← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism Index

Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1955

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1955.” You can view other years here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.


1955:  31 Jan.:  Recommend necessary to perform baptisms.

“To prevent unauthorized persons from performing baptisms, we are asking that all those who are to baptize people in stake baptismal services should present a recommend filled out and signed by the bishop of the ward of which the person is a member of record.  This procedure should be followed at once.

We are enclosing a book of recommends for this purpose.  Please note that each recommend is valid for one service only.  Will you read carefully the instructions on the back of the cover and on the recommend form.”  (Presiding Bishopric Circular Letter, 31 Jan., 1955; xerox)

Feb.:  Further instructions on duties of High Councilors.

“In the February 1954 issue of The Improvement Era there appeared a detailed article on the responsibilities of high councilors.  In this article many of the duties of stake high councilors were stated clearly.  Since that time a number of questions have arisen and requests made for further clarification on certain points related to the duties and prerogatives of the members of such councils.  Among these queries are these: Does the senior member of the high council have the jurisdiction of presidency over the other members?  Does he have authority to make appointments and assign the members to certain specific duties?  Does he pass on their reports?  Moreover, do members of high councils when appointed to represent the stake presidency in the wards have the power of presidency over bishops, and should they conduct or supervise the sacrament meetings; direct the bishops in the selection of priests to administer the sacrament; choose the speakers and take charge of other activities in relation to the conduct of such meetings?  Likewise when they meet with any of the auxiliary organizations, have they the right to arrange programs, assume to direct the meetings, or to choose or interview auxiliary officers?

To each of these questions the answer is no!  When two members of the high council are assigned to a ward for a period of three or four months, they go as representatives of the stake presidency.  Their assignment is for the purpose of observing and offering suggestions that may be helpful, and if they discover something that needs attention and should be remedied, they should take their report to the stake presidency and high counci where it is to be discussed.  After a conclusion has been reached the stake presidency is to see that the needed change is made.

The bishop of a ward holds a dual authority.  He, by virtue of his bishopric, presides over the Aaronic Priesthood of his ward and is to see that all the quorums of that priesthood are thoroughly organized and active.  He, with his counselors, has charge of all the temporal affairs of the ward.  He presides at the sacrament meetings and over the auxiliary organization.  He is also the presiding high priest in the ward and many of the duties that he performs are by virtue of his priesthood as a high priest.  All the members of the ward are subject to their bishop as members of the ward, but he does not preside over the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood or direct them in their quorum meetings.  It is the duty of the bishopric to appoint speakers for the sacrament meetings in the ward; appoint and regulate the priests or elders who administer the sacrament, and conduct the exercises of ward meetings; also supervise and direct the ward teachers.  He has a perfect right to appoint members of his ward who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood to perform duties as ward teachers, to conduct classes in the auxiliary organizations, and to choose the officers who preside in such organizations.

No visiting member of a high council has the authority to appoint speakers for the sacrament meetings of the ward or to take a portion of the time without the invitation of the bishop.  Should the stake presidency send two members of the high council to set in order a quorum of the Melchizedek Priesthood, ordain and set apart a presidency of such a quorum, then these two members have authority to take charge and would preside at the meeting of the quorum and install the officers; but they would not assume any such responsibility without the appointment of the stake presidency.  They do not preside when visiting a quorum of elders.  There have been instances where high councilors have stepped in and taken charge of meetings of the organizations in the ward when they have been appointed to be the visitors to a ward; in this they exceeded their jurisdiction.

Another matter that requires clarification is the growing custom in some stakes that members of high councils have authority, or rank, according to their numerical standing as members of the high council and that the senior member of the council is their president; that is, that the high council is built upon the same plan as found in the Council of the Twelve Apostles.  This is an error.  The senior member of the high council has no authority of presidency over the other members.  The difference between the high council and the Council of the Twelve Apostles is this: Members of the high council are high priests who are chosen to act in the office as assistant counselors, or advisers, to the stake presidency under certain conditions.  They do not constitute a quorum of priesthood; each is a member of the quorum of high priests and when they are released from the high council they still retain their priesthood and standing in the quorum of high priests.

The twelve traveling high councilors or Apostles form a quorum of the priesthood and according to the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, each holds all the keys and authorities of the Melchizedek Priesthood and apostleship.  This great power and authority can be exercised only by one man at a time, the President of the Church.

It is not the prerogative of the senior member of the high council in a stake to appoint on committees the members of the high council.  This is the responsibility of the presidency of the stake, and they should guard this privilege sacredly.

At the sacrament meetings of the Church, members of the high council who reside in the ward should sit with the congregation as any other high priest within the ward.  If he is in the meeting officially appointed, he will take a place on the stand, but not to preside.  He should state to the bishop the nature of his appointment and ask for time to present his message if it is for the members of the ward.  If he so desires, the bishop may invite a member of the high council to sit on the stand at the sacrament service as he may do in regard to any other member of the ward.

The first high council in the Church in this dispensation was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, February 17, 1834.  This high council was in some particulars different from the high councils in stakes of Zion as they are constituted today.  While all that is written in that revelation (D&C 102) in relation to trials still applies today, it should be remembered that the First Presidency of the Church constituted the presidency of that high council.  From this it should be understood that verses 36-37 of section 107, do not apply to stake high councils.  Moreover the revelation states that this ‘council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church in the bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties.’  (D&C 102:2.)  This council had wide jurisdiction and was not confined to the borders of a stake.  It was not until high councils were organized in stakes as we find them today that stake presidencies presided in their deliberations.  It is desirable that all members of high councils and other officers in the Church read this revelation carefully.  Attention is called especially to verses 9 and 10, of section 102, which are as follows:

The president of the church, who is also the president of the council, is appointed by revelation, and acknowledged in his administration by the voice of the church.

And it is according to the dignity of his office that he should preside over the council of the church; and it is his privilege to be assisted by two other presidents, appointed after the same manner that he himself was appointed.

We see from this that the first high council had general jurisdiction throughout the Church.  Later another high council was organized in Missouri to take care of the problems arising in that distant part of the vineyard.  Later when stakes were organized as we have them today a stake presidency was appointed and a complete high council for the stake appointed.  The following excerpt from the History of the Church, Vol. 4:154, in relation to the duty of the high council in trials is important enough to be repeated here:

Saturday, [July] 11, [1840]–The high council [of the Nauvoo Stake] met at my office, when I taught them principles relating to their duty as a council, and that they might be guided by the same in future, I ordered it to be recorded as follows:

That the council should try no case without both parties being present, or having had an opportunity to be present; neither should they hear one person’s complaint before his case is brought up for trial; neither should they suffer the character of any one to be exposed before the high council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself; that the minds of the councilors be not prejudiced for or against any one whose case they may possibly have to act upon.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(2):112-113, Feb., 1955)

Feb.:  Women attending priesthood meeting.

“Occasionally letters are received by the General Authorities asking questions regarding wives attending priesthood meetings with their husbands.  As a general rule, the instructions have been that it is not proper for women to attend the various types of priesthood meetings with their husbands.  Priesthood meetings are to be conducted on a priesthood basis and that does not provide for the attendance of women.

Question Number One:  When husbands and wives drive considerable distances to the stake center for meetings, would it be permissible for the wives to attend the monthly stake priesthood leadership meetings with their husbands?

Answer:  It would be advisable for the wives to hold a meeting of their own while their husbands are in stake priesthood leadership meetings.  They could discuss Relief Society problems, or other problems relative to women’s work.

Question Number Two:  Is it proper for women to attend the monthly Melchizedek Priesthood quorum business meetings or the weekly quorum or group study classes?

Answer:  The answer is no.  The Sunday School provides opportunities for husbands and wives to get together once each week and study the gospel, and the priesthood program provides occasional socials for husbands and wives.  Thus these needs are met in the regular church program.

Question Number Three:  Is it proper for wives who live out of town to attend the priesthood leadership meeting with their husbands at stake quarterly conferences?

Answer:  In most cases it would be advisable for the women to be provided with their own meetings in such stakes where they have to wait for their husbands for transportation to return home.  On certain occasions, welfare representatives have held meetings with the women while priesthood leadership meetings were in session.  It may be that Relief Society matters could be discussed to good advantage during that period.  If, however, such meetings for the wives cannot be arranged, they should attend the priesthood leadership meeting only after receiving the approval of the General Authority who is presiding at the conference.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(2):113, Feb., 1955)

1 Feb.:  Aaronic Priesthood and Sunday School leadership.

“Q.  Is it permissible to have assistants in the Sunday School superintendency who hold the Aaronic Priesthood?

A.  If a member of the Senior Aaronic Priesthood is willing, and in the opinion of the ward bishop or branch president is worthy, you should have no hesitancy in making him an assistant superintendent.  He cannot magnify that position for long and otherwise live an exemplary life without being soon ordained to the office of an elder.  We refer you to the Doctrine and Covenants, 84:107, 108:  ‘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.'”  (Instructor 90(2):35, 1 Feb., 1955)

Mar.:  High Priests.


Office and Calling of High Priests

First–Calling of High Priests.

The calling of a high priest is a glorious one.  Many of the most saintly men who have lived on this earth held that calling in ‘the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God’; for example, Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, were all high priests.  (D&C 107:53.)  Abraham sought diligently for an appointment to the priesthood, namely, to be ‘a high priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.’  (Abraham 1:2.)  Jehovah said unto him:

. . . Abraham, my son, . . .

Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and mh power shall be over thee.  (Abraham 1:17-18.)

Abraham’s ordination to the office of a high priest was received from Melchizedek, the great high priest after whom the priesthood was named, also the king of Salem (Jerusalem).  As was mentioned in the Era, October 1954, the three first high priests over this earth, standing in the order named, are Jehovah, or Jesus Christ; Michael, or Father Adam; and Gabriel, or Noah.  (TPJS pp. 157-158; D&C 107:53-56.)  In addition to that of Mediator, Christ holds the distinction of being the Only Begotten Son, the Lord, the Savior, and the Redeemer of the world.  The other great prophets and leaders in gospel dispensations, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Lehi, Peter, James, and John, and Christ’s other apostles, were high priets.  (TPJS, p. 158.)  We read in modern revelation:

High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member.

An elder has a right to officiate in his stead when the high priest is not present.

The high priest and elder are to administer in spiritual things, agreeable to the covenants and commandments of the church; and they have a right to officiate in all these offices of the church when there are no higher authorities present.  (D&C 107:10-12.)

High priests have the particular responsibility of presiding, when so called upon.  All bishoprics who are not literal descendants of Aaron, high counselors, stake presidencies, and the First Presidency are high priests.  (D&C 107:68-73.)

Second–Type of Men Who Are Ordained High Priests.

Since the calling of a high priest is so important, it is expected that those who are ordained to this office in the priesthood should have proved their stability, faith, and devotion to the Church in such a way that they can be depended upon to stand firm and true under all circumstances.  They should be righteous men who are earnestly striving to keep all of God’s commandments and who are consecrating their time and talents for the upbuilding of the Church and kingdom here upon the earth.

Third–Duty of High Priests to Keep the Commandments.

