Revelation given through President Joseph Smith III, May 4, 1865.
A council of the first Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve was in session at the home of Bishop Israel L. Rogers in Kendall County, Illinois, May 1-5, 1865. Among other things the council was concerned about "the ordination of men of the Negro race." President Joseph Smith was asked to seek divine guidance in this connection, and the revelation was received in response to the fasting and prayers of the members of the council. It should be studied against the background of the American Civil War and with the social and educational status of the American Negro of that period in mind.
The revelation was presented to the Quorum of Twelve, who voted unanimously to approve it. The semiannual conference of 1878 authorized its inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants.
[Sec 116:1a] Hearken! Ye elders of my church, I am he who hath called you friends. Concerning the matter you have asked of me:
[Sec 116:1b] Lo! It is my will that my gospel shall be preached to all nations in every land, and that men of every tongue shall minister before me:
[Sec 116:1c] Therefore it is expedient in me that you ordain priests unto me, of every race who receive the teachings of my law, and become heirs according to the promise.
[Sec 116:2a] Be ye very careful, for many elders have been ordained unto me, and are come under my condemnation, by reason of neglecting to lift up their voices in my cause, and for such there is tribulation and anguish:
[Sec 116:2b] haply they themselves may be saved (if doing no evil) though their glory, which is given for their works, be withheld, or in other words their works are burned, not being profitable unto me.
[Sec 116:3a] Loosen ye one another's hands and uphold one another, that ye who are of the Quorum of Twelve, may all labor in the vineyard, for upon you rests much responsibility;
[Sec 116:3b] and if ye labor diligently the time is soon when others shall be added to your number till the quorum be full, even twelve.
[Sec 116:4a] Be not hasty in ordaining men of the Negro race to offices in my church, for verily I say unto you,
[Sec 116:4b] All are not acceptable unto me as servants, nevertheless I will that all may be saved, but every man in his own order, and there are some who are chosen instruments to be ministers to their own race. Be ye content, I the Lord have spoken it.