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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1959

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1959.” You can view other years here.

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1959:  Jan.:  Policies and procedures relative to Seventies.

“The following policies and procedures govern the selection and ordination of seventies, the creation and discontinuance of quorums and units, and the selection and setting apart of quorum presidents and unit leaders:

1. The Calling of Seventies:  The calling of the seventies is a special one; those so called should be ‘especial witnesses’ of Christ (D&C 107:25), and should have the desires, aptitudes, and inclinations for missionary work.

Not every elder who is ordained a seventy, however, need be called immediately into missionary service.  There should be a reserve of seventies in training for missionary work, and it is the function of the quorums of seventy to prepare their members to teach the gospel effectively.

The seventies do not stand in a position intermediate between elders and high priests.  Rather, they hold a highly specialized office, ‘thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.’  (Idem.)

Seventies in the stakes of Zion should be used within the field of their primary responsibility–that is, in missionary service.  Seventies should not be used in auxiliary capacities when they are needed for missionary service, either stake or foreign.

Worthy seventies who, because of age, physical condition, or for other reason, can no longer be expected to serve effectively within the field of their primary responsibility may well be ordained high priests.

2. Service as Elders:  Elders should not be ordained seventies until they have gained a considerable degree of experience as elders, have matured in the gospel, and have become stable members of the Church.  This principle applies to young men called to serve as missionaries.  After returning from their various fields of labor, they should affiliate with the elders quorums in their respective stakes and add their strength to them.  Because of age, social, and fraternal considerations, and because their services usually are needed more with elders than seventies, they will thus gain for themselves greater opportunities for service and brotherhood in priesthood activities.

Concern is felt for the well-being of the quorums of elders.  It is unwise to ordain too large a proportion of the outstanding and worthy elders into the quorums of seventies thus unduly weakening the elders quorums.

3. Worthiness a Prerequisite to Ordination:  Great care must be exercised in the selection and interviewing of prospective seventies.  They must be morally clean; live in harmony with the policies, doctrines and teachings of the Church and not run counter thereto in sympathy or practice; pay their tithes and offerings to the Lord in full; observe the Word of Wisdom; have an exemplary family life; and those who have been divorced must have received proper clearance from the First Presidency for a temple recommend.

4. Selection and Ordination of Seventies:  Quorum presidents and unit leaders may ask the stake president to consider worthy and qualified elders with a view to having them ordained seventies, but the stake president will make the decision as to whether any recommendations are to be processed.

5. Ordination Procedures:

a. Fill out and submit to the First Council the form entitled, ‘Request for Permission to Interview.’  Do not advise those being considered that their names have been submitted.

b. The First Council will pass upon the need for additional seventies in each stake and quorum and will grant permission to interview such worthy brethren as may be needed.

c. After receiving permission in each instance, a member of the stake presidency will interview each prospective seventy and fill out the form entitled, ‘Recommendation for Ordination in the Priesthood.’  If it is found upon interview that a brother is not morally clean, does not pay a full tithing, fails to keep the Word of Wisdom, or for some other reason is not presently worthy to be ordained a seventy, then the stake president should not proceed further with the recommendation.  Rather, it is important that a labor be taken up with such a brother so that through repentance and obedience he may become worthy for ordination prior to his recommendation.

d. Gain high council approval for the ordination; obtain the signatures of the bishop and president of the elders quorum certifying as to worthiness; present the name for a sustaining vote either at a stake priesthood meeting or at a general session of a stake conference.

e. Submit the form to the First Council so that arrangement may be made for final interview and ordination by one of the General Authorities.

6. Organization of Quorums and Units:  In stakes having thirty-six or more seventies (and where it is apparent that the total number in the stake will not fall below this number) a quorum will be organized; otherwise, a seventies unit, presided over by a chairman and two counselors, will be organized.  More than one unit of seventies cannot exist in any one stake, nor can a quorum and a unit exist in the same stake.

