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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1951

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1951.” You can view other years here.

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1951:  12 Jan.:  1st Council of 70 used to perform temple marriages, but not now.

“Your letter of January 9th is received.  I am glad to hear from you, and I quite remember having made your acquaintance when I was touring the Spanish-American Mission nearly two years ago.

You have asked that I perform the ceremony at your marriage on February 24th, which, of course, is to be in the Salt Lake Temple.  I appreciate very much your asking me, but I am sorry to have to tell you that members of the First Council of Seventy have not been appointed to perform marriages in the Temple.  It was a custom once for our Council to have that right and privilege, but many changes have come.  We are convinced, however, that it will not be long before the First Council of the Seventy will be restored to their accustomed duties that were given them by the Prophet Joseph Smith.”  (LEY to Elder Orrie Dennis Johnson, 12 Jan 1951, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

15 Jan.: The Seventies of the Church are the scholars of the Church.

“We are very glad to receive a copy of the year’s work for 1950, by the Tenth Quorum of Seventy, as per your report.  It is indeed a credit to the Quorum, and we appreciate the work being done by the brethren of that group.  The report tells us that is [it] is very gratifying to know that the entire membership of the Quorum caught the spirit of the work that is asked by the Lord.

There is one sentence in the report that is always interesting to me because of the meaning of the word “Seventy,” which, as the report says, is to preach the Gospel.  I have been some years working on the etymology of the word “Seventy.”  One of the French writers–namely: Balzak–says that “seventy,” coming form the word “seven,” is the formula of [heaven]; and therefore every Seventy should understand what the fundamental meaning of the term is.

The Seventies of the Church are the scholars of the Church.  They are the ones who are responsible primarily for the teaching of the Gospel.  A Seventy, therefore, first fills his divine calling as an intellectual and moral power.  To become a missionary is an expression of the word “Seventy,” if I may put it this way.

Coming back to the report, it is a fine example of the thing that we wish we could have from all the Quorums of Seventy of the Church, and I want you to know we appreciate it very much.

When you can, I would be very happy to have you come in and see me.  You are doing a great work in your Stake, and may God ever bless you from day to day.”  (LEY to Pres. A. Lewis Elggren, 15, Jan 1951, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

13 Feb.:  I baptized one in three years, and he apostatized.

“Your letter of February 6th has just come.  As to the matter of your ordination to the office of Seventy, I have found and noted in my diary that I ordained you July 2, 1949.  I will send you a duplicate certificate of ordination, and with it record of the ordination of Joseph Young as he received his call from the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Yes, time flies; and it is interesting to note that you will be home this summer.  Although you have not had the baptisms according to number that you looked for, this is always true with missionaries who go out with hopes and ambitions.  When I went to Germany on my mission I expected to baptize the Kaiser, but the poor man wouldn’t listen to it.  If he had, it would have prevented the First World War.  However, I baptized one man in my three years of work, and he soon after apostatized.  But many compensations have come back to me, just the same, and oh! the great good that my mission did me.  Think of it: I labored in Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and France.”  (LEY to Elder Harlan Hammond, 13 Feb 1951, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

19 Feb.:  I would not allow the Anderson Plan to go out.

“I have your card asking if our office can send you a dozen copies of the “Anderson Plan.”  I am told that the only way you can get this plan is to put your order with the Northwestern States Mission.  Personally, I would not allow any such plan to go from this office.  I realize that people differ, but I am not given to such kind of outlines.  I am speaking to you frankly.

If you will have your elders learn a few great ideas and principles–say ten or twelve in number–they will know how to study for themselves, and that is the thing that is necessary.  For example, can your elders explain intelligently just what the Holy Bible is?  And the same question for the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  Then, can your elders explain fully whether or not Christ organized a church–I mean from an historical viewpoint.  On this one subject I have been twelve years working, and I know that Christ did establish a church; and I know that we do not understand it.  The Prophet Joseph was right when he said that we have the same church that Christ established.  I could give you twelve subjects, but it takes careful teaching and careful study for your missionaries to understand; but when they get them then they become students of knowledge, and that is what you have got to have.

