Prepared for use by members of the
Apostle C. George Mesley was in charge of the work in Australia, he recommended to the
Board of Publication of the Australian Mission that a Members' Manual be compiled and
printed. The Board responded enthusiastically, and Brother Mesley assigned to Brother C.
A. Davies the task of pioneering in this field.
Since his general church appointment in 1928, Brother Davies has had continual assignments to pastoral supervision of branches of the church and was well qualified in other ways to accept the challenging responsibility given to him. So far as possible, he has drawn on the statements of church officials which have appeared in the Saints' Herald, the Priesthood Journal, the Standard, and elsewhere. The resulting publication has been widely and effectively used in Australia. It has been revised in some minor details, but full credit for its present form and availability should be given to Brother Mesley and Brother Davies, whose work we now acknowledge with grateful appreciation.
We feel sure that the Manual will come to have an important place in our church literature, and we ask for it the careful and prayerful study of those into whose hands it shall come.
Becoming a Member of the Church
The Communion Service
Keeping Spiritually Alive
The Standards of Sainthood
Relationship Between Ministry and Membership
Some Special Ministries of Comfort and Help
Legislative Responsibilities of a Member
Missionary Responsibility of Every Member
God's Plan of Finance
A Brief Statement of Belief
| Membership in
the Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest privilege that can come to anyone. Because of
the important commission that has been given to the church in these days it is also a
great responsibility. The nature of this privilege and this responsibility is such that
one should not enter the church without calm and serious consideration. It is necessary
that one contemplating membership in the church spend considerable time in studying the
purposes and organization of the church, obtaining a reasonably clear idea of what
membership in such an organization entails.
From ancient times, entrance into the church has been effected by submission to the ordinance of baptism by immersion, and there have always been certain conditions attached thereto As baptism is a covenant relationship, a full understanding of the terms of the covenant is necessary; therefore we would emphasize that one should endeavor to be fully acquainted with these terms set down in Holy Writ.
Modern revelation has made this very definite, for in the word of the Lord to the church we have the following very concise paragraph, which we should analyze very carefully and prayerfully as we contemplate taking the step which will make us partners with God in the fulfilling of the greatest task that has ever been envisioned in the history of mankind, the building of the kingdom of God on earth.
"All those who humble themselves before God and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church." - Doctrine and Covenants 17:7.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a rite commanded by the Master. "Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." - John 3: 5. Here it is definitely stated to be a condition of entering the kingdom
A Physical Symbol.
While baptism is a physical process, each step in that process symbolizes or represents a spiritual reality or truth. As a whole, baptism is a figure of salvation. "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." - I Peter 3: 21.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." - Romans 6:3-6.
A Symbol of Our Obedience to God.
Jesus came with a special mission and message from God. He not only commanded his ministry to teach and baptize all nations but also to teach them to observe all that he commanded them. See Matthew 28: 19.
A Symbol of Faith and Repentance.
He who does not believe has no true motive to be baptized, and he who does not repent has no promise of the remission of sins by his baptism.
A Symbol of the Cleansing of the Soul.
"And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."-Acts 22:16.
"Such [i. e., the unrighteous] were some of you; but you are washed."-I Corinthians 6:11.
A SYMBOL OF A NEW RELATIONSHIP
"Therefore if any man live in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."-II Corinthians 5:17. It is in this new relationship that baptism also symbolizes the door of entrance into the kingdom of God. It represents the new birth into the royal family household and into the fraternity of brotherhood with Christ and his people. He who is sincerely baptized, therefore, is manifesting a token by his outward act that he believes, has repented of his sins, his resolved to obey God and covenants with him to walk in his commandments. The minister who baptizes him, acting for God, accepts this act and pledge and symbolizes it by baptizing him outwardly in water, but truly introduces him into the church and household of God On earth. "For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."-Galatians 3:27.
WHAT ARE THE PRE-REQUISITES FOR BAPTISM?
The Receiving of Instruction Concerning the Gospel.
One desiring baptism must first have received instruction concerning the nature of Christ and the church. Jesus was definite in this because he made careful provision by sending selected disciples to teach men all that he commanded. These commands are recorded in the Bible and baptism is one of them.
To receive proper instruction is so important that the unauthorized teachings and baptisms of Apollos were rejected by Paul who instructed and baptized again those who had been improperly instructed and ministered to. "When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. "-See Acts 18:24-26; 19:1-6.
Proper and careful instruction is essential, for those not well taught suffer spiritual loss and become like those of the Hebrew saints who were admonished, "Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God."-Hebrews 5:12.
Faith or the Believing Heart.
Faith is the dynamic that moves one to seek God and his ways, for without it no one can acceptably approach him. The unbeliever cannot obtain true baptism which must be based upon the sincere determination to do the will of God. "He that believeth and is baptized."-Mark 16:15. Belief and faith in Jesus Christ is a test of fitness for baptism. The Ethiopian said, "See, here is water. What doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest." -Acts 8:36, 37. It is clear that Philip was faithful to teach this belief before he baptized.
This simply means a reformation of life. God will not compromise with sin, and John would not accept in baptism those who had not truly turned away from sin and had no evidence of honesty of purpose to live rightly. "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?... Bring forth fruits meet for repentance."-Matthew 3: 33, 35. "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance."-Mark 1: 4, A. V. "Repent and be baptized every one of you."-Acts 2:38. Repentance has been defined as the constant forsaking of things of lesser worth.
