Joseph Brigham Keeler.

First steps in church government; what church government is and what is does. A book for young members of the lesser priesthood online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryJoseph Brigham KeelerFirst steps in church government; what church government is and what is does. A book for young members of the lesser priesthood → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


433 07998365

tr Publtshepg Weekly
May 27 o7




A Book for Young Members
of the Lesser Prieilhood.


Sail Lake City.





In the Year Nineteen Hundred and Six


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress


It is gratifying to note the interest taken of
late in Quorum work, especially in those lines
which pertain to the lower offices in the Priest-
hood. The earnest, patient, and kindly efforts
now being put forth in this direction, are bound
to yield splendid results in the near future.

Along with this desire to improve the Quor-
ums and so enlarge their field of usefulness, have
come a demand for some kind of systematic out-
lines as an aid to the work. The hope is therefore
entertained that these "First Steps In Church
Government" will be found helpful to all those
who desire to study this subject.

I take this opportunity of expressing my

hearty thanks to all who have contributed in

anv manner to make possible the publication of

this little volume. May their reward be in the

thought that perhaps some young man who

reads its pages may be led to a better knowledge

and a higher appreciation of the power of that

Priesthood which is after the order of the Son of

God, and the perfection of that Government

which day by day becomes an increasing marvel

of the world. /. B. K.

Brigham Young University.

Provo, Utah, November, 1906.


Salt Lake City. Nov. 28, 1906.

President Joseph F. Smith and Counselors,
President's Office, City:

Dear Brethren: — Having been appointed
as a committee to examine the little work b}^
Elder Joseph B. Keeler, on ''First Steps in
Church Government," we desire to report that
we have carefully examined the manuscript of
the said work and can heartily recommend it
for general use among the quorums of the Lesser
Priesthood. In our judgment such a work is
needed to instruct the young men of the Church
in the various duties of the Priesthood and to
prepare them for the many responsibilities that
will eventually devolve upon them.
We are most respectfully,

Your Brethren,

Francis M. Lyman.
George Reynolds,
Joseph F. Smith, Jr.



T Page.

Lesson. t /- i 1

I Government In General ^

II The Ward Organization o

III The Ward Government J^

IV Voting and What it Means ^^'

V Priesthood and Office ■ • ^^

VI Priesthood and Office (Contmued) i^

VII An Explanation of Priesthood 4b

VIII Message of John the Baptist ■.••••■ • ^^

IX Historical Development of Councds and

Quorums • ■ • ■ •. ^/L

X Ohject and Value of Quorum Meetmgs.. 6^


Lesson. _ 77

XI Benefits of Church Government ^ //

XII Our Obligations Under Church Govern-

ment 09

XIII Help for the Poor and Untorlunate V-

XIV Ward Property its Care and Improvement W
XV Moral and Spiritual Duties ^^]^

XVI Home Education • ■■ }}^

XVH Citizenship in Church Government 11^

XVIII The Lord's Supper .^ -°

XIX Revenue for Church Government ^

XX The Peacemaker and Bishops Court.... 1^+^


Honor the Lord by Honoring His Saints.-By

Prof. Richard T. Haae ■■•••-•••;•••.••,■•• o

Roll of the Aaronic Priesthood.— By the Author. . J


Experiences in the Lesser Priesthood. — By Elder

George Reynolds 16

Inspiration Comes to the Young as Well as the

Old.— By Prof. Josiah E. Hickman 24

An Unexpected Reproof. — By Elder C. Y. Taggart 32
Stephen, the Chief Deacon and Martyr. — By the

• Author 39

Spirit of the Lesser Priesthood. — By President

Wm. H. Smart 47

Martyrdom of John the Baptist. — By the Author. . 56
Incidents in the Missouri Persecutions. — By Ed-
ward Partridge, First Presiding Bishop of the

. Church 65

Incidents in the Ministry of Newel K. Whitney,
Second Presiding Bishop of the Church. — By

Apostle Orson F. Whitney 1Z

Anecdotes of Edward Hunter, Third Presiding

Bishop of the Church.— By Elder C. F Decker. . 82
Incidents in the Life of William B. Preston, Pre-
siding Bishop of the Church. — By Harriet A.

