Priesthood Restoration Honored
“The time has come for all of us who have been ordained to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and to any of the offices therein, to reflect upon our lives, to assess our shortcomings, and to repent of those matters of conduct which are at variance with the high and holy commission we have received,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, in a May 15, priesthood fireside beamed to more than 500 stake centers in the United States and Canada.
“No man, young or old,” said President Hinckley, “who has been … ordained, can regard lightly that which he holds. He is in partnership with God and has resting upon him a solid and sacred obligation so to live as one worthy to speak and act in the name of God as his qualified representative.” He said this held true for “boys who are ordained” deacons, teachers, and priests, as well as Elders, Seventies, High Priests, and Apostles.
“The priesthood is not a passive thing. It is an active power. It is ours to enjoy to exercise for the blessing of others, to magnify by the manner of our lives, and to advance the cause of the Almighty. No man is entitled to feel that he is magnifying his priesthood who is dishonest, who cheats or lies or steals. No boy is honoring his priesthood if he is immoral, or if he abuses his body which is the temple of his spirit, by the use of tobacco or liquor or those drugs which are forbidden by the law,” said President Hinckley.
“No man, be he youth or elder, is living up to the standards of the priesthood who demeans or degrades womanhood, who fails to accord that measure of respect to the daughters of God which our Father in heaven would have them accorded. No man or boy can truly regard himself as worthy of this great and holy power, this bestowal of authority to act for God in his behalf, who takes unrighteous advantage of another, or who would take from another his good name by the spreading of vicious gossip or rumor, or who fails to reach out a helping hand to those in distress,” he said.
President Hinckley’s remarks highlighted a 90-minute fireside commemorating the 154th anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on 15 May 1829. The fireside also commemorated the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John to the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery the latter part of May 1829. The showing of the new Church film, The Restoration of the Priesthood, focused on these historical events.
In his remarks, President Hinckley said that President Spencer W. Kimball and President Marion G. Romney “would very much liked to have been here tonight, but they are struggling with the problems of age.” Of President Kimball, he said, “Our beloved prophet … has been a mighty and valiant leader in the midst of Israel. He has been an inspiration to us all. I have not the slightest doubt that the Lord has preserved him by his power.”
Also speaking was Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve. “We who hold the priesthood of God are joined together by a sacred bond,” said Elder Packer. “We often speak of ‘holding’ the priesthood. The word hold is most often used in connection with things that we can pick up and set down and then pick up again. We may, if we are not properly taught, come to think of the priesthood that way. The priesthood is not like that. It is an authority and a power that is part of us.”
Elder Packer also spoke forcefully on missionary work. “Missionary service is the work of the Lord. … We who hold the priesthood are the only ones on earth with authority to perform the ordinances connected with it. It is the duty of young men holding the priesthood to serve in the mission field. In preparation for that service you need to do three things.
“First, you should decide now, in spite of temptation and opposition, that you will serve a mission. It is your duty! …
“The second thing you must do is to remain worthy. In our society that will not be easy. But, then, why should it be easy? The physical strength of youth needs to be surpassed by the moral strength of your young manhood.
“And you have the help of your teachers and leaders in the Church—and, most of all, of your parents. …
“Finally, you need to prepare financially. Every one of you should have a savings account specifically reserved for your mission. I speak to that young man who doesn’t have any idea how he can finance a mission. I do not know either. But I do know this: if you have faith and determine that you will go, there will be a way: Opportunities will come to you as manna from heaven.”
Members in Coalinga Respond to Earthquake
An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit the central California town of Coalinga (population about 9,000) on May 2. While many homes and businesses were devastated—the downtown area was destroyed—no fatalities were reported.
Of the two hundred members of the Coalinga Ward, Hanford California Stake, none were seriously injured. Many homes of members sustained damage, and about ten families lost their houses. These members moved in with friends and relatives or began to live in borrowed trailer houses.
“It’s a miracle no one was killed,” said Brother Edwin Netherton, one of the members whose house was shaken off its foundation. The Nethertons and three other families set up housekeeping on the church parking lot in trailers, borrowed from Church members in the stake.