"The Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh . . . . that all men might repent and come unto him."-Doctrine and Covenants 16: 3. "And surely every man must repent or suffer. . . ."-Doctrine and Covenants 18:1. ". . . . and not only men, but women; and children who have arrived to the years of accountability."-Doctrine and Covenants 16: 6.
IS CONFESSION OF SINS BEFORE BAPTISM ESSENTIAL?
"If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you again, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him. And the apostles said unto him, Lord, increase our faith."-Luke 17: 3-5.
This represents the attitude of God to those who repent and confess. Confession is evidence of intention to reform. Confession of sins marked the repentance and baptism of converts to the faith in the New Testament. "And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds."-Acts 19:17, 18. This principle of confession applies to God's church today as in old times.
TO WHOM SHOULD I CONFESS?
"If anyone offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly. . . . . If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God."-Doctrine and Covenants 42:23.
The foregoing indicates that confession should be made to God and to those offended, and that unless offense is against the group it is not required that the group shall be made aware of the offense by public confession.
No priestly confessional exists in God's church. The observance of the above conditions is obviously sufficient to guide members in this matter. Persons may desire to share a burden of sin and in such case of need the member or intending member has available the friendship of the ministry who are bound in trust to be confidential. When so entrusted no minister worthy of his calling will treat the confidence with lightness.
HOW IS BAPTISM PERFORMED?
Baptism is performed by immersion, which is the scriptural mode. We follow the example of Jesus and the early disciples for our pattern in this. The translations from which our modern versions are taken, use "baptize" to denote the rite, meaning "to immerse." "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water."-Matthew 3:16.
"Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him."-Mark 1: 7, 8.
These sacred records show that to be baptized it is necessary to go down into the water, be submerged in the water and then go up out of the water.
The baptismal process as noted in the New Testament texts was similar to the instruction recorded of Jesus in the Book of Mormon: "Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name ye shall baptize them."-3 Nephi 5:24.
Following this instruction is given the baptismal formula to be spoken: "Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen" (Nephi 5:25), after which the record continues: "And then shall ye immerse them in water, and come forth again out of the water."-III Nephi 5:26; see also Doctrine and Covenants 17:21.
Thus by immersion is completed the symbol of the death and burial of our old life and the resurrection to a new way, a symbol of our penitent obedience and cleansing from sin; in fact, a complete regeneration as a new man in Christ.
No other rite of the Bible is more deeply full of meaning or of more important significance.
WHO MAY BAPTIZE?
From the earliest times recorded in Biblical history, the functions of revealed religion have included rites and ceremonies that God has reserved to men chosen by himself. One reason for this is that God intends to bring men into close relationship with him by admitting worthy ones into the divine family and household, by which they receive the name of Christ by adoption. This is the status of true disciples and saints as explained by the Apostle Paul to those who had been inducted by baptism into the church.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. . . . . For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."-Ephesians 2:19; 3:14, 15.
The authority conferred upon God's chosen ministers is called priesthood. These ministers are given specific instructions, and are not authorized to disregard them or to exceed their intent. We are informed that Jesus was chosen of God as a high priest and that the priestly office can be filled only by men so chosen. "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. "-Hebrews 5: 4.
Thus the rite of baptism is an ordinance that cannot be performed with the sanction of divine law except by those who hold the priestly office from God, for which the law provides. The great importance of authority is indicated in modern revelation to the church which informs us that to baptize is one of the duties of an elder, and of a priest. See Doctrine and Covenants 17:10. "Neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize."-Doctrine and Covenants 17:11.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
There is impressive reason to recognize that Jesus included both the baptism of water and the Holy Spirit as constituting in its deepest and most complete sense one baptism. It applied both to the body and the spirit of man as the means of rebirth. The solemn declaration of Jesus was, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God."-John 3:5.
From the scriptures it is evident that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a most important and necessary factor in the life of a true believer. Whereas the outward ordinance of water baptism is a symbol of the believer's covenant to serve God, the baptism of the Spirit is the placing by God of his seal upon the covenant and his share in keeping of that promise made by baptism. "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you . . . . and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."-Acts 2:38.
In effect the spiritual baptism is the seal of God placed upon the believer, by which the covenant relationship with him is attested as being in force, and has been sometimes called the anointing.-See II Corinthians 1:22, 23.
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth."-John 16:13.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things unto your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you."-John 14:25.
HOW IS THE HOLY SPIRIT RECEIVED?
This is explicitly answered in Acts 8:14-17: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
WHO MAY LAY ON HANDS FOR THE BESTOWAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Modern revelation is in harmony with the early practice in this respect and gives explicit instruction, as follows: It is the calling of the elders "to baptize . . . . and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures. Doctrine and Covenants 17:8.
WHEN DOES THE LAYING ON OF HANDS
Children are sometimes brought into the church by baptism and confirmation without any understanding of the basic principles of the church, or of the meaning of these rites. If, as sometimes may occur, the child is baptized without understanding the church, an effort should be made to help and inform him before confirmation; and some special instruction should be given to him about the character and the work of the Holy Spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 17:18 gives specific instruction upon this point, adding admonitions upon the duties of mature members:
"The duty of members after they are received by baptism: The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament, and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders; so that all things may be done in order. And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, walking in holiness before the Lord."
