Elder David B. Haight, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:
“I was in the temple when President Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation regarding the priesthood. I was the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was there. I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterward. We just left quietly to go back to the office. No one could say anything because of the powerful outpouring of the heavenly spiritual experience.
“Just a few hours after the announcement was made to the press, I was assigned to attend a stake conference in Detroit, Michigan. When my plane landed in Chicago, I noticed an edition of the Chicago Tribune on the newsstand. The headline in the paper said, ‘Mormons Give Blacks Priesthood.’ And the subheading said, ‘President Kimball Claims to Have Received a Revelation.’ I bought a copy of the newspaper. I stared at one word in that subheading—claims. It stood out to me just like it was in red neon. As I walked along the hallway to make my plane connection, I thought, Here I am now in Chicago walking through this busy airport, yet I was a witness to this revelation. I was there. I witnessed it. I felt that heavenly influence. I was part of it. Little did the editor of that newspaper realize the truth of that revelation when he wrote, ‘… Claims to Have Received a Revelation.’ Little did he know, or the printer, or the man who put the ink on the press, or the one who delivered the newspaper—little did any of them know that it was truly a revelation from God. Little did they know what I knew because I was a witness to it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 30–31; or Ensign, May 1996, 23).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 584–85.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 364–65.
Suggestions for Teaching
Official Declaration 2. The Lord revealed to President Spencer W. Kimball that “the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood.”
Tell students: Imagine that you are missionaries teaching an investigator about living prophets and modern revelation. The person you are teaching asks, “If your Church is led by prophets, what are some of the revelations they have received?” How would you answer this question? (Discuss students’ responses and write them on the board.)
Tell students that one recent example of modern revelation is found at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants. For many years, the Lord instructed the prophets that those of Black African descent could not receive the priesthood or the ordinances of the temple. The Brethren said that the reasons for this restriction had not been fully revealed. But they taught that these children of Heavenly Father would someday receive these blessings. (See First Presidency letter, Dec. 15, 1969; in Church News, Jan. 10, 1970, 12.) Discuss the following questions as you read together paragraphs 3–6 of
What revelation did President Spencer W. Kimball receive in June 1978?
How would you describe the effort President Kimball made that led to this revelation?
What shows that this revelation came from God?
How was it announced to the Church?
Read together from Official Declaration 2, beginning with “Dear Brethren.” Discuss the following questions as you read:
What did the General Authorities desire for those who were joining the Church?
Who had received promises that one day all worthy men would receive the priesthood?
Where was the revelation received?
In addition to the priesthood, what other blessings could now be extended to all members of the Church regardless of race or color?
How did Church members respond when this revelation was presented in general conference?
Have a student read the following account:
“[During a 1998 tour of Africa, President Gordon B. Hinckley said at a conference in Zimbabwe:]
“‘In 1978 came the revelation, 20 years ago, concerning offering the priesthood and every other gift of the Church to every worthy man. I want to give testimony here that that was inspired, that that was a revelation from God. I was there. I was an eyewitness to it in the House of the Lord. … How grateful we are.’
“President Hinckley went on to tell of the Apostle Peter and the conversion of Cornelius according to the account in the 10th chapter of Acts. Peter says he perceives ‘that God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.’ (Acts 10:34–35.)
“‘That, my beloved brethren and sisters, describes you,’ President Hinckley continued. ‘I’ve had that testimony reconfirmed in my heart on this trip, as I have met with you and many others, that all are alike unto God. We are. I repeat: We’re all of a great family, a marvelous family, the family of the living Christ, worshiping Him together.’” (Steve Fidel, “Zimbabwe Pioneers Take Front Row Seats at Historic Occasion,” Church News, Feb. 28, 1998, 4).
Have another student read the following:
“Since the time of [the revelation on the priesthood], thousands of persons of African descent have come into the Church. The experience of one convert in Africa illustrates how the hand of the Lord has blessed these people. A college graduate and teacher had a dream in which he saw a large building with spires or towers, into which people dressed in white were entering. Later as he was traveling, he saw a Latter-day Saint chapel and felt impressed that this church was somehow connected with his dream, so he attended a Sunday service there. After the meetings, the mission president’s wife showed him a pamphlet. Opening it, the man saw a picture of the Salt Lake Temple, the building of his dream. Later he said: ‘Before I became aware I was weeping. … I can’t explain the feeling. I was released of all burdens. … I felt that I had gone to a place where I visited often. And now I was at home’ [E. Dale LeBaron, “Black Africa,” Mormon Heritage, Mar./Apr. 1994, 20]” (Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 127).
Discuss the impact this revelation has had on the growth of the Church. Read Elder David B. Haight’s testimony in the introduction to Official Declaration 2 above (see p. 272). Ask:
What is the difference between a “claim” and a “revelation”?
How did Elder Haight know that the revelation was from God?
How can you know that anything revealed through the Lord’s prophet is from God?
Have a student read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“God is at the helm. We will seek His direction. We will listen to the still, small voice of revelation. And we will go forward as He directs.
“His Church will not be misled. Never fear that. If there were any disposition on the part of its leaders to do so, He could remove them. All of us are beholden to Him for life and voice and strength” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 115–16; or Ensign, May 1997, 83).
Invite students to imagine once again that they are missionaries and the person they are teaching asks how they know that there is a living prophet. Have students write on a piece of paper how they would respond to this question.
Testify of the important role of prophets and continuing revelation in the Church in our day.