The Twelve and the Seventy – Part Two

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I’ve written about the LDS Church’s quorums of seventy before: The Twelve and Seventy: An Interview With Pres. Packer, Part 1Organization of LDS Church, Part 2Chart of LDS General AuthoritiesHow Many Children do the Seventy Have?

The LDS Church posted the second part of a discussion of the roles and responsibilities of the Seventies. This is from an interview with Pres. Packer (video embedded at the end of the post).

The interview is interesting but I think that what is equally interesting is the timeline of the Seventy. I’ll highlight a few dates and points that I found particularly interesting.

1835 – First Quorum of the Seventy organized

1846 – At the time of the exodus from Nauvoo, the number of seventies quorums had increased to about 35.

1904 – Number of seventies quorums reaches 146.

1953 – Seventies quorums or units are organized in each stake.

1961 – First Council of Seventy ordained high priests.

1961 – Members of the First Council of the Seventy authorized to organize or reorganize stake presidencies and to call stake presidents on assignment. [This step is particularly important because it allowed members of the First Council of Seventy to bestow keys to Stake Presidents. Seventies were given authority to use the keys of the Apostles (which is still the case) as needed].

1974 – Stake presidents authorized to ordain seventies in stakes.

1984 – Tenure of appointment to be fewer years for some Seventy (3–5 years): “However, tenure of appointment is not important insofar as the work is concerned. … After much prayerful consideration, we have called six men, mature and tested through long years of service, to become members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to serve for periods of three to five years. … They will be General Authorities with every right, power, and authority necessary to function” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 4).

1986 – Seventies quorums in stakes discontinued.

1989 – Organization of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

1995 – Area Authorities called.

1997 – First and Second Quorum of Seventy are General Authorities.

1997 – Area Authorities are ordained Seventies; Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy organized.

2005 – Area Authority Seventy title changed to Area Seventy.

2005 – Seventh and Eighth Quorums of the Seventy organized.

2009 – Area Seventies replaced by General Authorities in all Area Presidencies.

It is interesting to watch how the organization of the Seventies has changed to provide the authority and training and overview necessary to meet the needs of a growing church.

Chart of LDS General Authorities

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put together a website with photos and links to biographies of the current General Authorities of the Church. One thing that is interesting is the small size of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. It’s been smaller than the First Quorum for as long as I can remember but the size difference is striking. One reason for the difference – I believe – is the localizing nature of the Church. What I mean by that is that with the formation of additional quorums of (area) Seventies – there are 8 in total – there is not as strong a need for such a centralized church. All authority goes back to the General Authorities but with the growth of the Church, there is greater need for stronger, more local leadership. Many of those who serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are called to serve in various parts of the world to direct the church there, but their primary calling is to provide general (global) leadership over the Church; others are called to provide more local and specific leadership.

In any case, that website is a great source of information about the leaders of the Church.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts – Saturday Afternoon Session

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Note: These are not necessarily direct quotes. Many times they are my paraphrasing and additional notes of what was said.
 

Elder Dallin H. OaksGod’s Love and Commandments

God’s love is shown in all the blessings of His gospel plan. God’s love should guide parents in their teachings.

Some people disbelieve eternal laws based on their own understanding of [what God should act like, or what His love should be like].

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. He sent His son to suffer and die for us because He loves us so much!

God’s love is tied to His laws. It is not completely unconditional. Mercy cannot rob justice. Those who receive mercy are they who received the covenant and kept the commandment. God’s anger and wrath are part of His love. He wants us to become like Him and is displeased when we do not follow Him.

We obtain blessings from God based on obedience to His laws. Agency is fundamental to the plan that brings us to earth. God will bless us if we endure the poor choices of others but He will not stop them [most of the time].

Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.

The straying of our loved ones will detract from our happiness but should not from our love.

Elder Robert D. Hales – The Nature of God

Prophets and apostles testify of God.

Some people might be surprised that we look like God. Some theologians even think it is making a “graven image” to even picture God as looking like us. But God Himself said, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness.”

God has a face. He walks and talks. Enoch spoke with Him. God has a body with parts like ours. His glory and countenance are greater than the sun.

Joseph saw and talked with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph’s was a special witness of God.

Korihor not only disbelieved in God but also ridiculed Him. He mocked the believers. Alma replied, “All things denote there is a God.”

