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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.
This Post was originally posted as My Post 11 on June 14, 2008
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 when he visited the Finland, Helsinki Mission.
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 Native Americans 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 I believe, 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 had 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 sure the Lord didn't condone the actions of the slave traders, but I believe that because of Father Lehi's prophecy, 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 in the United States of America.
While writing this post I had a very special spiritual experience and was moved to tears when 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 post. I wasn't able to find their recording of this beautiful spiritual, but did find this beautiful version sung by Matus Tomko. I hope you are touched deeply by this Negro Spiritual which is so well performed:
I thought of George Washington Carver, a great black scientist who raised himself up from slavery to accomplish so much good. I thrive on peanut butter and I often remember that he made a significant study of the nutritional value of peanuts. I would write much more about this great people but space is gone.
Then just before being hired as an Indian Seminary teacher by the Church, I was employed in Sacramento, California (U.S.A.) as a Sacramento 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 Probation Department business. This gave us much time to talk.
I really liked working with Peter. He was a very good probation officer and an all-round good man. As I was driving us to San Jose, Peter, knowing as everybody else in our department did that I was LDS, questioned why the LDS Church did not allow Blacks to hold the Priesthood of God.
I told Peter that I was sure that the Priesthood of God would be given 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.
At one point in our drive to San Jose 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 at all to that allegation.
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 more fully 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 has learned more fully about this church and then was baptized into church membership. If that be the case I hope 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 would have been sealed and those ancestors of yours for whom you did temple work, would have therefore, crossed over together into camp ground.
Peter, are you out there? Please e-mail me when you finish reading this post if you have happened to find and read it. My e-mail address is given in the final section of this post.
I will end this post by telling all of you how I learned about the Priesthood Revelation received through President Spencer W. Kimball and how that affected me.
On June 8, 1978 while seated at my desk at the 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 sealings when they were old enough because of the denial of the Priesthood to males of their race.
After the official announcement of the Revelation on the Availability of Priesthood to All Races, 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.
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" in the world generally. He had learned to love Native Americans, which love he had learned from his own father.
I enjoyed reading (on June 8th and 9th, 2008) in the newspaper and listening to reports on TV about the official Commemoration Program held by the Church in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (U.S.A)
Blogger's Note: This post was originally posted on March 16, 2008 as my post #11. I have added the "TODAY'S THEME" title. There have been a few other additions and changes made to it. A notable addition is that of the video of the Spiritual, "Deep River."
The following link, when clicked upon, will allow you to view the latest Mormon Messages Video. You will find it very well done and hopefully will be applicable to you and to your particular needs.
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