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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1970

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1970.” You can view other years here.

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1970:  4 Apr.:  Missionary work and Seventies.

“Missionary work may be done by priesthood holders other than seventies and by women, but the chief responsibility rests on the seventies.

The stake president has the basic responsibility for the successful operation of the missionary work in the stake.  This missionary work as administered through the stake priesthood executive committee and the stake correlation council, with the high council assigned to work with the seventies and the stake mission serving as adviser to the stake president on missionary matters.

The bishop has the responsibility for successful operation of missionary work in the ward, including the fellowshiping of new converts.  Missionary work in the ward is administered through the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward council, with the seventies group leader as adviser to the bishop on missionary matters.

In wards where full-time missionaries are working, the seventies group leader should hold a ward missionary correlation meeting.  It might well be attended by all stake and full-time missionaries working in the ward area.

In every ward it should be determined how many possible investigators are available to be taught, and then a program should be set up which will cause, so far as possible, an even flow of investigators for the stake and full-time missionaries.  Families who are cultivating nonmembers under the inspiration of their home teachers, and seventies who are engaged in the program for finding families, should correlate their efforts through the ward executive committee to bring this about.

On the stake level, the quorum council should invite the attendance of full-time mission district and zone leaders when correlating missionary work in the stake.

Do you not see, my brethren of the seventies, that when the great majority of all missionary work is devoted to finding people and persuading them to listen–and you are charged with that finding–you are for all practical purposes the stake mission.  The other smaller percentage, and the very important percentage–the teaching–is yours as soon as you will qualify yourselves for that part.  Some of you are now qualified.  The members of the mission presidency are your leaders.”  (S. Dilworth Young, 4 Apr., 1970; CR Apr., 1970, p. 45)

4 Apr.:  Women share priesthood blessings.

“I think we all know that the blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone.  These blessings are also poured out upon our wives and daughters and upon all the faithful women of the church.  These good sisters can prepare themselves, by keeping the commandments and by serving in the Church, for the blessings of the house of the Lord.  The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons, for neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, 4 Apr., 1970; CR Apr., 1970, p. 59)

Aug.:  Authority to perform civil marriages.

“Due to the great number of requests received at the Office of the First Presidency for exceptions to the general rule pertaining to those authorized by the Church to perform civil marriages, in the future this authorization will be limited to the following, and exceptions should not be requested:

1. Stake presidents

2. Mission presidents

3. Bishops

4. In the absence or unavailability of a stake president, mission president, or bishop, the counselor who is the acting presiding authority in the stake, mission, or ward

5. LDS Chaplains

6. Presidents of independent branches, following authorization from the stake president in each instance.

7. District presidents, branch presidents, and missionaries in missions, following authorization of the mission president in each instance.

Because of the diversity of laws in the various states, provinces, and countries of the world, it should be determined by each authorized Church officer contemplating the performance of a marriage ceremony that he is authorized by law to perform the ceremony.  He should follow strictly the requirements of the law.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 6(3):2, Aug., 1970)

Aug.:  New Priesthood Personal Achievement Program.

“To increase the measure of self-responsibility that young men of Aaronic Priesthood age desire to exercise, the Presiding Bishopric is instituting a Priesthood Personal Achievement Program in English-speaking areas of the Church on September 1.

The Personal Achievement Program is designed to give strong emphasis to the young man’s relationship to his Heavenly Father and his Savior, Jesus Christ, with himself as an individual participant in building the kingdom of God and helping all of God’s children to attain eternal life.

. . . .

The specifics of the program call for the young man to receive a Priesthood Personal Acnievement record book several weeks before his birthday.  The home teacher or quorum adviser will present it to him.

After the Aaronic Priesthood bearer has discussed his goals for the coming year with his parents, adviser, or home teachers, as he chooses, he records his goals in his record book.  On or near his birthday he has an interview with his bishop, during which his goal setting in four areas will be completed and signed by him and his bishop.

To follow up and help implement the goals, each boy will have a progress review at mid-year by a counselor in the bishopric (priests by the bishop), and at two other quarters during the year by the quorum adviser, for a total of one interview and three progress reviews each year.

If a change in a boy’s program seems necessary to keep him from failure or withdrawal, it will be the prerogative of the bishop to help the young man readjust his goals.  In consultation with his bishop, the boy will, if it seems advisable, make adjustments in his special goals to fit his personal situation.  Care must be taken to see that young men select goals that represent genuine achievement, something beyond that which they normally would have done.

There will be seven booklets, one for each year between 12 and 18.  Each young man will receive a looseleaf binder that will contain personal record forms and pouch envelopes for recording vital information and filing important certificates, records, and personal historical material.  At the end of seven years he will have a priceless personal record of his teen-age years, as well as his seven Priesthood Personal Achievement records that he has used to guide himself into young manhood.”  (“Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 73(8):28-29, Aug., 1970)

Sep.:  Family Home Evening on Monday night.

