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The Whole Year Through: Teachers’ Quorum, 1940

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 04, 2009

The manual for Teachers published that year was Priesthood, Religion and Success. No author (neither individual nor named committee) is identified.

A preface states that the manual is provided to meet “three definite needs”:

  • First is the need for a program that will harmonize with the present plan of quorum meetings which provides approximately forty-five minutes for quorum work.
  • Second, the need for providing a program concerned directly with priesthood quorum activities and the discharge of duties, in order that every member of every quorum may have the privilege of learning his duties and of securing training in performing them.
  • Third, the great need for having the principles of the Priesthood applied to the lives of quorum members as a bulwark against temptations of the day which are greater than ever before and rapidly increasing.

The manual opens with a few pages of materials that each quorum member is expected to read individually.

Suggestions for Quorum Members

[A statement by Brigham Young on the nature and privileges of the priesthood]

Priesthood Service

[A statement by John A. Widtsoe on the “brotherhood” of the priesthood, and outlining priesthood duties in a way that is reminiscent with the current “threefold mission of the Church”:

1. To keep the members of the Church in the way of their full duty.

2. To teach the gospel to those who have not heard it or accepted it.

3. To provide for the dead, through the ordinances of the temple, the means by which the dead, if obedient, may participate in the blessings that are enjoyed by those who have won citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Revelation of the Lord to Deacons, Teachers and Priests

[Doctrine and Covenants 107:85-88]

Applying Priesthood Principles

[Encouragement to learn the duties of the Teachers’ office, and set an example to other members of the Church]

Requirements of the Aaronic Priesthood

[Qualifications to be worthy of and exercise the priesthood, including: Character; Purity of Life; Self Mastery; Ordinations; Prayer and Public Speaking; Care of Church Property; Attendance at Meetings; Helping Widows and Others in Distress]

Suggested Topics for Messages of Members of Bishopric to Aaronic Priesthood Quorums

Reverence for our Father in Heaven.
Respect for places of worship.
Honoring the Holy Priesthood.
Respect for the law.
Respect for parents.
Respect for the opposite sex.
Respect for the aged.
Respect for self.
Secret Prayer.
Faith in the Servants of God.
Honor and Truthfulness.
formation of Good habits.
Integrity.
Gratitude.
Keep your promises.
Loyalty.
Value of self control.
Tobacco.
Strong Drinks.
Pool Halls.
Sunday Amusements.
Late hours – Dancing or Auto Riding.
Thou shalt not steal.
Choosing proper companions.
Kindness to the poor.

Assignments for Teachers

Ward Teaching.
Prepare Sacrament Table.
Speak in Sacrament Meeting.
Scripture Reading – Sacrament Meeting.
Assist at Cottage Meeting.
Messenger for Bishop.
usher or Doorkeeper.
Collect Ward Funds.
Prepare Meeting House, etc.
Care of Meeting House.
Visit Quorum Members.
Notify Members of Meetings.
Cut Wood for Poor.
Bring in new member – not ordained.
Bring in new resident of ward.
Revive inactive member.

Organization, Procedure and Objectives

The organization recommended for Aaronic Priesthood quorums is as follows:

A. A member of bishopric assigned to have direct responsibility for the welfare of the quorum, to attend all meetings and counsel both supervisor and quorum officers.

B. A supervisor, who is a special assistant to the member of the bishopric and adviser to the quorum officers and members.

C. A president and two counselors, (except in the Priests quorum where the Bishop is president).

D. A secretary.

E. Committees as desired.

[Followed by methods to evaluate how well the quorum is achieving its objectives.]

The requirements for the Standard Quorum Award are:

(1) Set up and follow a program of quorum activities for the coming year.

(2) Set up and follow a program of social and fraternal activities for the comign year.

(3) Have an average attendance at quorum meetings for the year of 60 per cent.

(4) Have 75 per cent or more of your members fill assignments.

(5) Have 75 per cent or more of your members observe theWord of Wisdom.

(6) Have 75 per cent or more of your members who earn money pay tithing.

(7) Have 50 per cent or more of your members participate in two or more quorum service projects.