President Joseph F. Smith emphasized strongly that it was the duty of every high priest to keep the commandments and to set a good example to the membership of the Church.  To quote:

Every man who holds the office of high priest in the Church, or has been ordained a high priest, whether he is called to active position in the Church or not–inasmuch as he has been ordained a high priest–should feel that he is obligated, that it is his bounded duty, to set an example before the old and young worthy of emulation, and to place himself in a position to be a teacher of righteousness, not only by precept but more particularly by example–giving the younger ones the benefit of the experience of age, and thus becoming individually a power in the midst of the community in which he dwells.  Every man who has light should let that light shine, that those who see it may glorify their Father which is in heaven, and honor him who possesses the light and who casues it to shine forth for the benefit of others.  In a local capacity, there is no body of priesthood in the Church which should excel, or who are expected to excel, those who are called to bear the office of high priest in the Church.  For among those who hold this office are chosen the presidents of the stakes and their counselors, and the high councils of the stakes of Zion, and from this office are chosen the bishops, and the bishops’ counselors in every ward in Zion. . . . Those holding this office are, as a rule, men of advanced years, and varied experience, men who have filled missions abroad, who have preached the gospel to the nations of the earth, and who have had experience not only abroad but at home.  Their experience and wisdom is ripened fruit of years of labor in the Church, and they should exercise that wisdom for the benefit of all with whom they are associated.  (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 227-228.)

Fourth–Ordaining Brethren High Priests.

Since the members of the stake presidency are in charge of all Melchizedek Priesthood work in the stake (the stake president being the chairman of the Melchizedek Priesthood committee), these brethren should be guided by the foregoing suggestions in selecting the men to be ordained high priests.  These prospective high priests are selected or nominated byi the stake presidency, aproved by the high council, by the elders’ or seventies’ quorums from which they come, by the bishopric for worthiness, and presented to and approved by the body of the Church.  Then they are ordained high priests by the stake presidence.  The procedure as outlined in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook is as follows:

1. The stake president or his counselor assigned shall interview the candidate, having him answer the questions on the reverse side of the form, ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Melchizedek Priesthood,’ and sign his name.

2. The stake president shall then obtain the signature of the bishop and the president of the elders’ or seventies’ quorum of which the candidate is a member.

3. Approval of the high council should be secured.

4. Following this the applicant’s name shall be presented for the approval of the priesthood of the stake.  Preferably this should be done at a stake priesthood meeting; but if conditions arise which prevent its being done there, recommendations for ordinations in the Melchizedek Priesthood may be presented at one of the general sessions of a stake quarterly conference, and not at the priesthood leadership meeting of a stake quarterly conference.

5. Upon receiving the approval of the priesthood of the stake, the candidate will be ordained under the direction of the stake presidency and the presidency of the high priests’ quorum, and then the form, ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Melchizedek Priesthood,’ will be filed with the stake clerk so he may extract the necessary information for the stake record.

6. The Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, page 62, gives the following information:

When a person has been ordained a high priest, he should receive a ‘Certificate of Ordination’ signed by the president and the secretary of the quorum.  The ‘Certificate of Ordination,’ attached to the certificate, should be completed, detached and sent to the ward clerk of the ward in which the newly ordained candidate is resident in order to provide the proper information for the ward records.  These certificates should be carefully preserved as an evidence of ordination.

Upon presentation of a ‘Certificate of Ordination,’ a person may be admitted to membership in his quorum by vote of the quorum members, provided he has been accepted as a member of the ward in which he resides.  If he does not have a ‘Certificate of Ordination,’ and the membership record card upon which he is received in the ward names his priesthood, this record should be accepted as evidence that he holds the office specified, unless there is proof to the contrary.

High Priests’ Quorums

First–Quorum Organization and Membership.

Each stake in Zion has an organization called the high priests’ quorum to which belong all high priests of the Church living within the stake confines.  The membership of the high priests’ quorum, therefore, includes the stake presidency, the high counselors [sic], bishops and their counselors, stake patriarchs, and all others who have been ordained to the office of high priest.

All presiding officers–both stake and ward–who are members of this quorum should have a lively union with it, not a dead connection.  They should be united with the quorum in such a way that they give it all the force that they can impart for good.  They should give it their individual influence, their hearty support, their confidence, and the benefit of their advice and counsel.  Monthly quorum meetings should be held at a time when no other meetings are held in order to provide opportunity for stake presidencies, high counselors, bishoprics, and stake and ward clerks to be in attendance at their quorum meetings.

The quorum organization consists of a president, two counselors, and a secretary.

Second–Installation of High Priest Quorum Presidencies.

Presidents of high priests’ quorums are to be chosen by the stake presidency with the approval of the high council.  Such appointments are subject, however, to the acceptance and sustaining vote of the quorum membership and the approval of the visiting member of the Council of the Twelve or the Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, by whom they are to be set apart.  ‘It is not necessary to submit their names to the First Presidency for approval.  Presidents of high priests’ quorums may, in consultation with the stake presidency, choose their own counselors who, when properly approved, may be set apart by the stake presidency.’  (Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, p. 66.)

It is again called to your attention that a change in procedure was made and announced in the December 1953, Era, as follows:

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.  This practice is to be discontinued.

From now on, 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 to the entire stake priesthood.  This is already the practice in the seventies’ quorums.

Third–Purposes of High Priests’ Quorums.

The Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, including the high priests’ quorums, provide organizations through which the purposes of the Lord with respect to the priesthood may be more completely accomplished.  The high priests’ quorums have two chief purposes, as outlined in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook:

1. To help every individual member of the quorum and his family, to attain a condition of thorough well-being in body, mind, and spirit.  Every need of a man holding the priesthood should be the concern of the quorum to which he belongs.

2. To help the Church itself in the accomplishment of the divine duties imposed uon it by training and developing quorum members to understand and perform the work in which the Church is engaged.

In order to carry out all quorum functions and objectives, high priests’ quorums must keep in mind the threefold duty resting upon the Church, namely: (1) to keep the members of the Church in the way of their full duty, (2) to teach the gospel to those who have not yet heard it or accepted it, (3) to provide for the dead, through the ordinances of the temple the means by which the dead, if obedient, may participate in the blessings that are enjoyed by those who have merited citizenship in the kingdom of God.  Thus, every high priests’ quorum, in order to magnify its opportunities and justify its existence, must develop its members for greater fitness to aid in these three great divisions of Church activity.

Duties, Responsibilities, and Obligations of

High Priests

The duties, responsibilities, and obligations of quorum members, directed by quorum presidencies for the complete realization of quorum purposes and objectives, have been outlined in detail in previous articles and so they do not necessitate repeating here; for example, high priests’ quorums and high priests’ presidencies are referred to in July 1954 Era article, ‘Responsibilities of Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum Presidencies,’ and August 1954 article, ‘Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum and Group Projects,’ for more detailed information on high priests’ quorum opportunities and activities.  However, the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook lists four primary objectives of quorums which shall be quoted here:

1. To become better acquainted, through careful study, with the doctrines of the gospel and their applications to life.

2. To render regularly some service to the Church.

3. To care for the personal welfare of every quorum member, temporally, intellectually, and spiritually.

4. To engage in varied activities, such as socials, outings, athletics, etc., through which quorum members may be provided means to meet adequately their social needs individually, and as a family, and to extend a feeling of fellowship, faith, and love as should meet all the needs of membership.


It is obvious that if each high priests’ quorum assumes responsibility for the welfare of all of its members, each member must dedicate himself to the task imposed upon the quorum.  Therefore, a man who accepts the office of a high priest accepts the obligation of that calling.  He is expected to be loyal and faithful to the Church, to his quorum, to his family, to every principle of divine truth, and to magnify in all respects the priesthood which he holds.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(3):186-187, 207, Mar., 1955)

Apr.:  Seventies.


Office and Calling of Seventies

First–Various Offices and Callings in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

There are few offices and callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which surpass in importance the office and calling of the seventies.  They have a particular type of work assigned to them through revelation, as do also the high priests and the elders, members of each Melchizedek Priesthood office working within their own spheres.

During recent years the custom has developed in the Church of using the terminology of being advanced in the Melchizedek Priesthood from elder to seventy and then of being advanced from seventy to high priest.  This practice indicates an erroneous concept and should be discontinued.  It is incorrect thinking to maintain that an individual must necessarily pass in turn from elder to seventy and then to high priest in order to receive a fulness of the blessings that God has in store for his children.

Also, throughout the past years in the Church some high priests and seventies have been not only prone to discuss the question of advancement in the Melchizedek Priesthood, but also the question of who has the greater calling, the high priest or the seventy.  The making of such comparisons should be discouraged.  President John Taylor concluded in regard to seventies and high priests as follows:  ‘But in relation to their offices, they are called to move in other spheres and fulfil other callings, rather than possessing different power and authority. . . . So far, then, as authority is concerned, they both have authority, . . .’  (MS 9:324-325)  President Joseph F. Smith gave the following pertinent statements on this subject:

There is no office growing out of this Priesthood that is or can be greater than the Priesthood itself.  It is from the Priesthood that the office derives its authority and power.  No office gives authority to the Priesthood.  No office adds to the power of the Priesthood.  But all offices in the Church derive their power, their virtue, their authority, from the Priesthood.  If our brethren would get this principle thoroughly established in their minds, there would be less misunderstanding in relation to the functions of government in the Church than there is.  Today the question is, which is the greater–the high priest or the seventy–the seventy or the high priest?  I tell you that neither of them is the greater, and neither of them is the lesser.  Their callings lie in different directions, but they are from the same Priesthood.  If it were necessary, the seventy, holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, as he does, I say if it were necessary, he could ordain a high priest; and if it were necessary for a high priest to ordain a seventy, he could do that.  Why?  Because both of them hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Then, again, if it were necessary, though I do not expect the necessity will ever arise, and there was no man left on earth holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, except an elder–that elder, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God and by the direction of the Almighty, could proceed, and should proceed, to organize the Church of Jesus Christ in all its perfection, because he holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.  (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 184-185.)

Elders, seventies, and high priests, therefore, all hold the high priesthood, and so they all possess very important callings.  Their callings differ one from another according to the plan revealed from heaven.  In fact, when a person is first ordained an elder, he receives the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the revelations designate in general his responsibilities, assignments, and callings.  The same facts hold true with seventies and high priests.  The Lord revealed also certain work to be done by them.

The following pertinent facts should be kept clearly in mind: First, even after receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood and being ordained either an elder, a seventy, or a high priest, each ordained person functions in his calling and serves only in accordance with his appointments; second, each Melchizedek Priesthood holder magnifies his calling by fulfilling to the best of his ability all assignments, appointments, and responsibilities placed on him and by keeping all of the Lord’s commandments.  Those who do these things faithfully magnify their priesthood and shall receive eventually all that God has in store to bestow upon those who love him.

Second–Seventies’ Work a Missionary Calling.

In modern revelation the Lord clearly defined the principal work of the seventies to be a missionary calling.  To quote:

The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world–thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.

The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve or the traveling high council, in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and then to the Jews;

And these seventy are to be traveling ministers, unto the Gentiles first and also unto the Jews.  (D&C 107:25, 34, 97.)

Regarding the missionary assignment given by revelation to the seventies, President Joseph F. Smith declared:

The seventies are called to be assistants to the twelve apostles; . . . and it is their duty to respond to the call of the Twelve, under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church, to preach the gospel to every creature, to every tongue and people under the heavens, to whom they may be sent.  (Gospel Doctrine, p. 228.)

