Council of the Twelve to supervise and direct this labor among the quorums of the Priesthood throughout the entire Church.  In keeping with this responsibility the Apostles have endeavored to bring the Priesthood quorums to a higher plane of efficiency.  In this endeavor they have met with a measure of success, and the Priesthood quorums have in the main been brought to a better understanding of their responsibilities.  This measure of success has not, however, come up to the expectations and in some quarters has been a disappointment because of a lack of interest in spite of the earnest pleas that are constantly made.  Where there has been a failure, it must be laid to the charge of the leadership on the part of those who have been given the authority of presidency.

In theory the Lord has given to His Church a perfect organization.  In practice the organization is far from being perfect.  The reason for this is the fact that the Lord has to depend upon weak mortals to carry on his work in the earth.  The responsibility of Church government has not been confined to one individual, but in His wisdom the Lord has distributed resopnsibility so that each member of the Church may carry his portion of the load, and each member is expected to carry his portion of the load.

It is a very strange thing that the idea should prevail in the Church that the higher a man advances in authority of the Priesthood, the greater is his responsibility  to be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord, and the less authority which he has the less is his responsibility to be faithful before the Lord.  In other words, if a man is called to act as a bishop, a high councilor or president of a stake, he is expected to walk circumspectly and obediently in the discharge of the office which he holds.  One of the presiding authorities, the Apostle, for instance, is expected to be a consistent and faithful Latter-day Saint.  He must eschew every evil practice and keep every commandment.  Should he fail, or even should the bishop or the high councilor fail, to walk consistently with the commandments of the Lord, the whole Church would rise up and declare that he should speedily be brought into the line of his duty or be relieved of his responsibility.  But if it happens to be an ordinary Elder, Seventy, or even a High Priest, who has not been given special responsiblity, the majority of the people of the Church seem to feel that it is not a matter of very serious consequence.  It seems that the body of the Church has been trained–but erroneously–to think that an Elder in the Church who has not been called to some position of prominence or authority, may be guilty of almost any violation of the commandments and regulations of the Church, and he should not be called into very serious question.  What the Lord has revealed in relation to the Priesthood teaches us that the Elder, ieven if he is not given some special responsibility, is under just as great a responsibility to be true to ‘every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God,’ as is the man who is called to preside over a stake, or even over the Church.  The Apostle is under no greater commandment to be true to his covenant and membership in the Church than is the ordinary Elder, or Seventy, or any other individual holding the Priesthood.  It is true the Apostle has a greater reponsibility, or calling, in the Priesthood; but no greater responsibility to be true to Gospel principles and commandments.  Especially is this so, if the Elder has received the ordinances of the House of the Lord.  In defense of this stand I quote the following:

[D&C 84:33-42–Oath and Covenant of Priesthood]

The punishment for the violation of this covenant will come as readily and as surely upon the ordained Elder as it will upon the Apostle in the Church, who may turn away into forbidden paths and to the neglect of duty.

The responsibility for the success of Priesthood quorums in the stake is placed, first, upon the presidency of the stake and, second, upon the presidency of the Priesthood quorum.  The General Authorities hold the stake presidency, with the aid of the high council, responsible for the condition of the quorums of Elders and the quorum of High Priests, and to some extent the quorums of Seventies.  It is the duty of the stake presidency to see that these quorums are properly officered with men who understand the nature of their callings and the responsibilities of the Priesthood.  In this direction they may call to their aid the stake Priesthood committee.

Too frequently in the past, the best material has been taken to officer the auxiliary organizations, and then what was left was considered good enough to officer Priesthood quorums.  It is hoped sincerely that this day has perished and that no vestige of it now remains.  The presidency of the stake should see that the very best available material is called to positions of presidency in Priesthood quorums.  Auxiliary organizations are the helps to the Priesthood in the Church.

Moreover, the presidency of the stake, aided by their high council and the stake Priesthood committee, are under teh responsibility of seeing that quorums are fully organized, not only with presiding officers, but with live, active committees which are faithfully functioning.  Where a quorum of Priesthood has failed to function, and has been indifferent to the responsibilities assigned to them, the presidency of the stake will be held responsible first, and then officers of the quorum next.  If officers refuse to work, or are incapable, then they should be released and faithful and willing men called to act in their stead.  Before any man is ordained to any office in the Priesthood, those who call him should carefully consider the following:

1. Worthiness of the individual to hold the Priesthood.

2. His willingness to serve in the calling whereunto he is to be called, and his previous faithfulness to the Church and to responsibility.

3. He must be sustained by the vote of the people concerned.

Those who are called to preside hold the keys of authority.  President Joseph F. Smith has said:

It is necessary that every act performed under this authority should be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way and after the proper order.  The power to direct these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood.  In their fulness they are held by only one person at a time, the Prophet and President of the Church.  He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor. . . . His Priesthood is not increased by the special appointment, for a Seventy who presides over a mission has no more Priesthood than a Seventy who labors under his direction; and the President of an Elders’ quorum, for example, has no more Priesthood than any member of that quorum; but he holds the power of directing the official labors performed in the mission or the quorum, or in other words, the keys of that division of the work.

Every person holding an office in the Priesthood should be enrolled and receive membership in the proper quorum where his membership is recorded.  One of the main purposes of a quorum of Priesthood is to help every individual member of that quorum in all things pertaining to the quorum; in his spirituality, in his temporal salvation, in all his needs.  In this connmection it may be said that the Church has launched out on a welfare program for the benefit of the members of the Church, especially those who are in need.  This is in very deed a Priesthood project.  Each quorum of Priesthood should have under way some helpful project, not only to aid the members of the quorum, but the entire Church.  The quorums should keep in touch with the welfare workers of the stake in all such matters and exert their power and initiative in the accomplishing of these undertakings.  All of this, of course, is to be done under the direction and supervision of the authorities of the stake.  We are pleased to note that many of the quorums are faithfully following these instructions, but some have not cught the spirit of this work.