Building a Quorum Meeting Program and a Preview of the Quorum Assignments for the Year

Before an attempt is made to build the program, each item that enters into it should be considered. These items include:

a. Opening Prayer. Each member should be given the privilege of learning to pray and of gaining experience. Members should be called in order from the roll in order to avoid denying this privilege to anyone. The prayer should not be considered routine or be in any sense mechanical. The person offering it should realize that he represents the entire quorum in seeking the inspiration and guidance of the Lord and asking for His blessings upon the quorum and its work. Prayer should always be sacred and offered in reverence.

b. Roll Call. the roll call should be called audibly and as each name is called the member should not only answer, but he should also report promptly on assignments filled during the previous week. If members are prepared with their reports and have a cooperative attitude, the number of assignments can be reported in a comparatively short time. It should be remembered that the filling of assignments of duty is the principal obligation of the members, and that making a record of assignments filled is a definite duty of the quorum. This phase of the quorum meeting should not be neglected.

A second reason for calling the roll audibly is to call the attention of the members present to those who are absent. True quorum spirit will cause every member to be concerned when a member is absent, and all should be interested in seeing that proper action is taken to learn the cause. It may be illness, accident, quarantine of the home, death in the family or other misfortune. Among the first to learn of misfortune of any quorum member and to offer aid and assistance should be the other members of the quorum.

c. Making regular weekly assignments to all members. Every member should be given at least one assignment each week. The assignments authorized for each office of the Aaronic Priesthood are printed in the official roll book and also in this manual. it is the obligation of each member to accept and fill assignments regularly. Where this is not being done, the quorum officers, the supervisor and finally the member of the bishopric should make every effort to induce the member to do his duty. Every new member should be given instructions in the filling of assignments and also informed as to the quorum procedure.

d. Consideration of Quorum Projects. how shall they be promoted? by committees, quorum officers, or otherwise?

e. Consideration of Social and Fraternal Activities. What plan shall be adopted in carrying out the program?

f. Consideration of Special Items. what procedure shall we follow in considering special items presented to the quorum?

g. Cooperation with other Quorums and with the Bishopric. What plan shall we suggest for establishing fraternal relationships with other quorums of the ward and in extending our full cooperation to the bishopric?

h. Receiving Instructions and Special Messages from the bishopric. The member of the bishopric assigned to the quorum should be consulted as to his wishes, and a plan provided for maintaining close contact with the bishopric who are the presidency of the entire aaronic Priesthood of the ward. Provision should be made in the quorum program to receive messages and instructions form the bishopric as often as they desire to give them.

i. The discussion topic. Each week the quorum should consider the topic outlined in this manual as far as time will permit.

Building Our Quorum Program for the Year

[Suggestions for organizing the program, emphasizing “Putting into Action in Our Lives the Principles the aaronic Priesthood is Directed to Teach to the Church.”]

What Every Member Should Know About the Aaronic Priesthood

[Sections include: Meaning and Purpose of Priesthood; History of the Aaronic Priesthood; and Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood]

Lessons

The bulk of the manual consists of short lessons on the topics listed below, sometimes including stories taken from secular as well as sacred history. Most lessons have questions and problems for discussion.

Meeting Church Standards
Message from the First Presidency
Latter-day Saints and World Conditions
The Menace of Anti-Americanisms

(sample lesson inserted; skip down to see the rest of the list of lessons)

Lesson Four, third of the special lessons, is extremely important. President David O. McKay, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, is a keen student of human affairs. His expressions in the statement presented at the General Conference in Salt Lake City, on October 8, 1939, should find a hearty response in the heart of every Latter-day Saint.

It is important that the matter contained in this statement be placed before every member of the Aaronic Priesthood as information, as guidance and as a warning of a growing and serious menace.

The member of the bishopric assigned to the quorum and the supervisor should confer well in advance and determine upon the best method of getting this material before quorum members.

The message should be presented in as much detail as time will permit, reading important references and leaving some time to develop the reaction of quorum members through discussion. It is suggested that these topics be used to guide the discussion:

Jesus’ Prayer for Unity.
Unity in the Home.
Unity in Church Organizations.
Unpatriotic Activities a Menace.
Washington’s Greatest Trial.
Anti-Americanism Sowing Discord.
A Statement as to Communism.
Warning to Latter-day Saints.
Importance of Upholding the Constitution.

