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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1952

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1952.” You can view other years here.

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1952:  Jan.:  Sustaining quorum presidencies.

“In the past, in sustaining presidencies of high priests’ and elders’ quorums, they have been presented to the entire stake priesthood for approval.

After approval by the stake presidency and the high council, presidencies of high priests’ and elders’ quorums should be presented  for sustaining vote to the quorums over which they will preside and not the entire stake priesthood.  This is already the practice in the seventies’ quorums.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(1):42, Jan., 1952)

Feb.:  Annual visits of MP presidencies.

“The Church Melchizedek Priesthood committee suggests that now is the time of the year for Melchizedek Priesthood presidencies to begin their 1952 annual visit to each individual quorum member.  If this assignment is begun early in the year and carried on to its completion, it does not work a hardship on anyone; but, on the other hand, it proves to be of much value to all concerned.

In addition to obtaining the information needed for the annual report, the visits by presidents of quorums to each individual quorum member bring the presidents in close contact and fellowship with those over whom they preside.  It helps them to understand the home conditions and various problems which confront quorum members; it breaks down the barrier between those who have been called to positions of ledership and those whom they serve; it causes many men to become active in priesthood work who had heretofore been less active; and, in general, it results in the development of a far greater appreciation and understanding between the quorum members and their presidents.  It is generally agreed that no method of working with priesthood quorum members has been devised which is as effective as the individual contact method.

Some quorum presidents think that they do not need to visit bishops, stake presidents, and other priesthood holders of similar caliber whom they know are living the gospel.  It is recommended that those brethren be visited also in order that a similar communion and fellowship might be established between them and the quorum presidents as that established between those less active in the Church and the quorum presidencies.

In regards to quorum presidencies visiting all quorum members, The Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook states:

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 1st.

. . . .”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(1):106, Jan., 1952)

Mar.:  MP Quorum presidency meetings.

“On page twenty-one of the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook the following definite instruction is given to the presidents of all Melchizedek Priesthood quorums throughout the Church: ‘A weekly meeting of the quorum presidency should be held.’  The General Authorities of the Church are thoroughly convinced that the holding of this meeting is so vital to the success of quorum presidencies that they put the foregoing statement in the handbook in bold-faced type in order that it may not be overlooked by any priesthood presidency.

General instructions regarding the ‘Quorum Presidency Meeting’ are found on page thirty-two and thirty-three of the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook.  It is recommended that all Melchizedek Priesthood presidents reread those instructions and follow them.  The suggestion that ‘council meetings should be held just as often as circumstances warrant, but at least weekly‘ is re-emphasized on page thirty-two.

A study of the number of Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidency meetings held throughout the Church during the first three quarters of 1951 reveals the fact that as a general rule quorum presidencies seem not to be seriously accepting the instructions of the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook and those of the General Authorities on this matter.  The average number of council meetings that should have been held each quarter was thirteen.  It is regrettable to find that during the first nine months of 1951 ninety-three percent of the quorum presidencies of the Church held fewer than the average of thirteen council meetings a quarter and that only seven percent of the quorum presidencies of the entire Church held meetings weekly or oftener.  In fact, ten percent of the presidencies held no council meetings during the first nine months of 1951; fourteen percent held monthly council meetings; and fifteen percent held them less than once a month.  Thus, thirty-nine percent of the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies of the entire Church held council meetings either once a month or less, instead of holding them weekly according to instructions.

The question is sometimes asked: ‘Why should it be considered necessary for all Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies to hold weekly council meetings?  Among the answers are the following:  First, it is at these meetings that all quorum problems are discussed and preparations made for their solutions; second, the minutes of previous meetings are read; third, unfinished business is pursued; fourth, committee reports are given; fifth, assignments and recommendations to be presented at quorum meetings are prepared; sixth, business items for next quorum meeting are prepared; seventh, individual problems of every quorum member are discussed and ways and means devised for working with less active ones.  To summarizesS” It is at the president’s council meetings that all problems concerning the quorum or individual quorum members are presented and preparations made for their solutions.  In other words, it is the preparatory meeting which makes priesthood quorums function effectively for the benefit of every quorum member.

The fact should be emphasized again that experience has definitely proved to the General Authorities that in order for quorum presidencies to function at their maximum to meet prevailing conditions and definite needs, they should hold weekly council meetings.  If they do not, it is impossible for them to complete all quorum business successfully, do sufficient intelligent work with inactive quorum members, and in all ways fully magnify their callings as presidents of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.

The First Presidency of the Church set the example by holding their council meetings at least once each week.  The Council of the Twelve, the First Council of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric follow a similar pattern; and, generally speaking, stake presidencies and bishoprics find it necessary to meet at least once each week.  Certainly it is just as imperative that presidencies of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums follow the instructions and examples of the foregoing listed officers, if they hope to magnify their callings and prove worthy in the sight of the Lord, as it is for the General Authorities, stakes presidencies and bishoprics to hold weekly council meetings.  Therefore, the General Authorities once again urge all Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies throughout the Church to hold their councils meetings at least weekly.  The same procedure is highly recommended for bishoprics, stake presidencies, branch presidencies, and other leaders in Melchizedek Priesthood work.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(3):186, Mar., 1952)

Mar.:  Deacons’ collection of fast offerings.

“Deacons should not be required to call at the homes of members of the Church to collect fast offerings when it is known they will contribute their offerings without the solicitation of the deacons; for instance, there is no purpose in requiring a deacon to call at the homes of the bishop and his counselors.  There are others in the ward who frequently express a preference to pay their fast offerings at the chapel each month.  In all cases we should respect the desires of the people concerned.

