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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1974

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1974.” You can view other years here.

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1974:  5 Apr.:  Church courts.

“God’s laws, as given for the government of the Church, must be supported and endorsed to win salvation and respect of those within the Church and without.  The bishops of the Church have been designated as common judges and, together with their counselors, are authorized to deal with cases of serious transgression coming under their jurisdiction.  Other cases go before the high council court under the direction of the stake president.  These judges are expected to deal with all cases of infraction against the laws of the Church mercifully and justly.

I’m sure the most difficult problem for the priesthood leaders to determine and for the transgressor to understand is: When does repentance become effective?  When are the demands of justice satisfied?  When does the principle of mercy take over?  I suppose there is no answer as clear as that given by Alma:

For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice?  I say unto you, Nay; not one whit.  If so, God would cease to be God.  (Alma 42:24-25.)

How plain, then, is the logic as to the necessity of taking appropriate action in case of serious transgression.  The need is to cleanse the Church and to help to bring about full repentance to the individual.

President Lee said as he spoke to the Brethren in 1972:

Now, this doesn’t mean when we have to take action that we turn our backs on him who has sinned, . . . we don’t do {that}–we should try not to do it.  But we have to be like fathers–sometimes we have to discipline, . . . we have to spank them, then we have to love them.  It is the doctrine of the Lord, and we should do that in kindness.  It seems to me, that there comes a time in the lives of those who have sinned so seriously that, short of disciplinary action, I think some men can’t repent until they are turned over to the buffetings of Satan by the loss of the Spirit of the Lord.  (Priesthood Board Meeting, March 1, 1972, p. 12.)

President Stephen L. Richards has said:

What good to the Church, what real benefit to erring members, can come from ignoring this obligation, and as we sometimes say, winking at and ‘white-washing’ the offenders?  Can the judges thus help in setting people on the way to repentance and forgiveness?  (CR Apr., 1954, p. 11.)

Many who have violated the laws of the Lord feel unjustly dealt with if they are called before proper Church courts and appropriate action is taken in reference to their transgressions.  Many priesthood leaders, whose responsibility it is to watch over the Church and take action in cases of serious transgression, are remiss in convening courts and taking action that one might be put in a position where he can be forgiven.  What might be thought to be a kindness in not taking proper action may really be the most unkind thing that could have been done.

President Lee has said:

Never must we allow supposed mercy to the unrepentant sinner to rob the justice by which the true repentance from sinful practices is predicated.  (Strengthening the Home, 1973, p. 5)

How, then, does forgiveness become operative?  When is repentance recognized?

True godly sorrow, which the scriptures tell us ‘worketh repentance to salvation’ is the first step in repentance.  (2 Cor. 7:10.)  Confession of sins logically follows godly sorrow, prompted by an earnest desire for relief from the suffering brought about by positive realization of wrongdoing.  Confession should be made to demonstrate one’s humility and his determination to make restitution for the transgressions.

To whom should confession be made?  To quote President Richards,

To the Lord, of course, whose law has been violated.  To the aggrieved person or persons, as an essential in making due retribution if that is necessary.  And then certainly to the Lord’s representative, his appointed judge in Israel, under whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction the offender lives and holds membership in the Kingdom.  (CR Apr., 1954, pp. 11-12.)

Closely associated with confession is the matter of probation–of demonstration.  The Lord said: 

By this may ye know if a man repenteth of his sins–behold, he will confess them and forsake them.  (D&C 58:43.)

How may the judge know when repentance is adequate?  The individual might become impatient as he demonstrates his repentance.  But it has been said that 

sufficient time {should} elapse to permit a period of probation for the one seeking forgiveness.  This probation serves a double purpose: First, . . . it enables the offender to determine for himself whether he has been able to so masster himself as to trust himself in the face of ever-recurring temptation; and secondly, to enable the judges to make a more reliable appraisement of the genuineness of repentance and worthiness for restored confidence.  (CR Apr., 1954, p. 12.)

Yes, ‘for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.’  (Prov. 3:12.)”  (James A. Cullimore, 5 Apr., 1974; CR Apr., 1974, pp. 40-41)

6 Apr.:  An Elders Quorum in every ward and branch.

“Now, brethren, may I announce to you some matters which I discussed with other leaders on Thursday.  The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve have approved the organization of an elders quorum in every ward and independent branch.  The elders, regardless of number, up to 96, residing in a particular ward or independent branch, may be constituted as an elders quorum, with a presidency.  Where there are more than 96 elders, the quorum should be divided.  It is felt by the Brethren that this great reservoir of power and strength can best be used to its greatest value to have strong, active quorums of elders in the more local jurisdictions.”  (Spencer W. Kimball, 6 Apr., 1974; CR Apr., 1974, p. 124)

6 Apr.:  Stake Presidents now to ordain 70s.

“Effective immediately, stake presidents may ordain seventies and set apart presidents of seventy in their stakes when such men have been properly processed and approved by the First Council of the Seventy.  This should eliminate many long delays and create a good working relationship between the stake leaders and their seventies, and we hope that new emphasis may come to missionary work.”  (Spencer W. Kimball, 6 Apr., 1974; CR Apr., 1974, p. 124)

Apr.:  Strengthening elders quorums and presidencies.

