Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“Do you think our temple architects have been inspired? Have fasting and prayer played important roles in their callings?”

Answer/Brother Dan Farr

During his meeting with the Lord on Mount Sinai, Moses was directed to collect a special offering from the children of Israel for the purpose of constructing a sanctuary.

“And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,

“And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,

“And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,

“Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

“Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.” (Ex. 25:3–7.)

Then Moses was given a special knowledge and understanding of how these materials were to be assembled and used. “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Ex. 25:9.)

This process has been repeated in our own time. On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation commanding the Saints to erect a temple wherein the keys of the priesthood might be restored and salvation for the living and the dead secured. Special messengers were to call the Saints, saying, “… Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones … the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth;

“And with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc … and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.” (D&C 124:26, 27.)

The Prophet Joseph was allowed to see the Nauvoo Temple in vision. Concerning its appearance, he recorded this experience: “In the afternoon, Elder William Weeks (whom I had employed as architect of the Temple), came in for instruction. I instructed him in relation to the circular windows designed to light the offices in the dead work of the arch between stories. He said that round windows in the broad side of a building were a violation of all the known rules of architecture, and contended that they should be semicircular—that the building was too low for round windows. I told him I would have the circles, if I had to make the Temple ten feet higher than it was originally calculated; that one light at the centre of each circular window would be sufficient to light the whole room; that when the whole building was thus illuminated, the effect would be remarkably grand. ‘I wish you to carry out my designs. I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me.’” (N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Lundwall, 1941], pp. 51–52.)

To other prophets of this latter-day dispensation the Lord has revealed his will concerning the design of his holy temples. These words of President Brigham Young are recorded in the Journal of Discourses:

“… five years ago last July I was here, and saw in the Spirit the [Salt Lake] Temple not ten feet from where we have laid the Chief Corner Stone. I have not inquired what kind of a Temple we should build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me.” (JD, vol. 1, p. 133.)

I am certain that future instructions from the Lord relative to the construction of temples will continue to come through his living oracles, the prophets. This is not to say, however, that those who have been selected and called to aid in the implementation of the Lord’s plan are not deserving of divine guidance in the faithful fulfillment of their assigned tasks. Just as stake presidents, bishops, teachers, and parents are entitled to counsel from the Lord in their desire to magnify their callings, so may those who participate in activities associated with temple design be justified in seeking similar direction. As always, this influence comes only to those who seek in righteousness and who temper their endeavors with fasting and prayer.

The selection of a site for the New Zealand Temple illustrates this point. President Wendell B. Mendenhall of the San Joaquin Stake was assigned by President David O. McKay to investigate possible temple sites in the lands of the South Seas. He investigated potential locations in Auckland, New Zealand, where the mission headquarters are located but felt no satisfaction.

“Then one day I felt I should go to Hamilton to visit the college. While in the car on the way, the whole thing came to me in an instant: The temple should be there by the college. The Church facilities for construction were already there, and that was the center of the population of the mission. Then, in my mind, I could see the area even before I arrived, and I could envision the hill where the temple should stand. As soon as I arrived at the college and drove over the top of the hill, my vision was confirmed. In my heart I felt that the Lord had especially made this hill for his temple, everything about it was so majestic and beautiful.” (Allie Howe, “A Temple in the South Pacific,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1955, p. 811.)

Our temples are unique, and many have been recognized and acknowledged as outstanding examples of religious architecture. Although I am unaware of any such recorded testimony, surely their architects were inspired by the Lord.

Architect, High Councilor, Alaska Stake

“How does the principle of presidency work in Aaronic Priesthood quorums?”

Answer/Brother Robert Backman

In a recent ward fast and testimony meeting a deacons quorum president bore his testimony from the pulpit. As he looked down to the front row of the chapel where his fellow quorum members sat, he was overwhelmed with the knowledge that he was responsible for every deacon in the ward. He exclaimed, “Gee, I just can’t believe that all of you guys are really mine.”

