Monday, June 10, 2013

35 Years Later -- Memories of the revelation on the priesthood

Saturday was the 35th anniversary of the announcement of extension of priesthood blessings to all worthy male members of the church, that is the lifting of the priesthood ban. This item from LDS Living highlights some of the implications and is worth a read.

It often happens that we remember where we were when certain big things happen in our lives. I remember where I was when I heard this news. I was a missionary serving in Worms, Germany. Our branch president lived in Mannheim and we had just knocked on his door. His 20-something daughter answered the door, saw us and excitedly said, “The Blacks can have the priesthood!” I stood in the hallway outside their apartment, stunned.

As it happened, the branch president had gone to a leadership meeting with the stake leaders where he heard the news.

Years later as I read accounts of the process that President Kimball followed in receiving and then sharing that revelation, I wept at the care and love he showed. I was aware that President McKay had sought similar revelation years earlier and did not receive it; still he also did his best to exercise care and love within the bounds that he felt surrounded him.

In October 2011, after the announcement of new temples in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo prompted this blog post from me, which I reprint here because of its relationship to the lifting of the priesthood ban.

New African Temples and Me
I know that several new temples were announced in conference, and as interesting as good fishing in Wyoming sounds to me (btw, interesting is that word your mother taught you to use when you couldn’t think of a nice one), it was the two new African temples that caught my attention.
I have never been to Africa, but my parents lived in Lagos, Nigeria while I was on my mission in the late 1970’s. During those years President Kimball announced the revelation on the extension of the priesthood to all worthy men of the church.

I have in my missionary journal a letter from my mother in which she writes:

Yesterday, Sunday, August 20, 1978 marked a day of history.

On Friday, Brother Merrill Bateman [then a BYU professor] and Edwin Q. Cannon, first counselor in the International Mission presidency arrived in Lagos. They visited us, Brother Miller, a Brother Miller-Aganemi who became a member of the church while doing graduate work in Utah. He is a native Nigerian and is, of course, black. Yesterday [we] held a REAL meeting. [My folks had been meeting just the two of them each week, with Brother Miller joining them a time or two a month.] Sacrament was observed, testimonies and one calling and setting-apart. And this is the “first.” Your Dad was called to be Nigerian Group Leader, to locate those Nigerian men who were baptized during their educational periods in the U.S. and have since returned to this country. These men will now have the opportunity to realize the priesthood.

I would never have imagined that my convert parents would be on the cutting edge of the history of the church. To be sure, they were on the edge. Two senior missionary couples later came to Nigeria and Ghana and did the heavy lifting regarding the initial growth of the church there. They visited with my folks from time to time, but the real work was far from Lagos. But decades later temples came to Ghana and to Nigeria.

I’ve been interested in the development of the church in Africa since my parents were there. An additional temple in South Africa is a great thing. And a temple in the Democratic Republic of Congo is awesome to me. More blessings closer to more people. The Johannesburg South Africa Temple is 350 miles from Durban, and over 2,000 miles from Kinshasa.

I look forward to more African temples in the future.

BTW, you can read my latest post at Real Intent, "Becoming Father," here.


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