"All things concerning the church of Christ" includes all the responsibilities of a member of the church, fundamental beliefs and practices, including the Financial Law and the ideal of Zionic Stewardships, due respect being given to the age and capacity of the one seeking membership in the church.
| The sacrament
of the Lord's Supper is a most significant sacrament which follows our initial baptismal
covenant and the confirmation performed at our entering the household of the Church of
THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER IS A MEMORIAL
It is a memorial established by Jesus Christ by which to commemorate his sacrifice in death for man. The character of that sacrifice and its importance and far-reaching effects make it necessary that it should be kept fresh in memory, otherwise we would lose sight of its significance.
Jesus himself has defined this sacrament as a memorial. When he was together with his disciples before his crucifixion he instituted this memorial as he passed to his followers the bread and wine, with the following words: "Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body."-Matthew 26:22. "This is in remembrance of my blood."-Matthew 26:24.
To the Nephites in the Book of Mormon he said, "And this ye shall do in remembrance of my body," and "Ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood."
IT IS A PLEDGE
The sacrament is a renewal of the pledge made at the time of baptism. This is best explained in the words of the prayers of blessing which are, without exception, used at the time of administering the emblems. "O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son and witness unto thee, O God, the eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen."-Doctrine and Covenants 17: 22.
WHAT RESULT SHOULD THE SACRAMENT BRING IN OUR LIVES?
After intelligent and devout partaking of the sacrament one should have a feeling of cleanness, of justification before God, of an opportunity to make a new start in life, and of a determination to keep more fully his first covenant in baptism. Christ knows how prone we are to neglect our original baptismal covenant, and gives us this opportunity of regaining that cleanliness so vivid on our baptism day. He has provided that we meet together often in prayer, that we meet regularly in communion service and have the opportunity of re-affirming our intention to serve him and keep his commandments.
Thus the value of the sacrament lies in sincerity of heart in the one partaking.
WHAT IS THE DUTY OF ONE ABOUT TO PARTAKE OF THE SACRAMENT?
It is the duty of a Saint about to partake of the sacrament to examine himself as to his worthiness. This worthiness involves a right attitude to his fellows, to his church, and to his God. As the value of the sacrament lies only in the spiritual change in the one partaking, it is a sin to treat the communion service lightly. The responsibility is largely upon the communicant to see that he does partake worthily.
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."-I Corinthians 11: 27-29.
IS THE COMMUNICANT THE SOLE ARBITER OF WORTHINESS TO PARTAKE?
No. There is a very definite responsibility placed upon those ministers called upon to administer the sacrament. It is the duty of the administrative officers involved to see that one who is known to be in transgression does not bring condemnation upon himself and desecration upon his Lord and the church by partaking unworthily.
"And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer anyone knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood Unworthily, when ye shall minister it, for whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to his Soul."-Nephi 8:60.
HOW OFTEN SHALL I PARTAKE OF THE SACRAMENT?
"For as oft as ye eat of this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Exact frequency of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not given. We are instructed:
"It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus."-Doctrine and Covenants 17:22.
At a later time, when differences of opinion arose in the church and guidance was needed to aid the people to attain harmony, the following was given:
"Cease to contend respecting the sacrament and the time of administering it; for whether it be upon the first Lord's day of every month, or upon the Lord's day of every week, if it be administered by the officers of the church with sincerity of heart and in purity of purpose, and be partaken of in remembrance of Jesus Christ and in willingness to take upon them his name by them who partake, it is acceptable to God."-Doctrine and Covenants 119:5.
It is now customary among most of the congregations of the church to observe the sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of the month. Groups that meet only occasionally may and do partake of it whenever they meet, and it is sometimes received on special occasions, as of dedication services to mark the climax of a series, a conference, or an institute.
WHO MAY PARTAKE OF THIS SACRAMENT?
The church follows the practice of close communion, that is, only those who have entered into the church by the covenant of baptism administered by authorized ministers of this church are offered the emblems at a communion service. While this is true, anyone may attend the communion services, and we are instructed to exclude none from attendance at these services.
As this sacrament described by President F. M. Smith as "the second great sacrament" is a renewal of a covenant, one who has not made his covenant with God, of course, cannot renew it. It is well that a Saint inviting his friends to such meetings inform them of this belief. If this is done prior to the service, embarrassment is avoided.
WHO MAY ADMINISTER THIS SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER?
Any officer of the Melchisedec priesthood may administer the sacrament, also those ordained to the office of Aaronic priest. Teachers and deacons of the church do not administer in this ordinance.
"It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus; and the elder or priest shall administer it."-Doctrine and Covenants 17:22.
| When one is
born into the world, he begins his physical and mental development. Should the babe be
neglected or the growing young person fail to exercise body and mind in the several ways
by which healthy living is maintained, there is a detrimental effect on the life of the
person. It is necessary that the body and mind be fed and nurtured that this important
growth may be evidenced.
Throughout the Scriptures, the birth and growth of the natural body have been used as examples of the birth and growth of the spiritual nature, and it is essential that each member of the church keep in mind this parallel. Thus it is vital that each member should seek every opportunity for the exercising of those functions and privileges that are within the reach of every member.
In other chapters of this manual, sections have been devoted to various ordinances and ministries that are essential to healthy spiritual development, but in this chapter, two very vital factors are given particular emphasis.