Preston 89

"I Will Send My Messenger."— By Prof. Alfred

Osmond 96

A Praiseworthy Act 98

Gifts of the Spirit.— By Elder John B. Milner 102

Experiences of President Woodruff When He
Traveled as a Priest — How He Received the

Priesthood 108

Experiences of President Woodruff When He
Traveled as a Priest — A Dream and its Fulfill-
ment 115

Experiences of President Woodruff When He
Traveled as a priest. — Alone in an Alligator

Swamp. — Alone Preaching 123

Why Water is Used Instead of Wine in the Lord's

Supper 131

A Deacon's Testimony that God Answers Prayer.

—By Dr. John A. Widtsoe 139

A Boy's Dying Request. — By President George H.
Brimhall 150


Importance of Training in the Offices of
THE Lesser Priesthood.

Letter from President Francis M. Lyman to the

My Dear Brother: In early days it was not
the custom of the Bishop of my ward to bring the
boys of twelve years of age and over into the
quorums of the Lesser Priesthood, nor to give
them in a practical way the training they should

My first ordination was to the office of Elder,
at the age of sixteen years. I have always re-
gretted that I was not ordained successively to
the offices of the Lesser Priesthood, and thereby
trained in the duties thereof. Every boy who is
worthy is entitled to ordination in the Priest-
hood, before he reaches his majority. He should,
moreover, be carefully instructed and trained in
its various duties and callings. Lie should be
taught and practiced in the proprieties of prayer;
should be thoroughly taught and practiced in the
])rinciples of life; should be made familiar with
the ordinances of the Gospel ; should be trained
in the Spirit of the Lord, that he may know its
promptings. lie should be taught and practiced
in teaching, warning, cx])ounding. cxh(^rting. and
inviting all to come to Christ.

Much of the labor of the Lesser Priesthood is
neglected ; this is especially true of the obligation
set forth in the forty-seventh verse of section
twenty of the Doctrine and Covenants; namely.


"to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch
over the Church."

So much depends upon the prayer of faith to
secure to the Saints the Spirit, without which
their efforts to be Saints will be vain.

I have never attended an ideal or model quorum
meeting- of the Lesser Priesthood. I am sure,
however, that the members of the Lesser Priest-
hood would feel g^reater interest in their calling
if they were put into active service.

This fact is strikingly true of the Higher
Priesthood. The more service they perform, the
more skillful they become and the better they en-
joy their work. Their happiest days are those
spent in the mission field. There may be just as
much happiness at home for the Lesser Priest-
hood, provided their service for the Master shall
be equally zealous and devoted.

It is devoted service and faithful work for
the saving of souls, that bring joy and comfort
to the human heart. We learn to work by work-
ing; we also love to work by working.

I know^ of no richer field for our young men
to labor in than in Zion. Here they are at home.
It is an inexpensive mission. No violent opposi-
tion will be offered. The field is ample. There
is variety — the spice of life and work.

The young should have the companionship of
the experienced — some one who can come to the
rescue, if need me, in the lesson. Yet every one
should be allowed to develop self-reliance by be-
ing left to feel his own weight and not being al-
ways carried.

Salt Lake City, Utah, July 31, 1906.


What Church Government Is.



Definition of Government — What is Office — Who
ARE Officers.

Public Service. — Let lis consider briefly a
few things with which all are more or less
familiar. You no doubt have seen persons
engaged in public work — work that is for the
good of all. For example, you have noticed
the road-supervisor making and repairing the
roads ; the policeman walking his beat ; the
tax-assessor listing and valuing the people's
property ; the postmaster distributing the
mail ; and the justice of the peace, or the judge
hohhng court. You have also observed the
]^)ishop of the ward presiding at meetings and
otherwise ministering among the people in
various ways; you have seen the Deacon, the
Teacher, and the Priest going al)out their
res|)ective duties; the Elders attending to the


ordinance of baptism, — and many other things
of a like kind, which public men are doing,
has doubtless attracted your attention.