Let me close my letter by saying that I support you in your noble purposes, and you are very welcome to not agree with me for the glorious thing in the Gospel is to differ on subjects when we are interested in bringing souls unto Christ.”  (LEY to Pres. Clyde D. Tidwell, 19 Feb 1951, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

Mar.:  Bishops should teach priests how to baptize.

“The ordinance of baptism should be performed in a reverent manner and with proper and becoming dignity.  Priests should not be asked to perform baptisms until after the bishop has exercised every care in training these young men in this procedure.

The training should take place in the quorum meeting and should include the following:

1. Standing in the proper position and allowing plenty of room for immersing the body without injury.

2. The proper holding of the candidate’s hands in the left hand of the one officiating with the latter’s right hand and arm raised to a square behind the candidate.

3. After repeating clearly the candidate’s full name, recite the baptismal prayer in a slow, distinct, and reverent manner.

4. The proper placing of the hands of the candidate on the upper chest region to assist in immersing the body.

5. The placing of the officiator’s right hand between the shoulders of the one being baptized so that proper assistance may be rendered in coming up out of the water.

There should be no boisterousness or unnecessary talking allowed during the actual baptismal service.  Those who officiate, those who are being baptized, and all who attend the service should be taught to assume and maintain a reverent and becoming attitude–bishops should so teach them.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 54(3):190, Mar., 1951)

Jun.:  Title changes and new offices in AP Program.

“During the bishop’s conference held in the Tabernacle, April 6, Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards and Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson announced some changes in title designation for workers in the Aaronic Priesthood programs and new offices to be filled as follows:


The ‘executive chairman’ of the stake Aaronic Priesthood committee will hereafter be designated ‘vice-chairman.’  His duties and responsibilities remain the same as heretofore.


The title ‘general secretary’ is changed to ‘coordinator.’  It has been felt for a long time that the title ‘general secretary’ was not sufficiently descriptive of the duties and responsibilities of this office.  As ‘coordinator’ the appointee will now be more nearly what it has always been intended he should be in the Aaronic Priesthood work.

The coordinator is, in every sense of the term, an assistant to the bisohp and his counselors in the full and over-all promotion of the program.  Hereafter, except in very small wards and branches, he is not to be required to do the secretarial work of the committee; a new secretary is to be appointed for this work.  While he cannot take the place of the bishopric as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood, he is to coordinate the program in all of its features and carry out the instructions of the bishopric at all times.

The coordinator will have supervision over quorum advisers and assist them in every possible way in their work.  He will supervise the newly appointed secretary of the ward Aaronic Priesthood committee.  He will oversee for the bishopric the Aaronic Priesthood social and fraternal program, both the over-all and the quorum features thereof, of course in full cooperation with quorum presidencies and quorum advisers.


The title ‘executive chairman’ on the stake committee for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood is changed to ‘vice-chairman.’  His duties and responsibilities remain unchanged. . . .


On the ward level in the program for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood, the former ‘group adviser’ on the ward committee is now the ‘coordinator.’  His responsiblities remain the same has heretofore. . . .

Two new handbooks: (1) Aaronic Priesthood Handbook; (2) Handbook for Leaders of Audult Members of the Aaronic Priesthood, will soon be ready for distribution.  The new handbooks will bring both programs up-to-date and provide more explicit instruction for all workers.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 54(6):466, Jun., 1951)

Jun.:  Changes in ward teaching program.

“Changes in the ward teaching program were announced by Bishop Joseph Wirthlin of the Presiding Bishopric during the bishops’ conference held Friday evening, April 6, in the Tabernacle. . . .

Effective January 1, 1952, the ‘Question and Discussion’ method of ward teaching will be adopted.  This plan contemplates that each pair of ward teachers  shall take one question each month as the basis for a discussion with each family.  Questions and references will be supplied by the Presiding Bishopric’s Office.  Bishops are instructed to appoint a ‘ward teaching instructor’ who will be given ten to fifteen minutes during the opening exercises of each ward teachers’ report meeting to discuss the current question for the month, giving information to supplement the references already supplied.