For many years we have been pleading with the quorums to organize the following committees:

1. Personal Welfare.

2. Church Service.

3. Class Instruction.

4. Miscellaneous and Social.

To thes we have recently added another, the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.  We regret to say that in too many instances these committees have not been called into existence, and in too many, where they have been organized, they are not functioning.  The result of this is that many wayward souls may be lost, who, with a little help from these committees, could be saved from the spiritual death which awaits them.  Spiritual death is the most terrible of all deaths, yet we see our fellow quorum members dying for want of a little sympathetic and brotherly attention.  Many of these wayward men, if not all, could be saved by this careful attention.  Truly ‘the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.’  To save the souls of those who have strayed from the fold is just as worthy and commendable, and causes just as much rejoicing in heaven, as to save souls in far away parts of the earth.

In order that we might have these committees alive to these responsibilities, it is necessary that the stake Priesthood committee should be organized.  It is composed of at least four brethren, one of whom shall be a member of the stake presidency as chairman, the others, a High Priest, a Seventy, and an Elder.  This committee may have a representation from each quorum of Priesthood and also three members of the high council.  It should feel keenly its responsibility in keeping all quorums of Elders and the High Priests in first-class condition spiritually and every other way.  Regular meetings should be held and frequent visits to the quorums should be made.  Written reports from the quorums should also be furnished to this committee.

It is also recommended that monthly meetings be held for all officers of the Priesthood, at which the lessons, projects and activities of the month should be discussed.  Here, also, the officers of the quorums should be trained in quorum responsibility and the art of presiding.  In some stakes these meetings are not being held, and in some, this important Melchizedek Priesthood Committee has not been appointed.  Now, brethren, such things ought not to be.

Information for the quorums and instructions in relation to all quorum duties are published monthly in The Improvement Era.  We are led to believe that many do not have access to the Era, or, if so, they have not kept in touch with the instructions there given.  We are also finding difficulty in obtaining from the Priesthood quorums their reports.  Kindly fill in the blanks as you are directed and send them to President Rudger Clawson’s office, in the Church Office Building, as expeditiously as possible so that a proper record may be kept.

Brethren of the Priesthood:  These are your responsibilities.  The Council of the Twelve did not place them upon you–it is true that they, or their representative, called you and ordained you to this ministry–but the responsibility to perform this labor came to you from the Son of God!  You are His servants.  You will be held accountable to Him for your stewardship, and unless you magnify your callings and prove yourselves worthy and faithful in all things, you will not stand blameless before Him at the last day.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “To the Melchizedek Priesthood:  All its Officers and Members,” IE 41(11):653, 680, Nov., 1938)

Nov.:  AP Extension Plan.


Plans to have the name of every boy and young man in the Church between the ages of 12 and 20 on a permanent record card, which will form the basis of a regular contact with all who are or may hereafter become inactive, have been sent over the Church from the offices of the Presiding Bishopric.  

Associated in the plan are the Sunday School and the Y.M.M.I.A., the three organizations assigned to the supervision, teaching, and activity programs of members of the Aaronic Priesthood.  Some 50,000 cards have been distributed, sufficient to account for every member of the Aaronic Priesthood under 20 years of age and some 4,500 others who have not been ordained.

With the cards have been sent circulars outlining the plan and suggesting a follow-up campaign for each stake and ward.  Suggested programs for stake and ward meetings associated with the introduction of the new plan are published herewith.”  (“Aaronic Priesthood,” IE 41(11):682, Nov., 1938)

Dec.:  Organizing of Ward Teachers.

“In some wards one member of the bishopric has general supervision of ward teaching.  In others, the bishopric as a whole has general supervision.  In either case the teaching corps should be organized with division presiding Teachers in charge of several district or block Teachers.

Division presiding Teacher, under the direction of the bishopric, assigns a pair of teachers to each district or block in his division.  If, for any reason, one or more Teachers in his division cannot perform their work temporarily, he assigns others to this work or assists himself.  He should visit with one or another pair of teachers to learn how they do their work and to advise with them as to methods of improvement.  He should be a man of initiative and of resourcefulness.

If possible, sufficient ward teachers should be available so that each pair of teachers will have fewer than eight families to visit each month.  In covering their district, however, each pair of teachers should endeavor to visit every home, whether members or non-members.  If non-members are found that are willing to be visited, they should be reported to the bishopric or special missionaries for further visits.  Careful account should be kept and report made to the bishopric (preferably weekly) of people moving in or out of the ward.”  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 41(12):745, Dec., 1938)

Dec.:  Progress reports on Ward Teaching.

“At least once each week (preferably at ward Priesthood meetings) progress reports on ward teaching should be obtained either directly from each pair of Teachers, or from the division presiding Teachers, and such encouragement given by the bishopric as may be desirable, looking to the carrying on of the work diligently.

In some wards roll is called in weekly Priesthood meeting of each pair of Teachers, and in answering one of each pair gives the number of families visited thus far.  In others, the division presiding Teachers submit slips showing the progress made each week.  In either case the bishopric is in touch with the progress of this important work.  This procedure need not require more than five or six minutes’ time in weekly Priesthood meetings.”  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 41(12):745, Dec., 1938)