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1978 (Revelation on the priesthood ** )

1978 Revelation on the Priesthood — thoughts by President Dallin H. Oaks

At an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood called “Be One”, President Dallin H. Oaks shared some very personal thoughts about the momentous event in church history.  These remarks were reported in the June 10, 2018 edition of the Church News.  President Oaks’ thoughts are revealing and inspiring.  I share some of President Oaks’ thoughts below:

  • “Events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the attacks on 9/11 forever persist in one’s memory.  For Latter-day Saints who were adults at that time, the 1978 revelation on the priesthood was an event of such magnitude that it is also etched in memory.”
  • President Oaks received a phone call from Elder Boyd K. Packer, informing him of the new revelation.  “He told me about the revelation on the priesthood, which was just being announced.  We exchanged expression of joy, and I walked back to the hillside where I had been working.  I sat down on a pile of dirt we had been moving and beckoned to my sons.  As I told them that all worthy male members of the Church could now be ordained to the priesthood, I wept for joy.”
  • As a student and later a young lawyer, President Oaks lived in the U. S. Midwest.  The restriction on the ordination and temple blessings of persons of African ancestry was the subject of frequent conversations.  “I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons.  I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them.”
  • Prayerful study taught him that the Lord rarely gives reasons for His commandments and directions.  “I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray – as promised from the beginning of these restrictions – that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple.  Now that day had come, and I wept for joy.”
  • So many of those who rejoiced at the announcement were Anglo-Americans “who witnessed the pain of black brothers and sisters and longed for their relief. “
  • “The reasons that had been given to try to explain the prior restrictions on members of African ancestry – even those previously voiced by revered Church leaders – were promptly and publicly disavowed.”   Church leaders now concentrate on the “opportunities of the future” rather than the “disappointments of the past.  Focusing on what has not been revealed or past explanations by those operating with limited understanding can only result in speculation and frustration.”

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