President John Taylor adds this thought:

. . . it is the especial business of the seventies to preach to all the world, introduce and spread the gospel; while it is the duty of the high priests more especially  to preside; yet a high priest is not precluded from traveling and preaching, and introducing the gospel (nor a seventy from presiding).  (MS 9:324-325.)

Duties of Seventies

First–To Prepare for Missionary Work.

Brethren recommended to be seventies and those who are now seventies should be students of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They should, through diligent study, prayer, and regular attendance at their priesthood meetings, Sunday School, and other Church services, prepare themselves for missionary service.  Although it is not possible to keep all the seventies doing missionary work at all times, it is proper that the seventies quorums provide a good reservoir of potential missionaries–men who continuously are better preparing themselves to do effective missionary work.  Brethren who are recommended for ordination to the office of seventy should show ability to proclaim the gospel and manifest a willingness to respond to missionary work.  On this subject President Joseph F. Smith declared:

They [seventies] shiould take up a study of the gospel, the study of the scriptures and the history of the dealings of God with the peoples of the earth, in their own quorums, and make those quorums schools of learning and instruction, wherein they may qualify themselves for every labor and duty that may be required at their hands.

Second–To Participate in Missionary Work.

Every man who holds the calling of a seventy in order to magnify that calling should participate actively in missionary work.  He should either engage in stake missionary work or render service in the foreign missionary field.  In fact, a generous portion of the stake missionaries should be drawn from the seventies quorums.  Also, as conditions permit, seventies should represent the Church in foreign missions.

This does not mean that each seventy needs to be in the missionary work at all times.  During part of his life as a seventy he could assist financially the missionary program and also better prepare himself for missionary service.  He should keep in mind at all times that he is an especial witness of Christ and should bear testimony by example and by precept to those with whom he comes in contact.

Third–To Assist Missionaries and Their Families Financially.

Every seventies quorum should have a substantial missionary fund with which needy missionaries and their families are assisted financially, and every seventy should contribute generously according to his financial abilities to his quorum’s missionary fund.  In this way seventies, while not serving as missionaries, may magnify their callings by helping others to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fourth–To Function Faithfully and Efficiently in All Other Assignments.

Every seventy should be a man filled with a testimony of the gospel and a love for the work.  He should function faithfully and efficiently in any and all assignments given unto him in furthering the work of the quorum, the preaching of the gospel, the work for the dead, and the general work and welfare of the Church.  At the present time seventies may be called upon to perform a multitude of activities in the Church.  As a ward member, a seventy should respond willingly to all calls made upon him by his bishop; and he should faithfully work in accordance with assignments given him by the stake presidency or by the First Council of the Seventy.

Fifth–To Work for the Spiritual Salvation of All Quorum Members and Their Families.

Every seventy should have a deep concern for the spiritual salvation of all the quorum members and their families, and so they should respond willingly to every assignment to work with the less active quorum members.  The high and lofty spirit of brotherhood which binds quorum members together should cause each seventy to take an active interest in his fellow seventy.  Each seventy should work faithfully until all the quorum members and their families become active in the Church, rendering obedience to ‘every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.’

Sixth–To Work for the Temporal Salvation of All Quorum Members and Their Families.

Furthermore, every seventy should be concerned over the temporal welfare of all quorum members and their families and should co-operate with the other quorum members in rendering service to those of the quorum who stand in need of succor.  When quorum members meet financial reverses due to illness, lack of work, accidents, or any other cause, seventies who belong to that quorum should come to their assistance and help rehabilitate their more unfortunate brother.  They should be alert at all times in helping find better jobs for their quorum members in assisting them to improve their financial conditions.

Seventh–To Keep All of God’s Commandments.

Since seventies are especial witnesses of Jesus Christ, they are selected carefully for their calling, only the more faithful male members of the Church being worthy of that great appointment.  Thus every seventy is obligated to pay a full tithing, to contribute generously to the fast offerings, building funds, and other economic requests made by the Church, to keep himself morally clean, to deal honestly and justly with his neighbor, to hold his family prayers, to attend all of the Church meetings of which he is supposed to attend, and to draw near to the Lord in all of his actions.  In other words, it is the duty of a seventy to keep all of God’s commandments–namely, ‘to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly withy thy God,’ fully realizing that ‘God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.'”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(4):266-267, Apr., 1955)

2 Apr.:  Recommend needed to perform ordinances elsewhere.

“There is a question which indicates the necessity of being more careful about permitting fathers or other relatives to assist in ordinances of the Fast Meeting.  For example, if a father asks to baptize his son, the bishop of course will know whether the father is worthy, or whether he holds the Priesthood.  But suppose the father of the son lives in another ward, and appears at the baptismal service and requests the right to baptize.  The bishop who has that baptismal service under his direction, should be sure that this father has the authority, and that will apply in blessing a child, or in confirming a baptized member.  It is suggested, therefore, that the bishop will explain in announcing a baptismal ceremony or the confirmation, that if any father belonging to another ward wishes to participate he should apply to the bishop before the ordinance, and the bishop should request him to bring his recommend from the ward of which he is a member.  We need not particularlize to tell you why.”  (David O. McKay, 2 Apr., 1955; CR Apr., 1955, p. 14)

May:  Statement of Policy Regarding Seventies.


Dear Brethren:

Recent developments in relation to the work of the seventies of the Church have indicated to the members of the First Council of the Seventy the advisability of again setting forth certain policies which now maintain.

Organization of Units

It has recently been decided that in stakes which do not have enough seventies to operate a quorum with a majority there will be organized a unit of seventies.  This organization will not be given a number but will be called the ‘Unit of Seventies’ of _____ stake.  Under the present policy, in any stake where there is a quorum there will not be organized a unit nor will there be organized more than one unit in any stake.

Officers of Units

To direct this unit, there will be appointed a chairman and two counselors.  These officers are to be recommended to the First Council by the stake president.  After being approved by the First Council, they may be set apart by the president of the stake.

Organization and Maintenance of Quorums

A quorum, instead of a unit, will be organized in all stakes which have enough seventies for a working majority.

In cases where existing quorums fall below a majority with no reasonable prospects of building up the membership numerically, if there be two or more quorums in the stake, such combinations and readjustments as conditions warrant will be made; and if it be that there is but one quorum of insufficient members, the quorum as such will be disorganized, a unit status established, and the quorum number discontinued.

Changes in Presidencies

All changes in the presidencies of seventies’ quorums and in the chairmanships of units must have the approval of the First Council of the Seventy.  This means that presidents of quorums and chairmen of units cannot be released from office nor ordained high priests without the authorization of the First Council or of one of the duly authorized General Authorities who may be operating on the ground.

This policy does not apply to seventies who are not presidents or chairmen.  A change has been made from the procedure set forth in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbood.  The present policy permits stake presidents to ordain to the office of high priest members of seventies’ quorums or units without first referring the matter to the First Council of the Seventy.

Addition of New Members

When a quorum or unit may have need of new members, the presidency of the quorum or chairman of the unit may make requests of the stake presidents for such elders as they may like to have ordained seventies.  It remains for the president of the stake to determine whether or not he may care to accept their recommendations and process the brethren for ordination.

Procedures in Recommending and Ordaining Seventies

The steps to be taken in recommending and ordaining seventies are as follows:

First:  The stake president will fill out ‘Form C Revised,’ giving the name and status of each brother he would like to interview with the purpose of having him ordained to the office of seventy.  This he will send to the First Council of the Seventy.  Since this is merely a ‘Request for Permission to Interview’ the brethren, under consideration, are not to learn at this time that they are being considered for the office of seventy.

Second:  Upon receipt of this request, the First Council will study the conditions of the men as well as the conditions of the quorums affected and approve the interview of such men as it may feel should be added to such quorums.

Third:  After receiving this permission, the stake president or one of his counselors will interview individually each of the men approved for interview by the First Council of the Seventy, having him fill out the form ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Priesthood.’  If satisfied with the interview, having found the prospective seventy completely worthy, the stake president will present his name to the members of the high council for their consideration and approval; but if the candidate fails to qualify for the office and calling of the seventy, the stake president will withhold further processing of the recommendation and make a conscientious effort to qualify, as to worthiness, the brother concerned.

Fourth:  After the high council’s approval has been obtained for the ordination, both the bishop of the brother’s ward and his elders’ quorum president will be asked to certify as to his worthiness.  It should be understood, however, that this is not a recommendation for ordination from the bishop and elders’ quorum president but merely a certification of the man’s worthiness.

Fifth:  When all of the above steps have been taken and the brother under consideration has been found to be completely worthy to become a seventy, the matter will be presented to the stake priesthood meeting for final consideration before submission of the recommend again to the First Council of the Seventy.  Priesthood leadership meetings are not qualified to give this approval; therefore, when it is not possible to present the matter to the stake priesthood meeting, it may be presented to one of the general sessions of stake quarterly conferences.  This body constitutes a general meeting of the priesthood of the stake.

Sixth:  All of the foregoing procedure having been accomplished, the recommendation forms will be sent to the First Council of the Seventy, who, if satisfied with the recommendation, will arrange for final interview and ordination by one of the General Authorities who may be qualified to do that work.

It is preferable to follow the foregoing procedure; however, if there should not be sufficient time to mail these forms to the First Council, they may be presented to a member of the Council of the Twelve, to a member of the First Council of the Seventy, or to an Assistant to the Twelve, who may be visiting the stake for the quarterly conference.  Any of these brethren are authorized to take care of the interviews and ordinations of prospective seventies.

Conditions Necessary for Recommendations of Brethren

to Become Seventies

Great care should be exercised in the interviews referred to above to determine that the candidate be morally clean and worthy; that he be in harmony with the policies, doctrines, and practices of the Church and not running counter thereto in sympathy or practice; that he pay his tithes and offerings to the Lord in full; that he observes the Word of Wisdom; that his family life be exekmplary; and, if he has had a divorce, that he receive proper clearance from the First Presidency of the Church.

Preparatory Experiences Necessary

We think the elders should not be ordained to the office of seventy until they have gained a considerable degree of experience as elders, having matured somewhat in the gospel, and having become stable members of the Church.

We apply this principle in considering young men called to serve as missionaries with the result that nearly all of the younger men are now going into the mission field as elders.

Great concern is felt for the well-being of the quorums of elders, and we have thought it unwise to ordain too large a proportion of the outstanding and worthy elders into the quorums of seventy for fear of unduly weakening the elders’ quorums.

We hav thought that in the main after returning from their various fields of labor, young returned missionaries should affiliate with the elders in their respective wards in order to add their strength to them, and also, because of age, social, and fraternal considerations, gain for themselves more opportunities for service and brotherhood in priesthood activities.

Calling of the Seventy a Special One

We believe that the calling of the seventy is a special one, and that those so called should be, in fact, as the revelation states, ‘especial witnesses of the name of Christ,’ and that they should have the desires, aptitudes, and inclinations for missionary work.

We do not believe, however, that every elder who may be ordained to the office of seventy must be called immediately into missionary service.  We think that there should be a large reserve of brethren in training for missionary work, and that it is the function of the quorums of seventy to prepare their members for such service.

There is no justification for the feeling that the seventies are intermediate between the elders and the high priests.  They hold a highly specialized office, ‘thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.’  (D&C 107:25.)