“Members, and nonmembers, too, called to tell us what was needed, whether it was help with cleanup, electrical or plumbing repairs, major repairs on foundations, chimneys, or whatever,” Sister Netherton explained. “I posted these needs each day on the bulletin board, then sent word to Brother Jack Morgan in Hanford, our high councilor in charge of emergency preparedness. He arranged work crews from within the stake to come to Coalinga to make the repairs.”
By nightfall of the day of the quake, all of the members had been accounted for. One ward member, Donald McNeece, a ham radio operator, got information through to another ham operator in Hanford that Church members were safe. That information was relayed to the stake president, Gerald Thompson, who lives in Hanford. (Hanford is forty-five miles from Coalinga.) The next morning, President Thompson and his first counselor, Arlan Haroldson, visited Coalinga.
Many used their stored drinking water for the hours immediately after the quake.
Said Inice Greathouse, Primary president, “My husband used to complain about my water storage jugs cluttering up the patio. But when we had to use the water after the quake, and it tasted so good and fresh, he didn’t feel the same way about the clutter.”
James and Shirley Sirman put many of their jugs of stored water on their front porch and invited neighbors to share it. “We wanted them to know we had stored water and we wanted to share it with them,” said Sister Sirman.
For nearly two weeks after the quake, stake Relief Society President Noleen Obert and her counselors arranged for evening meals to be taken into the Coalinga ward each day. She also helped coordinate teams of women to assist in cleaning homes of members and many nonmembers as well.
“We really didn’t have to have the food brought in each night,” said Coalinga Bishop J. Elliott Fowkes, “but it was great not to have to worry about that when we had so many other things to do.”
“Even more than food,” said Iona Fowkes, the bishop’s wife, “the gathering of the whole ward at the building each evening was so special. It was very therapeutic for all of us to be together, to talk to each other, to listen to each other’s problems and to offer support. If it had not been for the dinners, I don’t think we would have gotten together like that.”
The first Monday evening after the quake, stake Relief Society women not only took food to Coalinga, but entertainment as well. One sister dressed up like a clown and made the children laugh, another took her guitar and sang. On other evenings, films were shown and Primary children sang songs. Something that wasn’t planned, that happened spontaneously each evening, was a volleyball game on the lawn behind the church.
“The volleyball games were an outlet,” said Brother Sirman. “They helped everyone relax, especially the kids.”
The Sirmans said one of their six children was afraid to sleep in the house for almost two weeks after the earthquake. Another child was afraid to go out of the house or away from his mother. Sister Sirman, like many other Coalinga parents, accompanied her children to school when it was reopened for half days until the end of the school term. Children did not want to be separated from their mothers.
“You can prepare for emergencies, have food and water stored, but being prepared emotionally and psychologically for disaster is something else,” said Sister Sirman.
Coalinga ward members were probably better prepared for the quake than many wards would have been, because, surprisingly, emergency preparedness had been the subject of recent training sessions and the bishop’s ward newsletter message.
In fact, six days before the quake, the Coalinga ward welfare committee, along with ward welfare committees from other wards in the Hanford California Stake, met in Hanford for an emergency preparedness training session. After seeing a film about earthquakes, the bishops were given copies of the Church booklet, Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies: Guidelines for Church Leaders. Members were divided according to their wards and presented each with a hypothetical situation and given thirty minutes to discuss solutions to their problems.
One ward was “assigned” a hurricane, another a flood, another an evacuation due to a chemical spill. The Coalinga Ward was given an earthquake. Each ward was asked to discuss how they would handle their assigned disaster.
When each ward took its turn to consider its assignment, it was evident that they needed to go back into their wards and work on preparedness. Even though it was only days until Coalinga’s real earthquake, the bishop had at least pondered many of these questions and was better able to respond to the emergency than he would have been if it were not for the session.
Four weeks before the quake, the Relief Society had shown the earthquake film to sisters in the ward and had given them booklets published by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Brother Jack Morgan said that after the Coalinga disaster, he thinks everyone in the stake will be more teachable when it comes to emergency preparedness. “I think our reaction to this disaster went as smoothly as it did because we had recently been reviewing all of this information,” he said. “There are, of course, many areas where improvements can be made.”