. . . .

Further to establish uniformity, it was recommended the first three Thursday evenings of each month be devoted to ward teaching.

The suggestion was also made that where possible each ward teaching district be made to include only four to six families.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 54(6):467, Jun., 1951)

20 Jul.:  Plea for 70s to replace missionaries gone to war

“To Presidents of Stakes

Dear Brethren:

The war effort is calling into the service of their country the majority of the single young men who otherwise would be going into the mission field.

Our proselyting force is rapidly diminishing.  This means that unless recruits are had, there will be serious loss to the work in the mission field.  Many investigators and new isolated Saints may be lost, some branches may be discontinued for lack of leadership, and perhaps many fields closed.

Missionary work is the special responsibility of the seventies, and we feel that now is the time when these good men may rise to meet a great emergency.

Some personal sacrifice may be entailed, but every man who makes the sacrifice will bless others and bless himself.  We need a thousand brethren to carry on the work of double that number of young elders whose work in the mission field must be terminated within the next few months.

To that end we are now calling upon the quorums of seventy to provide us with these replacements.  We feel that every one of the 345 quorums can and should furnish to us at least three full-term missionaries; some may provide more.

We therefore request that you bring this urgent matter directly to the attention of the quorums of seventy within your stake, stressing the necessity for early preparation for response to the call.

When the quarterly conferences resume, beginning with the 11th and 12th of August, it is confidently hoped prospective missionaries from the quorums of seventy will be available for interview by the General Authorities, and that before the coming winter sets in, a full thousand men from these quorums will be in or on their way to the missions of the Church.

. . . .

Care of the family should include not only financial support, but such protection and guidance as the wife and children may require.”

(First Presidency Circular Letter, 20 Jul., 1951; IE 54(10):746-747, Oct., 1951)

12 Sep.:  Concerning the disbanding of the 1st Quorum of Seventy.

“Your letter of September 9 is just received.  The first quorum of Seventy, organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith September 28, 1835, was taken to fill the presidencies of the ten quorums following.  The first quorum has never been organized since and will not be organized until the Lord directs his servants, the First Presidency, to bring it about.

The question you asked is interesting, and very often we have it to answer.  Kindly remember me to the brethren of your quorum, and believe me,” (LEY to Elder Myron Standley, 12 Sep 1951, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 6)

6 Oct.:  Quorum leaders need to visit quorum members.

“Now, brethren, I have taken occasion on times before, and there isn’t time now, to elaborate much, to make as earnest an appeal as I know how to make to the elders of this Church who have been neglectful and careless, and who have set themselves in process of losing that Priesthood of which President Clark has so impressively spoken.

I do not suppose that I can appeal to too many of them here tonight.  They are probably not here.  They are in your quorums.  Their presidencies are here, at least in large measure.  Brethren, will you obey the injunction given by President Clark to go out for these lost sheep and bring them in, and succor them, encourage them, and if necessary, rebuke them in order to bring them to a realization of what they are losing.

. . . .

I sincerely hope that in the administration of the quorums you are emphasizing the fraternal aspects of these great institutions.  I have long been persuaded that these quorums ought to be our clubs.  They ought to be the places where we find our dearest associations, and we need not look far beyond them for that fraternity which we all crave.  The fraternity of the Priesthood in our own quorums!

In your visits to these people, I am sure that you need to exercise great discretion and judgment.  I wish all of the Melchizedek Priesthood–perhaps many of them did last night–might have seen the demonstration in the bishops’ meeting which was held on this stand last evening.  There were some very excellent constructive suggestions which were given.

I believe, my brethren, that you will make far more progress in frankness than in attempting to beat about the bush with these men.  I believe if you have the proper spirit you can go to them and talk about their condition, and their needs without spending time in visits talking about the weather and politics and current affairs.”  (Stephen L. Richards, 6 Oct., 1951; CR Oct., 1951, p. 176)

Dec.:  Standard Quorum and Individual Awards changed.