The system of collecting fast offerings is primarily to render a priesthood service which makes it more convenient for the members of the Church who prefer to have the deacons call each month, or who would not otherwise enjoy the blessings which follow the making of fast offering contributions.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 55(3):189, Mar., 1952)

13 Mar.:  New job for deacons.

“The General Boards of the Mutual Improvement Associations have called to the attention of the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve the fact that at least in some wards the recreation halls are not available to the young people of the ward for dancing on Saturday evenings.

It appears from the reports that come to us that at least sometimes the supposed non-availability of the recreation hall is due to the fact that the custodian finds it infeasible to clean up the recreation hall after the dance and so make it available for use for the following Sunday morning.

The matter has been fully considered by the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and it has been decided that this situation should be called to the attention of the bishops of the Church, with a request that in those wards where it seemed desirable to hold dancing parties on Saturday evening in the recreation hall, bishops should try to secure additional help for the custodian in order that he might be able to get the hall cleaned and in order for the following morning.

We appreciate that the providing of such additional help might entail additional expense, and so add to the ward budget.  We are anxious that this situation should be avoided if possible because we feel that the people already are called upon for contributions for various purposes to an extent that we would desire to contract instead of expand.

With this thought in mind we are wondering whether or not it would be possible for a bishop to secure a few of his older deacons, or others of the Lesser Priesthood, gratuitously to assist the custodian after these Saturday night dancing parties in his cleaning up of the recreation hall and its accessories.  We are sure that many of the bishops will recall that in the earlier days of the Church the entire present custodial work was performed by deacons gratuitously, and this was regarded as a part of the functions of a deacon.

In making this suggestion about the deacons we are not unmindfukl of the undesirability of having young deacons out so late at night as might be necessary in order that they could help in this work, but we believe that this can be handled by using only the older deacons, or others of the Lesser Priesthood, and having a sufficient number of them present in order to do the work quickly.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 13 Mar., 1952; xerox)

14 Mar.:  Changes in missionary program due to Korean War.

“We invite your close attention to the following instructions relative to the calling of missionaries to serve in the regular full-time missions of the Church.  These instructions supersede all which have been previously issued, and will govern until further notice.

1. Age of Missionaries.  We have concluded to restore the age of twenty as the minimum at which young men may be recommended for missionary service.  In the case of lady missionaries the minimum age will be continued at twenty-three.  Please do not ask us to make exceptions to these age minimums, unless further instructions are issued permitting such.

2. Selective Service Classifications.  For the time being, and until further instructions are issued, only those young men within draft age should be recommended for missions who have one of the following Selective Service classifications:

I-C (Discharged) . . .

I-C (Reserve) . . .

III-A (Dependency deferments) . . .

IV-A (Veterans) . . .

IV-C (Aliens who are not residents of the US)

IV-F (Physically or mentally handicapped) . .

V-A (Over-age for military service) . . .

You will note, brethren, that we have not included for the present any men in any of the following classifications:

I-A — Subject to induction.

I-C — Inducted, enlisted, or commissioned.

I-D — ROTC or other restricted reserve groups.

I-S — Statutory deferment — college or high


II-A — Industrial deferment.

II-C — Agricultural deferment.

II-S — Special student deferment.

Until further instructions are issued, please do not recommend registrants having any of these classifications.

3. Older Couples.  We have had some unfortunate experiences with older men and women who could not stand the rigors of missionary activity.  We are mindful of the motives which prompt many older couples to make themselves available for missionary service.  Some have done great good.  But before recommending such couples, please see that they are in good health, particularly that they have strong hearts and that they are able to walk extensively.

4. Dependent Children.  Married couples should not be recommended for missionary service if such service will entail leaving minor children at home or with relatives.  It may be felt that a boy or girl in his or her late teens will have no problem in getting along without father and mother.  Experience has shown, however, that difficulties often arise when such young people are deprived of the counsel and companionship of their parents.  The Church does not wish to become a party to any arrangement where children will be so deprived of both father and mother.  However, the father may be called if adequate provision is made for the mother and children.

5. Divorced Men or Women.  As a general rule divorced men or women should not be recommended for service in the regular missions of the Church.  We realize that in many cases such people may be innocent of serious wrongdoing, or they may have sincerely repented and be creditable Latter-day Saints.  However, they often are placed in an embarrassing position to themselves and to the Church if they are called upon to teach our doctrine of marriage and family.

6. General Worthiness of Missionaries.  We again urge, as we have urged in the past, that you make thorough investigation as to the worthiness of every prospective missionary.  Searching inquiry as to moral cleanliness, particularly, should be made.  Further, does the prospective missionary have a testimony of the Gospel, and does he or she show a willingness to live up to the standards of the Church and comply with mission regulations?  Past follies may be repented of, but bishops and stake presidents should be sure that repentance is genuine before the missionary is recommended.  In every case the young man or woman should be such that he or she will become a worthy representative of the Church.

7. Interviews by the General Authorities.  Each missionary from the wards and stakes must be interviewed by one of the General Authorities.  This should take place before any call is issued, so that we shall have to insist that you do not ask that missionaries be permitted to receive calls and come to the Mission Home before being interviewed, except under extraordinary circumstances.

8. Releases of Missionaries.  Requests are constantly received from missionaries and their parents asking that missionaries who are subject to military service be released prior to the expiration of their regular terms in order that they may enroll in school, or, in fewer cases, that their missionary service be extended beyond the regular terms.  We have an understanding with the Selective Service officials that missionaries of draft age will be released at the expiration of the regular term for which they are called, and draft boards are advised as to the approximate dates of releases.  We cannot do justice to this understanding in granting early releases, or in holding young men beyond the normal terms of service.  We feel that this rule must be enforced impartially without discrimination in favor of one missionary as against another.  When parents come to you requesting that their sons be released early, or that they be permitted to remain longer than the normal period, we shall appreciate your advising them of the policy of the Church and our commitments, and suggest that they encourage their sons to remain in the field for the period of time for which they were called.  This regulation applies to those only who are subject to the draft.

