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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1973

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1973.” You can view other years here.

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1973:  29 Jan.:  Which officers should give counsel?

“It is appropriate to repeat the counsel sent to you under date of December 19, 1951 and again September 22, 1966.

[The remainder of the letter is a restatement, often verbatim, of the earlier letters.]”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 29 Jan., 1973; xerox)

Feb.:  Abortion.

“In view of a recent decision of the United States Supreme Court, we feel it necessary to restate the position of the Church on abortion in order that there will be no misunderstanding of our attitude.

The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother.  Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.

Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality.

Members of the Church guilty of being parties to the sin of abortion must be subjected to the disciplinary action of the councils of the Church as circumstances warrant.  In dealing with this serious matter, it would be well to keep in mind the word of the Lord stated in the 59th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 6, ‘Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.’

As to the amenability of the sin of abortion to the laws of repentance and forgiveness, we quote the following statement made by President David O. McKay and his counselors, Stephen L. Richards and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., which continues to represent the attitude and position of the Church:

As the matter stands today, no definite statement has been made by the Lord one way or another regarding the crime of abortion.  So far as is known, he has not listed it alongside the crime of the unpardonable sin and shedding of innocent human blood.  That he has not done so would suggest that it is not in that class of crime and therefore that it will be amenable to the laws of repentance and forgiveness.

This quoted statement, however, should not, in any sense, be construed to minimize the seriousness of this revolting sin.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(1):1-2, Feb., 1973)

Feb.:  Homosexuality.

“A homosexual relationship is viewed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication.

In summarizing the intended destiny of man, the Lord has declared: ‘For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’  (Moses 1:39)  Eternal life means returning to the Lord’s exalted presence and enjoying the privilege of eternal increase.  According to his revealed word, the only acceptable sexual relationship occurs within the family between a husband and a wife.

Homosexuality in men and women runs counter to these divine objectives and, therefore, is to be avoided and forsaken.  Church members involved to any degree must repent.  ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins–behold, he will confess them and forsake them.’  (D&C 58:43)  Failure to work closely with one’s bishop or stake president in cases involving homosexual behavior will require prompt Church court action.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(1):2-3, Feb., 1973)

7 Apr.:  Duties of AP quorum presidencies.

“To you Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders, I hope you understand that the Lord outlined your duties as presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums.  He directed you to preside, to sit in council with your quorum members, and to teach them their duty.  He didn’t give that assignment to your advisers; he gave it to you.  You share the responsibility, with the bishopric, of blessing the lives of every member of your quorum as you fulfill your sacred calling.  What a transformation takes place when young Jack Smith becomes President John Smith, deacons quorum president, entitled to revelation from the Lord in directing the affairs of that quorum, and President Smith really assumes the responsibilities of his office.  You are too young for such responsibility?  The apostle Paul sensed something of the inadequacy young men feel when they are thrust into leadership.  He counseled his young ‘son in the faith,’ Timothy, ‘Let no man despise thy youth.’  (I Tim. 4:12.)

Dana Miller was approaching his twelfth birthday, looking forward to becoming a deacon.  One evening, just prior to his birthday, the front doorbell rang.  Dana’s father, a high councilor in the stake, answered the door to find three young men on the porch.  ‘We are the deacons presidency and have come to call on your son, Dana.’  Admitting these quorum leaders, Brother Miller retired to another room while the presidency sat down with Dana and outlined his duties and responsibilities as a priesthood holder.  That visit had more impact on a boy’s life than hours of counseling from an adult could have.  Today Dana is president of the deacons quorum.  What kind of a president do you think he is with that kind of an introduction to the priesthood and example from his leaders?

The Lord has assured us, ‘For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.’  (D&C 58:28.)”  (Robert L. Backman, President, APMIA, 7 Apr., 1973; CR Apr., 1973, p. 111)

16 Apr.:  Various changes in priesthood organization.

“To facilitate the coordination of programs and activities for men and women in the Church who are eighteen years of age and older, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve announce the following changes in the Priesthood organization of wards and stakes:

1. The stake Relief Society president as invited by the stake president may attend the meetings of the stake Priesthood Executive Committee.

2. A member of the stake Relief Society presidency will have special responsibility for the single women in the stake eighteen years of age and older.  She will be a member of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood MIA Committee which meets regularly under the direction of the stake presidency.  (This committee is defined in accompanying Melchizedek Priesthood MIA materials.)

3. The ward Relief Society president as invited by the bishop may attend the meetings of the ward Priesthood Executive Committee.

4. One counselor in the ward Relief Society presidency will have special responsibility for the single women in the ward eighteen years of age and older.  She will help them to arrange special meeting times if necessary, to adapt the Relief Society curriculum to their needs, and to coordinate their involvement in Melchizedek Priesthood MIA activities.

5. One counselor in the elders quorum presidency or group leadership will have special responsibility for the needs and interests of the single members of that quorum or group.  He will also help to coordinate the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA activities of all single men in the ward eighteen years of age and older.”

(First Presidency Circular Letter, 16 Apr., 1973; xerox)

Jun.:  Judicial rules for independent branches.

