The Seventy. Part 6: The Kimball/Benson/Hinckley Revolution.

[If you haven’t seen the predecessors, you can find them all here.]

Church growth during the 1960s and 70s placed increased pressure on the apostles in their role in local priesthood organization and regulation to say nothing of bureaucratic administration at headquarters. Stake conferences were reduced in number to 2 per year, the First Council, the Assistants and Regional Representatives were in place, but more help would be needed based on growth predictions. In 1975, the First Presidency and the Twelve made public the decision to reconstitute the First Quorum. The First Council would again be known as the Presidency of the Seventy. Three new men were called into the quorum and the first quorum was defined as a body of general authorities.

Spencer W. Kimball. Asked First Council to put up or shut up. They put up, he bought it.


One year previous to this, seventies quorums were redistributed to stake jurisdictions, no longer would quorums cross stake boundaries. For some decades, stake presidents were authorized to use the seventies in various ways. Now they had them where they wanted them.[1] The stake seventies presidencies were now the stake mission presidencies. The First Council’s role was again diminished in the lives of the quorums.

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The Seventy. Part 5: McKay Turns the Tide.

David O. McKay - Agent of Change


[All parts of this post may be found here.]

From Roberts’ death (1933) up to 1960, First Council members were called from the ranks of the seventies quorums and the elders. Still no high priests allowed. The First Council visited missions and stakes, but could not perform much administrative work there. Then in 1960, David O. McKay decided that the current members of the First Council could be ordained high priests and yet maintain their membership in that body. The news rocked the LDS world a bit (just a bit–the reason: HC 2:476. Check note 3 in part 4 for why that angst was probably unfounded). This move opened the way for the First Council to perform administrative work in the stakes on an as needed basis.[1] They went when the 12 or their assistants could not, or they (the 12) formed teams with the First Council, training them in place. The members of the First Council had never come out of the ranks of the local church leaders like bishops or stake presidents and consequently were seen as somewhat eclectic in their approach. Now things were different. The flow from below would change.
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The Seventy. Part 4: B. H. Roberts Era.

B. H. Roberts as Body Retrieval Operative

[All parts of this post may be found here.]
The new guard among the First Council took their responsibilities seriously, met together frequently and did their best to help train the missionary force of the Church. Unfortunately the pattern in force for calling missionaries at the time made calls to elders, who were then ordained seventies and sent on their way. Hence the seventies quorums were mostly filled with men who had already served and would likely not serve again. The men of the First Council served as mission presidents from time to time, and more than once each in many cases. Most of these men were dynamic preachers and good writers. In 1901 the First Presidency and Twelve decided that elders had all necessary authority to serve as missionaries. The character of the seventy’s quorums began to change. More on this later.
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The Seventy. Part 3: John Taylor.

John Taylor produces two written revelations on the Seventy - and a cool beard

[All parts of this post may be found here.]
The year Brigham died (1877) a massive reorganization took place in local church operations. President Young staffed Intermountain West stakes (getting apostles out of the business of being stake presidents), releasing the corps of “acting” bishops, filling out bishoprics with high priests as counselors, filling high council vacancies, redrawing stake boundaries for more effective work, etc. (12 stakes were organized in 1877, an unheard of number). The effect on the seventies was large -they filled the gaps in high priest need by being ordained to the high priesthood – and at the same time, a moratorium was instituted on ordaining new seventies. After Brigham’s death and the 1880 reorganization of the First Presidency, John Taylor began to pressure the First Council (three of whom were non-functioning and one deceased without being replaced) to deliver names of seventies to fill mission assignments.
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The Seventy. Part 2: The High Priesthood.

[All parts of this post may be found here.]

One of the things that plagued the office of Seventy was its position relative to the high priesthood (I use the term as it was used in the 19th century – a synonym for the office of high priest). While Joseph does not seem to have given too much thought to these kinds of questions, Brigham Young had expansive views on both the apostleship and the office of Seventy. With the huge expansion of seventies quorums, indeed their intended use as the major component of the missionary force of the Church, the question was often raised as to how these officers could manage or ordain high priests should that occasion arise. Brigham saw the apostles as superior to the high priests out of necessity. Moreover, it was the apostles who were in charge when it came to the esoteric ordinances of the future temple. Running counter to this was the considerable status conferred by revelation and history on the high priests. The apostles took every opportunity to assert not only their right to direct and regulate the high priesthood, but Brigham at least saw the Seventy in a similar light.
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The Seventy. Part 1: Joseph Smith and Co.

[All parts of this post may be found here.]

Recently the Church web site, lds.org ran a three part series (with President Boyd K. Packer and President Ronald A. Rasband) on the Seventy and their current relationship with the Twelve Apostles. That got me thinking about this group of Church leaders and with conference coming, it seemed appropriate to talk about them a little.
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