Ralph Olpin (1910-2002) was a 15-year-old deacon when he gave the following short talk concerning the duties of a deacon and the operation of a deacons’ quorum.
Despite the remarkable maturity of expression and organization here, the language still sounds to me like that of a young man (not an adult ghostwriter).
As I’ve tediously repeated, I have little to no contact with young people – our ward has no Aaronic priesthood except for a recent adult convert. Does this talk, and the activities outlined in it (updated, of course, to use contemporary activities other than cutting wood for widows), represent the level of responsibility shown by the young men in your ward?
What do your wards do to develop maturity and responsibility in young people?
What kinds of church activities did you participate in as a young person that you credit for helping to develop your own responsibility?
The Deacons’ Meeting
Ralph Olpin (Pleasant Grove LDS Seminary), a Deacon
Fellow deacons and holders of the Priesthood: I desire to discuss the quorum meeting and its purposes. In most cases the deacons meet with all the priesthood for opening exercises. After separation it is best to have a song and prayer unless you have to stay in the same room.
Who should take charge of the meeting, the class or the president? It is the duty of the president along with his counselors. After singing and prayer the secretary should call the roll. Every member’s name should be called. After this, he should read brief minutes of the previous meeting. Then those who have been assigned special duties should give report. Some may wonder what is meant by this. Each week there are certain duties of the deacons to be done. Some of these are: Passing the sacrament, taking care of the sacrament set, gathering monthly fast offerings, ushering, acting as messenger to the bishop, cleaning the meetinghouse, outside activities, and missionary work to interest absent and inactive members.
After these reports the president should assign duties for the following week. Let us mention some of these duties. The sacrament should be passed in an orderly way. The president will assign enough of the members present at the meeting to pass the sacrament the following Sunday. Each should know his place and be as quiet as possible; in dress, neat, hands and face clean, hair combed, shoes blacked. It is the duty of the deacons to deliver the sacrament set to the person who washes it and also to see that it is on hand at Sunday school. The president should appoint someone in the quorum meeting to see to this. Following each meeting two or three deacons should be appointed to visit the homes of those who did not give their fast offering in meeting. A member of the presidency should see to the fast gathering or observe any instructions that the bishop of the ward may give to the deacons. In some wards deacons are assigned to usher the people to the place where they will be most comfortable. This duty should be carried on in orderly manner by deacons appointed in the quorum meeting. A deacon should always be prepared to act as messenger for the bishop. If the bishop has an important message for the people he may ask the deacons to carry it to them, and the deacons so appointed should respond to the call promptly. In some wards it is left to the deacons to clean and heat the meetinghouse. The necessary number for this duty should be appointed in quorum meeting. On Saturday they should sweep and dust. They should respect the House of the Lord and not yell, run, or use improper language in it.
Such outside duties as cutting wood for widows should also be taken care of in quorum meeting. If there are any inactive members in the quorum, active members should be appointed to go and get them to try to attend to their duties.
Now as to other things, if any new deacon has been ordained and is to be a member of the quorum he should be accepted by a vote of the members. Any other business that the members may have should be taken up in the meeting at the proper time and place.
It is all right for deacons to have their sport, as athletic contests between quorums, as long as they attend to their duties. In each quorum meeting there should be a lesson given which should be taken from the outline for deacons’ study provided by the Church. this should be given under the direction of the class leader, and all the deacons should be given a chance to take parts of the lesson to prepare and deliver. In closing the quorum meeting there should be an appropriate song and one of the members should offer the benediction.
I wonder how many of us know the purpose of the quorum meeting? One purpose is to develop a devotional attitude, to learn how to show our respect to the most high God. We learn the sacred hymns and each member is given a chance to pray. When he has a part of the lesson to give, and he stands up before the rest of the deacons, it gives him some practice that will be of great benefit to him all his life, especially if he goes on a mission. He will be better able to teach and preach the gospel and bear his testimony with dignity and without fear. He learns his duties and how to perform them so that he may be worthy of promotion. He also learns to respect the meetinghouse because it is the duty of a deacon to maintain order. This is quite a difficult problem, because at the age of the deacons it is hard to keep quiet. In the winter the boys have a tendency to enter the building before stamping the snow off their feet. Sometimes they take their sleighs in and drop them down, making a noise. This should be stopped.
“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” Doc. and Cov. 132:8, “Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings. Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time, and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.” Doc. and Cov. 88:121, 122.
Therefore, fellow deacons, after the Lord has given us these commandments, why should the Lord’s servants appointed to keep order, make a noise and cause confusion?
May we all be able to do our duty as deacons and keep God’s commandments and be true servants in honoring our office in the Priesthood.