Of the means of grace, prayer and the fellowship of worship are most important. PRAYER
It is well to reflect upon the example set by the Master. He was a man of prayer. This is evidenced again and again throughout the books of the New Testament. There was no occasion of importance in the life of the Saviour that he did not relate to prayer and communion with God. In this, as in other things, we must take him as our pattern and maintain daily communication with the Father.
Apostle Charles R. Hield pointed Out (Saints' Herald, 1942, page 1033) the purposes of God in relation to prayer:
"Before we pray, it is well that we meditate upon the great eternal purposes of God. In modern revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 46:23, God says:
"'This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.'
"God and Christ . . . . have a definite purpose in life. Their object is to build a society here upon earth in which men will, of their own free volition, obey the eternal, everlasting, and beneficent laws of the universe. Our prayer should be sent to God with the conscious purpose that we might better understand his laws, that we might secure his wisdom to aid us in living successfully here upon this earth. When we analyze the prayers of the Bible, we find that they are concerned with the building of this new society-this society dedicated to obeying the righteous laws of eternity."
We are admonished to make all our affairs, both spiritual and temporal, matters of prayer. This includes the matters of our soul and character development, our relations with others, both in and out of the household of faith, matters of our daily bread and physical needs and in particular all the major and minor decisions of life.
Prayer is the means by which we determine the will of God. To make vital decisions in life without first seeking the Spirit of God in understanding is to risk making mistakes at the many crossroads of spiritual life. Most of the mistakes of men and women in the church are made because of the failure to remember the injunction of Jesus that "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
Prayer becomes most meaningful when it has been incorporated into the daily life and habit of the Saint. It is wise to make an appointment with God for his daily counsel and to keep that appointment punctiliously. Many persons make a habit of retiring for a brief period each day to some particular corner of the home for private and personal meditation and prayer. To them, this spot, of no significance perhaps to others of the same home, becomes an altar of prayer. It may be a place in one's sleeping room where one may be alone, or to a housewife a corner of the living room where the Three Books of the Scriptures are kept, or some spot kept adorned with the fresh flowers of nature to help draw one near to the Father, but the essential thing is that it provides a focus for the drawing of one's soul to God in definite communion with his Spirit. It may be beside one's bed at morning or at evening that one may choose to seek the Father in counsel and wisdom, but wherever and whenever it is, it is of major importance in the saintly development.
Prayer is of particular help in the matters of human relationships. In another place methods are given by which one may adjust difficulties that arise among brethren, but if the habit of true prayer is cultivated, these difficulties need never rise. Prayer for the brethren and sisters of the church produces harmony among them and within them. It has been truly said that when one is praying for someone, thoughts of bitterness cannot grow towards him.
One should then pray at all times, when in sorrow, when in doubt, when in need and when one is blessed, when one is experiencing joy, when alone and when with the brethren.
The hymns of the church are invaluable as aids to prayer and worship in the personal and private way with which this section deals. A large proportion of the hymns of the church are the outpourings of a needy soul and can be fittingly used to direct one's needs in prayer and meditation. Members should use the sacred books also in this way.
Prayer need not be a matter of private and personal devotion alone. In fact, we are commanded to practice both private and public prayer. Many opportunities are offered in the services of the church for participation in prayer. Prayer meetings are held in all branches of the church, and a good church member will be particular to keep this group appointment. One should endeavor to share in these prayer meetings, and it will be found that the necessary ability and courage required to do so will grow with consequent benefit to the individual and the group.
The Communion service, as some branches arrange it, offers opportunities for both personal and public prayer. If the section on the Communion service is studied with care, it will be realized just what an important place prayer has in this very important service.
Many persons coming from churches where individual prayer is not a feature of public worship, find difficulty in personal participation.
There are very few occasions in this church where formal printed prayers are used as in some denominations. Our principal printed prayers are the Lord's Prayer, and the prayers for the blessing of the emblems in the Communion service. Formal prayers previously prepared by someone other than the individual worshiper have the disadvantage of lacking spontaneity and particular direction, although where the worshiper can enter in in the full spirit of that prayer good is obtained. However, there is no prayer more acceptable to God than that which emanates from a full heart, though it be but a few words as one of old prayed, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.
THE SAMPLE PRAYER
There can be no better guide to the correct practice of prayer than the example commonly known as the Lord's Prayer. A careful study of this prayer reveals that all things needful are included even though in a brief line or two for each particular need. This prayer recognizes our relationship to God, and then makes petition for (a) hallowing of his name by men; (b) for the coming of the kingdom; (c) for the doing of his will on earth; (d) for the daily physical needs of life; (e) for the forgiveness of trespasses according to our willingness to forgive others; (f) for the strength to withstand temptation; (g) for deliverance from evil; (h) for the recognition that all power and glory are resident in the Father and for all time at his disposal as a gift.
For all these needs one should pray and make continual supplication to God. Each member of the church should endeavor to cultivate and practice the art of prayer that the purposes of God might be fulfilled in us and life of the Spirit be made more fully known to all men.
Church attendance is a vital feature of the true Christian life. The acceptance of regular attendance at church as a major obligation of church members is essential to the purposes of the church and to the needs of the individual soul. To appreciate this obligation and privilege, the nature and origin of the church need to be fully realized.
WHY SHOULD I ATTEND CHURCH?
Because the Church Was Divinely Instituted.
