“Fireside Marks 159 Years Since Priesthood Was Restored,” Ensign, Aug. 1988, 75–76
A special fireside was held on Sunday, May 15, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle to celebrate the 159th anniversary of the restoration of priesthood authority.
Telecast live via satellite to stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, the fireside commemorated the day the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist on 15 May 1829 and the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John a short time later. Also commemorated in the meeting was the June 1978 revelation that made the blessings of the priesthood available to all worthy male members of the Church. (See OD—2.)
Speakers at the fireside included President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the First Quorum of the Seventy and First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency; Elder Joseph Anderson, 98-year-old General Authority Emeritus; and Dean R. Cranney, an 18-year-old Aaronic Priesthood holder from Orem, Utah.
Quoting from the Doctrine and Covenants, President Hinckley said that among the reasons the gospel was restored was so “‘that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world.’ [D&C 1:20.] It does not say that every man shall speak in the name of God the Lord,” said President Hinckley. “The meaning is that every man may speak, provided he is worthy and receives the priesthood.”
President Hinckley also related his feelings on learning of the June 1978 revelation that allowed all worthy men to hold the priesthood. He was present when, in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple, President Spencer W. Kimball led the General Authorities who were assembled in prayer.
“I do not recall the exact words he spoke,” President Hinckley said. “But I do recall my own feelings and the nature of the expressions of my brethren. There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room. For me it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his brethren.
“The Spirit of God was there. And by the power of the Holy Ghost there came to the prophet an assurance that the thing for which he prayed was right, that the time had come, and that now the wondrous blessings of the priesthood should be extended to worthy men everywhere, regardless of lineage.
“Every man in that circle, by the power of the Holy Ghost, knew the same thing,” he continued. “No voice audible to our physical ears was heard. But the voice of the Spirit whispered with certainty into our minds and our very souls.
“No one of us who was present on that occasion was ever quite the same after that,” he said. “Nor has the Church been quite the same.”
The priesthood is “veritably the power of the Almighty given to man to act in His name and in His stead,” President Hinckley said. “Without it, there could be a church in name only, lacking authority to administer in the things of God. With it, nothing is impossible in carrying forward the work of the kingdom of God.”
Elder Wirthlin reviewed the events surrounding the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood in 1829. He noted that “immediately after [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] were ordained and baptized, the Holy Ghost fell upon them. They prophesied things that would come to pass, and they were able to understand the scriptures more clearly than ever before.”
The priesthood, Elder Wirthlin said, “holds the authority for the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and many other powers and rights to bless the children of our Heavenly Father.” He advised the young men of the Church to “avoid the unclean things of the world. To participate in the holy ordinances and assignments of the priesthood, we must do so with clean hands and a pure heart,” he said.
Elder Pinegar talked about the personal strength the priesthood gives to those who bear it. “It brings an assurance of the trust and confidence of the Lord, and an awareness that the bearer is linked in power and purpose with God,” he said. He recalled that both Moses and Ammon learned that “of himself man is nothing, but he [can] call upon God and through the power of God be made strong.”
Elder Anderson spoke about the blessings the priesthood has brought into his life. “What a blessed opportunity it is and has been over the years,” he said, “to attempt to draw near to the Lord, to partake of His Spirit, and to know that He hears and answers our prayers if we live righteously and keep His commandments.”
Brother Cranney, an Aaronic Priesthood holder, spoke about preparing himself to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.