“The Aaronic Priesthood standard quorum award has been a gallant advocate of quorum and group consciousness since it came into the program January 1, 1936.

When it was first introduced, it met with all sorts of reactions–the defeatist said it could not be done; the indifferent said the standards were too high; the skeptic said it would be better to wait and see; seventy-nine leaders and their quorums put faith and works together and won the recognition the first year.

. . . .

The sharp decline in the number of awards issued during the past two years was brought about by our including, as one of the requirements, the qualifying of at least fifty percent of the quorum membership for the Aaronic Priesthood individual certificate of award.

. . . .

Long hours in council meetings, careful analysis of specific surveys, consultations with some stake and ward Aaronic Priesthood leaders have resulted in the decision to revise our award program as outlined below.

The standard quorum award program will continue in its present form until December 31, 1951.  Stake and ward leaders should vigorously promote the program and guard against any lag whatever for the remainder of 1951.

. . . .

Following the faithful completion of the standard quorum award program, which includes applying for all such awards earned during 1951, the standard quorum award will be discontinued as of December 31, 1951.

Beginning January 1, 1952, we will begin to rate wards and stakes on the basis of the percent of Aaronic Priesthood members under twenty-one years of age who qualify for the individual certificate of award.

It should be carefully noted, at this point, that the individual certificate of award, with its requirements, is continued without change.

. . . .

When the percent of qualification is determined, the ward will then be issued a special award which will indicate that fifty percent, sixty percent, seventy percent, eighty percent, ninety percent, or one hundred percent of the total enrollment has qualified for the individual certificate of award.

No recognition will be given to any ward qualifying less than fifty percent of its Aaronic Priesthood membership under twenty-one for the individual award.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 54(12):950, Dec., 1951)

19 Dec.:  Which leader is to give counsel?

“The increasing number of calls and letters that come to us here in the First Presidency’s office, touching upon matters which are usually intimately personal to the one making the inquiry, has persuaded us to ask you to call to the attention of the members of your Stake and of your respective Wards that the members of the Church who are confronted with problems affecting their daily lives, are depriving themselves of a great blessing by writing directly to the First Presidency.

The Lord has so organized His Church that there is accessible to every member–man, woman and child–a spiritual advisor, and a temploral counselor as well, who knows them intimately and who knows the circumstances and conditions out of which their problems come, and who, by reason of his ordination, is entitled to an endowment from our Heavenly Father of the necessary discernment and inspiration of the Lord to enable him to give the advice which the one in trouble so much needs.  We refer to the Bishop of the Ward in the first instance and to the President of the Stake, if the Bishop for any reason feels the need of assistance in giving his counsel.

We therefore urge all members who have problems or questions that are troubling them, to consult their Bishop freely and fully and get from him the help of which they feel they stand so much in need.

The relationship which is so created between the Bishop or President of Stake and the member is of the most highly confidential character.  Realizing that neither the Presidents of Stakes nor the Bishops from reasons of personal delicacy and humility may feel in a position to state the matter set out above as of their own volition, we are sending this communication to you with a request that every Bishop carefully read this communication to the members of his ward in a regular sacrament meeting and that each President of Stake read it in a general sesson of stake conference so that all the members of the Church may be advised of the due order which should obtain in the Church in these matters.

We repeat, that by failing to observe this order our wearied and discouraged members overlook the great blessings which would be theirs if they went forward as the Lord has provided.  We urge the members carefully to observe the admonitions given above and consult their Bishop in the first instance or the President of Stake.  If either of these, or both of them, feel the necessity of advice or counsel on any problem presented, they can in turn consult the First Presidency.

One final word: we urge the Saints to refrain from the discussion of mysteries and to refrain from asking questions about matters and principles concerning which the Lord has made no definite statement.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 19 Dec., 1951; xerox)