We would like to see the seventies in the stakes of Zion used more and more within the field of their primary responsibility–that is, in missionary service; thus, seventies should not be used in auxiliary capacities when they may be needed for missionary service.

This would mean that worthy seventies who, because of age, physical condition, or for other reason, can no longer be expected to do missionary work, should properly be ordained high priests if their personal worthiness merits it.

Relation to Bishops

We have had considerable concern over the years at a situation which has grown up–almost exclusively in Salt Lake City and Ogden areas–wherein a quorum of seventy is located within a single ward.  It has been our observation that under such circumstances bishops sometimes assume control which, because of its being a Melchizedek Priesthood quorum, is unjustified.  On the other hand, we have observed that where several ward-areas are in one quorum jurisdiction it is easier to keep the spirit and purpose of the seventy alive and maintain a proper relationship between the bishop and the quorum.  This is a goal towards which we are working.

Factors Considered in Building Up Quorums of Seventies

Factors which should be carefully considered by stake presidencies as well as by the First Council of the Seventy in determining the needs of building up or increasing quorums of seventies in the various stakes include the following: stake population; total number of elders in the stake; number of elders who pay a full tithing and are otherwise worthy to be ordained seventies; the prospective missionary field, the number in the minority groups with whom missionary work can be done; the geographical area of the stake; whether the stake membership is increasing; the leadership available for use as presidents of the quorums; the effect that the creation of a new quorum or the continuance of an existing one would have on the quorums of elders; the number of brethren in the existing quorums of seventy; and any special circumstances that might prevail in the stake concerned.

Respectfully submitted,


By Levi Edgar Young.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(5):352-353, May, 1955)

Jun.:  Preparing for the Melchizedek Priesthood.


Importance of Holding the Priesthood

First–Priesthood Defined.

In the October, 1954, issue of The Improvement Era, the fact was made clear that priesthood is the power of God by which all his works, both in heaven and earth, were and are accomplished.  It was pointed out that from age to age throughout the various gospel dispensations priesthood has always been the divine channel for revealing knowledge to the human family.  Also, it is a fact that the priesthood held by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the power of God which he has delegated to them for them to act in his stead here on the earth.

Second–Priesthood’s Value in Our Lives.

Priesthood holds the sealing power of all gospel ordinances, such sealing power being necessary for the exaltation in the celestial realms of those who love the Lord and have kept his commandments.  For example, it is through the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, added to their faithfulness, that men and women receive the blessings of celestial marriage, being sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise to a glorious exaltation wherein they receive eternal life, which modern revelation declares to be the greatest of God’s gifts.  Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, pointed out that exaltation is of such inestimable worthy that 

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

It is evident, therefore, that each male member of the Church should clearly understand that ranking foremost among the prized blessings that he can receive would be to have the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood bestowed upon him, and then by magnifying that priesthood his blessings would be greater than the wealth of the world.

Preparation for the Melchizedek Priesthood

First–Preparing Boys and Men for the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The Aaronic Priesthood has been brought from heaven to earth in this gospel dispensation as an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood for the specific purpose of preparing its holders for the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 107:13-17); and so the General Authorities wholeheartedly sustainthe Aaronic Priesthood programs–both for the boys and for those who belong to the senior Aaronic groups–which programs have been established under inspiration from the Lord.  The General Authorities urge bishoprics, branch presidencies, and officers in the various auxiliary organizations throughout the entire Church to push forward with all their hearts, might, minds, and strength all of the programs which have been established to assist in preparing boys and men to receive the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood.  Full endorsement and support of the General Authorities are extended to the marvelous Aaronic Priesthood program, as well as the work of the auxiliaries, which–under the inspiration of heaven–are being carried forward throughout the Church; and they commend all officers and teachers in the various organizations for their diligence and good works in assisting in preparing boys and men for the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Bishoprics and others concerned are reminded that they at all times should be cognizant of the fact that Aaronic Priesthood holders will before long receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and many of them will be called into the various positions of leadership in the Church and thereby inherit the responsibility of carrying forward its programs.  Thus, every possible effort should be made to keep all the boys in line with the gospel principles, conforming their lives to Church standards, in order that they might remain worthy and at the proper time be advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The men in the senior Aaronic groups should be worked with patiently, persistently, and intelligently in order that they will overcome any habits which have kept them from receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood; and as soon as they are worthy, they should receive that priesthood.

Second–Purpose to Prepare All Latter-day Saint Males for the Melchizedek Priesthood.

It is the avowed purpose of the leadership of the Church, assisted and sustained by the holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood throughout the entire Church, to prepare all male members for the higher priesthood in order that they may receive a fulness of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In order to achieve this goal, the complete Aaronic Priesthood program should be pushed forward vigorously; and, each boy of Aaronic Priesthood age should be the direct concern of the leaders and his activities guided by them continuously.  In relationship to the boys under their charge, those called to positions of leadership should at all times put into operation Jesus’ parables of ‘The Lost Sheep,’ ‘The Lost Coin,’ and ‘The Good Samaritan.’

Also, an excellent program has been inaugurated for the benefit of the senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood.  The General Authorities hereby encourage the bishoprics and their assistants throuighout the entire Church to put into operation the complete program for the men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood and vigorously carry it forward, remembering at all times that the worth of a human soul is precious in the sight of the Lord.  The leaders are encouraged to organize into quorums all the men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood, to instruct them in the ways of righteousness, to encourage them to keep the commandments, and in such cases as needed, to help them to adjust their habits to Church standards, thereby preparing themselves to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Following its reception and as a result of their continuance of keeping God’s commandments, these brethren will prepare themselves for the higher ordinances of the gospel.

Selecting Men for the Melchizedek Priesthood

First–Choose Only the Worthy Men to Receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Even though every conceivable effort has been exerted to induce certain men who belong to the Church to prepare themselves to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, they refuse to comply.  Under those conditions, they should not be given the Melchizedek Priesthood until they become worthy; however, those holding responsible positions of leadership should patiently and persistently continue to labor with them.

Before men are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, they should have proved their fitness for such a great blessing and holy calling.  Their worthiness to hold the priesthood and their advancement therein should be determined by their lives within the gospel fold.  Those who receive the Melchizedek Priesthood should be men who fearlessly abide by the commandments which God has given, dedicating themselves to the work of the Lord and the upbuilding of the kingdom.  On this subject, the Lord has instructed as follows:

There has been a day of calling, for the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy.

And it shall be manifest unto my servant, by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified;

And inasmuch as they follow council which they receive, they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion.  (D&C 105:35-37.)

Thus, men must prove themselves worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood by living righteously and conforming their lives to the words of eternal life.  Should they receive the priesthood unworthily, it would not be a blessing to them but may prove a curse, for the Lord had declared:

For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

Second–Those Whom the Lord Chooses.

In modern revelation, the Lord has warned the male members of his Church with the following forceful language:

Behold, there are many called but few are chosen.  And why are they not chosen?

Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson–

That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.  (D&C 121:34-37.)

Third–A Caution to Presiding Stake Officers.

The following instructions are given in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook (pp. 64-65) as a caution to the presiding stake officers:

For a long time the General Authorities of the Church have felt that not enough care has been exercised in ordaining men to offices in the priesthood.  There are in the Church thousands of men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood who are inactive.  Many of these men, when they were ordained, did not understand the full meaning of priesthood nor the obligation they accepted to magnify their callings.  The Lord has made very clear in several revelations, notably sections 20:38-66; 84:32-42; and the entire revelation known as Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the importance of faithfulness and cleanliness of life on the part of those who are ordained to the priesthood.

This laxity in ordaining has resulted in many brethren, who have received the priesthood and were not really worthy, returning to their evil habits and indifferent ways, if these were ever forsaken.  Because of this condition, presiding officers of stakes are asked to use care and discretion in approving candidates for ordination and to be sure that they are living in full accord with the principles of the gospel and the doctrines of the Church.  Moreover, presiding officers should faithfully impress upon all candidates for ordination the seriousness and responsibility which ordination to the priesthood entails and the grave consequences of disobedience or the violation of the covenants which are received when offices in the priesthood are conferred.

Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

Every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very fortunate to be privileged to live in the age of the world’s history when the Lord has made it possible for all male members to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood on condition of their worthiness and enjoy the blessings provided therein.

All those who receive the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood receive it with ‘an oath and covenant.’  The covenant is that they ‘give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.’  (D&C 84:43)  The Lord hath declared: ‘For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.’  In other words, when men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, they enter into a covenant with God that they will be diligent in their efforts to magnify their callings in that priesthood and earnestly strive to the best of their abilities to keep every one of his commandments.

On the other hand, God’s part of this covenant, which he seals with an oath, is that if priesthood holders keep all of the commandments and magnify their priesthood to the best of their abilities, Jesus Christ declared:

and all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant from my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.  (D&C 84:38-40)

Thus, according to the oath and covenant of the priesthood, we shall have the privilege of being sealed to our wives, of having our children born under the covenant, and of eventually gaining eternal life in the celestial realms upon condition of our faithfulness to the end.  However, these are the words of the Lord regarding those who do not prove faithful to the covenant of the priesthood:

But whosoever breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.  (D&C 84:41)

The foregoing definitely shows that dreadful consequences await priesthood holders who do not live in accordance with the oath and covenant of the priesthood after they have received it.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(6):464-465, 477-478, Jun., 1955)

1 Jun.:  The order of the priesthood:  Sunday Schools.

“The order of the priesthood is set forth by the Lord in his revelations to Joseph Smith the Prophet.  The First Presidency calls the stake president and his two counselors who are nominated.  After being sustained by the people, the stake presidency act under the First Presidency, the duly constituted authority over a stake of Zion.  This responsibility includes the calling and setting apart of high councilmen.  In the discharge of the stake president’s responsibility of conducting Sunday Schools within the stake, he assigns a member of the stake presidency to be responsible for Sunday Schools and a member of the high council to represent the high council in matters pertaining to Sunday School organization.  the stake Sunday School superintendency and Sunday School stake board in their advisory capacity function under these officers in the priesthood.

When the bishop is nominated by the stake presidency and called by the First Presidency and sustained by the members of his ward, he together with his counselors, likewise called and sustained, are responsible for the choosing of a ward superintendency and the whole Sunday School organization.

While the bishop may delegate to the ward superintendency numerous responsibilities in the conducting of the Sunday School organization, there are certain matters over which he and his counselors exercise direct supervision.  They include the following:

The bishop, as the president of the priest’s quorum, presides over the appointment of priests for the administration of the sacrament.

It is the order of the Church that the bishop or one appointed by him holding the Melchizedek Priesthood shall be in attendance presiding over the administration and passing of the sacrament by the Aaronic Priesthood during the Sunday School period.  It is for this reason that the General Board and stake boards advise that the wishes of the bishopric be followed meticulously in this matter.  Where bishops appoint a member of the superintendency holding the Melchizedek Priesthood to represent them in the Senior or Junior Sunday School to preside over the administration of the sacrament, the members of the superintendency, so assigned, should perform this responsibility with fidelity.

Under the direction of the ward bishop and his counselors comes the most serious responsibility devolving upon the father of the ward.  It is that of choosing those who shall teach the children of the ward the principles of the Gospel.  This duty may also be delegated in some respects to the superintendency of the ward.  A wise bishop, however, does often supervise, himself or by his counselors, the choice of teachers recommended before giving his approval.”  (Lynn S. Richards of the General Superintendency, Instructor 90(6):182, 1 Jun., 1955)

Jul.:  Receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.