“In a recent meeting the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve approved the setting aside of Monday night for holding family home evening throughout the entire Church.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 6(4):1, Sep., 1970)

23 Dec.:  Moral worthiness of prospective missionaries.

“We frequently hear complaints from mission presidents about the apparent failure of many bishops, stake presidents, and branch presidents carefully to interview prospective missionaries.  It appears too often that no real attempt is made by those conducting interviews to ascertain whether a candidate for a mission is morally clean and otherwise qualified to be called into the mission field.  This recurring problem was called to our attention again recently by a letter from a mission president which mentioned the following problems involving missionaries which he had discovered but which did not come to light when the missionaries were interviewed before their missions:

1. One Elder had been on about 100 ‘trips’ with drugs before coming into the mission field.

2. Another Elder had been marijuana and LSD for two years before his call.  According to the Elder, neither his bishop nor stake president asked direct questions about his moral qualifications but only whether he thought he was worthy to go into the mission field.

3. Five other Elders admitted to having committed fornication before their mission calls.  Each stated that in the pre-mission interviews, they were not asked if they had committed fornication but only whether or not they were morally clean.

4. One lady missionary admitted that she had had intercourse over 100 times in the three months prior to her call and that she had never been questioned directly by her bishop or stake president with regard to her morality.

5. One Elder admitted to having masturbated in groups with other college students at the BYU which implies possible homosexual activity.

This and otehr disturbing reports indicate the need for us as leaders to review and improve our procedures for interviewing missionaries.

It is not sufficient merely to ask a prospective missionary, ‘Are you morally clean?’  Instead, you must ask direct questions to ascertain whether a candidate is guilty of any serious moral offense involving fornication, adultery, homosexuality, masturbation, heavy petting, or drug abuse.  If the candidate has recently offended or if you doubt whether he has truly repented, the processing of the application should be suspended until a period of probation demonstrates that the problem is fully under control and that the prospective missionary is worthy to serve as a missionary.

Of course, such questioning must be done tactfully and in kindness.  Nevertheless, it is essential that you ascertain whether the candidate has violated any of these standards and if so, that you take steps to help him truly repent and, if possible, to become qualified to accept a mission call.

The failure to uncover cases of moral violations by proper interviewing creates untold damage to the missionary by delaying his repentance and creating heavy spiritual and psychological burdens, and to the work by imposing on mission presidents distracting and time-consuming duties of counseling which should be borne by others.

We therefore urge you to review your interviewing practices critically and to conform them where necessary to the procedures outlined above.  At the same time, we should all endeavor to teach and lead our people in such a way as to avoid, if possible, the evils and pitfalls which make such careful interviewing necessary.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 23 Dec., 1970; xerox)

Dec.:  “Priesthood Teacher Development Program.”

“All teachers and many leaders in the priesthood and auxiliary programs of the Church are to receive training through the priesthood teacher development program.”  [Note the tendency to rename all programs by adding the prefix “Priesthood.”]  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 6(5):8, Dec., 1970)

Choosing a bishop who smoked cigars.

“We had for sometime been looking for a bishop for the Tabor Ward–Tabor being a ward about forty miles southeast of Lethbridge–but we could not find the right man on the records.  We were acquainted with practically all of them, so the three of us–my two counselors and I–got in my car and started for Tabor.  As we were driving along we beheld a car approaching us in the opposite direction.  I immediately recognized the driver and hailed him to stop.  He stopped and got out of the car.  He was smoking a cigar.

After exchanging pleasant greetings and talking for a time, I said, ‘Burt, we want you to be the bishop of the Tabor Ward.’

He held up his cigar and asked, ‘Hell, with this?’

I answered, ‘Hell, no.  Without it.’

He threw it down on the ground, stepped on it, and said, ‘By hell, I’ll try it.’

He never smoked again and became one of the best bishops we had.  In fact, he did away with cigarette smoking entirely in his ward.  This was an incident in which we were not bound by the strict rules of the law, but could forgive and utilize the abilities of men despite some obvious weaknesses.”  (Hugh B. Brown, ca. 1970, in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 1988; p. 71)

Choosing a new Apostle.

“Not quite five years after I was called as an assistant to the Twelve, a vacancy arose in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Nothing was said to me about it until after one of the morning sessions of General Conference when President McKay commented to me, ‘I would like to see you in the office here in the Tabernacle immediately at the close of this meeting.’  I went into the room and met with President McKay.

‘The Lord wants you to be a member of the Council of the Twelve.  How do you feel about it?’  President McKay asked.

‘If ever I was justified in criticizing what the Lord wants, I am in that position now,’ I answered, ‘because I feel that I am unprepared.’

‘We don’t agree with you,’ he replied.  ‘We have submitted your name to the Twelve and they have approved.  Now what we want you to tell us is whether you will accept it.’

‘Of course,’ I said, ‘I will accept any call that comes from the Lord and do the best I can with it.  But as for being qualified for it, I have serious doubts.’

President McKay thereupon called those of the Twelve who were present in the room to join him.  They surrounded me, laid their hands upon my head, and ordained me an apostle.  Later, the president gave me what is known as the ‘charge to the apostles.’  That charge included a commitment to give all that one has, both as to time and means, to the building of the Kingdom of God; to keep himself pure and unspotted from the sins of the world; to be obedient to the authorities of the church; and to exercise the freedom to speak his mind but always be willing to subjugate his own thoughts and accept the majority opinion–not only to vote for it but to act as though it were his own original opinion after it has been approved by the majority of the Council of the Twelve and the First Presidency.