“Proceedings Against Transgressors in Independent Branches in Stakes

Stake presidents are hereby authorized to confer original jurisdiction on the presidencies of independent branches in stakes to conduct Church courts in accordance with the procedures and limitations that govern a bishops court, as contained in the General Handbook of Instructions, 1968.  In the alternative, stake presidents are hereby given the discretion to appoint three qualified Melchizedek Priesthood bearers who are not members of the stake presidency or high council to comprise and conduct such a court according to the same procedures.

It will be permissible for a branch president to serve as a member of such a special court, even though he is not designated as the presiding officer of said court.

Proceedings Against Transgressors in Independent Branches in Missions

Attention is called to the following instruction which appeared as item 2 in the December 1972 Priesthood Bulletin:

Transgressions originating in an independent branch of a mission that are serious enough to be dealt with in a Church court are to be referred to the mission president, who will take original jurisdiction and convene an elders court.

As an alternative procedure in handling cases where time and distance are major factors, a mission president is authorized to create a special elders court consisting of brethren who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood but are not members of the mission presidency or district presidency.  The branch president may be appointed as a member or as the presiding officer of such a court, which shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures governing bishops courts as outlined in the General Handbook of Instructions, 1968.”

(“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(3):1-2, Jun., 1973)

Jun.:  Flexibility in assigning HT across quorums.

“The Priesthood Home Teaching Handbook of Instructions (page 18) suggests that high priests be assigned as home teachers to high priests, seventies to seventies, and elders to elders.  As determined by local needs, however, high priests may be assigned as home teachers to assist the elders quorum in working with prospective elders.  High priests so assigned will attend the personal priesthood interview held by the elders quiorum president to account for the families that are under the jurisdiction of the elders quorum.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(3):5, Jun., 1973)

Jun.:  Announcing excommunications and disfellowshipments.

“Stake presidents are to announce all excommunications and disfellowshipments of Melchizedek Priesthood bearers at a stake priesthood meeting unless an appeal is pending.  Bishops are to announce all other excommunications and disfellowshipments in a ward priesthood meeting.  Aaronic Priesthood members should be excused prior to the announcement in either stake or ward priesthood meetings.

The announcement should consist only of a general statement that fellowship or membership is withdrawn for ‘conduct unbecoming a member of the Church.’  No mention should be made of the details of excommunication or disfellowshipment.  The details of the court proceedings and the cause of excommunication should be discussed only during the trial and should not be disclosed after the trial.  Local leaders must respect the right of members to privacy.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(3):7, Jun., 1973)

4 Oct.:  Tools to help the quorum achieve its goals.

“Question 1:  What is the priesthood?

Answer 1:  Priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man on earth to act (upon which verb I place emphasis) to act in all things pertaining to the salvation of men.  It is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls.

Question 2:  What is the oath and covenant of the priesthood?

Answer 2:  When we receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, it is with a covenant, made between us on the one hand the Lord in heaven on the other.  A covenant is a contract.  And what we agree to do is this:  To receive the priesthood, to magnify a calling in the priesthood, and to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God–those three things.  The Lord on his part promises that if we do those three things, we will receive all that the Father hath, which is to say, eternal life in our Father’s kingdom.  In order to show the solemnity and import of what we have contracted to do, and the immutability of what he has contracted to give us, the Lord swears with an oath in his own name that if we are true to this covenant, we shall gain eternal life.

Question 3:  What are offices or callings in the priesthood?

Answer 3:  They are assignments to labor on the basis of primary responsibility in a specialized field of priesthood service.  Service is essential to salvation.  Let that be crystalized in our hearts.  It is not sufficient to keep the commandments, and let that stand alone, unless we read into such the fact that we are commanded to serve God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.  Service is essential to salvation.  We have to get outside of ourselves and do something for someone else, patterning our course after that of the Lord Jesus, if we are going to have an inheritance with him.

The priesthood is greater than any of its offices.  No office adds any power, dignity, or authority to the priesthood.  All offices derive their rights, virtues, and authorities from the priesthood.  Our concern is with those holding the offices of elder, of seventy, and of high priest.

Question 4:  Why do we have offices or callings in the priesthood?

Answer 4:  So that brethren can become specialists in the performance of priesthood labors.

Elders are called to be standing ministers; to perfect the saints; to labor for the salvation of their brethren.

Seventies are called to proclaim the message of salvation to our Father’s other children.

High priests are called to be standing presidents; to perfect the saints; to guide, govern, and direct the organization of the Church.

And we have this glorious scriptural injunction:  ‘Let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; . . . that the system may be kept perfect.’  (D&C 84:109-110.)  In other words, the perfect system of priesthood correlation is for an elder to do the work of an elder, a seventy the work of a seventy, and a high priest the work of a high priest.

Question 5:  How do you magnify a calling in the priesthood?

Answer 5:  By doing the work that appertains to that calling, thereby dignifying the calling and holding it up to honor and respect in the eyes of all man.

Question 6:  What is a priesthood quorum?