9. Stake missionaries.  The regulations above enumerated, except with reference to worthiness of the missionary, do not apply in the Stake Missionary service.  Brethren and sisters who desire missionary service and who may not be eligible for calls to foreign missions may, if worthy, go into the Stake Missionary service and experience much of the same development and satisfaction in teaching the Gospel among those with whom they live as in going out into the world; and results have shown that for the effort put forth the home service is as effective, measured in terms of converts, as that abroad.”  

(First Presidency Circular Letter, 14 Mar., 1952; xerox)

Apr.:  Monthly MP Quorum meetings.

“Every Melchizedek Priesthood quorum (high priests, seventies, and elders) throughout the entire Church is strongly urged by the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and the Church Melchizedek Priesthood committee to hold quorum meetings once each month in addition to its weekly group meetings.  The only exception to this requirement is in certain areas where special permission has been granted to quorums to hold meetings quarterly because extensive geographical distances prohibit them from holding those meetings more often.

. . . .

The Melchizedek Priesthood reports for 1951 indicate that the attendance at the monthly quorum meetings throughout the entire Church was only approximately fifty percent, as good as was the attendance at the weekly priesthood group meetings.

. . . .

In conclusion, all stake presidencies throughout the Church are urged to see that the quorum presidents under their jurisdiction hold weekly presidency meetings and monthly quorum meetings.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(4):276, Apr., 1952)

4 Apr.:  Activity of MP quorums.

“According to reports that have been received, the Melchizedek Priesthood of the Church (and that includes all worthy adult members) is showing an increase in the number who pay a full tithing, who observe the Sabbath day, who attend sacrament meetings, and who hold regular family prayers.

There has also been an increase in the average attendance at weekly priesthood meetings.  In a five-year period (1947-51) the following increase is shown:

1947 1951

High Priests 46% 48%

Seventies 39% 44%

Elders 18% 20%

In participation in all phases of the Church program, the following marked increase is shown in the same five-year period:

1947 1951

High Priests 67% 91%

Seventies 54% 89%

Elders 31% 70%”

(David O. McKay, 4 Apr., 1952; CR Apr., 1952, pp. 11-12)

4 Apr.:  Fathers should perform ordinances for children.

“I was at a fast and testimony meeting one day, and the bishop received a baby in his arms, from a woman in the congregation, and as he did so, he looked around the room.  Finally he said hesitatingly, ‘This is the child of Brother and Sister Brown.’  After pausing a minute he said, ‘Brother Jones will bless the child.’  A man who was standing in the group of officiators spoke up and said, ‘No, Bishop, that is my child, I will bless him.’  And so the bishop recognized the father.  He had been looking around the audience to find the father and not seeing him was under necessity to appoint someone else.  But the father spoke up and said, ‘I will bless the child,’ and he did.  That was correct.

Bishops should not only invite a father to administer to his own family but should also seek permission before substituting for the father.  Naturally, if a child is going to a meeting, say for instance, a young man is going to a meeting where he is to be ordained a deacon, and the family knows that he is to be ordained a deacon, the bishop should invite the father, if he is a faithful man, to ordain his son.  The bishop is the father of the ward.  It is his duty to be the father of those families who do not have fathers in their own homes or where fathers do not exercise their priesthood; and it is the right of the bishop to ordain or to appoint someone to ordain boys in these families.  It is a courtesy for the bishop to invite a father to ordain his own son.

. . . .

I have an example in my mind, and there are many families in the Church that do likewise, where the father blesses the children when they are named; he baptizes them when they are of age; he confirms them and ordains them to the various offices of the priesthood as they grow in position to be so ordained, but always with the consent and approval of the bishop.”  (Eldred G. Smith, 4 Apr., 1952; CR Apr., 1952, pp. 40-41)

May:  Duty of MP quorum presidents to teach quorum members

“One of the principal duties of the members of Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies is to teach quorum members to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ in every detail.  No quorum presidency has done its job sufficiently well and can feel completely justified in the sight of God as long as there remains one member of that quorum who is not living in harmony with all of the commandments that God has given to the Church.

. . . .

The following suggestions should prove helpful to quorum presidencies in their efforts to achieve the foregoing goal: First, every quorum president is morally obligated to the Lord and to the quorum members over whom he presides to set a proper example by keeping all of God’s commandments; second, all less active quorum members should be visited often and worked with by quorum presidents–or others whom they designate–with the purpose in mind of getting all quorum members active in the Church; and third, sufficient time should be devoted in quorum meetings throughout the year to teach all quorum members the vital necessity of paying tithes and offerings to the Lord in full, of obeying the Word of Wisdom, of keeping the Sabbath day holy, of keeping themselves morally clean, of being honest, just, kind, and honorable Christians, and, in general, of living in harmony with all of the commandments that Jesus Christ has given to the Church.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(5):354, May, 1952)

Jun.:  Stronger Elders’ and 70s’ presidencies needed.

“It has been observed that in most of the areas of the Church the stake presidencies have selected strong men to direct the high priest quorums.  Also, a number of the presidents of the seventies and elders’ quorums are faithful men, having marked powers of leadership.  However, there are certain ones who are presiding over the seventies’ and elders’ quorums who are not the strongest leaders in their respective quorums.  Ofttimes the strongest elders and seventies are serving in various capacities in the auxiliaries and other capacities, and the priesthood work is deprived of their leadership.  Since priesthood stands first in the Church and the auxiliaries are merely helpers to the priesthood, the general priesthood committee feels that it is important that the most capable men in powers of leadership and righteousness be placed in the presidencies of the priesthood quorums.  After those selections have been made, other men from the quorums can be taken into the auxiliary work in the stakes and wards as the needs require.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(6):472, Jun., 1952)

Jul.:  AP Advisers to visit members in their homes.

