The Chaplain’s Authority


Many years ago my brother, LeRoy E. Matthews, and his family lived in a town where a state operated hospital was located.

One day Roy was invited to the hospital superintendent’s office for a brief interview. The superintendent explained that after a great deal of consideration, he had decided to ask Roy to serve as chaplain to the hospital for the coming year. He further explained that for many years it had been the hospital’s policy to appoint a different minister each year from among the churches in that area on a kind of rotation basis. Up to that time, these appointments had gone to clergymen of other churches, even though the town was approximately 50 percent Latter-day Saint.

Roy told the superintendent that he felt honored and would be very happy to accept this appointment.

A few days later, however, Roy was called back to the superintendent’s office, where he learned that the ministers of the area had objected to his appointment. They pointed out that they had nothing against Roy Matthews personally, but were very much opposed to his appointment as chaplain because he was “not even an ordained minister of the gospel.”

The superintendent then asked Roy if he had any document that might substantiate his position as a minister of the gospel. Roy said he would go home and be back in less than an hour with the necessary information.

Shortly afterward, Roy returned to the office and handed the superintendent a card on which was typed his priesthood line of authority, a list showing how ordination to the priesthood had descended to him through earlier brethren who had each been ordained in turn. The superintendent read it carefully and then said, “Do you mean, Roy, that your authority traces back to our Lord?”

“Yes, Doctor, that is correct,” he replied.

The superintendent expressed joy and amazement and asked if he could keep the card for a few days. Of course Roy consented.

Later in the week Roy was called back to the office, where the superintendent explained that he had met with the ministers, had read Roy’s priesthood line of authority to them, and asked if they had anything that could compare with this. Their only reply was that they had each been schooled and ordained in ministerial colleges.

Roy was granted the appointment without further protest or opposition.