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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1947

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1947.” You can view other years here.

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1947:  Jan.:  Excommunications.

[18 listed, no causes.]  (IE 50(1):38, Jan., 1947)

Jan.:  Confidential reports.

“The reports from all the quorums should by this time have been completed, and the stake reports made redy for transmittal to the general priesthood committee’s office.  Stakes not having completed their reports should make every effort to complete them at once.  Reports received too late lose much of their value to the general office.

The reports will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the various quorums.  It is urged, therefore, that they receive consideration in the various departments of the next priesthood leadership meeting.  It is urged that individual quorum reports be given early consideration in each quorum presidencies’ council meeting.  These reports will porve valuable to the quorums only insofar as plans are laid and made operative to correct any condition that is not wholesome in the quorum.  Approach to the respective problems may vary from place to place, and there may be varied degrees of effectiveness according to approach.  However, presidents of quorums who meet frequently and under the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord and who plan in the interests of their quorums, are on the way toward more effective quorum supervision.

The quorum presidency is remiss in its duty which is not striving constantly to serve the best interests of its quorum, and to improve the effectiveness of its presidency.

The responsibility of presidency is indeed great.  The responsibility of membership in a priesthood quorum is great.  In this new year, it would be most fitting for each member, and each quorum president, to resolve that ‘each tomorrow’ will find him ‘farther than today.'”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(1):43, Jan., 1947)

Feb.:  Personal interviews.

“Many quorum presidencies have completed their personal visits and interviews, whereas some have not.  A few may not have understood the full purpose of the interview: ‘These interviews are not intended as inquisitions, neither mere questionnaires reduced to fact-finding basis, or to “put brethren on the spot,” but should represent an effort by the presidency to determine the needs of their brethren,’ and enable the presidencies to administer according to the need that exists.  Any brother may be held or reclaimed, if sufficient kindly personal attention is paid to his needs.  Do not permit neglect or poor planning on the part of those whose duty it is to lead the quorums, to be a contributing factor to any brother’s delinquency.  Neither wait until the end of this present year to commence your visits incident to your next report, or to take up your labors among the membership of the quorum.  Quorum presidencies should be determined that those who in the pawst may have been dilatory, will not long so remain.  Again let us stress the importance of keeping in close contact with the entire quorum personnel, meeting each problem as it arises, and in proper season.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(2):106, Feb., 1947)

Feb.:  Excommunications.

[16 listed, no causes.]  (IE 50(2):116, Feb., 1947)

Mar.:  Excommunications.

[15 listed, no causes.]  (IE 50(3):168, Mar., 1947)

Mar.:  Visits to members and presidency council meetings.

“An examination of a large number of 1946 fourth quarter reports would seem to indicate that visits to quorum members, and the frequent holding of quorum presidency council meetings will do much to improve the condition of our quorums.

It is granted there may be many factors affecting attendance at quorum meeting and priesthood activity, but our study of the reports would seem to justify our conclusion that personal visits and carefully planned quorum programs are reflected in the activity of quorum members.

Our tabulations thus far show an average increase in attendance at quorum meetings of almost eleven percent.  Significantly enough there was an average increase of twenty-one percent in the number of visits, and an average of twenty-one percent increase in the number of quorum presidency council meetings held.

The general priesthood committee has frequently urged the holding of regular weekly quorum presidency council meetings where conditions would permit.  Quorums following counsel appear to be benefiting by it.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(3):170, Mar., 1947)

Mar.:  Change in Standard Quorum Award requirement.

“The Standard Quorum Award requirement of twenty-five percent attendance at sacrament meeting is increased to thirty percent effective January 1, 1947.

There is no change in the requirements for the Individual Certificate of Award.”  (“Aaronic Priesthood,” IE 50(3):172, Mar., 1947)

Mar.:  Duties of bishop in ward teaching.

“The bishop, as presiding authority and the one responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his members, is the chairman of the ward committee on ward teaching.  He cannot delegate this authority to others.  It is his responsibility to see that the ward committee is fully organized and functioning at all times.  He should in counsel with his counselors, select, approve, and appoint those who are to do ward teaching.

He should meet with the members of the ward committee at least once each month, and more often if the need arises.  It is his duty to preside and conduct all meetings.  He, together with the members of the committee, should arrange a convenient time for the holding of the ward teachers report meeting each month.  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 50(3):173, Mar., 1947)

Apr.:  Who should appoint ward teachers?

“It is the duty of the bishopric to select and appoint the best qualified members of the Melchizedek Priesthood to do ward teaching.  To assist in this important work, all worthy priests and teachers should be called into service.  The call to do ward teaching comes by way of divine appointment to those who bear the priesthood.  The Lord, in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, placed this obligation upon the priesthood: ‘. . . to teach,k expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church.’ (D&C 20:42.)