“It is feared that too many Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers feel their work is finished when they attend the weekly priesthood meeting and present the quorum lesson.  While this feature of the program is a vital part of the program, it must not be considered to be the program itself.

Advisers who are visiting their members in their homes are invariably the leaders who are outstanding in their work with boys.  Visiting with boys in their homes is held to be one of the very best ways in which advisers may come really to know their members. . . .

It is the responsibility of the quorum adviser to visit each absentee, who is living at home, immediately following the priesthood meeting each week.  The first objective of the visit is to manifest a genuine and kindly interest in the boy’s welfare and to solicit his loyalty to the Church and its standards.  The second objective should be to obtain the boy’s record of activity during the previous week and to copy such information to the boy’s credit in his respective quorum roll.

Visits with boys in their homes should not be limited to the inactive.  While those who are not active may be in greater need of more personal attention, the active boy will be complimented if his adviser also thinks of him when making his personal visits.  More and more, infinitely more, personal visits with boys in their homes is one of the crying needs in our program today.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 55(7):532, Jul., 1952)

13 Aug.:  Move to correlate YMMIA/YWMIA.

“This letter is concerned with the possible need for a redefinition of the objectives of the Mutual Improvement Associations. . . .

Recently, three situations have come to our attention which have created uncertainty in our minds with regard

to whether we are still following the path which our leaders would have us follow.  These situations are as follows:

First:  Recently, at your suggestion, our advisors wrote us a letter in which they questioned whether or not we felt that our cultural activity program was unduly competitive with other programs sponsored by schools and community organizations.  They asked us particularly whether we felt that there was an excessive overlapping of recreational activity occasioned by this duality of program.

Second:  Several communications have been recently received by us from the Publications Committee.  These letters, signed by three members of the Council of the Twelve, stated that the Committee disapproved our selecting manuals whose immediate and direct objective was not the building of testimonies in the restored Gospel.  As we interpret them, these letters recommend that the Mutuals select only theological or ‘gospel’ subjects for class study, and recommend the rejection of purely cultural subjects, or subjects designed primarily to assist young people in applying Christian principles to the problems of life.  To follow this suggestion would constitute a complete reversal of that which we have conceived to be approved policy.  We are not here disputing the wisdom of the members of the Publications Committee.  These wonderful brethren are truly inspired, and work long, long hours in an effort to accomodate us.  We mention this matter only in order that we might receive guidance.

Third:  Recently, other organizations within the Church have entered into the recreation field, and have thereby created an overlapping competitive area, in which two or more organizations were ostensibly competing for the time of the same person.  We note particularly that the seminaries and institutes of the Church have launched a vigorous social program which has, in most cases, been planned and activated by paid instructors.  Again, we are not presuming to pass judgment on these worthwhile activities.  We merely raise the question as to whether we are still responsible for all recreation within the Church.

. . . .

We might add, further, that the time is propitious for receiving a new statement of objectives, since it has been exactly 30 years since the First Presidency has taken occasion to speak officially on this subject.  . . . .

Perhaps the following specific questions might appropriately summarize the points brought out in the above discussion.

1. Does the First Presidency today feel that the delineation of objectives referred to in the beginning of this letter is still adequate to guide the course of the Mutual Improvement Associations in 1952?

2. Would the First Presidency feel disposed to issue a new statement, redefining the objectives of the Mutual and placing particular emphasis on the Mutual’s role in combatting modern social evils?

3. Does the First Presidency feel that the policies formulated by the Mutuals within the past 30 years relative to the subject matter for manuals, and relative to the sponsoring of a cultural activity program, are still sound?

4. Is the Mutual still charged with the responsibility of giving to the Church a complete recreational program?

5. We have always understood that it was the sole function of the Publications Committee to approve the doctrinal content of our proposed manuals, rather than to pass upon matters of policy in selecting subject matter for manuals.  Is this understanding correct?”

(YMMIA General Superintendency and YWMIA General Presidency to First Presidency, 13 Aug., 1952; in 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 B; xerox)

Sep.:  Responsibilities of stake presidencies.

“In order to make the program of the Church function more effectively, the General Authorities recently announced that the stake president is to serve as chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.  The reason that the stake president rather than one of the counselors was chosen for that position was stated by the General Authorities as follows:

In order that closer coordination may be had in the assignments of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee and the stake welfare committee, especially in employment placement work, it is desirable that the stake president personally be the active chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.

Under this new arrangement, one counselor is to serve as chairman of the stake Aaronic Priesthood committee and the other counselor is to be the chairman of the stake committee for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood.

The stake president and his two counselors stand at the head of the stake, having jurisdiction over every organization within the boundaries of the stake; therefore, the wards, the auxiliary organizations, the missionary work, and the priesthood quorums are under their jurisdiction.  The Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook (p. 10) states that ‘in connection with the seventies’ quorum sthis control is exercised in collaboration with the First Council of the Seventy.’  However, all the officers of the priesthood quorums are subject to the general control of the stake presidency.