THE MENACE OF ANTI-AMERICANISMS
By President David O. McKay,
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Address at the General Conference, October 8, 1939

Jesus’ Prayer for Unity. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one as we are.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe in us.” – (John 17:11-21.)

As many as you readily recognize, I have quoted from one of the most sublime prayers ever offered among men. It is an Intercessory Prayer. The occasion makes the things prayed for most significant. In it Jesus makes unity preeminent among His followers.

Unity and its synonyms, harmony, goodwill, peace, concord, mutual understanding, express a condition for which the human heart constantly yearns. Its opposites are discord, contention, strife, confusion.

Unity in the Home. I can imagine few, if any thing more objectionable in the home than the absence of unity and harmony. On the other hand, I know that a home in which unity, mutual helpfulness, and love abide is just a bit of heaven on earth. I surmise that nearly all of you can testify to the sweetness of life in homes in which these virtues predominate. Most gratefully and humbly, I cherish the remembrance that never once as a lad in the home of my youth did I ever see one instance of discord between my father and y mother, and that goodwill and mutual understanding have been the uniting bond that has held together a fortunate group of brothers and sisters. Unity, harmony, goodwill are the virtues to be fostered and cherished in every home.

Unity in Church Organizations. In branches and wards, there is no virtue more conducive to progress and spirituality than the presence of this principle. When jealousy, backbiting, evil-speaking, supplant confidence, self-subjection, unity, and harmony, the progress of the organization is stilled.

Unpatriotic Activities a Menace to Free Government. However, what really prompted me to emphasize this principle is the presence in our own United States of influences, the avowed object of which is to sow discord and contention among men with the view of undermining, weakening, if not entirely destroying our constitutional form of government. If I speak plainly, and in condemnation lay bare reprehensible practices and aims of certain organizations, please do not think that I harbor ill-will or enmity in my heart towards other United States citizens whose views on political policies do not coincide with mine. But when acts and schemes are manifestly contrary to the revealed word of the Lord, we feel justified in warning people against them. We may be charitable and forbearing to the sinner, but must condemn the sin.

Timely references and appropriate warnings have been given during this Conference on the danger and evils of war. There is another danger even more menacing than the threat of invasion of a foreign foe. It is the unpatriotic activities and underhanded scheming of disloyal groups and organizations within our own borders. This country is so situated geographically that there need be little fear of invasion by an outside enemy. Furthermore, the government knowing who and where the enemy is, can make ample preparation to meet his attacks. But the secret, seditious scheming of an enemy within our own ranks, hypocritically professing loyalty to the government, and at the same time plotting against it, is more difficult to deal with.

Disintegration is often more dangerous and more fatal than outward opposition. For example, an individual can usually protect himself from thunder showers, and even from tempests, from freezing weather or intense heat, from drought, or flood, or other extremes in nature; but he is often helpless when poisonous germs enter his body or a malignant growth begins to sap the strength of some vital organ.

The Church is little, if at all injured by persecution and calumnies from ignorant, misinformed or malicious enemies; a greater hindrance to its progress comes from fault-finders, shirkers, commandment-breakers, and apostate cliques within its own ecclesiastical and quorum groups.

So it is in government. It is the enemy from within that is most menacing, especially when it threatens to disintegrate our established form of government.

Washington’s Greatest Trial. Perhaps the most gloomy, discouraging period of the American Revolution was when General Washington’s army was in Winter Quarters at Valley Forge. he had fewer than 10,000 men. Soldiers were thinly clad, some half naked, others with no clothing but tattered blankets wrapped around them. “So many were sick as the result of privation,” writes one commentator, “so many were without coats, blankets, hats, or shoes, that one wonders how the army held together at all.” Critical and desperate as were these conditions, a greater trial and sorrow, I surmise, came to Washington when some of his friends such as John Adams and Richard Henry Lee turned against him; when General Gates insulted him by sending reports direct to Congress instead of to Washington, his superior officer. As carrion hawks hover around dying creatures, so in Washington’s dire calamity came men to seek to crush him – men who formed what has been called the “Conway Cabal,” a contemptible attempt to dishonor Washington and to supplant him by a self-asserting, arrogant schemer. This internal discord, and such disloyalty from one-time friends were more crushing than were the attacks of the opposing army.

