Saturday, June 14, 2008

Post 11 - Priesthood Revelation Commemorated!

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TODAY'S THEME



I have placed a photograph of President Spencer W. Kimball at the head of this post as I join in with the rest of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Thirtieth Year Commemoration of the June 8, 1978 announcement of a revelation received through the Church's Prophet, who at that time was President Kimball.
That revelation allowed the holy priesthood to be bestowed upon all worthy male members of the Church regardless of race.

I was not surprised that it would have been Spencer W. Kimball who was the prophet who diligently sought the Lord's will on this crucial matter that would so fully impact a people who had been "oppressed and downtrodden." I must mention that the entire presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles fully supported this revealed change in Church policy.

As a young married man, I began my career in Church employment as an Indian Seminary teacher with the assistance of Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve whom I had met as a young missionary in Finland in 1954. I later transferred into the Indian Placement Program of the Church, a program he was very instrumental in beginning. I became very aware of the love he had for the Lamanite people (of which American Indians are a part). They were "oppressed and downtrodden" but Elder Kimball knew they would have a bright future because of Book of Mormon prophecies.

In the Book of Mormon, Father Lehi made the following prophecy which directly applies to the large numbers of Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves as well as to the Europeans who migrated here.
II Nephi 1:5. But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.
6. Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. (emphasis added)
I have been aware of this scripture for many years and knew within myself that in the "due time of the Lord" African Americans would be eligible to hold the Priesthood of God and enjoy the Temple blessings in their fullness. Over the years I met many members of this Church who believed that also.

You may ask, "How could the hand of the Lord be involved in the movement of African slaves to the Americas? I'm positive the Lord didn't condone the actions of the slave traders, but I know because of Father Lehi's prophecy you've just read, the Africans who were brought here, were supposed to come to these lands of freedom. The American Civil War was needed to give them more freedom. The Civil Rights Movement was needed for the same reason. Progress in applying liberty to all continues to be needed.

While writing this post I had a very special spiritual experience and was moved to tears as I thought about the ancestors of our African American brothers and sisters who were brought in slavery to this nation which is dedicated to freedom. Some of the words of one of their beautiful and meaningful spirituals which I have heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing over the years, came to my mind and heart as I was writing this.
DEEP RIVER

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Deep river, my home is over Jordan

Deep river,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground


Oh, chillun

Oh, don’t you want to go, to that gospel feast

That promised land, that land where all is

peace?

Walk into heaven, and take a seat

And cast my crown at Jesus feet


Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground

Lord, I want to cross over into campground
Here is a recording of that Spiritual. No names are given of the performers and it appears to be a home recording. I liked it!

Here is a recording of that same Spiritual. The famous American Soprano Marian Anderson performs this time (in about 1939). I liked this one too!


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Then I thought of George Washington Carver, a great scientist who raised himself up from slavery to accomplish so much good. I thrive on homemade peanut butter and I often remember the significant study he made of the nutritional value of peanuts. I would write much more about this great people but space is gone.

Just before being hired as an Indian Seminary teacher by the Church, I served as a Sacramento, CA County Juvenile Probation Officer. One day, one of my fellow probation officers, Peter Brown (of African-American descent), and I, were assigned to drive from Sacramento to San Jose on business. This gave us much time to talk. I really liked working with Peter. He was a very good probation officer and a all-round good man. Knowing, as everybody else in our department did, that I was LDS, Peter brought up the question as to why the LDS Church did not allow "Blacks" to hold the Priesthood.

At one point, Peter told me that an older African-American woman had told him once that the Mormons believe that members of their race have no souls. I let him know there was no truth to that allegation at all.

I told Peter that I was sure that the Priesthood of God would be available someday to all worthy males when the time was right. I just told him that the right time hadn't come yet. I told him that there was a time before the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the establishing of this Church that the time wasn't right for any man on the earth to have the Priesthood of God.

I even suggested that one possible determining factor as to when the Priesthood would be given to men of every race, was there being a sufficient numbers of those already holding that sacred Priesthood who were willing for it to be given to men of every race. In other words, members of this Church had to become the kind of accepting and loving people that I believe the Lord has always wanted His Church's members to be. I don't remember Peter's reaction to that.

I haven't seen Peter since 1962. I hope all is well with him. I hope he joined this church and that he and his family are enjoying temple blessings. If so, hopefully they have done temple work for many of their ancestors, and figuratively, you, Peter, your own family to whom you are sealed and those ancestors of yours for whom you did temple work, would have therefore, "crossed over into camp ground."
Peter, are you out there? Please comment at the end of this post so I can learn how you and your family are doing.
I will end this post by telling all of you how I learned about the Priesthood Revelation and how that affected me.

On June 8, 1978 while seated at my desk at LDS Social Services, Kansas City, Missouri Agency, I received a phone call from our headquarters in Salt Lake City. I was told about the revelation and that made me very happy.

One of the services I was helping to provide in Missouri and in surrounding states, was the adoption of babies of birth mothers who contacted us desiring to place their babies for adoption. Before this phone call I typically told African American birth mothers we couldn't assist them and then helped them find an agency who could. The reason for that explanation is that LDS couples at that time were very hesitant to adopt babies who wouldn't be eligible for temple blessings later in life because of the denial of the Priesthood to males of certain races.

With the announcement of the "revelation," I eagerly began to anticipate being helpful to African-American birth mothers who called for help. That did begin to happen and has continued with LDS Family Services.

I have enjoyed reading in the paper and listening to reports on TV about the official Commemoration Program held recently by the Church in the Conference Center.

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TO ACCESS NEIL BIRCH'S BLOG INDEX: To Either Read the Full Index Item Which Refers To This Blog Post, (Or To Search The Index For Any Other Blog Post You Desire To Access), After You Have Read All of This Paragraph, Please Click on the Following: Priesthood Revelation Commemoration . . . -Post 11. When The Picture of Our Savior, Jesus Christ Sitting Next To a Little Boy Comes Onto Your Screen, Pease Scroll Down In The Index To Your Target Item Or Use the Alphabetical Scrolling Device (When It Has Been Installed).
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I deeply appreciate your readership and hope you found very beneficial, that which was presented to you in this blog post.
If you have any questions about what you have read in this post or in any previous posts of mine, or if you even have a curiosity about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and or its teachings, please e-mail me. I'm Neil and my e-mail address is: jneilmelva@gmail.com. If you contact me I'll get back to you just as soon as possible.
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Neil Birch

1 comment:

patrickslament said...

Brother Birch

How God called you to this man when he asked you that difficult question. I for one wouldnt have had the answers for him nor would anyone else then again i dont think that he would have asked just anyone. God used you to til that soil and to plan that seed. You did your part in the posible restoration of a soul, of a brother. The blessings you must have received.

I for one brother am blessed to have met you. You were nice to me and talked to me like a person, like a brother as we all are that. Thank you Brother Birch for your wisdom and your choice to lsiten to the spirit when Peter asked you that question.

Brother Paul Howey