In calling members of the priesthood into this special activity, no effort should be spared in emphasizing the importance of this responsibility.  All ward teachers should be personally interviewed and properly instructed in their duties prior to appointment.”  (“Ward Teaching,” IE 50(4):237, Apr., 1947)

20 Jun.:  Priesthood quorums within missions.

“You will recall that in the past consideration has been given to the feasibility of organizing Priesthood quorums within the missions.

It is our feeling that stronger Priesthood organization and a well correlated Priesthood activity would be of benefit to the missions and the cause of the Church.

This letter does not presuppose immediate quorum organization in all of the missions, but is your notice that as conditions may warrant possible quorum organization may be studied and perhaps effected.  

In your consideration of this important matter, it should be kept in mind that there will be no particular advantage in quorum organization where conditions do not warrant or permit of quorum function.  In other words, before an Elders quorum be organized, there should be sufficient number of Elders within a close proximity to comprise a quorum, or at least a majority (49 members) of a quorum, with the prospects favorable to continued growth and quorum function.

The details incident to Priesthood quorum organization and supervision with the missions, under the direction of the General Priesthood Committee, will be worked out and further appropriate notice given.  In no case, however, is a quorum organization to be undertaken without specific authorization in each instance from the First Presidency of the Church.

We think that this is an appropriate time for a careful study of Priesthood matters within each mission, and suggest that such study be made promptly.”  (First Presidency to Mission Presidents, 20 Jun., 1947.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 6:259-260; also IE 50(8):536, Aug., 1947)

17 Jul.:  Poll of existing quorum practices.

“July 17, 1947

To Presidents of Stakes and Chairmen of Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committees

Dear Brethren:

The enclosed questionnaire is sent as a means of determining your present policy, problems, and recommendations with regard to the meeting time of the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums of your stake.

Current instructions have permitted stakes to establish at their own option the meeting times of the priesthood.  This has resulted in a great variety of meeting dates and hours.  It is now desired to study your findings and recommendations in this important matter to ascertain the wisdom and feasibility of effecting a simplification and unification of the present priesthood program.

Kindly complete and return this questionnaire in the enclosed stamped, self-addressed envelope within ten days.  Your promptness and thoroughness will be deeply appreciated.

Faithfully your brethren,

General Priesthood Committee, 

By Ezra Taft Benson.

Subject:  Questionnaire Re. Priesthood Meeting Time.

1. Name of Stake

2. Elders Quorum or Group Meetings

a. Day of week

b. Time of meeting

c. Length of meeting

3. Seventies Quorum or Group Meetings

a. Day of week

b. Time of meeting

c. Length of meeting

4. High Priests Quorum or Group Meetings

a. Day of week

b. Time of meeting

c. Length of meeting

5. Do these meetings conflict with or overlap other meetings?  If so, what organization and to what extent?

6. Do you find your present meeting time most advantageous?

7. What time and day for priesthood quorum and group meetings do you feel would be conducive to maximum efficiency?  State freely your suggestions and recommendations.

8. Explanation of unusual conditions.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(9):600, Sep., 1947)

29 Jul., 1947:  1st Council of Seventy not authorized to perform temple marriages.

“Your letter of July 22nd, with one written by your father has been received this morning.

I want you to know that I appreciate your asking me to perform the marriage ceremony of you and your companion in the Salt Lake Temple this coming August 19th.  I would love to have done this for you, but members of the First Council of the Seventy have not been given the permission to perform marriages in the temples.  The reason for this is that members of the Quorum of the Twelve are officially chosen to perform ceremonies, and they can only do it by special permission outside the presidency of the temples.

President Joseph Fielding Smith is the president of the Salt Lake Temple, and he will only be too glad to perform your ceremony I know.  I regret very much that I cannot respond to your request.  However, when you come to Salt Lake, it will be a pleasure to see you.” (LEY to C.R. Varley, 29 Jul 1947, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

11 Aug.:  Concerning the disbanding of the 1st Quorum of 70.

“Your letter of August 9th has just been received.  At the time that the First Council of Seventy was chosen by the Prophet Joseph Smith, February, 1835, the First Quorum of Seventy was organized.  It was not long before the First Quorum, however, went out of existence, for men were not called to keep up the required number.  The First Council became the Presidents of all the quorums and to this day there is no first quorum.

I hope this answers your question, realizing as I do that it is very brief and definite.  You may say to the brethren with all correctness, that for some time the First Quorum was allowed to lapse and has never been reorganized.”  (LEY to Elder H. J .Hardy, 11 Aug, 1948, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

Sep.:  Quorum meeting time.