“Stake, mission, and district priesthood leaders should give special attention to the following suggestions for strengthening elders quorum presidencies and quorums:

1. Stake presidents should hold personal priesthood interviews at least quarterly with elders quorum presidents.

2. Bishops should invite quorum presidents to sit on the stand at priesthood meetings and should address them as ‘President.’

3. Bishops are to provide adequate, but not exclusive, meetinghouse space for quorum leaders to conduct personal priesthood interviews, hold presidency meetings, and otherwise administer the affairs of the quorum.

4. Bishops should invite elders quorum presidents, on occasion, to speak and pray in meetings, including sacrament meetings, and should identify them as such in the announcement or introduction.

5. Bishops should announce in sacrament meetings the names of newly sustained elders quorum presidencies.  Of course, changes in Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies are under the direction of the stake presidency.

For additional information, refer to the letter from the First Presidency dated 25 January 1972 regarding elders and prospective elders.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 10(2):1-2, Second Quarter, 1974)

Jun.:  Vitalizing & awakening of quorums.

“The vitalizing of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the awakening of the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums will affirmatively affect all other programs in the Church.”  (Spencer W. Kimball, June Conference, 1974; quoted in Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Guidebook, 1977; p. ii)

3 Oct.:  What is priesthood correlation?

What is priesthood correlation?  It is that system of Church administration in which we take all of the programs of the Church, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, and involve all the members of the Church in that operation.  It is a system which requires us to operate within the existing framework of the Church.  The day is long since past in which we discover some problem and set up a committee or some other organization to solve it.  Instead we use the revealed priesthood organization, which means that we use home teachers in the way set forth in section 20, and we correlate all priesthood and auxiliary operations through the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward correlation council.  President Harold B. Lee defined priesthood correlation as simply ‘putting the priesthood where the Lord put it and helping the family to function the way it should function.‘  (See ‘Correlation and Priesthood Genealogy,’ in Genealogical Devotional Addresses, 1968, Provo, Utah, BYU Press, 1969, p. 55.)

There are three basic principles of priesthood correlation which guide us in the operation of all Church programs.  They grow out of this basic statement: The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity.  The Church and all its organizations, as service agencies, are in a position to help the family.  Home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and the priesthood leader in making available to the father, the family, and the individual the help of the Church and all its organizations.  Thus, the three basic principles of priesthood correlation are:

1. All things center in the family and the individual.  They do everything in the Church.  They are responsible to do missionary work, to do their own genealogical work, to provide for their own personal welfare.  We do not call missionaries or appoint committees to preempt the family’s primary responsibility.  It is not the high priests group leader who is responsible for priesthood genealogy in the ward.  It is not the stake or fulltime missionaries who are responsible for missionary work in the ward or stake.  In both cases it is the family and the individual, who are aided and helped by these Church specialists.

2. The Church and all its organizations are in a position to help the family and the individual.  Missionaries, committees, and various specialists in one field of service or another are called to help the family.  Parents–not the Church organizations–are responsible to bring up their own children in light and truth and to teach them the principles of the gospel.  But these organizations are set up to help the parents do the work the Lord has laid upon them.  Properly speaking, we do not help missionaries, but missionaries help us.  It is our primary responsibility to warn our neighbors, and the stake and fulltime missionaries are specialists who are called in, for instance, to help in the teaching process.

3. Home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and the priesthood leader in making available to the family and the individual the help of the Church and all its organizations.  Without question the greatest defect of the home teaching system in the Church is that it remains almost unused.  Instead of letting and expecting home teachers to do their work we often set up some fringe committee and then wonder why home teachers lack interest in their work.  If we have a need to reclaim elders, we should not set up some special organization.  Rather, we should use home teachers and the existing organizations of the Church.”

(Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Address at Regional Representatives Seminar, 3 Oct., 1974; reprinted by LDS Church, PXMP0153, 5/75)

3 Oct.:  Responsibility for reactivation.

Who is responsible to reactivate a delinquent elder?  Let’s have our priorities straight.  The first and chief responsibility rests with the elder himself.  He made the baptismal covenant to serve the Lord; he promised to magnify his calling when he received the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It is his salvation which is at stake.  He has a personal obligation to return to the Lord and seek his blessings.

The second responsibility to reactivate an elder rests with his family.  Salvation is a family affair.  The greatest blessings attending Church service flow to the individual and his family.  The preservation of the eternal family unit is the chief of these blessings.

After the individual and family responsibility comes that of the Church.  The Church makes salvation available.  It is the Lord’s organization through which all men are invited to do those things which they must do to enter the Eternal Presence.  In almost all instances, the beginning processes of reactivation, at least, start with an approach by someone in a Church position–one elder, for instance, serving as a home teacher to another.  It is neither our purpose nor our province to prescribe the details of Church participation in the reactivation processes.  There are many approaches, and the spirit of inspiration must always attend the work, which should be done within the framework of priesthood correlation and using existing organizations and programs.