The church is a divinely commissioned institution owing its existence to an act of God in history. It is the only institution that derives its name from God and draws its nourishment from him. It is the only institution that acts authoritatively for him and gives as its first purpose the fulfillment of his purposes.
Because the Church Is a Mutual Society.
The church is a community with common ideals, faith, and purposes held together by the "tie that binds." Its members stress fellowship, a sense of togetherness as children of the common Father. It is a fellowship of persons having together in relations of mutual love, obligation, and service. It is a fellowship endeavoring to make real the ideal of brotherhood in small groups first. The prayer of Jesus for his followers in the seventeenth chapter of John gives a scriptural basis for the above statements. Church members will be repaid to study it carefully.
Because the Church Is a Worshiping Community.
It is dedicated to the fulfilling of God's purposes. It is a place where unity of adoration and actions transforms life into a sacred thing. It is a place where we may share experience and get new insight and inspiration; a place where we may realize together the reality of the divine presence and together dedicate ourselves to his purposes. Such worship is absolutely basic in individual and social life.
Because the Church Is a Community of Love.
The life of the church is rooted in the love of God. It is a place and relationship where men love because they are objects of God's love," and where fatherhood, sonship, and brotherhood are stressed. It is the home of salvation. Through the church the love of God is not only witnessed but set free to save those whom it touches.
Because the Church Is a Community of Thought.
We may think of the church as a place where together we strive for a clearer, deeper, and richer understanding of life's meanings; it is a place for thinking things through in terms of God; for growing clarity of thinking in regard to the true ends of life. It is a place where one may meet the "response of thought" as well as the response of love. Church attendance provides this wonderful opportunity for pooling our best thinking for our own good, for the good of others and for the advancement of the collective Christian body.
Because the Church Is a Teaching Community.
The church is an institution commissioned for and dedicated to the teaching of the profound truths of the revelations of Christ. It is a place where through teaching we may become progressively converted to the mind of Christ-a place for the teaching of the truth that makes men free. In the church we join in the great creative endeavor of building men for God. Here we plan carefully, intelligently, and systematically to so build that the "word" may indeed become flesh.
Because the Church Is a Witnessing Community.
The church community is a group committed by its own knowledge, beliefs, and convictions to the sharing of such with all others. By the very nature of the truth which it professes to witness it is committed to making these revelations known to all men. It is commissioned to preach the word in all the world. To deny its message to any age or clime, color or race is to deny the message itself. The foremost duty and responsibility of the church is to witness by the very quality of its fellowship for God and Christ.
Because the Church Is a Community of Ministry and Service.
Christ was willing to apply the acid test to his Messiahship. It was "what ye have seen me do." He clearly indicated that we must apply the same rigid test to our own ministry. It is "to the least of these." The church is a place where acts of ministry and service express and confirm the spoken word. It is a place where members are servants one of another a place of "pastoral care of souls, for the cure of souls." The church above all institutions is alert to human needs and engaged in a sacrificial ministry to meet these needs.
Because To Attend Church Is To --
Obey divine command.
Move in the direction of man's greatest need.
Join in the fellowship of those who would put the service of God and man first.
Cultivate the presence of
the Divine Spirit and the knowledge, conviction, light, and power which it
Make available to oneself and to others that salvation which is the essence of divine and human love and fellowship.
Keep spiritually alive.
Because To Fail To Attend Church Is To --
Violate the commandments of God.
Violate the commands of one's own soul.
Slip back into the lower levels of life.
Deprive others and the church of that which you could contribute.
Fail to resist the drag-down of your own impulses.
Fail to attain salvation in the true sense of that term.
Retard the work of the church on all fronts. Close the door to life's highest values.
Those who do not attend regularly are likely to neglect as well all other means of systematic cultivation of their spiritual lives. They will gradually find themselves separated from that fellowship which is so characteristic of and necessary in Christian action. They will fail to make any special endeavor to witness for Christ. They will fail to support the church in other ways-in time, means, and talent. They will fail to engage in those lines of service to humanity which are a basic source of spiritual light and power. They will tend to take on the characteristics of life about them and devote themselves to its purpose, not going higher, but going lower, and finally drifting down and out of the religious fellowship entirely.
When We Attend Church.
We go to worship God and to receive his blessing. There are people who say they can worship God better in the beauty of nature than in a church. They may, but the chances are they do not. One can worship God anywhere, and should do so. But a church is for a particular quality of worship that goes on nowhere else.
We go to receive benefit of the company of the best people we know. Their fellowship and friendship strengthen us. We are happy in their presence.
We go for inspiration received in thoughtful sermons, in testimonies, in prayer, and in the beauty of music.
We are reminded of our duty, of our obligation to the moral order of the universe.
We receive all these benefits. They are important to us. They constitute not only sufficient but compelling reasons for going to church.
The great sacramental experiences between the member and God are not possible without the church and our regular attendance. They involve social worship. We may pray as an individual, but the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Communion, ordination, administration, marriage, and blessing are not possible unless the church exists as a social organization. The church would not exist but for the need of individuals. It cannot exist without their attendance and support. Neither can people grow in the full experiences of God's love and fatherhood without the church and the sacraments administered by her priesthood.
WHAT IS MY RELATION TO THE CHURCH SCHOOL?
The church school is best described as the church at school. By this definition it is seen that every member of the church should receive instruction and help through the medium of this department.
The church school differs from the older conception of the Sunday school in that it provides for and includes other activities on weekdays as well as on Sundays.