Anti-Americanism Sowing Discord. Today there are in this country enemies in the form of “isms.” I call them Anti-Americanisms. Only a few of the leaders fight openly – most carry on as termites, secretly sowing discord and undermining stable government. Of the truth of this statement recent investigations made by a committee of the United States Senate bear ample evidence. Of the menace of one of these, Dr. William F. Russell, dean of Teachers’ College, Columbia University, in an address “How to Tell a Communist, and How to Beat Him,” is one of the many authorities whom we might quote as to the pernicious activity of these groups.

A Statement as to Communism. He says:

“Communist leaders have steadily insisted that Communism cannot live in just one country. Just as we fought to make ‘the world safe for democracy,’ so they are fighting to make the world safe for Communism. They are fighting this fight today. Every country must become Communistic, according to their idea. So they have sent out missionaries. They have supplied them well with funds. They have won converts. These converts have been organized into little groups called ‘cells,’ each acting as a unit under the orders of a superior. It is almost a military organization. They attack where there is unemployment. They stir up discontent among those oppressed. … They work their way into the unions, where they form compact blocks. They publish and distribute little papers and pamphlets. At the New York Times they pass out one called ‘Better Times.’ At the Presbyterian Hospital it is called ‘The medical worker.’ At the College of the City of New York, it is called ‘Professor, Worker, Student.’ At Teachers’ College it is called ‘The Educational Vanguard.’ These are scurrilous sheets. In one issue I noted twenty-nine errors of fact. after a recent address of mine, they passed out a dodger attacking me, with a deliberate error of fact in each paragraph. These pamphlets cost money – more than $100 an issue. The idea is to try to entice into their web those generous and public-spirited teachers, preachers, social workers, and reformers who know distress and want to do something about it. These Communists know what they are doing. They follow their orders. Particularly they would like to dominate our newspapers, our colleges and our schools. the campaign is much alike all over the world. I have seen the same articles, almost the same pamphlets, in France and England as in the United States.

“You see, when it comes to fighting Communists I am a battle-scarred veteran. Bu after twenty years I cannot tell one by looking at him. However, only the leaders proclaim their membership. The clever are silent, hidden, anonymous, boring from within. You can only tell a Communist by his ideas.”

Their methods of working their way to the seizure of power he describes as follows:

“Talk about peace, talk about social equality, especially among those most oppressed. Talk about organization of labor, and penetrate into every labor union. Talk on soap boxes. Publish pamphlets and papers. Orate and harangue. Play on envy. Arouse jealousy. Separate class from class. Try to break down the democratic processes from within. Accustom the people to picketing, strikes, mass meetings. constantly attack the leaders in every possible way, so that the people will lose confidence. Then in time of national peril, during a war, on the occasion of a great disaster, or on a general strike, walk into the capital and seize the power, A well-organized minority can work wonders.”

Warning to Latter-day Saints. I have been informed from several sources that some of these spurious political growths are sprouting here in our own midst, that members of these groups have even received instructions regarding what to do in case this country should become involved in war. The nature of these instructions savors very much of the diabolical gunpowder plot in the time of James the First of England.

Latter-day Saints should have nothing to do with secret combinations and groups antagonistic to the Constitutional law of the land, which the Lord “suffered to be established,” and which “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

“That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

“Therefore, it is not right that a man should be in bondage one to another.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” – (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80.)

Of course there are errors in government which some would correct, certainly there are manifest injustices and inequalities, and there always will be such in any government in the management of which enter the frailties of human nature. If you want changes, go to the polls on election day, express yourself as an American citizen, and thank the Lord for the privilege that is yours to have a say as to who shall serve you in public office.

Importance of Upholding the Constitution. Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.

May the appeal of our Lord in His Intercessory Prayer for Unity be realized in our homes, our wards, and stakes, and in our full support of the basic principles of our Democracy.