The General Authorities desire to remind the stake presidencies once again that they have a definite responsibility toward every Melchizedek Priesthood quorum within their stake bounds, and thereby indirectly toward every priesthood holder.  It should be recalled that the following instruction appears in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, page 10:

It is the duty of the stake presidency to supervise Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.  No stake president shouild permit a quorum to mark time month after month without giving serious thought and attention to the duties required of quorums.  If officers will not serve conscientiously, then others should be selected who have the ability and inclination.  Stake presidencies, with the help of the high councilors, are charged with the responsibility of following up this labor to see that every man who is given proper authority performs his duty.

Also, stake presidencies should be cognizant of their responsibility to see that all the stake and ward officers over whom they have jurisdiction pay a full tithing, observe the Word of Wisdom, attend their meetings regularly, and keep the other commandments of the restored gospel, in order that they may set worthy examples to those with whom they work.

Since bishops of wards and their counselors, as well as all other stake and ward officers, are accountable to the stake presidency, the stake presidency has the right to select any person in the stake and assign him or her to do stake missionary work or any other job.  It is desirable that the stake presidency consult with the bishopric of the ward concerned when selections of persons to do stake work are made; however, bishoprics should recognize the fact that they are accountable to the stake presidency and should readily submit to the desires of their superior officers.  By so doing, unity will prevail throughout the stakes of Zion among the priesthood holders and officers.  This will result in progression and strength in the cause of building the kingdom of God.

Stake presidencies are advised to make extensive use of their high councils in supervising the various organizations and activities of their stakes; marked progress and efficiency in all the organizations of the stake will thereby be attained; this will result in the Saints’ adhering more closely to the commandments.  It is a known fact that people will readily respond to good leadership that knows in which direction it is going; and the First Presidency and their associates look to the stake presidencies to supply that leadership.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(9):676, Sep., 1952)

Oct.:  Responsibilities of high councilors.

“High councilors play a vital role in the administration of a stake.  Figuratively speaking, they consditute the right arm of the stake presidency.  The degree to which they are faithful, efficient, and willing to work determines their value to the stake presidency and goes far in determining the progress made by the stake and ward organizations in which they have been called to serve.

The duties and assignments of high councilors are extensive.  They may be classified under two heads: (1) judicial and (2) semi-administrative.  Relative to the judicial, the procedure of the high council trials is found in the Doctrine and Covenants 102:12-23.  Under ordinary conditions high council trials do not occur frequently in the various stakes; therefore, the principal work of high councilors is their semi-administrative functions, the most important of which is to serve in supervising priesthood activities.  This latter function will be discussed later.  Since the duties and assignments of high councilors are so extensive, they absorb much time in stakes where the stake presidencies fully utilize their high councilors in carrying forward the Church program.  Experience has shown that it is wisdom for stake presidencies to make very extensive use of their high councilors.

As an example of the various duties and assignments of high councilors, they are asked by presidencies of stakes to consider and approve persons recommended for office within the stake and persons nominated for ordination in the Melchizedek Priesthood and also to pass on other stake business presented by the stake presidency.

High councilors are called upon to be advisers to the stake missionary work, to the Relief Society organization, to the Sunday School program, to the Mutual Improvement Associations, to the Primary Association, and to the genealogical work.

Also, they have assignments which give them definite activity in contacting wards as home missionaries, as auditors of ward financial accounts, and as messengers for the stake presidency.  One or more high councilors may be assigned to each ward for a given period to be the special agent of the stake presidency there.  It is his or their responsibility to observe all the ward activities and see that Church standards and practices are maintained.  Wherever they find conditions not as they should be, their findings are to be reported to the stake presidency.  By being alert in this assignment, they can prevent heresies, apostate practices, and such tendencies, from getting a foothold in the Church.

High councilors also receive a number of miscellaneous assignments, such as stake music adviser and supervisor of buildings and grounds of both ward and stake.  Also, they serve on task committees, as appointed by the stake presidency.

However, as previously mentioned, the most vital assignment of high councilors is to seve in supervising priesthood activities, such as ward teaching, stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, Aaronic Priesthood committee, stake committee for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood, genealogical committee, servicemen’s committee, and no liquor-tobacco educational program, or personal standards committee work.

Of these assignments, high councilors could probably do the most needed and effective work with the elders’ quorum.  Their efforts will result in an untold amount of good and help further the work of the Lord by diligent and intelligent work with the various elders’ quorums of their stakes.  The men holding the office of elder in the Church constitute the majority of the adult male membership, thereby furnishing a marvelous opportunity to the high councilors assigned to work with that group.  Their efforts should be directed toward helping increase the activities in the various elders’ quorums, resulting in an increase in the righteousness of the members in general.

Stake presidencies and high councilors are to be reminded that there are no other assignments in the stakes which need the work of high councilors more than does the elders’ program, and probably nowhere else could high councilors do more effective and beneficial work than in helping to improve the work of these men, bringing the less active ones into activity.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(10):755, Oct., 1952)

1 Oct.:  Priesthood items from 1st Presidency.

“We direct your attention to the following suggestions:

First.  The bishop and his counselors, as the Presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood, are expected to spend their full time with Aaronic Priesthood quorums and groups during the ward Priesthood meeting time.  They should not be required to attend the meetings of the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums or groups for any reason during the time the ward Priesthood meeting is in session.

Second.  The monthly meeting of the High Priests quorum in the stake should not be held in conflict with any ward Priesthood meeting within the stake.

Third.  Priests are not to be called to any position that would exempt them from doing their duty as ward teachers in company with companions from the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

(First Presidency Circular Letter, 1 Oct., 1952; xerox)

4 Oct.:  Policy change toward Adult Aaronic.

“We find in the 113,000 members of the Aaronic Priesthood there are 60,000 over the age of 21 years, and 53,000 under the age of 21.  In 1951, 3,300 of these brethren over the age of 21 were advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but there were more who joined the older group of the Aaronic Priesthood, than were advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Some of the factors contributing to the size of the older group of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church are these: We have noted over the war years that many have enlisted in the Armed Services of the nation at the ages of 16, 17, and 18 and have remained in the Armed Services so long that by the time they have returned home they have attained the age of 21, which has left them without a quorum affiliation.