In the stake, the stake president is responsible for the reactivation of elders.  He is the presiding elder in the stake and serves as chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee.  One of his counselors, to whom he may delegate a major responsibility for carrying the work forward, is the vice-chairman.  The stake president has the help of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, plus all the resources of the stake, at his disposal.  He may use a high councilor to aid and work with two or three elders quorums.  But specifically and paramountly, the stake president uses the bishops of wards and the presidents of elders quorums in the reactivation processes.

High councilors are men of stability and sense and spiritual maturity–some of the most able and competent leaders in the stake.  They are the eyes and ears and voice of the stake president.  Suppose each high councilor on the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee has as his main stake assignment the privilege of giving guidance and help to two or three elders quorums.  Such a high councilors is careful not to take over the operation of the quorums; but, drawing on his extensive background of Church experience, think what sound and wise counsel he can give.

What more important work does a stake president have than (1) to involve himself in training quorum leaders, (2) to meet regularly with elders presidents to give instruction and assignments, and (3) to hold (or have one of his counselors hold) regular personal priesthood interviews with elders presidents.

Elders quorums are organized on a ward basis.  All the elders in the ward are members of the quorum.  All prospective elders in the ward meet with the quorum and receive the same training and guidance given the elders, which prepares them for the Melchizedek Priesthood and to become quorum members.  Elders quorum presidents are responsible to watch over and strengthen all elders and prospective elders.

The bishop has a vital, personal, and important role in the reactivation of elders.  He presides in the ward and is a common judge in Israel.  He receives tithes and offerings.  He determines worthiness for temple recommends.  He recommends brethren for advancement to the Melchizedek Priesthood.  He calls brethren to positions of responsiblity in the ward.  As the presiding high priest, he presides over the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward correlation council and gives counsel to its members, including the elders president.  He receives priesthood evaluations from the elders president.

But it is to the elders quorum president that we turn for the active, detailed, day-by-day operation of the program of reactivation.  He is to preside over his quorum members.  He is to ‘sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.’  (D&C 107:89.)  He has a responsibility for their temporal and spiritual well-being.  He is appointed to lead them to eternal life in our Father’s kingdom.  And his responsibility extends out to all the prospective elders in the ward.  Except the bishop himself, who in the ward has a responsiblity comparable to that of the elders quorum president?

Some elders quorum presidents seem to feel that the burdens of reactivating their brethren are so great that it is almost futile to undertake the task.  One reason for this view is the nagging feeling on the part of the elders quorum presidents that they must come up with some kind of a program and devise some system to save their brethren.  Actually, the reactivation processes already exist.  They are available everywhere.  They are easy to operate.  They divide the load upon many shoulders, and the burden becomes easy and the yoke light.

The reactivation process consists of (1) using home teachers, (2) using the Church and all its programs, and (3) running the quorum itself in the proper manner.  The most effective reactivation is always on a one-to-one basis, on a family-to-family basis.  It is personal contacting.  It is friendshipping.  It is fellowshipping.  It is done by home teachers!  Use home teachers to reactivate!”  (Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Address at Regional Representatives Seminar, 3 Oct., 1974; reprinted by LDS Church, PXMP0153, 5/75)

3 Oct.:  Elders Quorum should be a School of the Prophets.

An elders quorum should be a school of the prophets, a place where every elder and prospective elder learns what he and his family must do to gain peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”  (Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Address at Regional Representatives Seminar, 3 Oct., 1974; reprinted by LDS Church, PXMP0153, 5/75)

Oct.:  Baptism and abortion.

“A woman who has submitted to an abortion may be baptized only upon the approval of the mission president when under the jurisdiction of a full-time mission and only upon the approval of the stake president when under the jurisdiction  of a stake mission.

In considering the request for such a baptism, the mission or stake president should be guided by the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 58:43 and 20:37.  Moreover, as a condition to authorizing baptism, he must be certain that the applicant has sincerely repented of her sins and must be assured that she will live righteously in the future.

Additional counsel regarding abortion appeared in the February 1973 (item 1), June 1972 (item 3), and February 1971 (item 6) issues of the Priesthood Bulletin.”  (“The Priesthood Bulletin,” 10(3):2, Third Quarter, 1974)

1 Dec.:  Elders quorum presidency room.

“An office in the meetinghouse should be provided for each elders quorum presidency.  A regular classroom with a filing cabinet which can be locked, telephone jack, and desk is authorized.  This room is not to be used exclusively by the elders quorum presidency, but may be used for classroom purposes as well.  Effective November 1, 1974, the Church will share in the cost of these furnishings on the usual Church participation basis.”  (“Messages . . .” No. 3, 1 Dec., 1974)

“Shadow Leadership.”

[In the manual, “Aaronic Priesthood: Leadership Training for Adults,” 1974, six case studies are given.  The sixth is entitled “Developing Effective Shadow Leadership Within the Ward.”  It deals with the differences between “adult-centered leadership” and “shadow leadership.”]