Worthiness, A Prerequisite to Ordination

First–Worthiness, A Prerequisite.

It was stated on the ‘Melchizedek Priesthood page’ of the last issue of The Improvement Era (June 1955)–and reaffirmed here–that no person should be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood unless he is worthy of that great blessing as is evidenced by a life that is in full accord with the principles of the gospel and the doctrines of the Church.  Unworthiness disqualifies brethren from receiving the blessings attending upon ordination in the priesthood, and it would be of little value to ordain those who are not worthy.  The Lord has declared:

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?  Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.  (D&C 88:33)

Second–Obedience to God’s Commandments.

Boys and men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should make themselves worthy to receive the holy Melchizedek Priesthood by keeping all of God’s commandments.  In the revelation on ‘the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood,’ the Lord declared:

And I now give unto you a commandment . . . to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.

For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

Candidates for ordination must acknowledge the existence and overshadowing power of our Father in heaven.  They should love him to such a degree that they yield themselves to him and his will with all of their hearts, might, mind, and strength.  They should love him so strongly that they fear to offend by disobeying his will.  All candidates for the priesthood, as well as those who hold it, are under the requirement to keep themselves fully fit to possess and exercise the power of the priesthood.

Candidates for Ordination to be Interviewed

First–Bishopric’s Interviews.

Before a bishop recommends an Aaronic Priesthood holder (either a young man or a member of the Senior Aaronic group) to the stake presidency for advancement from the Aaronic to the Melchizedek Priesthood, a member of the bishopric should interview the candidate individually and alone to determine his worthiness for the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The bishop should understand that these private interviews supply marvelous teaching opportunities.

Second–Stake Presidency’s Interviews.

Any brother being considered for ordination to an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood is to be interviewed individually and alone by a member of the stake presidency as an aid in determining his qualifications and worthiness for the receipt of the priesthood or for the office involved.

Before approving a brother for ordination, the stake presidency is to assure itself that he meets or agrees to meet, the standards of personal righteousness listed under the heading ‘statement to be filled in by the person to be ordained,’ found on the back of the ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Priesthood.’  If the brother fails to qualify, he should prove himself through a probationary period before the recommendation is processed further and before the ordination is performed.

Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination Procedures

First–Bishopric’s Recommendations.

Brethren proposed for advancement from the Aaronic to the Melchizedek Priesthood should be recommended by the bishop to the stake presidency on the forms provided.

After a member of the bishopric has thoroughly interviewed the candidate and found him to be worthy, the form ‘Recommendation for Advancement from the Aaronic to the Melchizedek Priesthood’ should be filled in properly, signed, and given to the stake presidency.

Second–Stake Presidency’s Interview.

Upon request of the stake presidency, the candidate for ordination will be notified by the bishop to meet with and be interviewed by the stake president or one of his counselors.  He will be requested to fill in the questions on the back of the form ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Melchizedek Priesthood’ and sign his name.  Then he is interviewed privately.

Third–Bishop’s Endorsement.

The endorsement of the bishop of the ward in which the candidate is a member of record is then obtained.  The bishop also signs the recommend as the president of the priests quorum to which the candidate still belongs.

Fourth–High Council’s Approval.

The stake president next receives the approval of his high council for the bestowal of the Melchizedek Priesthood on the candidate.

Fifth–Sustaining Vote of the Church.

Then, in compliance with the revelation on Church Government, the candidate’s name is presented at a stake priesthood meeting for ‘the [sustaining] vote of that church.’  In case of an emergency, the name of the individual under consideration may be presented to one of the general sessions of the stake quarterly conference; however, the priesthood leadership meeting does not qualify for this purpose.

Brethren should be encouraged to be present at the stake priesthood meeting or at the stake quarterly conference when their names are presented; and it is advised that they be asked to stand when their names are presented.

Performing the Ordination

First–Ordaining Brethren Elders, Seventies, or High Priests.

Ordinations of brethren as elders and high priests may be attended to by members of the stake presidency or under their direction.  Others who are qualified and worthy to perform these ordinations, such as high councilors, high priests’ president, or fathers of the candidates, may be authorized by the stake presidency to perform the ordinations.

Ordination to the office of the seventy will be done by members of the First Council of the Seventy, by members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or by Assistants to the Twelve.

The initiative in processing brethren for ordination as seventies and high priests rests with the stake presidency.

Ordained brethren should receive certificates of ordination.  In the case of seventies, these certificates will be sent out by the First Council of the Seventy.

Second–Ordaining Elders or Seventies to Serve in Bishoprics or on High Councils.

When elders or seventies are chosen to serve in bishoprics or as members of high councils, the established procedure for the ordination as high priest should be followed.  If the General Authority appointed to ordain them bishops or to set them apart to the bishopric or high council is also to ordain them as high priests, then the regular recommendation form, fully completed, should be presented to him.  If it is not possible to have these ordinations approved at a regular stake priesthood meeting, the names may be presented for a sustaining vote at a general session of a regular quarterly stake conference.

Fellowshipping Priesthood Holders

All holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood who live in a quorum area are to be accepted by the proper quorum as members unless the quorum, for cause, votes to withhold or withdraw the hand of fellowship.  If this is done, a report of such action should be sent to the bishop of the ward in which the member resides so the bishop may take further action in the case.

Qualifications of Melchizedek Priesthood Holders

First–Every Man to Learn his Duty.

The Lord has commanded each man who receives the holy Melchizedek Priesthood in this dispensation to learn his duty and then to act in the office in which he is appointed in all diligence.  A person should be qualified to perform the service that goes with the office involved.  Following are the words of the Lord:

Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, . . . and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand.  (D&C 107:99-100)

According to this revelation, every man who receives the holy Melchizedek Priesthood is under moral obligation and direct commandment from the heavens to learn the duties involved in his office and calling.  Elders are to learn the responsibility which rests upon them as elders and magnify their appointments diligently.  Seventies are to learn quickly that they are ‘especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world’ (D&C 107:25) and thereby obligated to render outstanding services in missionary work in the stakes and in the foreign fields.  High priests are to study diligently their appointments and assignments and fully apply their lives to the work of the Lord.

No priesthood holder should let days slide by while he remains in ignorance regarding his office and calling.  God will not look upon that procrastination with favor.  In the words of President Joseph F. Smith:

I now say to the brethren holding the priesthood–the high priests, the seventies, the elders, and the lesser priesthood–magnify your callings; study the scriptures; read the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants on priesthood; learn that revelation, which was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and live by his precepts and doctrine, and you will gain power and intelligence to straighten out any kinks that have heretofore existed in your minds, and to clear up many doubts and uncertainties in relation to the rights of the priesthood.  God gave that word to us.  It is in force today in the Church in the world, and it contains instructions to the priesthood and the people in relation to their duties, which every elder should know.  (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 205-206)

Second–Initiative, a Necessary Quality.

The Lord has made it clear in several revelations that he expects priesthood holders to possess a marked amount of initiative.  To quote:

For behold, it is not meet that I should commande in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good they shall in no wise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with a doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.  (D&C 58:26-29)

Third–Devotion to the Lord’s Cause.

Men who receive the Melchizedek Priesthood should have a strong devotion to the cause of the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ.  Candidates for the priesthood and priesthood holders should familiarize themselves with the principles, ordinances, and organization of the Church.  In short, they should learn to the best of their ability to understand the gospel plan of salvation.  No man can receive the full benefits of the priesthood except he humble himself before God and give the glory unto the Father and the Son for all the blessings that he receives and all the knowledge of the gospel which he attains.

Men who are holders of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood are charged with the words of eternal life and are commissioned to give them unto the world.  They should strive continually in their words, actions, and daily deportment to do honor to the dignity of their priesthood callings.  Brigham Young declared:

Until a selfish, individual interest is banished from our minds, and we become interested in the general welfare, we shall never be able to magnify our holy priesthood as we should.

Fourth–Purity, an Indispensable Quality.

In modern revelation, the Lord commanded Melchizedek Priesthood holders: ‘Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.’  In another revelation to the Latter-day Saints, God’s commandments and promises are given as follows:

{D&C 121:45-46}

This important revelation shows definitely that one must keep his heart clean and pure, abiding strictly by the law of chastity, if he expects the holy Melchizedek Priesthood to operate effectively in his life and the blessings of the priesthood to be his eternally.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(7):528-529, 538, Jul., 1955)

Aug.:  Priesthood and Elders.


Introductory Statement

The articles on the ‘Melchizedek Priesthood Page’ of the last two issues of The Improvement Era have stressed the importance of the keeping of God’s commandments by those who are candidates for the Melchizedek Priesthood and also by those who are bearers of that priesthood.  Bishoprics throughout the Church were urged to work diligently and faithfully with boys and men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood in their efforts to prepare them for the reception of ‘The Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God.’  And again, stake presidencies were urged to ordain to the Melchizedek Priesthood only those brethren who have qualified themselves for this great blessing by keeping God’s commandments.

Certainly it is not only desirable but the purpose of the Church in the latter-days to make the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood available to every male member; but, since that priesthood is so sacred and of such great value in preparing its holders for exaltatino, only those who would profit by its gifts and show a willingness to magnify their callings should have it bestowed upon them.

Those men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood but have not qualified for the Melchizedek Priesthood by keeping God’s commandments should be worked with continuously by those in positions of leadership with the hope of preparing them for the marvelous blessings of the higher priesthood.

One Priesthood Only

First–One Priesthood.

There is one priesthood only in the heavens and on the earth: and that priesthood is ‘The Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God’; or as it is more commonly known today, the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It is the power of the Eternal Father, operating through his only begotten Son, by which all of the works of righteousness are performed in the heavens and throughout the Church and kingdom of God here on the earth.  It is by this authority alone that men speak and act in the name of the Savior for the salvation of the human family.  In modern revelation the Lord proclaimed the eternal nature of the priesthood, stating:

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

A similar declaration was made in Hebrews (Inspired Version), in speaking of Melchizedek’s ordination.  To quote:

For this Melchisedec was ordained a priest after the Order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.  And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.  (Heb. 7:3, I.V.)

Second–Aaronic Priesthood, an Appendage of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Both the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants speak of two priesthoods in the Church, namely, ‘the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.’  (D&C 107:1)  In reality they do not constitute two separate priesthoods but only one, since all of the authority and power of God is resident in the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic is an appendage to that higher priesthood.  Thus we are informed that these two divisions or grand heads–Melchizedek and Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood–are not separate but coherent parts.  The duties and authorities of each touch and unite in their workings and thereby become the means to forward God’s purposes as contained in his great plan of salvation.  The Prophet Joseph Smith has made this clear in the following quotation:

There are two Priesthoods spoken of in the Scriptures, viz., the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical.  Although there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, and is the grand head, and holds the highest authority which pertains to the Priesthood, and the keys of the Kingdom of God in all ages of the world to the latest posterity on the earth; and is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven.  (TPJS, pp. 166-167)

Priesthood and Offices in the Priesthood

First–Offices in the Priesthood.