Definition of Government. — Now, public
service of this nature is called Government.
For government, in a general way, is the doing
of public work. The word government also
means the exercise of authority. Men do not
undertake public duties unless they have the
right and authority conferred upon them
either by the members of the Church, or by
the citizens.

There are several kinds of government in
the world today. I shall name only two just
now — the two kinds we have been talking
about. They are Church government, and
Civil government. Church government is
that form which is carried on by men ap-
pointed by the Church under the authority
of the Priesthood. Civil government is the
form carried on by men chosen by the citizens
of the town, the county, or the state. The
word "civil" comes from the term ''citizen."
Of course, citizens who are members of the
Church, live under two governments. Both
of these forms of government are familiar to
you, for the reason that you come in contact
with them almost every day.

The Meaning of Office. — Another thing
which you should understand about govern-
ment is, that all public service, including
church work, is divided into parts or offices.


The work of carrying on government
is so great, and the labor is so varied in kind,
that it is very necessary to separate it into de-
partments called offices. Yon will see this at
once, if you reflect how great is the variety of
things to be done.

Officers. — A person called to perform labor
connected with any one of the parts or offices
in the Church, or civil government, is styled
an officer, an official, or an officeholder. Ac-
cordingly, a Deacon is an officer of the
Church ; he is an officer because he is
appointed to do a certain kind of work — that
is, to minister and to serve the people of
the Church. Just so is the precinct justice of
the peace an officer, because he is chosen by
the citizens to perform a particular class of
public duties.

Thus you will find that in every community
there is government of some kind ; that the
governmental work is divided into depart-
ments or offices; and that the offices are filled
by persons known as officers. This, however,
is not all that could be said about government,
office, and officers. The whole subject is a
large one, and the more it is studied, the more
interesting it becomes.


1. Look in the dictionary for the meaning of the
words, "povernmcnt." "office." and "officer."

2. The word government is used in two senses ;
first, government consists of customs, rules, or laws,
directing the people what to do, and what hot to do;


second, it consists of officers, or public officials, whose
business it is to have these rules or laws enforced.

3. The main laws that govern Church members
have been given by God : the laws that govern the citi-
zens have been enacted by legislatures.

4. What is that department of government called
which has charge of the U. S. Mail? Name several
parts or divisions of town and county government.
Name the head department of a ward of the Church; of
a stake of Zion.

5. Write a list of official names of all Church of-
ficers in a ward, commencing the list with "Bishop."

6. Mention some public work that is often done by
some officer of a ward, and that has not been pointed
out in this lesson. Tell of something you do, as an of-

Hints for Practice. — Arrange for the Lesser Priest-
hood to act, through their respective quorums, as ush-
ers, and otherwise attend to the comfort of the saints in
ward meetings, and also at conferences. They should
be properly instructed and drilled in this duty by some
competent person.


Honor the Lord by Honoring His Saints. — By Prof.
Richard T. Haag.

In my native city, in Germany, I frequently follow-
ed the Royal military band in its march to the beau-
tiful gardens near the king's residence. Often, as the
musicians were discoursing soul-inspiring tunes, under
the direction of the concert master, they found it con-
venient to call some of the boys from among the spec-
tators to assist them in holding their music. How proud


we boys felt, when we were so fortunate as to be called
to render such assistance !

Small as was the service, we knew it was a neces-
sary part of the work. What an inspiration it gave, as
we looked up and over the musician, and then towards
the leader ; while in the distance, we could see • he
royal palace, where resided the king for whom the band
was playing.

At fifteen years of age, soon after I came to Utah,
I was called and ordained a Deacon, in the ward where
I lived. It was while performing some small duty, such
as cleaning the house of worship, chopping wood for
some widow, passing the sacred emblems of the Sacra-
ment, or acting as usher — that I felt a pride similar to
that awakened when assisting the musicians. I knew
that 1 was acting a necessary part, and humbly contrib-
uting my share to the worship and praise of the Lord.
Beyond my work appeared a picture of the Bishop and
the presiding Priesthood. " And in the distance I saw
"the Royal Court on High," where dwells the King
whom we all serve.