In the words of John Oxenham:

God grant us wisdom in these coming days,
And eyes unsealed, that we clear vision see
Of that new world that He would have us build,
To life’s ennoblement and His high ministry.

God gives us sense, – God-sense of Life’s new needs,
And souls aflame with new-born chivalries –
To cope with those black growths that foul the ways, –
To cleanse our poisoned founts with God-born energies.

To pledge our souls with nobler, loftier life,
To win the world to His fair sanctities,
To bind the nations in a Pact of Peace,
And free the soul of Life for finer loyalties.

Not since Christ died upon His lonely cross
Has Time such prospect held of Life’s new birth;
Not since the world of chaos first was born
Has man so clearly visaged hope of a new earth.

Not of our own might can we hope to rise
Above the ruts and soilures of the past,
But, with His help who did the first earth build,
With hearts courageous we may fairer build this last.

God guide this Church, and particularly the priesthood, in building according to God’s plan, and in establishing His kingdom on earth, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Responsibility of the Aaronic Priesthood
Leaders of Our Church
Your Heritage
Your Choice
Plans for Observing the Anniversary
Your Guide
Work
Play
Quarterly Quorum Review
Health
The Reward of Right Living
Physical Courage
Moral Courage
Bishopric’s Counsel Meeting
Intellectual Courage
Aaronic Priesthood Day
Aaronic Priesthood Assembly
Dependability
Integrity
Loyalty
Faith
Semi-Annual Review Meeting
Missionary Work
Character
The Ideal
Be a Man
Theology and Religion
Religion of the Latter-day Saints
The Mission of “Mormonism”
The Church a Means to an End
What the Latter-day Saints Believe
The Evidence of True Religion
The Evidence of True Religion (continued)
Religion and Business
Quarterly Quorum Progress Review
Overcoming Fear
Overcoming Fear (continued)
Tolerance
Tithing
Prayer
Endurance
Magnanimity
Faith in God
The Pure in Heart
Character and Citizenship
Religion and Citizenship
Repentance
The Sabbath Day

Although I cannot very well reproduce the entire manual, if readers want to sample the lessons for a few topics, I’ll type up the first two or three requests and paste them under the appropriate headings above.



8 Comments »

  1. “The Menace of Anti-Americanisms” — whoah! Wasn’t expecting that one!

    This was a nice review. Thanks.

    Comment by Hunter — November 4, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  2. I’ll take that as a request, Hunter. The first part of that lesson is now added, with more to come in the next few minutes.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 4, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  3. Wow — that was really great to read David O. McKay’s talk on that subject. He was a wise man and I respect his opinion and his inspiration. Thanks.

    I guess the reason I was surprised to see the topic (“The Menace of Anti-Americanisms”) is that it was so detailed and specific, and it was listed there amongst other more benign or general topics as “Work,” “Play,” “Health,” and “Moral Courage.” It just stuck out.

    In the end, though, DOM seems to avoid any stridency or hysteria in his approach. Rather, I was glad to read his counsel to do such things as vote, avoiding an attitude of contempt toward the government, developing respect for democracy, etc., and all in the context of establishing unity — using the very Intercessory Prayer as a model, no less! Wonderful stuff, thanks.

    Comment by Hunter — November 4, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  4. I liked his explicit “please do not think that I harbor ill-will or enmity in my heart towards other United States citizens whose views on political policies do not coincide with mine.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 4, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  5. Really quite fascinating. The bit on communism is interesting to be sure, especially considering the date, but the list of responsibilities of the Teachers is most interesting to me as I tend to think that this was the period where our current ideas of what priesthood holders do started to solidify.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 4, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  6. I was just really shallow and had a mental picture of resuscitaiton training when I read that teachers were to “revive inactive member[s]”!

    Comment by Alison — November 4, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  7. That would be in the High Priests’ Group, I think, Alison! (snicker)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 4, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  8. My dad turned 14 in February 1940, so it’s likely that he heard many of these lessons. If he was like me, though, he didn’t remember them the next week, to say nothing of almost 70 years later.

    I’ll ask him the next chance I get.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 4, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

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