“Increased emphasis is being placed upon priesthood responsibility.  There is much work to be done if the duties devolving upon the priesthood are discharged as the Lord intended.  Yet, generally speaking, it has been delegated only a minor place in our daily affairs and religious devotions.  Many quorums and groups consider their priesthood responsibilities pretty well accomplished if they have attended their fifty-minute weekly meeting.

Can we truly honor our priesthood by subordinating the quorum meeting to a position wholly incompatible with the divine purposes for which it was instituted?  Will slackness in divinely imposed obligations merit the blessings of the Lord and engender in priesthood quorums the full spirit of brotherhood and fellowship?  Just what place of importance should quorum meetings and activities assume?  What hour, day of the week and length of time are most conducive of the maximum benefit to the Church and bearers of the priesthood?

These and many similar questions dictated the desirability of sending to presidents of stakes and chairmen of stake Melchizedek Priesthood committees the attached letter and questionnaire in the hope of determining the practice, needs, and desires of the priesthood members with reference to these matters.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(9):601, Sep., 1947)

10 Sep.:  Guidelines for quorums in mission field.

“September 10, 1947

Mission Presidents and Counselors

Dear Brethren:

In the June 20, 1947, letter of the First Presidency to presidencies of missions, regarding the organization of priesthood quorums within the missions, it is directed that ‘the details incident to priesthood quorum organization and supervision within the missions, under the direction of the general priesthood committee, will be worked out and further appropriate notice given.’

Pursuant to this instruction, the general priesthood committee of the Council of the Twelve has given attention to the above matter, and we submit herewith the following outline, which has the approval of the First Presidency, for your guidance in the supervision and direction of elders’ quorums in the missions:

1. All elders’ quorums in missions are to be considered mission quorums, and mission presidents and their counselors will have the direct responsibility for the supervision of the work and activities of elders’ quorums in their respective missions.  In order to supervise more effectively this important Melchizedek Priesthood work, it is suggested that there may be created in each mission where elders’ quorums may be organized, a mission Melchizedek Priesthood committee, with the mission president as chairman and the secretary of the mission as committee secretary.  The mission president may appoint other members to this committee from his counselors, district presidents, and/or quorum presidents, as he may deem advisable.

2. All report books, forms, other supplies, and printed instructions will be provided by the general priesthood committee, upon request, through the mission president, supplemented by current instructions appearing on the Melchizedek Priesthood pages of The Improvement Era and the Church News.  A copy of the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, when prepared, will be sent to all mission presidents.  Quarterly reports will be expected from each mission, where elders’ quorums are organized, and supplies will be furnished, as in the cse of the stakes, by the general priesthood committee.

3. All reports will start as of January 1, 1948, and as new quorums are organized, their reports shall start as of the beginning of the first quarter following the organization.

4. Elders’ groups, as units of quorums, may be organized as needed, with a group leader and secretary, and all quorums should organize the recommended three standing committees, and carry out the program recommended for quorums, as in stakes, insofar as local conditions may warrant.

5. The matter of holding priesthood leadership meetings for elders’ quorum officers is left to the discretion of the mission president, with the understanding, however, that effective supervision of elders’ work can only be accomplished adequately through periodic contacts with quorum officers.

6. The general priesthood committee will prepare a set of instructions which will be sent to you for inclusion in your handbook, Instructions to Mission Presidents.

7. All recommendations by mission presidents, requesting authorization to effect the organization of elders’ quorums, should be submitted to the First Presidency, 47 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Each recommendation should be accompanied by a list of the number and location of priesthood members available for the elders’ quorum organization, together with a simple map showing the priesthood distribution and distances between various groups.

The Council of the Twelve

George F. Richards, President.”  

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(10):666, Oct., 1947)

3 Oct.:  Revival of Home Evening.

“This is a serious obligation, my brethren and sisters.  Down through the years the First Presidency of the Church and other leaders have counseled and have admonished us regarding the sacred obligation of parenthood and the teaching of children in the home.  It was during the ministry of President Joseph F. Smith that a new project was organized and announced in the Church, and a letter directed to presidents of stakes, bishops of wards, and parents in Zion from which I quote the following:

. . . we advise and urge the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord.  (IE Jun., 1915, p. 733)

And then the First Presidency made, in that same letter, one of the greatest promises that has ever been made to parents in Israel, as follows:

If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result.  Love at home and obedience to parents will increase.  Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.  (Ibid., p. 734)

Shortly thereafter the Mutual Improvement Associations, with the approval of the First Presidency, used as their slogan, ‘We stand for a weekly home evening.’