Appended to and growing out of the Melchizedek Priesthood are various offices; however, it is definitely understood, according to the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that the Melchizedek Priesthood embraces all offices and authority in the priesthood.  This is clearly stated in modern revelation.  Dr. John A. Widtsoe gave the purpose of these offices as follows:

This authority of priesthood is designed to assist men in all of life’s endeavors, both temporal and spiritual.  Consequently, there are divisions or offices in the Priesthood, each charged with a definite duty, fitting a special human need.  (Program of the Church, p. 139)

Since the work assigned to the Church is so varied and extensive, it was necessary for the Lord to devise a division of labor among those who hold the priesthood.  This was accomplished through establishing the offices in the priesthood.

In the Melchizedek Priesthood there are six offices, namely:

First, the elder, who is a standing home minister; second, the seventy, who is a traveling minister; third, the high priest, who is to administer in spiritual things and to preside as his calling in the Church requires; fourth, the patriarch, a high priest, who seals blessings upon the members of the Church; fifth, the apostle, who is a traveling councilor, and special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world; and sixth, the presidency of the High Priesthood, who have the right to officiate in all the offices of the priesthood.  (Widtsoe, Program of the Church, pp. 111-112)

The offices of the Aaronic Priesthood are: deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop; the latter also holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.  J. B. Keeler explained the offices of the priesthood as follows:

The offices are not parts of the Priesthood, as is sometimes erroneously said.  Office means the service or duty to be performed; that is, a definite line of work to be followed.  It is not correct to say that a person holds the Priesthood of Deacons, or the Priesthood of Teacher.  Say rather that he holds the office of Deacon, or the office of Teacher.  (Lesser Priesthood and Church Government, 1929 ed., p. 28)

President Joseph F. Smith explained this principle aptly as follows:

There is no office growing out of this Priesthood that is or can be greater than the Priesthood itself.  It is from the Priesthood that the office derives its authority and power.  No office gives authority to the Priesthood.  No office adds to the power of the Priesthood.  But all offices in the Church derive their power, their vitrue, their authority, from the Priesthood.  (Gospel Doctrine, p. 148)

Second–Importance of Each Office in the Priesthood.

It is essential that all holders of the priesthood recognize the importance of the priesthood and also the value of the various offices in the priesthood.  It should be remembered that the Savior placed the various offices in the Church for the purpose of building up the kingdom and performing all of the works of the Lord in righteousness.  Every office in the priesthood is of great importance.  In regards to their importance, President Joseph F. Smith declared:

I believe it to be the duty of the Church to recognize and acknowledge every man who holds an official position in it, in his sphere and in his calling.  I hold to the doctrine that the duty of a teacher is as sacred as the duty of an apostle, in the sphere in which he is called to act, and that every member of the Church is as much in duty bound to honor the teacher who visits him in his home, as he is to honor the office and counsel of the presiding quorum in the Church.  They all have the priesthood; they are all acting in their callings, and they are all essential in their places, because the Lord has appointed them and set them in his Church.  We cannot ignore them; or, if we do, the sin will be upon our heads.  (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 163-164)

When one keeps the foregoing in mind, he is easily convinced that the Lord desires that each man should learn his duty and function in his office in the priesthood faithfully for the salvation of souls and the building of Zion.

The Term ‘Elder’

First–The General Use of the Term Elder.

The term elder is used in a general way in the Church to refer to any degree of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Thus, we often hear an apostle spoken of as an elder.  So it is with the seventies and the high priests or sometimes even with the patriarchs.  The general title of elder is often applied to brethren holding various offices in the priesthood in giving an account of their labors.

Second–The Specific Usage of the Term Elder.

The term elder is also used in a specific sense in which it is applied to the first office in the Melchizedek Priesthood; thus the office of an elder comes under the priesthood of Melchizedek.  (D&C 107:7)

Office and Calling of Elders

First–Age of Ordination to Melchizedek Priesthood and Receiving the Office of Elder.

On November 29, 1934, the First Presidency of the Church wrote the following:

We hereby approve the Twelve’s recommendation in letter of September 29, that a definite time be fixed for the ordaining of priests to the office of elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that this age be nineteen.  (Rudger Clawson, Book of Decisions, signed by Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay, First Presidency {Nov. 29, 1934}, cited in Widtsoe, Program of the Church, p. 113.)

Second–The Ordination.

The bestowal of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the office of elder comes under the direction of the stake presidency.  The stake president may perform the ordinations; or invite one of his counselors to do so; or authorize the high councilor who is serving on the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee as contact man for the elders’ quorums to do the ordaining or even other qualified and worthy persons may be authorized by the stake president to perform these ordinations.

Third–Calling of Elders.

The elder is a standing minister to the Church, being appointed to render spiritual services.  Since he is a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, he has the authority to perform the works of the Aaronic Priesthood.  It is his duty to confirm those who are baptized ‘by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.’  He may be assigned to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; anoint the sick by the laying on of hands; preach the gospel at home and abroad; and administer the ordinances thereof.  When so directed, the elder is authorized to conduct meetings.  Also, when authorized, an elder has the right to officiate in the place of a high priest when the latter is not present and when duly authorized.  The high priests and elders are to administer in spiritual things, agreeable to the covenants and commandments of the Church; and they have the right to officiate in these offices of the Church when there are no higher authorities present.

In the words of President Brigham Young:

It is the right and privilege of every Elder in Israel to enjoy the Holy Ghost, and the light of it, to know everything which concerns himself and his individual duties, but it is not his right and privilege to dictate to his superior in office, nor to give him counsel, unless he is called upon to do so, then he may make suggestions.  (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 228)

Also, President Joseph F. Smith made the following suggestions regarding elders:

It is the duty of this body of men {the elders} to be standing ministers at home; to be ready at the call of the presiding officers of the Church and the stakes; to labor and administer at home; and to officiate in any calling that may be required of them; whether it be to work in the temples, or to labor in ministry at home, or whatever it be to go out into the world, along with the seventies, to preach the gospel to the world.  (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 184-185)

Defining some duties of the elders, we read the following in the Doctrine and Covenants:

. . . which quorum is instituted for standing ministers; nevertheless they may travel, yet they are ordained to be standing ministers to my church, saith the Lord.  (D&C 124:137)

Fourth–Functions Rest on Jurisdiction and Authorization.

Although an elder, through right of having receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and having had bestowed upon him the office of an elder has the right to perform all the works pertaining unto that office, he cannot go ahead and perform those works pertaining unto that office unless he receives the proper authorization; for example, an elder has the authority to baptize, but in the ward of the Church he may not perform this ordinance unless authorized by the bishop of the ward; while in the mission field he receives his authorization from the president of the mission.  The authorization is necessary from those two parties because the bishop holds the keys of the priesthood in his ward–which keys are the directing power–while the president of the mission holds the keys of the priesthood in his mission.  It is necessary for elders to receive authorization for each assignment from those who hold the keys.  The presiding authorities or presidencies in priesthood quorums are the ones who hold the keys of priesthood of those quorums; thus, keys go with presidency.  It is necessary to have only certain people in the Church possess directive power or keys so that order may be preserved in the numerous activities of the kingdom.  President Joseph F. Smith explains as follows:

The leading fact to be remembered is that the priesthood is greater than any of its offices; and that any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood may, by virtue of its possession, perform any ordinance pertaining thereto, or in connection therewith, when called upon to do so by one holding the proper authority, which proper authority is vested in the President of the Church, or any whom he may designate.  Every officer in the Church is under his direction and he is directed of God.  He is also selected of the Lord to be the head of the Church and so becomes when the priesthood of the Church (which includes its officers and its members) shall have so accepted and upheld him.  (D&C 107:22)  No man can justly presume to have authority merely by virtue of his priesthood . . . for in addition, he must be chosen and accepted by the Church.  (Gospel Doctrine, p. 174)”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(8):592-593, 599, Aug., 1955)

Sep.:  Elders Quorums.


Quorums of Elders

First–Elders Quorums.

Elders quorums are organized on a stake basis.  They are operated directly by the stake president, chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, assisted by his two counselors and the high council members whom the stake president appoints to work under his direction with the elders.  Elders quorums in the mission fields operate under the direction of the mission presidency.

Elders quorums in the stakes of Zion are composed of all the elders living in one or more wards of the stake in accordance with the number of elders available.  In each stake the quorums are numbered consecutively, beginning with number one.

Second–Size of Elders Quorums.

According to a revelation on priesthood and church government, an elders quorum is to consist of ninety-six members, and a quorum should not be organized with fewer members than forty-nine, which number constitutes a quorum majority.  If there are cases where elders quorums contain fewer than an operating majority, stake presidencies are advised to unite those quorums with others; and then they could be operated as elders groups until they become numerically strong enough rightfully to become quorums.

Third–Purposes of Elders Quorums.

Elders quorums are organized for the specific purpose of helping every elder to attain a condition of well-being in body, mind, and spirit–which includes the economic, spiritual, and moral welfare of each elder and his family.  The same holds true with other Melchizedek Priesthood quorums. 

The principal purposes of elders quorums–as well as the other Melchizedek Priesthood quorums–are to help the Church accomplish its divine mission of perfecting the Saints, of providing salvation for the dead, and of preaching the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people throughout the entire world.

Responsibilities of Stake Presidencies Towards

Elders Quorums

First–Responsibilities of Stake Presidencies.

Stake presidencies are responsible for the effective operation of the priesthood program throughout their individual stakes, and thereby they are directly responsible for the elders quorum presidencies and the work done by them and by the quorum members.  Stake presidencies have a definite responsibility toward every Melchizedek Priesthood quorum within their stake bounds and thereby a responsibility toward every priesthood holder.  We read in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, p. 10:

It is the duty of the stake presidency to supervise Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.  No stake president should 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.

All stake presidencies throughout the Church are urged to see that the quorum presidents under their jurisdiction hold weekly meetings of the presidencies, weekly group or quorum meetings, monthly quorum business meetings, and that they magnify their callings in all respects.

Since the stake president is the chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, the work of directing

the elders in his stake is his.  This he does through the quorum presidencies; and so it is suggested that the stake president work with the elders quorum presidencies to the end that each member of those presidencies becomes a full tithepayer and conforms his living to God’s other commandments.

Second–Stake Melchizedek Priesthood Committee.

In order to help carry forward the supervising and directing of the Melchizedek Priesthood work in the stake, especially that of the elders quorums, the stake presidency is provided with a stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee which is composed of the stake president, as chairman, ‘and as many members of the high council as are necessary, but in no case fewer than three.’  No stake presidency should attempt to operate a stake and direct the priesthood activities therein unless he organizes a stake Melchizedek committee and makes full use of it.  Regarding this committee, the following appears in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, p. 11:

The stake Melchizedek priesthood committee represents the stake presidency in the direction and supervision of all quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood within the stake.  This committee is appointed to be an aid to the stake presidency.  The stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee does not preside, but supervises under the direction of the stake presidency.

Third–Opportunities to Assist Elders Quorums.

It is in their directing of the elders quorums that the stake presidency and the Melchizedek Priesthood committee can do some of their most vital work.  The following suggestions were printed on the ‘Melchizedek Priesthood Page’ of The Improvement Era, February, 1954:

{  }

Elders Quorum Presidencies

First–Choosing and Setting Apart of Presidencies.