Answer 6:  For our purposes it is an organized body of priesthood brethren who have the same office or calling.  It is a church agency that administers salvation to its members and their families.  It is a local school of the prophets.

Question 7:  Why do we have priesthood quorums?

Answer 7:  The Lord has given us priesthood quorums so that there may be priesthood quorum presidents whose duty it is ‘to teach’ their members ‘according to the covenants.’  (D&C 107:89.)  These quorum presidents are to teach their quorum members how to magnify their calling; to train them in their duties; and to teach them the doctrines of the kingdom.

Question 8:  How should a priesthood quorum operate?

Answer 8:  Within the framework of priesthood correlation.

Priesthood correlation is the system whereby we take all of the programs of the Church, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all of the membership of the Church in that operation, and do it all under priesthood jurisdiction.

The basic concept is expressed in these words:  The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity.  The Church and all of its organizations are service agencies to help the family.  Home teachers represent the Lord, the priesthood president, and the bishop in making available to the family and the individual the help of the Church and all of its organizations.

Out of this basic concept we get the three fundamentals, the three basic principles of priesthood correlation.  They are:

1. Families and individuals have the responsibility to do everything in the Church–missionary work, genealogy, welfare or whatever.

2.  The Church and every organization in the Church is designed to be a help and an aid to the family.

3.  Home teaching is the vehicle that makes available to the family and the individual the help of the Church and all its organizations.

Question 9:  How does a priesthood quorum operate within the framework of priesthood correlation?

Answer 9:  By conforming to these basic principles of priesthood correlation, and by using home teachers, who are priesthood representatives, in the way they were designed and intended to be used.

As President Harold B. lee said six months ago in this seminar, ‘We have now called upon the priesthood quorums to assume the responsibilities, as the Lord has given it to them, “to watch over the Church and to be with and strengthen them.”‘

As set forth in Section 20, the constitutional document of the Church, home teachers, among other things, are to:

–Preach, teach, exhort and expound;

–Visit the house of each member and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and to attend to all family duties;

–Be with and strengthen the Church;

–See that there is no iniquity in the Church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, or evil speaking;

–And see that all the members do their duty;

–And to that may I add: One of the best ways for priesthood representatives to watch over the Church is for them to strengthen the positions of fathers in their family.

Question 10:  What is the position of home teachers in the Church?

Answer 10:  No comment.

Elder Boyd K. Packer:  One moment please, I think you should answer that question.

Answer:  Since Brother Packer is senior to me, I will bow to his wishes; here is the answer:  Home teaching is a quorum responsibility, and home teachers are called by quorum presidents.  We can define their role as that of priesthood representative.  They have a nominal responsibility to the bishop but they go forth representing their quorum president.  They are his agents; they serve the person who calls them, and they make their priesthood evaluations to him, or to someone appointed by him.  An elders president, for instance, may need to appoint supervisors to aid him in handling personal priesthood interviews.

Now, Brother Packer, does that cover the ground or would you like to say something?

Elder Boyd K. Packer:  Well, frankly, I would like to say something.  I think if I were to answer that question I would answer it in this way:  Home teaching is a quorum responsibility, and home teachers are called by quorum presidents.  We can define their role as that of priesthood representatives.  They have a nominal responsibility to the bishop but they go forth representing their quorum president.  They are his agents; they serve the person who calls them, and they make their priesthood evaluations to him, or to someone appointed by him.  An elders president, for instance, may need to appoint supervisors to aid him in handling personal priesthood interviews.

Now don’t you think that’s better?  Someone has got to keep you straight on that.

Elder McConkie:  It is my considered opinion that Elder Packer has just given the best conceivable answer to the question.

Question 11:  How does a quorum president discharge his responsibility both to teach his quorum members the doctrines of the gospel and to teach them the duties they must perform as part of working out their salvation?

Answer 11:  In answering this question, there are two points of emphasis:

1. A quorum president is in the direct line of responsibility.  The father should learn his duty from his quorum president.  The president is responsible for teaching the class and he should visit in the homes of his members.  He must get close to his quorum members and will want to interview them personally at least annually.

2. But a quorum president is also an executive.  He needs help and such is available.  He appoints priesthood representatives, who are home teachers, to help him.  If he uses these priesthood representatives at his disposal, no matter how great the labor he cannot fail.

Now, these are true principles, and success always attends the operation of true principles–principles which are inspired by Him whose servants we are.  God grant us the will and the wisdom to apply them for the salvation and blessing of all his children, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.”  (Bruce R. McConkie, “Tools to Help the Quorum Achieve its Goals,” Seminar for Regional Representatives of the Twelve, 4 Oct., 1973; LDS Archives Pq M251.3 M129t 1973; xerox)

Oct.:  Wives not to be HT companions with husbands.

“Melchizedek Priesthood leaders should assign as junior companions to senior priesthood home teachers, (1) other Melchizedek Priesthood holders, (2) prospective elders, or (3) young men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood.  Wives should not be assigned as priesthood home teaching companions.  Stake presidents should ensure that this latter practice does not exist in their stakes.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 9(5):4, Oct., 1973)