June 8, 1978
To all general and local priesthood officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world:
As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.
Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.
SPENCER W. KIMBALL
N. ELDON TANNER
MARION G. ROMNEY
Today we commemorate the 1978 revelation opening the priesthood to all worthy male members regardless of race. We’ve had some great posts this week and interesting discussions on the ban. Today we’d like to reflect on the revelation. Leonard Arrington, in Adventures of a Church Historian, quotes Spencer Kimball saying simply about the revelation, “isn’t it beautiful?”
Whether informed by culture, prejudices of church leaders/members, or anything else, the ban shows a part of church history that is difficult to reconcile for many members, as we have found this week. I find comfort in Bruce R. McConkie’s address to a CES symposium in August 1978:
“Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.
We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.”
I don’t think that all the darkness of the past is erased, but I think McConkie’s quote gives us a charge to move forward, learning from the past in order to build a stronger church in which we all welcome each other with open arms, ultimately building a Zion like that described in 4 Nephi without “any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.”
Thank you for participating in our commemoration this week. We’d like to hear your thoughts and memories on the revelation of 1978.