A groundbreaking ceremony held 11 May 1983, commenced the construction of a new five-story Genealogical Library of the Church, to be built south of the new Church Museum on West Temple in Salt Lake City.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve said at the groundbreaking that it is “fundamental” for people to be “interested in the history of their families.”
Elder Royden G. Derrick, of the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy, observed that “during the past ten-plus years in our present facility [the west wing of the Church Office Building], the Genealogical Department and Library have reached new heights in world recognition and leadership, and in service to members of the Church and nonmembers alike.”
The new library is scheduled for completion by late 1985.
The second temple in continental Europe, the Freiberg Temple, is now under construction. Ground was broken for the temple and adjacent stake center April 23. Freiberg, German Democratic Republic (DDR), is located about 150 miles south of Berlin.
In ceremonies attended by local Church leaders, the mayor of Freiberg, and other government officials, Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve said, “I think it is significant that in all the DDR, Freiberg was selected as the site for our temple. … May this be a beautiful and significant building, a city upon a hill.”
For the second consecutive year, an LDS woman has been named national U.S. Young Mother of the Year. Catherine Cryer Peterson, of Orefield, Pennsylvania, was chosen April 22, to succeed the 1982 Young Mother of the Year, LaDawn Jacob of Orem, Utah.
A member of the Allentown Ward, Scranton Pennsylvania Stake, Sister Peterson is the mother of seven children, wife of recently released Bishop Tom Peterson, and the education counselor in her ward Relief Society.
Twelve other Latter-day Saint women represented their states in the national competition for Young Mother and Mother of the Year. Representatives for the Young Mother competition were: Freida B. Child, Wyoming; Linda L. Ford, Utah; Joleen T. Hunt, Arizona; Karen B. Monk, Ohio; Cheryl R. Roberts, Alaska; Lori J. Stevens, Nevada; and Kathryn J. Wright, District of Columbia. Representatives for Mother of the Year were Lydia Y. Burrows, Utah; Elsie K. Gruel, Montana; Catherine A. Petty, California; Janet A. Ray, Arizona; and Josephine S. Stewart, Nevada.
Policies and Announcements
The following items appeared in the May 1983 Bulletin.
Home Study Plan. In order to build faith and better understanding of the Savior and his teachings, all members of the Church are encouraged to more earnestly study the gospel. The Melchizedek Priesthood and Gospel Doctrine study courses this year are based on the New Testament. Suggested home reading assignments are provided in connection with those courses, and it is hoped that they will be followed. In addition it is recommended that all families immediately begin reading the scriptures that detail the life of Christ, both in Palestine and in ancient America. These are the four gospels of the New Testament and 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, especially beginning with chapter eleven. It is suggested that members read one chapter a day, first from Matthew, then from Mark, Luke, John, and 3 Nephi. This daily reading will provide improved understanding and more knowledge concerning the Savior and will enrich the lives of all who follow this plan.
In connection with this suggestion, President Gordon B. Hinckley said the following at the conclusion of the recent general conference: “Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God. The brethren of the Council of the Twelve are advocating that we read a chapter a day of the gospels, that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible, and Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon, particularly beginning with the eleventh chapter of that book where is found the account of Christ’s visit among the Nephites in this hemisphere.”
Family Home Evening. There is no new family home evening manual for 1983. Bishoprics should encourage families to use previous manuals in their possession. A new family home evening resource book designed to last for several years will be introduced for 1984.
Priesthood leaders may wish to remind members of the following statement:
“The First Presidency frequently emphasizes the importance of weekly family home evenings as a prime opportunity for parents to teach and strengthen their families. In addition to family gospel study on Sundays, Monday nights are reserved for family home evening, which may include instruction in gospel principles, love, and harmony, and may include other family activities.
“Priesthood leaders should emphasize the importance of family home evening in sacrament, leadership, and quorum meetings and should set the example by holding a weekly family home evening” (letter to the field from President Ezra Taft Benson, 1 October 1981).