Through the church school, all age groups are given an opportunity to learn the teachings of Christ, to develop intellectually, spiritually, and socially.
On Sunday, the school meets as a whole for worship and religious study, and every member of the church should participate in these exercises. In most schools of average size, one period of this service is a composite one where the whole family worship together, dividing into groups graded according to age for study and other activities.
During the week each member has the opportunity of working in a divisional activity suited to his interests and needs. The Church School Plan provides for adult, young people, and children to function in departments, with subsidiary clubs and societies operating in each. All are invited to participate in the respective sections.
The following divisional activities operate where circumstances and numbers permit:
Women's circles and men's clubs and in some places young married groups function within the interests akin to the particular group. These groups participate in study, practical projects, and social activities.
YOUNG PEOPLE'S DIVISION
The Zion's League is the specific youth organization of the church, and under the auspices of this society the youth are given the opportunity of activity of expressional and developmental nature. General improvement studies are engaged in, while opportunity is provided for worship, public speaking, and dramatic activities. Leadership is developed in this section, and no young person over the age of fifteen years can afford to miss participating with others of his age in this section.
Very special emphasis is placed by the church on the attendance of children at the church school services and activities, and there is very special thought given by the church school department to the training and nurture of the children. Every Latter Day Saint family with children should make it a point of obligation to see that such children are enrolled in the activities and studies of the division.
Club activities in this age group are as follows:
Oriole Circle is a club for girls between the ages of 11 and 15 years and caters for such interests both indoor and outdoor while emphasizing cultural and Christian development. Uniforms are worn, thus appealing to this particular section of church membership, according to stages of development. The Boy Scouts is the official church group for boys of this age, namely, the junior high. Under selected and dependable leadership, the boys of the church have the privilege of engaging in this proved activity. Where there are not sufficient numbers of either boys or girls to organize Scouts or Orioles, a Junior Zion's League may be organized to provide expressional activities for this age group.
For the younger boys and girls, Cubs and Blue Birds are organized and give suitable activity and development.
Every Saint can make it a matter of progressive spiritual and social development to be linked with his or her appropriate activity carried forward through the church school. This department carries one of the major responsibilities of the church, and every man, woman, and child of the church should hold membership.
An officer known as the Director of Religious Education or Church School Director is the supervisor of the school and with other leaders and teachers of the department may be looked to for help and guidance which each is only too willing to give.
| The purpose of
the church is to establish a community of people built upon standards of personal and
social righteousness. This is an ideal, but certain basic standards must be recognized at
the outset of the Christian journey if this aim is to be apparent to the world.
Certain standards for membership must be attained in order that this witness be not nullified. The following are some accepted standards to which we should subscribe when owning membership.
"We believe that the religion of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament Scriptures, will, if its precepts are accepted and obeyed, make men and women better in the domestic circle and better citizens of town, country and state, and consequently better fitted for the change which comes at death."
--Epitome of Faith.
WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS?
A Saint Cultivates the Christian Graces.
"Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."-II Peter 1:5-8.
A Saint Is Clean in Thought, Speech, and Life.
The aim to be spotless in
these matters is essential. This requires that the heart and mind will be filled with the
divine vision to the exclusion of the carnally devised moral compromises of the social
world. In other words, the moral standard of a member should be above reproach.
A Saint Is Sincere and Honest.
The religious life must be rooted in sincerity, integrity, and honesty. Good works must proceed from a sincere heart, not from a desire for praise or honor. The word of a Saint must be as good as his bond. He must be scrupulously honest in business dealings, in friendly relations, and in all other social contacts. He must be honest with God. "Thou shalt be honest with thyself, thy neighbor and thy God."
A Saint is Generous.
A Saint should cultivate a generous attitude toward others. Tolerance and open-heartedness are important characteristics of sainthood. Hatred, spite, envy, or revenge should not be given place in the heart. The generosity required by those in need should not be restricted to those who appear worthy. In short, the "second mile" principle should govern in generosity.
A Saint Is Brotherly.
There should be evidenced
an attitude toward others that does not discriminate between color, race, nation or social
class. Thus love to all mankind should be a standard of the saintly life.
A Saint Is a Good Citizen.
A Saint should be a law-abiding citizen. To be in good standing in the church is also the guarantee of a worthy citizen. Conscientious acceptance of the responsibilities placed upon us by state citizenship is obligatory upon Saints.
A Saint Leads a Useful Life.
The Saint must engage in
useful occupation which should be in keeping with all other standards of sainthood.
A Saint is Thrifty.
A good Saint discharges his
responsibility as a steward with care and consecration, and there is no better guide to
this achievement than a careful and studious approach to the matters contained in the
chapter on the Financial Law.
A Saint Spends His Leisure Time Creatively.
The standard of sainthood
requires that, as well as choosing a vocation of a useful and constructive nature, members
should study the use of leisure time also, so that the stewardship of time shall be
recognized. That recreation should be truly re-creative this matter should receive more
than casual study by all who would approach the standards of the gospel.
A Saint Endeavors to Maintain a Standard of Health.
The Word of Wisdom is an
indication of the requirements of God in the matter of physical and mental well-being, and
each member is invited to study this word of advice and counsel and to endeavor to apply
the principles therein according to his geographical and personal situation. There is no
arbitrary instruction in this, but the spirit of the advice therein must be understood if
one's body is to be a useful servant of the spirit. See Doctrine and Covenants 86.