Another contributing factor is that we do not make enough contacts with these brethren.  There seems to have grown into the Church a feeling of segregation.  These brethren have felt that they are somewhat apart from the rest of the Aaronic Priesthood.  There is a lack of a feeling of belonging to some quorum, and no doubt they have the right to that feeling because these 60,000 men have no quorum affiliations.

With the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, the Lord revealed to the Prophet its organization.  There were to be quorums of deacons with twelve members; quorums of teachers with 24 members; quorums of priests with 48 members; presided over by a presidency, a quorum president, his two counselors and a secretary, and the head of the whole ward Aaronic Priesthood presidency would be the bishop as the president, and his two counselors.

If all of these 60,000 men were organized into quorums, as the Lord indicated they should be there would be 2793 more Aaronic Priesthood quorums in the Church.  If officers were selected for the teachers’ and the deacons’ quorums, three members in the presidency and one secretary, there would be brought into activity to officer these new Aaronic Priesthood quorums, 7064 officers.  Just imagine the potential strength in 2793 new quorums, the available service, and the activity that individual members would derive from priesthood assignments, fulfilling the mandate of the Lord, found in Section 107; verse 99 of the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed in all diligence.’

So after careful consideration, the Presiding Bishopric presented the following plan to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve which they have approved.  The plan is as follows:

We have felt for a long time that the title, ‘Adult Aaronic Priesthood,’ whould be changed for many reasons.  Hence, the names, senior deacon, senior teacher, and senior priest were suggested to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, which they approved.  The older group of the Aaronic Priesthood will now be known as the Senior Aaronic Priesthood.  Its members will be known as senior deacons, senior teachers, and senior priests.

In addition to this vast number of older men holding the Aaronic Priesthood, we have another group of men over the age of 21 who hold no priesthood.  There are 20,000 of them.  The bishops of the wards are responsible for this group because they are members of the various wards in which they reside.

We are inviting the bishops of the wards in the Church to make a very careful survey of all members of the Aaronic Priesthood over the age of 21, to the end that they might be organized in quorums of deacons, teachers, and priests as the Lord revealed to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  From their numbers the bishopric should select men to preside over these quorums as presidencies with the exception of the priests’ quorum over which the bishop presides.

In addition to organizing these quorums and calling 7000 men to officer them there will be a great need for the help of elders, seventies, and high priests, and in the wards of the Church there are many elders, there are many seventies, there are many high priests, who are available for this glorious service to assist this vast army of the Aaronic Priesthood to effect quorum organizations to the end that they might render the service the Lord expects of them.

The present plan provides one Melchizedek Priesthood adviser to every five men.  This plan will continue; these advisers in the Aaronic Priesthood quorums will be of great assistance to the presidencies, each senior member of the Aaronic Priesthood to be visited, persuaded, and counseled to join his quorum.

This work demands of all Aaronic Priesthood workers the spirit of tolerance, the spirit of patience and the spirit to persevere and never give up.  These men cannot be criticized into activity, neither can they be preached into the Church, but by the spirit of love, tolerance and patience, brethren, they will follow us if we will but mark the way for them.

We will set up as of the first of the year, a study course for the senior members of the Aaronic Priesthod, and as a text we have chosen the book, ‘A Marvelous Work And A Wonder,’ written by Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve, one of the great missionaries of the Church, a man, who because of his understanding of the Gospel and his missionary experiences, has had the ability to put into book form the teachings that are necessary to convert people to the Gospel.

We feel that many of these men will need conversion and hence this splendid text will be used during the year 1953.  In addition thereto, there should be an activity program.  It is true that they have rendered a great service in the Welfare Program.  They enjoy working in the Welfare Program, and when they are organized into quorums they should have assigned to them definite projects.

We have the blind in our midst.  A survey is now being made of the Church to determine how many of our members are blind.  We know in the state of Utah there are over 1200 of them, and we wonder how often they get to sacrament meeting.  How many times do they have the privilege of attending Sunday School or their Priesthood meeting?

This would be a fine project for the senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood to take care of, and see that these older brethren and sisters and the blind have the privilege of attending all of their meetings.

We think it would be a fine thing if senior Aaronic Priesthood quorums might organize a personal welfare committee for the purpose of helping any of their fellow quorum members who might be in distress, where there might be sickness and unemployment.

In connection with the Aaronic priesthood work, it seems over the years that one barrier to the activity of our brethren has been the matter of age.  The Lord is no respecter of persons with reference to age.

When the Aaronic Priesthood was organized in the days of Aaron and Moses and at the time that Moses was taken away, and the Melchizedek Priesthood was taken away with him, the Aaronic Priesthood was the only Priesthood that the Children of Israel had in their midst.  Aaron stood at its head.  Twenty-two thousand members of the tribe of Levi were given to him to render the service needed in that priesthood, and in that group of 22,000 men, there were older men and there could have been younger men.

Now in contrast to that I want to call your attention to the ordination of John the Baptist.  You will recall that through the centuries, from the time of Aaron to the advent of John the Baptist, the Aaronic Priesthood had deteriorated.  It had become an instrument in the hands of wicked men, its powers were taken back into the heavens, and in order to prepare the world for the second coming of the Christ, the Lord sent his servant, John the Baptist, to preach the Gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and to call all men to repentance, for, said he: ‘There is one that will follow me that is greater than I.’