Elders presidents are chosen by the stake presidency, approved by the high council, sustained by the quorum members, and set apart by the stake presidency or their high council representative.  Presidents, with the approval of the stake presidency, choose their counselors.

Second–Keys Held by Presidencies.

The keys of directing the various assignments given to elders in their quorums are held by the presidencies of such quorums.  It is through those keys that the presidencies carry forward the priesthood work of their respective quorums under the direction of the stake presidency–who hold the keys of the priesthood over the entire stake under the direction of the First Presidency.  These keys of the priesthood are held by elders quorum presidencies until they are released from their positions and others appointed in their stead.

Third–General Responsibilities of Elders Presidencies.

The Lord revealed the following in regards to the responsibilities of the elders presidencies:

Again, the duty of the president over the office of elders is to preside over ninety-six elders, and to sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.  (D&C 107:89)

Since each elders quorum presidency is called by the Lord and set apart through his divinely appointed power to direct all the activities of the quorum, each quorum member becomes the concern of the presidency.  Thus, the presidency has the responsibility of working with each quorum member and his family until they conform their living to all the standards of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is a gigantic assignment which carries tremendous responsibility and should so be considered by every young man who receives an appointment in a presidency of an elders quorum.

Specific Responsibilities of Elders Quorum Presidencies

First–Presidencies to Become Acquainted with Every Quorum Member.

It is the specific duty of all presidencies of elders’ quorums throughout the entire Church to become personally acquainted with all their quorum members.  They should become acquainted with the economic status, the occupation, the abilities and attitudes, the personal habits, and the quality of spirituality of each quorum member as far as is humanly possible.  This in itself is a big assignment since it takes nearly one hundred men to constitute one quorum, and there are only three members in the presidency.  It is obvious that as many assignments as possible should be given to quorum members.

Second–Presidencies to Visit Elders Quorum Members.

a. Presidencies Annual Visits to All Quorum Members.

Elders quorum presidencies are asked by the General Authorities of the Church to make an annual visit to every quorum member.  These annual visits supply excellent opportunities for quorum presidencies to become personally acquainted with each of the quorum members.  Also, as a result of these visits, the quorum presidencies are able to make proper reports upon their quorum members.  It is apparent that it is quite necessary for elders quorum presidencies to begin their annual visits early in the year in order to have that assignment thoroughly and completely done before the year closes.

b. Presidencies’ Visits at Time of Sickness and Death.

It is apparent that at the time of sickness or death in the families of members of elders quorums, the quorum presidencies find their most opportune time to accomplish a great amount of good by visiting the families and offering to them all the comfort and aid possible.  Certainly when elders are hospitalized, the quorum presidencies should visit the hospital, probably take them flowers, and certainly encourage them in behalf of the quorum.

c. Presidencies’ Visits to Reactivate Quorum Members.

One of the principal duties of the presidencies of elders quorums is to reactivate quorum members.  Since many of the young men who receive the office of elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood are young and of meager experience, they at times are less active in the Church than are many of the members of the seventies and high priests quorums.  This fact within itself places a major responsibility upon the presidencies of elders quorums, to visit the homes of the less active quorum members and activate them in the priesthood program and the program of the Church in general.  Quorum presidencies should take advantage of every opportunity in their efforts to induce less active quorum members to attend quorum meetings, quorum socials, work on quorum projects, and affiliate themselves in other ways with the quorum.

d. Presidencies’ Welfare Visits.

Since elders quorum presidencies have a definite responsibility in regards to the economic welfare of quorum members, elders in economic distress should be visited by the presidencies for the purpose of ascertaining what help could be rendered.  Helping to find employment, or more advantageous employment, for elders constitutes a major opportunity and responsibility of elders quorum presidencies.

Third–Presidencies to Care for the Personal Welfare of Quorum Members.

Elders quorum presidencies are to be cognizant of their responsibilities to help each elder in his respective quorum to attain a degree of economic independence and well-being that will assure him adequate food, clothing, fuel, housing, other physical comforts, and educational advantages for himself and his family.

Elders quorum presidencies should be thoroughly acquainted with the economic condition of each quorum member and with his capabilities so that they can intelligently watch for and take advantage of every opportunity to improve the economic status of each quorum member.  When jobs arise which would be to the economic advantage of any member of the quorum, steps should be taken immediately to secure such positions for the quorum member.  Certainly the presidency would work through committees and the quorum members in general to accomplish these desirable goals.

Fourth–Presidencies to Support the Church Welfare Program.

One of the duties of the elders quorum presidencies is to see that one of their members serves on the ward welfare committee and to co-operate with the bishop in supplying elders to help carry forward the Church welfare program.

Fifth–Elders Quorum Presidencies to Devise Means and Ways to Get Every Member Active in the Priesthood and in Rendering Obedience to God’s Commandments.

No elders presidency should rest contentedly when one or more of the quorum members are not active in the Melchizedek Priesthood and are not living fully in harmony with God’s commandments.  Remember the Savior’s parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep.  All quorum presidencies are to search out the ones who have strayed from the main body of the flock–i.e., those who are not taking advantage of all the opportunities offered by the quorum.  It should be remembered that quorum presidencies should devise every means possible to bring the less active members into full activity.  This in itself is an assignment which challenges the most capable leaders, taxing their ingenuity to the limit.  It is expected that the members of the most humble quorum presidency, as well as of those more highly trained, will do their very best at all times–and that is all that any quorum presidency can do.  God expects no more–but he does expect that much; and he will give a full measure of reward to his servants who do their very best at all times to build up the kingdom of the Master by magnifying their callings in the Melchizedek Priesthood to the best of their abilities.

{To be continued.}

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(9):666-667, 670-671, Sep., 1955)

Sep.:  Ordinations should be performed promptly.

“We have reason to believe that, in some instances, worthy boys are not being ordained teachers at fourteen and priests at sixteen as authorized by the First Presidency and as announced by the Presiding Bishopric last October.

The authorized schedule for ordination to, and advancement in, the Aaronic Priesthood is as follows:

Deacons: 12 years of age

Teachers: 14 years of age

Priests: 16 years of age

Bishops should recommend worthy young men to the stake presidency for ordination to elders at age nineteen.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 58(9):669, Sep., 1955)

1 Sep.:  Lifting of missionary quotas.

“With appreciation for the difficult problems with which Selective Service officials must deal, we have endeavored to work cooperatively with them on matters affecting our missionary program.  In this spirit we refrained from issuing missionary calls to any of our draft-liable young men during the period from February 1951 until July 1953 when draft boards were required to supply large numbers of men incident to the Korean conflict.  In July 1953 we established a self-imposed quota system for the sending of missionaries which was designed to implement our seriously depleted missionary forces without cutting heavily into the draft pool of any particular board.

More recently the military services have reduced their draft requirements to a point where we have felt that the calling of missionaries might be liberalized.  We have consulted with various national and state Selective Service officials who have expressed appreciation for our past cooperation and who have indicated a willingness to cooperate in a liberalization of the program.  We have assured them that in the event an emergency situation should arise reversing the present trend, then we shall give consideration to the matter of returning to a quota system.

Effective immediatly, bishops of wards and presidents of stakes are authorized to recommend for missions, without limitation as to numbers, such young men twenty years of age and over as they consider to be worthy to represent the Church as missionaries.  In making such recommendations it will not be necessary that the bishop or his representative get in touch with the local draft board to determine the status of the young man.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 1 Sep., 1955; xerox)

Oct.:  Elders Quorums–Continued.


Introductory Statement

This article is a continuation of the one which appeared under the same title in the previous issue of The Improvement Era.  (September, 1955.)  It is suggested that the two articles be used in conjunction with each other as an aid to those in positions of ledership in their assignment of directing activities of the elders throughout the stakes of Zion.

Sixth–Elders Quorum Presidencies to Foster and Encourage Missionary Work.

a. Stake Missionary Work.

Elders quorum presidencies should encourage the quorum members to prepare themselves and make themselves available for stake missionary work.  Such should be one of the principal goals of all quorums of elders throughout the Church.  Also, quorum presidencies could, with propriety, suggest to the stake presidencies that certain of their quorum members are capable and ready to render missionary service; but their rights end with that of making recommendations.  Quorum presidencies should remember at all times that it is the prerogative of the stake presidencies to issue all the missionary calls.

b. Foreign Missionary Work.

Since a vast majority of the foreign missionaries come from the elders quorums, one of the major assignments of every elders quorum presidency throughout the Church is to direct each quorum member in his preparation for foreign missionary service and to encourage him to accept the missionary call when it comes.  Also, quorum presidencies should direct the providing of quorum missionary funds to assist needy missionaries to sustain themselves in the foreign fields.  Thus, the elders quorum presidencies constitute the directing force in the quorum in fostering and encouraging the missionary program.

Seventh–Presidencies to Promote Temple Work.

a. To Encourage All Quorum Members to Become Worthy.

A major responsibility of elders quorum presidencies is to direct the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ to quorum members, thereby preparing them to become worthy to go to the temple.  It is not necessary that the members of the presidencies be the class instructors, but they are to select the most capable persons available to be the teachers.  Quorum presidencies should understand definitely the requirements for entrance into the house of the Lord and also the great blessings which come to those who take out their endowments and enter into the order of celestial marriage.  They should realize that the blessings of the temple will be attained only by the righteous Saints who remain faithful to the end, and they should instruct the elders in their quorums to this effect.

b. To Encourage All Quorum Members to Get Their Own Endowments.

It is the duty of elders quorum presidencies to know which quorum members have and which have not their endowments, and then they should encourage all of them who have not had their endowments to do their own work while the opportunity is available.  In other words, each holder of the priesthood should ‘work while the day lasts because the night cometh where no man can work.’

c. To Have Their Families Sealed.

Elders quorum presidencies should encourage their quorum members to have their families sealed back through the proper lines.  This is also a vital assignment and should be pursued diligently.

d. To Trace Their Own Ancestry.

Sealing work through the proper lines cannot be accomplished unless genealogical work is done in tracing the ancestry, thereby providing family records for temple work purposes; and so it is the duty of the elders quorum presidencies to encourage all members to engage faithfully in this marvelous work.

e. To Do Vicarious Work for the Dead.

It is the duty of all Melchizedek Priesthood holders to engage actively in vicarious work for the dead, and so the responsibility naturally rests upon elders quorum presidencies to encourage all quorum members to engage in this great work.  The first interest of each individual is to trace his own ancestry and do the work on his own line, and when this is accomplished he may work on other family lines.

f. To Promote Temple Excursions.

It is suggested that elders quorum presidencies promote temple excursions among quorum members and their wives.  These excursions should be carried on as often as possible.  It is advisable in cases where elders live close enough to temples to make such a program feasible that certain regular dates be set aside for these excursions and that elders presidencies carry this program forward vigorously; however, because of expansive distances from temples, certain elders quorums will not be able to carry forward such a program on a systematically organized plan.  Nevertheless, quorum presidencies are encouraged to do all they can to direct their quorum members in carrying forward this great work.

Eighth–Presidencies to Promote Quorum Socials.