A Saint Avoids the Use of Habit-Forming Drugs.
The standards of sainthood
preclude the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs on the basis that those who so
indulge are living at a lower mental and physical standard than is intended in the divine
purpose. Other personal and social habits, too, should be judged upon the same basis and
constructive decisions made in all such matters in harmony with the greater purposes of
A Saint Respects the Sanctity of Marriage.
The standard of the church in marriage relations is that of the highest Christian principle, and it is a fundamental concept of Latter Day Saint teaching and practice that the monogamous marriage be observed with scrupulousness. Because of the error in this matter of some who left our church, it is of particular importance that members should uphold by word and deed the sanctity of the Christian home.
A Saint is expected to share regularly in the worship and activities of the church, See chapter 3.
A Saint is expected to be unfailing in his observance of the Lord's Supper. See chapter 2.
A Saint is expected to take part in the work of the church according to his gifts and opportunity.
A Saint is expected to take his share in contributing to the funds of the church according as God has prospered him. See chapter 8.
A Saint should maintain a standard of good reading. The "Saints' Herald" and other church periodicals should find a place in the regular reading of every church member.
A Saint should plan for individual and family devotions and study the Word of God. See "The Saintly Home," chapter 4.
WHAT OFFICIAL STEPS ARE TAKEN TO ENSURE THESE STANDARDS?
If it is necessary to give evidence of worthiness of life to become a member of the church, it is necessary to maintain and raise that standard to retain one's privileges as a member. See Doctrine and Covenants 17:7. Failure to appreciate the standards of sainthood may result in the church taking action to protect its members against damage done by members who become of ill-repute. The actual steps taken in such circumstances are, firstly, for the administrative officer of the group or area to appoint the teacher or other officer to labor kindly with the offender to bring about repentance and restitution; secondarily, where this fails, to appoint a court of elders for the hearing of the matter and to give judgment. If adjudged guilty of an offense against the Christian standard, certain restitution is required and in certain circumstances expulsion from the church may be ordered.
WHAT SINS WOULD CONSTITUTE CAUSE FOR CHURCH ACTION?
Where members of the church so far forget their calling as to be guilty of immorality and unchastity, i. e., adultery and kindred sins, definite action is taken by the church. Repentance and adjustment are obligatory upon all found guilty in this way. For a first offense this may be considered sufficient by the church, but for repetition of such lapses court expulsion is the rule.
The contracting of debt without reasonable ability to meet such debts in due course is not a moral act, and the church does not uphold the membership of one so acting. Refusal to meet one's legitimate obligations where there is the ability to do so may become the subject of church action and the member's privileges be in jeopardy.
Drunkenness is not in keeping with the standards of a saintly life, and on this matter the church is very strict. No member can be considered in good standing who indulges in the use of intoxicating liquor as a beverage. Where such example is evidenced, the church takes action that the name of the church and the characters of its members be not evilly spoken of.
To avoid the appearance of evil is an obligation of a member towards the name of Christ and the church. Where circumstances are such that the church and Christian community are brought into disrepute, even though there be no conclusive evidence of sinful relationships, the church requires the member so involved to evidence such innocence by removal of the cause for gossip. Where such is not done those so failing may be dealt with by the church for un-Christian conduct.
It cannot be over-emphasized that any such disciplinary action which may be taken by the church is in no way punitive, but in all cases it is to reclaim the fallen, but where willfulness is evidenced in continuing in wrongdoing, the church has no option but to act to preserve its good influence in the community. It is better that one should suffer in this respect than that the whole body should be ridiculed before the world. Lying, backbiting, adultery, and kindred sins, as well as contracting bad debts, drunkenness, and giving occasion for harmful gossip may lead to expulsion. Briefly stated, the facts are that the membership should at all times and in all places remember that the standards of the church are the standards of Jesus Christ. Should doubt arise in the mind as to the legitimacy of certain acts or procedures, reference to the life and pattern of the Master will give all the necessary answers that may be required. This is the supreme test of discipleship. The church is jealous of its name as the Church of Jesus Christ and is bound morally and spiritually to ensure that it is held high by all who enter into its privileges.
At no time should a member of the church give way to temptation that will place in jeopardy the high and holy privileges of sainthood.
HOW SHALL I ADJUST PERSONAL DIFFICULTIES?
It is inevitable in our present state of weakness and humanity that difficulties of a personal nature will arise among members of the church. In this the church is no exception, for where there are two persons or more working and living along side each other, there is the possibility of friction or misunderstanding.
The art of living together in peace is one that has been least developed of all the relationships of life, whether among individuals or in the global sphere of international relationships.
If the major national calamities of recent years are to be avoided in the future, the art of fellowship must be perfected. If men and women cannot live together in peace in the small circles of the home and community, there is no possibility of international fellowship.
Therefore the gospel, through the church, has set the ideals and principles of social adjustment. It is essential that the members of the church shall maintain fellowship if the witness of the message, "Peace on Earth," is to be made real.
Peace among members of the church was emphasized as essential by Jesus, as these words of Scripture show:
"If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee two or three more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."-Matthew 18:15, 16.
"Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother has ought against thee, leave thou thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift."-Matthew 5:23, 24.
Thus, it is clearly the duty of either party to the unfortunate trespass to approach the other for reconciliation. Experience has shown that where this law is carried out, in the great majority of cases reconciliation is effected in the first stages of the breach.