John the Baptist was called into the service of the Aaronic Priesthood at a tender age.  The Lord revealed this interesting event to the Prophet Joseph in Section 84, verse 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants, when he indicated that an angel from Heaven came down and ordained John at the age of eight days, and so brethren, as far as age is concerned, it is of no consequence.

In the days of Aaron, the Lord selected older men, and in the case of John the Baptist, he selected a child.  So as far as the Aaronic Priesthood is concerned, and its responsibilities and the service it must render, age is no barrier.

During the presidency of Peter, James and John, those selected to render service in the Aaronic Priesthood were older men.  Paul’s message to Timothy declared, 

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.  (I Tim. 3:8-12)

This quotation is an evidence that in the days of the Apostles, men were called to serve in the office of a deacon, in the office of a teacher and in the office of a priest.

As I consider the duties of the Aaronic Priesthood and the duties that Senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood should accept and fulfill with all the dignity and the honor at their command, there are some services in the Aaronic Priesthood wherein experienced and older men are needed.  [Note the distinction between this and the later Prospective Elder program.]

I refer particularly to the 84th Section, verses 107-111 of the Doctrine and Covenants, where the Lord had revealed to the Prophet Joseph that the time had come when the elders and the members of the Melchizedek Priesthood should go out into the world and preach the Restored Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord declared:

Therefore, take with you those who are ordained unto the lesser priesthood, and send them before you to make appointments and to prepare the way and to fill appointments that you, yourselves, are not able to fill.

Behold, this is the way that mine apostles, in ancient days built up my Church unto me.  (D&C 84:107-108)

Here is a mandate coming from the Lord to the holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood to use members of the lesser priesthood to go before them and to prepare the way, make appointments, and should there be occasions where these brethren of the Melchizedek Priesthood could not keep their appointments, then these brethren of the lesser priesthood are to have that responsibility.

Again the Lord speaks:

Therefore, let every man stand in his own office and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?

Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.  (D&C 84:109-110)

So, by the use of the lesser priesthood in connection with the promulgation of the Gospel as the Melchizedek Priesthood carried it forward in the early days of the first Apostles, the Lord requires the use of the lesser priesthood to the end, as he said, that the system may be kept perfect.

I am sure we want to keep the system of the Priesthood perfect today, that the Melchizedek Priesthood cannot say to the lesser priesthood, ‘I have no need of thee,’ neither can the Lesser say to the Melchizedek Priesthood, ‘I have no need of thee,’ but that they labor together, and be edified together, as the Lord indicates in this revelation.

Again, the Lord goes on to say:

And behold, the high priests should travel, and also the elders, and also the lesser priests; but the deacons and teachers should be appointed to watch over the Church, to be standing ministers unto the Church.  (D&C 84:111)

And should the time ever come again, and it might come, when the Melchizedek Priesthood will be called out to preach the Gospel to all the world, and that those who shall be left behind to stand as ministers unto the Church, may well be deacons and teachers as the Lord reveals–should that time come, I am sure it will require members of the Aaronic Priesthood, men of experience, and men of judgment.  [Again, note the contrast to the later Prospective Elder program.]

And, there is definitely a place in the Aaronic Priesthood for older men, and there is no such thing as an age barrier.  I think as these Aaronic Priesthood quorums are organized and begin to function, and these men qualify to render service, it would be a grand and glorious thing to call upon a senior quorum of deacons to pass the sacrament.

I know of no more inspiring experience than to participate in the administration of the Lord’s last supper, and the matter of collecting the Fast Offerings.  I am sure they could be most helpful in connection with the younger deacons, particularly in the widely spread areas of the Church, where they might take their automobiles and with a younger companion, visit the homes of the Saints, and gather up the Fast Offerings, that the necessities of life might be in the Bishop’s Storehouse, and those who are in distress taken care of, the orphans, the widows, and the unemployed, which Paul called ‘pure and undefiled religion.’

The duties of the ordained teacher are inspiring and uplifting for all who participate in this glorious project of teaching.  Senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood should be called upon for this service as soon as they qualify, to go out at first with a member of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to teach the people the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to watch over the Church always, to be with and strengthen them, and to see that there is no iniquity in the Church, etc.

I am quite sure that any man who has the spirit of his calling in the Aaronic Priesthood as a teacher would feel it a glorious and a grand opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the great teacher, even Jesus Christ.

The office of a priest offers many glorious and inspiring experiences, particularly when a priest has the assignment to perform the ordinance of baptism.  Taking the candidate into the water and raising his arm to the square, he repeats the revealed baptismal prayer which is as follows: ‘Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.’

This is a short prayer, but in it there is a great revelation to the world, and that revelation, the restored commission to baptize people in the name of the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and in the name of the Holy Ghost, was returned to the earth when John the Baptist bestowed these keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  This sacred opportunity every senior priest should gladly accept with a testimony in his heart that he has a divine commission and authority.

My, what a glorious experience comes when a priest kneels beside the sacrament table and has the privilege of blessing the broken bread and the cup in commemoration of the sacrifice of the Son of God.

I am sure that all of these services, and all of these experiences will go to building into the hearts of the senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood in this Church, a testimony that they indeed hold authority from on high.

Now in connection with our brethren who hold ho priesthood, and who are over the age of 21, they will be invited to attend the deacons’ quorums, where they, too, might receive instruction with reference to the Gospel, and the duties of the priesthood.

The question may be asked, ‘When can these men render service?’  May we say they can render service as quickly as they qualify.  Among these men there are thousands and thousands of men with noble hearts–good men, good citizens, fine individuals.  All they need is leadership, kindness, patience, and I assure you that many of them will readily accept the opportunity of becoming affiliated with one of the priesthood quorums of the Church of Jesus Christ.