Every reasonable effort should be made to keep quorums of seventies operating with a membership of approximately seventy in each.  When quorums fall below a strength of thirty-six, and it is apparent that they cannot be built up to a proper strength without impairing the effectiveness of elders quorums, they will be combined with other quorums or converted into units.

Factors considered in determining the need of increasing or decreasing 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, including 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 or decreasing; the leadership available for use as presidents of the quorums; the effect that the creation of a new quorum or the discontinuance 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.

7. Changes in Quorum and Unit Leadership:  Changes in quorum presidencies are made on recommendation of stake presidencies, who should consult with the local quorum council in filling vacancies except in cases in which all members of the council are to be proposed for release.  Seventies may be ordained high priests without the prior approval of the First Council unless they are serving in quorum presidencies or in the chairmanship of units.  In these cases, the prior approval of the First Council, or of one of the duly authorized General Authorities operating on the ground, is required.  However, stake presidents are at liberty at any time without the prior approval of the First Council to take a member of a quorum presidency, or of a unit chairmanship, if such brother is being called to serve in a stake presidency, on a high council, or in a ward bishopric.  (Stake and ward clerks are not members of the stake presidency or ward bishopric.)

8. Qualifications and Worthiness of Quorum Presidents:  The best qualified and most worthy available brethren in the quorums should be selected to serve as presidents.  Such brethren must, at the time of their installation, be living in harmony with the same standards required of those recommended for ordination as seventies.  Inasmuch as it does not take the full Church service time of all seven presidents in a quorum of seventy to administer quorum affairs, the First Council of the Seventy will permit quorums to operate with vacancies in their presidencies rather than install brethren who are not presently meeting the required standards.

9. Service of Quorum Presidents as Missionaries:  If the needs of the missionary work in the particular stake require, as many as four of the presidents of every quorum of seventy should be serving on stake or foreign missions at all times.  Three of the seven presidents should be available to operate the quorum and should serve as chairmen of the three standing committees.  Quorum presidents on stake missions should devote their full Church service time to that call on the same basis that all stake missionaries do.  Accordingly they are relieved from the responsibility of quorum administration and committee assignment and need not attend quorum presidency meetings unless these are held at a time when they could not be doing missionary work.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 62(1):30-31, 47, Jan., 1959)

Feb.:  Trying to make temple work the duty of HPs.

“Now, of course, the Lord says that our greatest individual responsibility is to seek after our dead; but as men holding the priesthood our responsibility is–so far as temple work is concerned–to teach, to instruct, to persuade, to prevail upon men and women who are not inclined to take advantage of their opportunities and receive these blessings for themselves, to go into the temple where they can do this work.  That is our responsibility as men holding the priesthood.  It does not make any difference whether we are high priests, seventies, or elders.  We are trying to place this burden especially upon the high priests of the Church.  The seventies preach the gospel–that is where they belong–the elders are ministers at home, the high priests are ministers at home, and we are also trying to train them to take upon themselves this responsibility of teaching their fellow men in all that pertains to exaltation and to help prepare them to go to the temple to do these labors in behalf of their dead.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 62(2):99, Feb., 1959)

Mar.:  Reactivation program.

“For more than three years now a large part of the emphasis in Melchizedek and senior Aaronic Priesthood quorums has been centered around priesthood reactivation.  Some phase of this program has come up for consideration at every priesthood leadership meeting at all stake conferences held during that period.

Objectives of the program of priesthood reactivation are:

1. To get a Church assignment for every adult brother in the Church.  It is not until a brother begins to give of himself in service that he is really on the path that leads to eternal life.

2. To lead each priesthood brother along the path of temporal and spiritual progression.  Temporal progression includes the whole field of the Church Welfare Plan; spiritual progression results from keeping the standards of personal righteousness found in the gospel.

3. To get every family married or sealed in the temples for eternity.  Priesthood reactivation is not complete until a family has been united in this holy order of matrimony, an order which starts the family members off on the course to eternal exaltation hereafter.

