Priesthood Perspectives

—From the Presiding Bishopric and Young Men General Presidency


Aaronic Priesthood Service

Wilford Woodruff, fourth President of the Church, testified of the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood: “It does not make any difference whether a man is a priest or an apostle, if he magnifies his calling. A priest holds the key of the ministering of angels. Never in my life, as an apostle, as a seventy, or as an elder, have I ever had more of the protection of the Lord than while holding the office as a priest. The Lord revealed to me by visions, by revelations, and by the Holy Spirit, many things that lay before me” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 300).

Under the bishop’s direction, holders of the Aaronic Priesthood represent the Savior by fulfilling temporal and spiritual responsibilities.

Deacons pass the sacrament, collect fast offerings, provide service to members needing assistance, serve as the bishop’s messenger during sacrament meeting and on other occasions, and help care for the meetinghouse. In some areas of the world, young men also serve in their communities through weekday Scouting activities.

Teachers retain all duties of deacons. In addition, they prepare the sacrament, and ensure that enough bread and water are available. With experienced companions, they also serve as home teachers. In this assignment, they serve as active participants—watching over and caring for members to whom they are assigned, making appointments, sharing gospel messages, offering prayers, and rendering service.

Priests retain all duties of deacons and teachers. In addition, they bless the sacrament, perform baptisms, and, when called upon to do so by the bishop, may ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.

Bishops and branch presidents serve as president of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward or branch. They help Aaronic Priesthood holders learn the value of the home, family, and priesthood quorum by encouraging participation in quorum instruction, quorum activities, Scouting (where applicable), and service opportunities. The bishop’s counselors, quorum advisers, and other Young Men leaders assist the bishop in these responsibilities.

Why Home Teaching?

At the waters of Mormon, Alma declared that those who seek baptism into the Church “are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:8–9).

There has never been a time in the history of the Church when this kind of watchcare is more needed. Home teaching is a program inspired by the Lord through which priesthood holders render this service. The scriptural foundation of home teaching is the Lord’s commandment for priesthood holders to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53).

Through home teaching, priesthood holders watch over and strengthen all Latter-day Saints, particularly those with special needs, such as widows, new converts, and families with less-active members.

Home teachers are the Church’s first source of help to Church members. They offer help when members are unemployed, ill, moving, or have other pressing needs. They assist with spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges. They help parents teach their children to “walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28). They “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59). In monthly visits they are to present the First Presidency’s message printed in the Church magazines. Under the direction of the senior companion, an Aaronic Priesthood holder may be invited to present the message. They include prayer in each visit.

Young men holding the Aaronic Priesthood are full participants with their senior companions, making appointments, sharing gospel messages, offering prayers, and rendering service.

Priesthood leaders can strengthen home teaching in the ward or branch by (1) making home teaching part of their first-Sunday discussions, (2) giving attention each month to specific assignments—such as who has and who has not been taught that month, (3) regularly discussing home teaching assignments in the ward or branch Priesthood Executive Committee, and (4) conducting regular home teaching interviews. As we all focus on providing thoughtful, diligent, caring home teaching, we will magnify our priesthood callings and honor our baptismal covenants.

[photo] Photo by John Luke