May I emphasize again that the bishoprics of the wards stand as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood.  They do not preside over the Melchizedek Priesthood.  That presidency rests in the presidencies of the stakes and the First Presidency of the Church.  The bishops of the wards only preside over Melchizedek Priesthood members as members of the wards, but as members of the ward they can be called upon by the presiding authority, the bishop, to render such service as he may deem necessary.

Now, brethren, if we render service in this, the Priesthood of God, he has made us definite promises, and God always keeps his promises to those who are faithful and obedient.”  (Joseph L. Wirthlin, Presiding Bishop, General Conference, Priesthood Session, 4 Oct., 1952; CR Oct., 1952, pp. 78-83)

4 Oct.:  A future role for AP?

“And should the time ever come again, and it might come, when the Melchizedek Priesthood will be called out to preach the gospel to all the world, and that those who shall be left behind to stand as ministers unto the Church, may well be deacons and teachers as the Lord reveals–should that time come, I am sure it will require members of the Aaronic Priesthood, men of experience, and men of judgment.

And, there is definitely a place in the Aaronic Priesthood for older men, and there is no such thing as an age barrier.  I think as these [adult] Aaronic Priesthood quorums are organized and begin to function, and these men qualify to render service, it would be a grand and glorious thing to call upon a senior quorum of deacons to pass the sacrament. . . . (Joseph L. Wirthlin, Presiding Bishop, General Conference, Priesthood Session, 4 Oct., 1952; IE 56(5):370, May, 1953)

Dec.:  Annual visits of MP quorum presidencies.

“The presidencies of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are reminded that since this month is December it furnishes the last available opportunity this year to make annual visits to each individual quorum member, and so the General Authorities of the Church earnestly urge all quorum presidencies who have not completed this assignment to be sure to do so before this month comes to a close.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 55(12):969, Dec., 1952)

Dec.:  Revisions in AP program.

“During the special meeting for bishops conducted in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, October 3, 1952, the Presiding Bishopric announced the following revisions (with modifications and additions) in both Aaronic Priesthood programs to become effective January 1, 1953:


1. The designation ‘stake Aaronic Priesthood committee’ is changed to ‘stake committee for Aaronic Priesthood under 21.’  The organization and duties of the stake committee remain unchanged.  

2. The designation ‘ward Aaronic Priesthood committee’ is changed to ‘ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood under 21.’  The organization and duties of the ward committee remain unchanged.

3. The ward boy leadership committee is changed to include only the Aaronic Priesthood leaders in the ward, comprised of the ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood under 21 and the ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood over 21.  Sunday School and Y.M.M.I.A. leaders formerly associated with the ward boy leadership committee will no longer be required to attend the monthly meeting of these leaders.

4. In place of the discontinued monthly meeting of the ward boy leadership committee will be the ‘ward Aaronic Priesthood leadership meeting’ each month, to be conducted under the personal direction of the bishop and his counselors.  Those expected to attend this meeting, in addition to the bishopric, include: (1) coordinator, quorum advisers, and secretary of the ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood under 21; (2) coordinator, quorum instructors, group advisers, and secretary on the ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood over 21.

. . . .

5. The appellation ‘junior’ should not be used at any time or for any reason when referring to those under 21 who bear the Aaronic Priesthood.  Such terms as ‘Junior Aaronics,’ ‘Junior deacons,’ or ‘Junior members of the Aaronic Priesthood,’ for instance, should be carefully avoided.


1. All reference to those formerly designated ‘adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood’ will, hereafter, be ‘Aaronic Priesthood members over 21.’

2. The committee designation ‘stake committee for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood’ is changed to ‘stake committee for Aaronic Priesthood over 21.’  There is no change in the organization of the stake committe.

Additional responsibilities of the four advisers on the stake committee are to be as follows: adviser responsible for ‘organization’ to be assigned to priests over 21; adviser responsible for ‘personal visits’ to be assigned to teachers over 21; adviser responsible for ‘meetings’ to be assigned to deacons over 21; adviser responsible for ‘projects and recreation’ to be assigned to male members over 21 not yet ordained.

3. The former ‘ward committee for adult members of the Aaronic Priesthood’ is to be known herafter as the ‘ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood over 21.’  There is no change in the organization or duties of the ward committee except that advisers are to be reassigned to permit their working with deacons, or teachers, or priests over 21, instead of a group which may include all offices in the Aaronic Priesthood as at present.

4. Where there are sufficient members enrolled, all Aaronic Priesthood bearers over 21 in each ward are to be organized into quorums of deacons, teachers, and priests, which quorums are to be designated respectively as deacons quorum over 21, teachers quorum over 21, and priests quorum over 21.  Where there are more than one quorum of deacons, for instance, the quorum would be designated ‘first quorum of deacons over 21,’ etc.

Quorum organizations for Aaronic Priesthood members over 21 are to be set up precisely the same as for Aaronic Priesthood members under 21 with a president, two counselors, and a secretary, chosen from among the respective quorums, to preside over each quorum of deacons over 21 and over each quorum of teachers over 21.  The bishop will preside without counselors as the president of the priests over 21 in addition to presiding over the priests under 21.

Where there are fewer than seven deacons or thirteen teachers over 21 enrolled, a group organization should be effected with a group leader, two assistants, and a secretary appointed to lead each group.  The bishop presides over the priests whether designated as a group of fewer than twenty-five enrolled or as a quorum.

5. The monthly council meeting of the ward committee for Aaronic Priesthood over 21 is discontinued.  The business of the discontinued meeting is now taken care of during the ward Aaronic Priesthood leadership meeting held each month as outlined above.”

(“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 55(12):970-971, Dec., 1952)