Cultivate a diligent desire to know that God lives. This will lead to a softened heart. Most of us will not see God as the prophet has but the still small voice of the Holy Ghost will give us an undeniable knowledge that God lives.

With your own testimony of God you will be able to bless your family, your posterity, your friends, and many others.

Elder Neil L. Andersen – Repentance

The Savior’s arms are open and extended. They are arms of mercy and safety. They are lengthened all the day long, open unto us. God is He who comforts us.

When we sin we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back unto God. The call to repent is a call to turn around and re-turn to God. It is a call to change and feel the happiness of keeping the commandments.

We each need to feel the arms of mercy through the repentance of our sins.

If it feels too difficult to change and if you feel if no one can understand what you are going through, the Savior understands. He will provide the strength to change.

Repentance becomes part of our daily lives. Partaking of the sacrament is a way to acknowledge our dependence upon the Lord.

The scriptures do not say that we will forget our forsaken sins in mortality but rather that the Lord will forget. [We should not, however, dwell to much upon our sins].

In this life it is never too late to repent.

Pres. Boyd K. Packer – Personal Revelation and Prayer

We are part of God’s great plan of happiness. There was a war in heaven where Satan rebelled against God.

We have been given agency and must use it wisely.

The Holy Ghost can communicate through the mind more than the physical senses. We might feel the promptings of the Spirit more than hear them.

Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind and heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts – Saturday Morning Session

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One note about Elder Scott. He is not large in stature but he is a spiritual giant. I met him when I was serving as a missionary. He requested that the missionaries all shake his hand. When I shook his hand and looked him in the eyes, I felt my soul bared open to him. I’ve shaken the hands of a number of apostles in my life but that was the only time one was actively filled with and using the spirit of discernment. He based his talk on what he discerned we needed to hear as missionaries. He said some things I needed to hear and I know he said things others there needed to hear.

What follow are a series of quotes and paraphrased quotes from the apostles who spoke during the Saturday morning session of conference.

Richard G. ScottSeeking inspiration in your life

Father in Heaven knew that you would be faced with decisions that would beyond your individual capacity. “Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help [the guidance of the Holy Spirit] by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Promptings can be special experiences, very personal, like Patriarchal blessings. Some you will keep sacred.

You need to respond to the first promptings that come to you. “Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it, such as when you are in danger. However, the Lord will not force you to learn.”

Promptings can be masked by strong emotions: Anger, pride, fear.

[Elder Scott also spoke about the dangers of pornography. Much of this portion of his talk was almost word-for-word what he has said about pornography in conference in the past].

Elder David A. Bednar – Love and Hypocrisy

Hopefully children hear and see the regular expression of love between their parents in their daily lives.

Do our words [of love] match our deeds?

Within the walls of our own homes we can and should bear testimony of the divinity of God’s Son. When was the last time you shared your testimony with your spouse or children or parents?

What we know is not always reflected in what we do. We are not only striving to know more but also do more. We need to live and bear our testimonies.

We invite the Holy Ghost when we witness of truth.

Each scripture study, each family prayer, each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls.

Avoid hypocrisy by living at home and in private what you preach in public.

Pres. Dieter F. UchtdorfLove

Love is the great commandment; it ought to be at the center of everything we do – in our lives, family, and at church. Love is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love should be our walk and our talk.

At the heart of misery, you will find the love of evil things. At the heart of joy you will find the love of good things.

Why does Heavenly Father love us? God’s love is infinite. God does not look on the outward appearance. Though we are incomplete, God love us completely. God does not care whether we live in a cottage or a castle. Regardless of our current state, there is hope for us.

Don’t ever get discouraged if you stumble at times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. Choose to listen to the Father and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do. As we draw near to Heavenly Father, we become more holy. As we become more holy we overcome disbelief.

Why is love the great commandment. Love of God for His children is the core message of the Plan of Salvation. It is given power by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Love is the way of the disciple. God is mindful of you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your hearts.

Let us be known as a people who love God with all our heart and who love our neighbor as ourselves.