This fine young quorum president realized that he had been called by the Lord, through the bishop, to lead his quorum members, that he was responsible to represent the Lord and to see that the Lord’s will was done in the quorum. He was beginning to understand what the Savior meant when he declared:

“And again, verily I say unto you, the duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside over twelve deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.” (D&C 107:85.)

There are three main phrases in that revelation that every quorum president needs to understand and apply in meeting the responsibility of his stewardship:

1. To preside. This means to supervise, direct, guide, or control. The quorum president holds the keys to guide his quorum so its members can fulfill their priesthood duties. He, not only the quorum adviser, is entitled to revelation in directing that quorum, and when he does not exercise those keys, the quorum is deprived of those special blessings that can come only through their president.

2. To sit in council with them. This requires the quorum president to show loving concern for each quorum member, to be a friend to everyone and sensitive to individual and group needs, directing and encouraging, counseling members to be faithful to their callings, living clean lives and honoring their priesthood. The quorum president should realize that the Lord has placed the quorum membership under his leadership and the Lord expects the president “to sit in council with them” whenever they need his guidance and direction.

3. To teach them their duty. This is a challenging responsibility for a quorum president who is of the same age as the members of his quorum. But we should never forget that the Lord gave the assignment that every Aaronic Priesthood bearer is to receive instruction from the quorum president on his duties in the priesthood. The fact that others, such as the adviser, may also teach these duties does not relieve the president of his responsibility.

It is interesting to note that the Lord gave the same instructions to the presidents of the teachers and priests quorums—and to presidents of elders quorums. That is how important he feels this counsel is.

Every Aaronic Priesthood quorum president should remember that he acts under the direction of his bishop, who is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood of the ward, and is also the president of the priests quorum. In this respect, the priests quorum has unique leadership. Since the bishop is the president of that quorum, a priest cannot preside in a quorum meeting. He may conduct the meeting, but the right and responsibility to preside over the priests rests only with the bishop, and he is not authorized to delegate that right to others. He selects a priests group leader to assist him in leading the priests quorum. This young man plays a vital role in the youth programs of the ward, serving as chairman of the bishop’s youth committee and leading in the activity program of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA.

Quorum presidents are given counselors to assist them. The wise president will use his counselors effectively, counseling with them and permitting them to carry their full share of the presidency. He will meet with them regularly to plan, organize, and evaluate their performance. He will permit his counselors to take turns in conducting quorum meetings and will take them with him in visiting quorum members. The presidency should work as a team, setting the example for the quorum and providing united leadership. It is important for the quorum president to learn how to use his counselors and for them to learn how to use their president.

You who are called to be quorum presidents have a unique opportunity to discover the great blessings that come through service to your fellowmen and to prepare yourselves for greater responsibilities to come. You will understand that selfishness has no place in leadership. You will realize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized love. You will learn to love and care about others as you meet your responsibilities.

A dedicated quorum president reported that even his prayers had changed. He found himself praying for the members of his quorum instead of for his own selfish interests.

And when you care enough you will search for ways to be successful in your calling, seeking help from adult leaders, from your counselors, from personal study of the scriptures and other good books, and from your personal prayers and fasting. You will discover that every leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a flock to lead and, at the same time, a leader to whom he is responsible—even the prophet. The effective quorum president will sustain and follow his leaders as he expects his quorum to follow him. He will also develop his “flock” by delegating responsibilities to them so they can develop leadership qualities and share the blessing of involvement.

Above all, remember that you have been called by the Lord, through his servants. He has promised everyone who has leadership responsibilities in his kingdom that when the leader does his best to fulfill his assignment, the Lord will enlarge his capacity to serve, strengthen his testimony, overcome his weaknesses, and bless the lives of those he is called to lead. Follow the example of Nephi, who, with unwavering faith, responded to the Lord’s call to accomplish a difficult task.

“… I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne. 3:7.)

Robert Backman, Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Men’s President