What an honor to work for Him, and to serve His
Saints ! I would to God that we could all feel like
David of old, who would rather be a doorkeeper in the
Lord's Mouse than a king on his throne.




How Composed — Size — Population — Buildings — Oth-
er Property — By Whom Organized.

A Bishop's Ward is an important part or
division of a stake of Zion, and may be com-
pared to a city or a village, which is a subdi-
vision of a county. Sometimes a ward com-
prises a whole town, being the same in extent,
though often you will find large towns divided
into two or more wards. A ward is a com-
munity by itself, being composed of members
of the Church. It has a geographical location
with certain well defined boundaries, and pos-
sesses a government of its own, termed ''local
Church government."

A Bishop's ward is sometimes called "an
ecclesiastical ward." The word ''ecclesiastical"
means about the same as "church," and relates
to church government. You should learn to
make a distinction between an "ecclesiastical"
ward and a "municipal" ward. A municipal
ward is a subdivision of a city, and relates to
political government.

The Size and Population of wards vary.
In thinly settled districts the country enclosed


within the boundary lines may be quite large,
yet the population small. But usually as to
numbers, wards range in size from a dozen
families or so up to nearly three hundred, or
from one hundred to fifteen hundred souls. In
leng-th and breadth, however, the average
ward is not very extensive. In most cases it is
laid out with reference to the convenience of
the people ; so as to enable them ordinarily to
go to and from their public gatherings in a
reasonable length of time.

An organization smaller than a ward (in a
stake) is known as a Branch.

Buildings and Other Property. — All cities,
states, and nations have their public buildings,
such as city halls, court-houses, jails, state-
houses, capitols, and many others which you
could doubtless name. Besides these, they
own parks, museums, libraries, and other
kinds of property too numerous to mention
here. It is necessary for them to erect and
own public buildings, in order to carry on the
vast business belonging to their respective
governments. It will readily be seen that offi-
cials need houses or convenient places in
which to do their work, and keep the public
records. Parks, libraries, museums, school-
houses, and the like are provided for the gen-
eral education and well being of the ])eople.

Now churches, or church governments,
midcrtakc similar things. In a ward, the chief
building is generally the meetinghouse, or
church. This structure is built mainlv bv do-


nations received from the members comoris-
ing the ward ; but of late years some means
have been contributed from the tithes for this
purpose. The main object of a meetinghouse
is to furnish members a place for public wor-
ship, and to this end it is dedicated and set
apart. But often the meetinghouse is used for
other gatherings ; as quorum meetings, lec-
tures, Sunday schools, socials, and proper
amusements. The ward organization may also
own other property — real and personal — such
as relief society halls, granaries, building lots,
amusement halls, libraries, groves, farms, and
so on. There is really no limit to the amount
of property a ward may own for the benefit of
its members.

Ward Property is Church Property. — An-
other important thing to remember about
ward property, is the fact that it belongs also
to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints ; all ward property is the common prop-
erty of the whole Church, just as a ward mem-
ber is a member of the Church at large. In no
sense is a ward an independent church. It is
of one Church, one membership, one common
interest, and one spirit.

Its First Organization. — A ward is first
laid out and organized by the Presidency of
the Stake in which the ward is to be located.
These officials act on instruction given by the
First Presidency of the Church. When a ward
has increased in numbers to an extent that the
officials cannot properly serve the people, then


the authorities may divide it into two or three


1. What is the difference between an ecclesiastical
ward, and a municipal ward?

2. Mention some cities in your locality that have
more than one Bishop's ward.

3. Give the boundaries of your own ward ; also
the number of Church members belonging to it.

4. Name all* the public buildings in your ward, and
pieces of land belonging to the Church, together with
other Church property. How did the ward obtain its

5. As there are several wards comprising a stake,
they are known by numbers, as first, second, third, etc.,
or by names ; sometimes wards take the name of the
town or district where located. How are wards desig-
nated in your stake? What is the difference between
a "branch" of the Church and a ward?

Hints for Practice. — Priests should be instructed
in the simple details connected with the ordinance of
baptism. And when the regular baptisms are attended
to in the ward, they may be called to officiate.


