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Title: The History Behind the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood

Kicker: Edward Kimball writes about his fathers revelation on all worthy men in the Church
receiving the priesthood.
Highlights:
In his article Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood, Edward Kimball, the son
of President Spencer W. Kimball, discusses the people and events involved with the 1978
revelation on the priesthood during President Kimballs time serving as the prophet of the
Church. This revelation became a pivotal point in President Kimballs administration and in the
history of the Church.
In 1852, shortly after the saints arrived in Utah, Brigham Young announced that men of black
African descent could not hold the priesthood or participate in temple ordinances, although they
could continue to participate in other Church ordinances, such as baptism and receiving
the Holy Ghost. This ban continued for almost 100 years. Over the course of the century,
the topic of removing the ban was raised by members of the First Presidency multiple
times, but since all twelve of the Brethren need to unanimously agree in order for major
changes to occur within the church, the ban was not reversed.
When President Kimball was growing up, almost everymany Latter-day Saint accepted the ban
on the priesthood without question. n. The ban prevented black members from holding the
priesthood or receiving temple ordinances. Many However, some members of the Church
speculated on the origin of the ban, and , as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum,
many Americans began criticizing the Church for supposedly discriminating against non-white
members. others defended it by arguing that it was based on scriptural authority. In the
meantime, during the Civil Rights Movement, many Americans began criticizing the Church for
supposedly discriminating against non-white members. All the while, black members of the
Churchparticularly in Africawaited and prayed for the ban to be lifted so they could
receive the blessings of the priesthood.
President Kimball also wondered if the ban should be reversed. He pondered the promises
made by previous prophets, most notably Brigham Young himself, that black members would
one day receive priesthood and temple blessings. However, President Kimball , but he only
wanted to reverse the banit if it was Gods will, rather than bow to not because of societal
pressure. In 1963, ten years before becoming the President of the Church, he stated: "When the
Lord is ready to relax the restriction, it will come whether there is pressure or not. This is my
faith. Until then, I shall try to fight on. . . . but I am so completely convinced that the prophets
know what they are doing and the Lord knows what he is doing, that I am willing to rest it
there."
In 1978, President Kimball, his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began to fast
and pray to see if the Lord should allow the Church to extend the priesthood to all worthy male
members. What followed became one of the most spiritual experiences of President Kimball and
the Apostles lives. President Gordon B. Hinckley later stated: "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. . . . And by the power of the Holy
Ghost there came to that prophet an assurance that the thing for which he prayed was
right, that the time had come." President Kimball also later said, I felt an overwhelming
spirit there, a rushing flood of unity such as we had never had before. On June 9th, 1978,
it was publicly announced that all worthy male members of the Church could receive
the priesthood, regardless of race. The declaration was canonized by the LDS Church at
general conference on September 30, 1978.
Edward Kimball reiterated in his article Spencer W. Kimball's loyalty to God and the Brethren
and his trust in the Lord. "He [Spencer W. Kimball] did not come to leadership intending to be a
reformer, but he was not afraid of change. His only desire was to push the work of the Church
forward. If doing so required changes, he stood prepared to make them." Because of President
Kimball's faith in revelation and the Lord's timing, the Church moved forward and the voice of
the Lord was heard.

Read Edward Kimballs full article, Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood.
So he, his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began to fast and pray to see if the
Lord should allow the Church to extend the priesthood to all worthy male members. He knew
that if it was time to eliminate the ban, then all the Brethren needed to agree on it. There couldnt
be any doubts. What followed with the revelation that they received in the Salt Lake Temple
became one of the most spiritual experiences of President Kimball and the Apostles lives.
Source: BYU Scholars Archive
Read Edward Kimballs full article, Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood.
Shane Peterson, Mormon Insights

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Find more insights

Learn more about the history of blacks and the priesthood and the First Presidency's 1978
revelation about the priesthood in the Gospel Topic essay "Race and the Priesthood."

Read the Gospel Principle chapter "Priesthood Organization" to discover more about the two
divisions of the priesthood: the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Watch or read Spencer W. Kimballs general conference talks, including "God Will Not Be
Mocked" and "Give Me This Mountain."