The Organization of the LDS Church – Part 2

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Under the apostles is the 1st Quorum of the Seventy. All members of this quorum are called and set apart by the apostles. Like the callings of apostle, all members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy serve until the end of their lives. However, members of the 1st Quorum of Seventy have traditionally been placed on emeritus status around the age of 70. They are especial witnesses of the Savior Jesus Christ – especial differing from special by an e meaning that they bear the responsibility to witness to the earth of the divinity of the Savior. The responsibilities of missionary work and church administration are the same as the apostles. The Seventy are not apostles or prophets, seers, or revelators though. They typically serve throughout the world, directing the church and teaching the gospel. As a whole, the 1st Quorum of the Seventy hold all the rights and keys to the priesthood [I had a brief conversation with someone with authority for the matter and he said that individual Seventies hold no keys – they act under the keys of the Apostles; however, in the case that all the 1st Presidency and Quorum of the 12 all died at the same time – hypothetically – then the 1st Quorum of the 70 should collectively be able to exercise all the keys. This means that collectively they at least have access to the keys of the kingdom should it ever be necessary for them to have to exercise those keys such as if all the 15 apostles {1st Presidency and the Twelve} died simultaneously or in a short enough succession that a new prophet and new apostles could not be called].

Members of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy are called to serve for 5 years. Their role is the same as those in the 1st quorum, the main difference is the length of calls (1st quorum is for life and 2nd quorum is for 5 years). Members of the 2nd quorum, like those in the 1st quorum can serve throughout the world to call and direct the church in those areas. Each quorum of Seventy can contain up to 70 members. As with the apostles, the most important role of the Seventy is as witnesses of Jesus Christ. They also spend a lot of time training new church leaders, meeting with church members, teaching, and doing administrative tasks. The quorums of Seventy are headed by a presidency of seven men, who traditionally have been called from the 1st Quorum, although members can be called from both 1st and 2nd quorums. These seven presidents of the Seventy hold priesthood keys, unlike the rest of the Seventy.

There are general officers of the church I’ll address later and other authorities but only the apostles (including First Presidency) and those in the first two quorums of the Seventy are General Authorities.

Currently there are 6 more quorums of Seventy. All those in these quorums are ordained as area authority seventies (now just called area seventies). They are not referred to as general authorities because their stewardship lies within the area in which they live and not to the whole church and world. The church organizes its members into a number of geographical areas – some are large and some are small (e.g., ones in Utah). Each area is presided over by an area presidency, comprised of three men who typically are members of the 1st or 2nd quorums of seventy. I’ll copy from Wikipedia:

“The Third Quorum members live and serve in the Africa Southeast, Africa West, Europe Central, Europe East, and Europe West Areas of the Church. The Fourth Quorum members live and serve in the Mexico North, Mexico South, Central America, Caribbean, South America North, and South America West Areas of the Church. The Fifth Quorum members live and serve in the North America Northwest, North America West, Idaho, Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City, and Utah South Areas of the Church. The Sixth Quorum members live and serve in the North America Central, North America East, North America Northeast, North America Southeast, and North America Southwest Areas of the Church. Members of the Seventh Quorum live and serve in the Brazil North, Brazil South, Chile, and South America South Areas of the Church. The Eighth Quorum of the Seventy live and serve in the Asia, Asia North, Australia, New Zealand/Pacific islands, and Philippines areas of the Church.”

Area seventies provide training and teaching to the members within the areas in which they live. They support the apostles and other seventy in their roles. They can call and set apart local church leaders under the direction of the apostles through the area presidency. Similarly to the general authorities, area seventies have a responsibility for missionary work. Until the mid-1980s, the LDS Church had quorums of seventies at the stake level. Men were set apart as seventies with the predominant role as stake missionaries. The role and responsibility of these seventies was markedly different than that of any of the Seventy today. The stake seventies were purely missionary focused. The Seventy today have larger administrative responsibilities.

Each of the six general areas of the church that the area seventies are called to serve in are broken down into smaller areas (the areas were mentioned above – Mexico North or Asia North, for example). Within each of these areas are a number of stakes. Stakes are the largest local unit within the church. Stakes are called stakes in reference to Isaiah 54:2, which reads, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes” (emphasis added). In each of the stakes within the church, there are a number of wards. Each ward typically has between 100 and 500 members but some can be a little smaller or larger. There are typically 7-9 wards in each stake. There are a couple caveats to this (i.e., districts and branches) but I’ll address those later.