4. To guide quorum members to final eternal life in the highest heaven of the celestial world.

In order to accomplish these objectives, quorum leaders are expected to survey their members, using the white cards provided.  They are expected to consult with bishops in an attempt to get Church assignments for those who need them.  They are obligated to get as many brethren as possible to work on quorum projects.  Those who cannot otherwise be touched become subjects of the personal missionary approach.  A qualified and active quorum member is asked, on a confidential basis, to work with an inactive brother, to make such social, fraternal, business, or other approaches as may be needed to mellow and guide the inactive one until he will accept service in the Church.

As long as there are ‘diseased’ who need to be ‘strengthened,’ ‘sick’ who need to be ‘healed,’ ‘broken’ who need to be ‘bound,’ those who have been ‘driven away’ who must be ‘sought after’–just so long will there be need for priesthood reactivation.

Lest the Lord require the blood of our flocks at our hands, we need to learn the program of priesthood reactivation and work zealously in it.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 62(3):157, Mar., 1959)

Aug.:  Did pre-Alma Nephites have a Church organization?

“Question:  In our lesson this week we came upon the question which follows: ‘Are we necessarily obliged to conclude that the Nephites had no church organization before Alma’s time?  See Mosian 18:17-18 and 23:16-17.’

Answer:  To get this matter clearly before us let us quote the passage in question:  

And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward.  And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.

And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.  (Mos. 18:17-18)

And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church.

And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God.  Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men.  (Mos. 23_16-19)

There is always danger in isolating passages from their context; or in failing to take into account all the factors of the historical setting.  It should be remembered that Alma had been one of the priests of King Noah in the land of Lehi-Nephi.  It should also be taken into consideration that the colony in that land separated themselves from the main body of the Church in Zarahemla.  In the days of Amaleki, who kept the Nephite record, a company of Nephites under Zeniff desired to occupy the land which was first settled by the Nephites, and entered into an agreement with the Lamanites to possess that land.  There they established an independent kingdom which they possessed for many years, however in constant war and bondage to the Lamanites.  In course of time, under King Noah, they became very wicked.  It was at this time that the prophet Abinadi was murdered, and Alma, having accepted the teachings of Abinadi, gathered around him all who were willing to keep the commandments of the Lord, and doing so he brought upon himself and his followers the wrath of the wicked king, and they had to flee from their homes into the wilderness, with the intention of making their way back to the land of Zarahemla.  The story of their flight, suffering, and blessings from the hand of the Lord were recorded in the book of Mosiah.  While in the wilderness Alma organized his group of believers into a branch of the church and is spoken of as their founder.  The main body of the Nephites, under the second King Mosiah, was still intact in the land of Zarahemla.  The reference stating that Alma was the founder of their church has reference only to the refugees who were fleeing from the land of the Nephites’ first inheritance.  In course of time they found their way back to the main body of the Church and Alma was consecrated as the high priest over the church in all of the lands occupied by the Nephites.  When we have the complete picture before us, it is plain to see that Alma did a great service in rescuing and organizing the refugees who came with him out of the land of Lehi-Nephi.

The colony lead by Lehi out of Jerusalem, was part of the Church of Jesus Christ.  From the day of Adam to the present day, whenever the people obeyed the commandments of the Lord, there was the Church, and people came into it by obeying the same ordinances which are practised today.  The missionary who went to a foreign land and by divine authority baptized a man, that man became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  That was true in the days of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and John the Baptist.  It does not require a complete organization consisting of a branch, ward, and stake to constitute the Church of Jesus Christ.  Wherever a person is legally baptized, there is the Church, or by right of that baptism, he becomes a member of it.  The kingdom of God and the Church are synonymous terms.  The Prophet Joseph Smith has made this clear in the following words:

Some say the kingdom of God was not set up on the earth until the day of Pentecost, and that John {the Baptist} did not preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; but I say, in the name of the Lord, that the kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time.  Whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed his word and gave power and authority to administer in his name, and where there is a priests of God–a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel and officiate in the priesthood of God, there is the kingdom of God; and, in consequence of rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ and the prophets whom God hath sent, the jugdments of God have rested upon people, cities, and nations, in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that were destroyed for rejecting the prophets.  (TPJS, p. 271)