After they set me apart, the matter was submitted to the General Conference of the church and I was asked to say something.  I spoke for only two minutes, promising that the balance of my life would be spent trying to prove that the judgment of the brethren was justified.  If I could do that I would feel that I was worthy of the call.  Afterwards I wrote in my journal, ‘This calling was very humbling indeed but it is fulfillment of a life-long ambition of my beloved mother, who predicted it when I was but a boy.’

Since then I have learned that in calling a new apostle the president of the church ordinarily says to the Twelve and First Presidency, ‘There is a vacancy in the quorum.  I would like each of you to write three names on a slip of paper and submit them to me.  I will look them over and we will decide, possibly on one of those you recommend.  Or we may choose none of the ones you recommend.  But this will give you all an opportunity to express an opinion.’  At the next meeting of the quorum, the president, usually aided by the First Presidency, having looked those names over, says to the brethren, ‘I wish to nominate XYZ to become the next member of the Council of the Twelve.  Are thre any remarks?  If not, all in favor, raise your right hand.’  When the president nominates someone whose name was not submitted by the Twelve, he simply says, ‘I feel inspired to appoint this man to this job.  All in favor saise their hands.’  And everybody raises their hands.  President Heber J. Grant never submitted a name as far as I know without first talking it over with his counselors and then with members of the quorum.  However, President McKay, at times, chose men for certain important positions on his own responsibility, phrasing his motion in such a way as to make it difficult for the rest of the brethren not to support him.”  (Hugh B. Brown, ca. 1970, in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 1988; pp. 126-127)

“Likewise I believe that the First Presidency should not make major decisions without submitting them to and being approved by the majority of the Twelve.  I have seen this tested a number of times and am convinced that it is the best policy.  I also believe that the president of the church would be well advised never to make a decision or an appointment without submitting it to the First Presidency and the Twelve.  President Heber J. Grant once gave me a fine example of how inspiration sometimes prevails over personal judgment.  He said that when he was a member of the Twelve and a vacancy would arise, he would write down the name of a particular boyhood friend.  They had gone to school together.  President Grant explained, ‘I knew him to be an exemplary and fine man in every respect, and I decided if I ever became president of the church he would be the first man I would appoint to the Twelve.’

After he became church president and a vacancy arose in the Twelve, he wrote down the name of his friend on a slip of paper and put it into his pocket.  ‘I went into the elevator and rode up to the fourth floor of the temple.  On the way up I heard three times, as clearly as I ever heard any voice in my life, the name Melvin J. Ballard.  I only knew Brother Ballard in passing, that he was at the time president of the Northwestern States Mission.  But I couldn’t get away from that statement and didn’t give it its proper interpretation until I got into the room where the Twelve were, when I say, “Brethren, I have decided to recommend to you a certain man to be a member of the Council of the Twelve.  The man’s name is . . . Melvin J. Ballard.”  I know that that was inspired of the Lord,’ President Grant concluded.”  (Hugh B. Brown, ca. 1870, in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 1988; pp. 128-129)

Counselor TO the First Presidency.

“When I was called into the First Presidency, President McKay greatly surprised me because I knew that the presidency was already filled.  President McKay explained that I would be a counselor to not in the First Presidency.  I said, ‘Of course, if that is the calling I will try to do the best I can.’  President J. Reuben Clark, President McKay’s first counselors, was in ill health and could not attend many of the meetings of the First Presidency.  President McKay needed help, so he called me in and said, ‘I’ll present your name to the Twelve at their next meeting.’  He did and it was unanimously approved.

I went to see President Clark the very day it happened and told him that I had nothing to do with the new development but that I was simply asked to come in and help.  He seemed to feel very good about it.  He wept like the dickens at the time.  Previously, President Clark had been severely tried by the fact that President McKay was making a number of decisions without referring to him in any way.  That hurt him.  He felt that his advice should have at least been sought.  Although anything I may say about this change could be construed as a criticism of President McKay, I have not always agreed with the way he dealt with President Clark’s failing health.  At the time, however, I wrote in my journal, ‘Inasmuch as the call came from the president of the church, I had but one course to take and that was to humbly accept the responsibility.'”  (Hugh B. Brown, ca. 1870, in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 1988; pp. 131-132)

Attempt to have Emeritus Apostles.

“Grandfather came to believe that the church was not sufficiently addressing the problem of age and infirmity in its leadership.  In an attempt to meet this need, after his return to the Twelve [in 1970], he proposed that an emeritus status be created for all General Authorities, including members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.  This would have affected the line of succession to the presidency of the church.  His proposal deliberately set the age for emeritus status so that he would have been rendered emeritus by adoption of his plan.  He told me, only half in jest, that getting rid of him should have sweetened the proposal for at least some quorum members.  His proposal was rejected, but under President Kimball a truncated version was later adopted for authorities at less important levels of church government.”  (Edwin B. Firmage, in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 1988; p. 143)