Roll of the Aaronic Priesthood, Jiniuary I, 1906.

In 1833, Kirtland, Ohio, was designated by the Lord
as a Stake of Zion. This was the first. Today there
are fifty-five Stakes organized, and twenty foreign mis-
sions. Tf you count the Stakes that were organized in
the early days of the Church in Ohio, Miasouri, Illinois,


and Iowa, (now disorganized,) together with those now
existing, and then take an average, you will find that
there has been one Stake organized about every sixteen
months from ''SSS to the present.

The fifty-five Stakes now organized are made up of
six hundred and thirty-two wards. This would mean
also that we have 632 ward Bishops in the Church.
Each Bishop has two counselors, making a total of 1,896
officials presiding over the Lesser Priesthood.

In round numbers there are four thousand Priests en-
rolled upon the Church records. If these were organ-
ized they would form 83 quorums and a fraction of a
quorum. But of course, under prevailing conditions,
they could not be thus compactly organized. Again, if
all the Priests -vere distributed among the Bishops as
near equally a^ could be, then 424 Bishops would have
six Priests to preside over, and the remaining 208
Bishops would have seven Priests in their councils. You
see this is a little less than one-seventh of a quorum
for each ward Bishop in the Church. I believe, how-
ever, that in the future, the number of Priests will be
proportionately increased. The Church is growing, and
its government expanding ; and all good things do not
'^ome at once.

At present there are five thousand two hundred and
forty-three Teachers — enough to make nearly two hun-
dred and nineteen quorums. If this little army, going
two by two, were to malse six visits a year in their re-
spective beats, and an average of six calls each time,
there would be 2,621 families who would receive coun-
sel, instruction, and comfort from 15,726 visits, made by
these standing ministers. What a blessing to the peo-
ple ! what a wise provision of Church government !


Now we come to the Deacons : There are seventeen
thousand, five hundred and eighty-six of them, mostly
new recruits. If this number were divided into quor-
ums, and each quorum were full, there would be 1,465
quorums. Let us figure a little more : Suppose each of
these quorums were to devote one day a year to some
manual labor, such as helping farmers with their har-
vests, or doing some necessary work in the city for
some one who wants help, and they earn, say three dol-
lars to a quorum. This would aggregate a sum equal
to $4,395.00, which would keep continuously in the field
twenty missionaries. Also this sum would go a long
way towards supplying books and stationery for all the
orphans and children of the widows in the Church ; or
possibly, it would purchase enough hay annually to feed
all the poor widows' cows. It is not likely, however,
that all the quorums will be called on to give the result
of one day's labor to any one cause, but each quorum
in every ward can easily calculate how to do some good
by a united effort.

To conclude : I shall give you a few more statistics
as reported on January 1, 1906. The total enrollment
of the Aaronic Priesthood is 26,827 members. Enroll-
ment of the Mclchisedek Priesthood is 7,519 H-gh
Priests, 8,255 Seventies, and 19,444 Elders, making a
total of 35,318. The grand total of both branches of
the Priesthood is 62,145.



Definition of Ward — Officers Necessary for Ward
Government — Some of Their Duties — Relative
Importance of Priesthood Quorums and Aux-
iliary Organizations.

The Term Ward commonly means a certain
division, section or quarter of a town or city.
Sometimes a town or city is thus divided for
the convenient transaction of local public bus-
iness. But with us, a ward is understood to be
a branch or section of the Church, or more
properly, a definite part and portion of a
stake of Zion.

OfBcers Necessary. — The ward, as an or-
ganized body, cannot act for itself; it can act
only through agents or officers appointed to
look after its interests. Not only must the
business afifairs of the members be cared for in
their time and place, but their moral and spir-
itual interests as well must be safeguarded.
As you already know, the mayor of a city, the
justice of the peace, the councilman, the re-
corder, and in fact all municipal officers, are
the business agents of the citizens ; there could
be no city government without them. Like-


wise, there could be no ward government
without a set of regularly appointed ecclesias-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryJoseph Brigham KeelerFirst steps in church government; what church government is and what is does. A book for young members of the lesser priesthood → online text (page 1 of 9)