From the Book of Mormon we learn that the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins was practised by the Nephites from the beginning.  While confirmation is not stated, nevertheless the members were confirmed, for there is an abundance of evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Jacob has given us a most definite statement in the following words:

And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israek, has spoken it.  (2 Ne. 9:23-24)

If they were baptized and had the gift of the Holy Ghost in the days of Lehi, then they had a church organization, which endured all through the Nephite history, notwithstanding the constant apostasies that occurred among them.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 62(8):584-585, Aug., 1959)

Sep.:  Laying a foundation for priesthood reactivation.

“To do a really effective job of priesthood reactivation, quorum presidencies must become well acquainted with their quorum members.

Brethren need to be reactivated, to have the full blessings of the priesthood come into their lives, if they:

1. Are not serving in and supporting the various programs of the Church; or

2. Are not living in full harmony with the standards of the Church.

Obviously, quorum presidencies must know whether their members are active or inactive, and whether they keep the standards of the Church or not; they must know in what respects, if any, their brethren are deficient and why they are not receiving the full blessings of the priesthood.

Now, to gain a working knowledge of whether quorum members are (1) active and (2) living righteously, two standard procedures should be followed.  These are:

1. Fill out and keep current the data on the white cards entitled, ‘Record of Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum Member’; and

2. Have frequent personal visits with quorum members and particularly the annual confidential visit.

The white cards are the avenue through which the activity status of quorum members is learned.  By gaining the information on them, the presidency will know the capabilities and the past and present Church service of the member.

Through the annual confidential visits the presidency will be able to taste of the spirit of the member and learn the extent to which he conforms to the standards of personal righteousness which are so essential in the life of a faithful saint.

Brethren serving in the fact-finding and statistical field of quorum activity should be asked to collect and keep current the data on the white cards.  Members of the quorum presidency are to make the annual confidential visits.

In a special report to the general priesthood committee, the high priests quorum of the South Davis (Utah) Stake has outlined a very effective and sensible program for handling the annual confidential interviews of quorum members.

In planning their annual visits the presidency of this quorum, of course, as is the case with all informed quorum leaders, know:

1. That quorum presidencies are to become acquainted with the character, qualifications, and attitudes of all quorum members and their families.

2. That presidencies should visit frequently in the homes of their members; give commendation where deserved; bless and encourage where needed; and teach the gospel and inspire all to keep the commandments and endure to the end.

3. That each year one of these personal calls is to be a confidential visit in which one member of the presidency meets with each quorum member alone to inquire into and discuss conformity to the standards of the Church.

4. That items which may properly be considered in the course of this interview include tithepaying; Sabbath observance; Sacrament meeting attendance; total abstinence from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor; sustaining by word and deed the local and General Authorities; not being in sympathy, in word or otherwise, with any of the apostate groups which are running counter to the established order of the Church; temple work and genealogical research; active participation in Church and quorum affairs; giving financial and other support to the missionary program; and any other items which may be proper in individual cases.

5. That it is not intended that all of these items be discussed in each interview or that any questions asked the answers to which are already known.

6. That tithing information is to be obtained from the bishop at the end of the year.  Bishops, of course, are to advise quorum presidencies of the tithing status of quorum members, specifying in each instance whether the brethren concerned are full, part, or non-tithepayers.  Under no circumstances are bishops to reveal the amounts paid by any individual.  Quorum presidencies are to keep the tithing status of their members strictly confidential.

7. That these confidential interviews are to be conducted in a tactful, congenial way and are intended to draw brethren closer to the quorum and its programs and not to drive them away.

8. That they (confidential interviews) are ideal occasions for quorum leaders to gain the information they need to lead their quorum members in the paths of righteousness, as well as occasions for teaching and counseling less active brethren in the keeping of the commandments.

9. That much of the information gained through these interviews is reported on the annual confidential report.”

(“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 62(9):668-669, Sep., 1959)