Subsequently, President Heber J. Grant reaffirmed the instructions previously given and officially endorsed the holding of a family hour in the home as an effective means through which the gospel might be taught to our children and the bonds of love and affection strengthened between parents and children.  And then on January 4, 1936, the First Presidency said further;

As an aid to parents in discharging this most sacred obligation and duty there has been established . . . a ‘Home Evening’ at which time parents and children gather around the family hearth in social and religious communion.  In this day when socials, parties, dinners, business interests, etc., all tend to lead away from home associations the adoption of a Home Evening is highly advisable.  It furnishes an opportunity for the parents to become better acquainted with their children and for children to know and appreciate their parents. . . .

We commend the wards and the stakes that are making special efforts to make home life what it should be–a haven of peace, in which faith in God, respect and deference for one another and loyalty for truth and righteousness are pervading virtues.  (Claude Richards, Home Evening Handbook, pp. 2-3)

During the past few months, the Council of the Twelve, under the direction of the First Presidency, has given further consideration to the powerful influences which tend to destroy the home and weaken the relationship between parents and children.  As a result, a letter has been directed by President George F. Richards to presidents of stakes and bishops of wards recommending a revival and further motivation of this project inaugurated under the leadership of President Joseph F. Smith many years ago.  The Council has called to its aid the Presiding Bishopric, heads of the Church auxiliaries and of course the local priesthood in the stakes and the wards.  A major responsibility has been delegated to the Relief Society, and through this great organization of women–mothers in Israel–those who play such an important part in the training of our children–has been given the responsibility for the preparation of certain materials, as helps to parents.  This material will be carried into the homes by the Relief Society teachers and the ward teachers.  There will be talks and demonstrations as a means of stimulating interest in this worthwhile project.

And so, my brethren and sisters, this morning may I appeal to you to give attention to this project as it is inaugurated and sponsored by these agencies mentioned.”  (Ezra Taft Benson, 3 Oct., 1947; CR Oct., 1947, pp. 26-27)

Dec.:  Advice concerning annual reports.

“The annual confidential Melchizedek Priesthood reports should be completed by December 31 of this year.  Considerable work will be entailed by some quorums in completing this task by that time.  The following suggestions are restated in an effort to lend what assistance may be rendered by the general priesthood committee.

An annual report is required from each quorum of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The responsibility for obtaining the report from each quorum rests with the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, whose duty it is to obtain and audit reports, enter them on the stake summary and mail the stake summary to the general priesthood committee as soon as possible after December 31 and before January 15.

. . . .

Upon close examination of part two of the report it will also be evident that only upon the basis of a personal interview with every quorum member who is living at home, can the report be made to reflect the true status of quorum members with regards to the standards of the Church as set forth therein.

Members of the presidency of each quorum of high priests, seventies, and elders are to interview personally each quorum member who is living at home to determine his answer to the items, excepting percentage items and tithing questions, so this report may be completed and mailed to the chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee not later than January 1.

It is requested that quorum presidents and counselors go individually when interviewing quorum members, not as a presidency.  Confidential matters may be more freely discussed when only one quorum officer and a member are present.  Care should be exercised to avoid any embarrassment to the member.  The interview should not be conducted while he is in the presence of the members of his family.  There is no need to ask questions, the answers to which are already known to you.

Neither quorum secretaries nor group leaders are to be asked to assist quorum presidencies in conducting these interviews.

When making this survey, avoid recording any information, except in this report, which will identify any member with the answers made.  This is a confidential report, and the statements of members should be held in the strictest confidence.

The practice of sending questionnaires in any form to obtain this information is not approved.

When each member has been interviewed, the quorum presidency should take a list of quorum members to each respective bishop at the end of the year and ascertain each member’s tithing record as to whether he is a full tithepayer, part tithepayer, non-tithepayer or is exempt from the payment of tithes.

. . . .

These annual reports provide an excellent barometer for determining the activity and devotion among the priesthood of the Church.  We urge all brethren responsible to exercise extreme prudence and care in completing this task.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 50(12):829, Dec., 1947)

Dec.:  Increased quorum award requirements.

“We call attention to the increase in two of the requirements of the Standard Quorum Award for 1947 as follows: (1) Minimum attendance at sacrament meeting increased from twenty-five percent to thirty percent; (2) minimum number of priesthood assignments filled by at least seventy-five percent of quorum members increased from twelve to thirty.

These increases affect only the Standard Quorum Award and are contained in the current Aaronic Priesthood Handbook issued January 1, 1947.”  (“Aaronic Priesthood,” IE 50(12):830, Dec., 1947)