According to instructions given in the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, each Melchizedek Priesthood quorum should hold at least one good social every two months.  The responsibility for these socials rests upon the elders quorum presidencies.  It is suggested that they select and appoint sufficient committees to carry forward the major portion of this program.  Their special work will be directing the committees.  It is suggested that in order to maintain the interest of the quorum members that the socials be varied in nature.  These socials provide the elders quorum presidencies excellent opportunities to become better informed regarding the capabilities, interests, and personalities of each of the quorum members.  It also provides them opportunity to encourage and stimulate the less active quorum members to increase their church activities and to affiliate themselves in quorum meetings with their priesthood groups.  Efforts should be made to make each elders quorum a grand and vital fraternity wherein each of the quorum members and their families learn to love and appreciate the Church and all the quorum members.

Ninth–Presidencies to Direct the Correspondence with Absent Members.

a. With Servicemen.

Elders quorum presidencies are under instruction to correspond at least monthly with all servicemen from their quorums or to have their appointees write letters to them.  Also, through the quorums, they are to provide their quorum members in the armed services with subscriptions to the ‘Church Section’ of the Deseret News and The Improvement Era.  Gospel tracts could also be included in these letters.  These tracts may be obtained from the stake mission president.

b. With Members on Missions, Away at School, or at Work.

Elders quorum presidencies also have the responsibility of directing the correspondence each month with members of their quorum who are filling foreign missions or who are away at school or at work.  The writing of these letters constitutes a good project to be assigned to various members of the elders quorum.  Also, the replies from servicemen, from quorum members away at school or away at work, could with profit be read from time to time in the elders quorum monthly business meeting.

Tenth–Presidencies to Provide Good Classwork.

a. Provide Good Teachers.

Elders quorum presidencies have the definite assignment of providing capable, faithful, and intelligent teachers to be the instructors in the priesthood doctrinal classes.  Since the principal purpose of holding the groups or quorum weekly doctrine classes is to teach the priesthood holders the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is very important that the most capable teachers in the various elders quorums throughout the Church be assigned to that position.

b. To See that Correct Doctrine Is Taught.

Elders quorum presidencies have the definite responsibility of seeing that correct doctrine is taught in the elders Melchizedek Priesthood classes.  Thus, elders presidencies should be students of the gospel and be able to recognize readily when false doctrine is being taught.

c. Strive to Have all Quorum Members in Attendance.

Elders quorum presidencies should make an exerted effort to build up the attendance at the weekly doctrinal classes and monthly quorum business meetings to one hundred percent attendance.  Every honorable means possible should be devised to induce the less active members to attend these meetings and to encourage the active members to be in attendance regularly and continuously.  As long as there is one quorum member who refuses to attend these classes, the quorum presidency should devote every intelligent effort possible to persuade him to attend and to affiliate fully with the priesthood quorum.

Eleventh–Presidencies to Teach all Quorum Members how to Perform all Church ordinances.

It is the duty of elders quorum presidencies to teach all quorum members how to perform all Church ordinances; and so it is suggested that as often as possible quorum presidencies give the members instructions on performing such ordinances as that of baptism, confirmation, administering to the sacrament [sic], anointing and blessing the sick, and other similar ordinances.  When new members receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and come into the quorum, it is the duty of the elders quorum presidency to see that those new members understand the church procedure in regard to performing church ordinances.

Twelfth–Presidencies to Hold a Presidency Council Meeting Once Each Week.

Elders quorum presidencies are once again asked to hold a presidency council meeting at least once each week.  The importance of these council meetings cannot be overemphasized.

Thirteenth–Presidencies to Direct the Holding of Weekly Group or Quorum Meetings.

The General Authorities of the Church provide from year to year courses of study for the Melchizedek Priesthood members of the Church.  The responsibility rests upon the elders quorum presidencies to see that each elders group or elders quorum under their direction, holds group or quorum meetings once each week and that the prescribed course of study be diligently pursued in that weekly meeting.  No group or quorum is authorized to select its own course of study.

Fourteenth–Presidencies to Hold and Direct Monthly Business Meetings.

Elders quorum presidencies have the definite responsibility of not only holding the monthly quorum business meeting, but also of providing the business, the program, and directing all activities pertaining to that meeting.  The success of that meeting will be determined by the efficiency of the quorum presidency in encouraging a hundred percent attendance and its ability to put over the program effectively.

Fifteenth–Presidencies to Attend Stake Priesthood and Priesthood Leadership Meetings.

The presidencies of all elders quorums throughout the entire Church are once again encouraged to be in attendance at stake priesthood and priesthood leadership meetings regularly.  It is at these meetings that quorum presidencies will receive direction from the stake presidency regarding matters pertinent to priesthood work and instructions relative to their assigned positions as presidencies in Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.  No elders quorum presidency can function to the best of its possibilities unless its members observe this requirement rigidly.

Sixteenth–Presidencies to Direct the Work of Standing Committees.

Elders quorum presidencies have the responsibility of appointing the quorum standing committees and of directing the work of those committees.  Naturally the success of these committees will be determined by the amount of direction given them by quorum presidencies.  It has been observed that in the past these committees usually have been appointed, but they have not functioned as effectively as they should because they have not received sufficient direction from the quorum presidencies.  Elders presidencies are encouraged to give more definite direction to these committees.

Seventeenth–Presidencies to Attend Various Church Meetings.

The best way to teach is by example, and so the elders quorum presidencies are encouraged to set a good example to all quorum members by being in attendance at all of the meetings at which they are supposed to attend.  Elders quorum presidencies should make as near one hundred percent records as possible in their attendance at their priesthood meetings, sacrament meetings, conference sessions, monthly stake priesthood and priesthood leadership meetings, their council meetings, and other Church meetings.  Stake presidencies should recognize the fact that few, if any, excuses are acceptable for quorum presidencies to be absent from their meetings.  As directors of the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums throughout the stake, stake presidencies should be cognizant of their responsibility in seeing that quorum presidencies become one hundred percent attenders at the various Church meetings.

Eighteenth–Presidencies to Keep All of God’s Commandments.

Elders presidencies are hereby reminded that it is their responsibility to set a good example to their quorum members by living as nearly as possible in harmony with all of God’s commandments.  They are requested to obey the Word of Wisdom, to keep  themselves morally clean, to keep the sabbath day holy, to hold family prayers regularly and faithfully, to deal honestly, justly, and righteously with their associates, to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and to love their neighbors as themselves.  Those members of presidencies who do so will be entitled to have the Spirit of God with them and the Holy Ghost to be their constant companion and guide.  They will be in a position to direct the activities of their quorums under divine inspiration; and under their supervision the work of the Lord will move forward in a pleasing and effective manner.  It is suggested that stake presidencies give all the encouragement possible to the members of elders quorum presidencies in this respect.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 58(10):752-753, 766-767, Oct., 1955)

Oct.:  Relationship between stake AP committee and Bishops

“We are often asked the question, ‘How much authority does the stake Aaronic Priesthood committee have in supervising the Aaronic Priesthood program in the wards?’

All members of the stake Aaronic Priesthood committee are appointed by the stake presidency with full authority to represent them in the promotion of the Aaronic Priesthood program in the stake.  As representatives of the stake presidency, therefore, members of the stake committee have authority to go into a ward and observe conditions, make recommendations to bishoprics and other Aaronic Priesthood leaders, and to follow up on such recommendations and all previous recommendations until favorable action has been taken thereon.

This does not imply that the authority of the bishop as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood is abrogated in any way.  The bishop remains as the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and as the president of the priests quorum, and the bishopric remain as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood.  Their authority in these official capacities is unquestionable.  However, all members of the bishopric are presided over by the stake presidency who call to their assistance the members of the stake Aaronic Priesthood committee, in this instance, and send them forth in the wards of the stake with full authority to represent them in the promotion of this work.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 58(10):754, Oct., 1955)

2 Oct.:  Make your quorums more effective.

“Fellow presiding officers in missions, stakes, wards, and quorums, make your quorums more effective in regard to brotherhood and service.  The quorums are units which should effectively hold the priesthood in sacred bonds and in helpfulness.

I refer particularly to the senior members of the Aaronic Priesthood–you businessmen, successful in the business world; you professional men who have devoted your time to the success of your vocations and are successful and are leading men in civic and political affairs–get together more closely in your quorum.  Yes, it may be teachers–that is all right.  You meet as teachers, adult teachers, and help one another.  If one of your number be sick, two or three of you get together and call on him.  You can do that.  You do not like to preach, and you hesitate to appear before an audience, even to pray.  You can go together and sit by the side of your comrade who lies in bed.  He will never forget it.

You elders perhaps have one of your number sick, and his crop needs harvesting.  Get together and harvest it.  One of your members has a son on a mission, and his funds are getting low.  Just ask if you can be of help to him.  Your thoughtfulness he will never forget.  Such acts as these are what the Savior had in mind when he said, ‘Inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto me.’  (Mt. 25:40)  There is no other way that you can serve Christ.  You can kneel down and pray to him, that is good.  You can plead with him to give you his guidance through the Holy Spirit–yes, we do that and must do it.  We have to do it.  But it is these practical, daily visits in life, it is the controlling of our tongue, in not speaking evil of a brother, but speaking well of him, that the Savior marks as true service.

Read Peter’s first epistle where he refers to the Holy Priesthood: ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’  (I Peter 2:9)  In his second epistle (see ch. 1:4) note the significance of this: ‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these y might be partakers of the divine nature.’  When you sense that, you have reached happiness.”  (David O. McKay, 2 Oct., 1955; CR Oct., 1955, p. 129)

Dec.:  Changes in AP Award program.

“During the bishops’ conference conducted in the Salt Lake Tabernacle September 30, 1955, the Presiding Bishopric announced certain changes in the requirements in the individual Aaronic Priesthood award program to become effective January 1, 1956.

Present requirements remain unchanged through December 31, 1955.  All applications for the individual award for 1955 should be based on the requirements as published in the handbook for leaders of the Aaronic Priesthood under twenty-one, issued January 21, 1953.  The announced changes are as follows:

Sacrament Meeting

1. Attendance at sacrament meeting (requirement 2) increased from 50 percent to 75 percent.

The reason for this change is to give at least equal emphasis to attendance at sacrament meeting as to attendance at priesthood meeting.  The Saints are commanded to attend sacrament meeting, and those who bear the priesthood should lead in obedience to this commandment.

Fast Offerings and Ward Teaching

2. Requirement number eight is changed, specifying that:

a. A deacon must gather fast offerings at least 75 percent of the months he is a deacon during the year.

b. A teacher or priest must do ward teaching, visiting in the homes of the Saints, at least 75 percent of the months he is a teacher or a priest during the year.

The reason for this change is to disabuse any thinking on the part of the Aaronic Priesthood bearer that a fifty-percent performance of this responsibility is acceptable.

Tithing Settlement

3. One new requirement specifies that a young man must personally attend the annual tithing settlement conducted by the bishop and his counselors.

It meeting this requirement the young man is taught that it is his obligation, as it is the obligation of all members of the Church, to attend tithing settlement at the end of each year.  If he has paid tithing during the year, he should take his tithing receipts with him.  The bishop will examine the records to see that the young man has been given full credit on the tithing records of the Church.

Each boy attending tithing settlement should declare to his bishop whether he has paid a full tithing or not.  If he had no income whatever, he is exempt from the payment of tithing, but he is obligated, nevertheless, to attend tithing settlement and inform his bishop accordingly.

Failure to attend tithing settlement personally will automatically disqualify the boy for the award.

. . . .”

(“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 58(12):979, Dec., 1955)