It is an
offense against the fellowship of the group and the principles of Christ to report
injuries and hurts first to another not concerned. Tale-bearing is a most harmful practice
and not in harmony with the standards of sainthood, and is an offense against which the
church as a body may take action and thus one's membership be affected.
WHAT THEN ARE THE OBLIGATIONS OF MEMBERS
Relationship Between Ministry and
ADMINISTRATION FOR THE SICK
WHAT IS MEANT BY ADMINISTRATION FOR
This is an ordinance which was practiced by Jesus and his ministry for the relief and cure of physical, mental and spiritual illness and suffering, and is available in the church as in days of old. Briefly described, the ordinance is one where the elders of the church anoint the head of the sufferer with oil, lay their hands upon his head and offer a prayer for healing and blessing.
WHAT IS THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS OF THIS
When Jesus sent his followers forth to carry his message to the world, he included among other promises, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."-Mark 16:18. The Apostle James has given the most comprehensive statement in the Bible on this ordinance:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."-James 5:14, 15.
HOW SHOULD ONE PROCEED TO SHARE IN THE
The one indisposed by illness should first of all call for the elders. The failure to do this robs the needy one of the privilege of preparing his soul by faith. The steps leading to the actual call obviously include some spiritual preparation and realization of one's relationship with God and the church. Therefore the sick should not expect the ministry to anticipate the requirement of this service. Some have felt injured because the elders have not moved into the life of the sufferer without request. It should be remembered that though the work of the elders includes the teaching and leading of the members to understand their duties and privileges, the duty of the sufferer is clearly to take the first step in the application of this great ordinance. The duty, therefore, of the sick, where there is neither incapacitation by age or lack of ability to make the request known, is to call for the elders. The sick person himself may call for the elders or a member of the, family or an attendant may issue the call for him if he is not able, providing it is known that this would meet the desires of the sick person.
HAS THE MINISTER ANY RESPONSIBILITY TO DECIDE
It is the duty of the elders to ensure that the ordinance is entered into seriously and with reverence and understanding to the degree necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. Where one is incapacitated so that he is unable to make his wishes known, the prayers and supplications of the elders will naturally be fitting to the circumstances and be related to family wishes or requests.
WHAT DEGREE OF FAITH IS REQUIRED FOR THE
"He that cometh to God must first believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of all those that diligently seek him."
"Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."
The healing ordinance of the church involves a co-operative approach between member and minister to God. The faith and preparation of the sufferer must be co-ordinated with that of the church and its ministry for God to vouchsafe the full blessing. This ordinance is free to all, whether of the church or not, providing that it is approached with sincerity.
WHAT IS MEANT BY, "AND IF THEY HAVE COMMITTED SINS
This should be understood to refer to those in which sin is a causative factor in the condition of the sick person. Sin may have been committed in ignorance or willfully, and the statement indicates that the mercy of God is in operation. Nevertheless, it appears that before healing can take place, where there is a commission of sin, repentance and a determination to avoid that sin in the future are required. The Master's reaction to this kind of situation was, "Go and sin no more."
This provision of the scripture finds a counterpart in the most modern medical practice and scientific treatment. It takes account of the fact that many human ills are caused by mistakes, social maladjustments, and sin. It is well known that mental distress and tensions can result in physical suffering, functional disturbances, and even organic changes and lesions. In these cases one of the first steps necessary is to clear the soul of the feeling of guilt and obtain forgiveness of sin. Physicians are familiar with such cases, and psychiatrists build important parts of their therapy around basic principles involved in repentance and forgiveness.
In disease and injury, the sufferer knows when he is healed. But in the mental cases the medicine needed is the statement from an authoritative and divine source before healing can begin. The divine wisdom is revealed in making this statement a part of the text.
WHAT OIL IS USED AND UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?
Olive oil, traditionally used in Palestine in the days of Jesus, is used, and this is consecrated or set apart to be used for this purpose alone. While there is no specific command to consecrate oil for this purpose, it is reasonable and suitable that such be done as one would bless or set apart any other agent used consistently for sacred purposes.
IS THE ANOINTING ALWAYS MADE UPON THE HEAD?
It is customary during administration for one elder to anoint the head of the sufferer with oil, offering a very brief statement and prayer as to the purpose of the rite. Following this, the associate elder offers a prayer of faith to God, for the healing of the sick one. It is customary to anoint the head, although there are occasions when the afflicted part is also anointed. It is obligatory upon the elders to observe strictly the proprieties in this matter. In this the recognition of the plural, "elders," is a wise thing, and where the sick one is alone, the rule should be considered definite.
IS THIS ORDINANCE AVAILABLE FOR PHYSICAL ILLS ONLY?
Any condition, physical, mental, or spiritual, may call for the benefit of this rite. As medical science increases knowledge of the healing art, more of our physical ills can be treated by human agencies. And the call for mental and spiritual blessing becomes more imperative as the strain and stress of modern life causes a growing need of peace of soul and spiritual poise being gained or regained through a correct and devout approach to this ordinance of healing.
SHOULD IMMEDIATE AND MIRACULOUS RESULTS BE EXPECTED FROM THE FIRST CALL?
This is not necessary. The Scripture records a number of gradual healings. There may be factors that only the sufferer can put right and that may require time. The prayer for wisdom, both that the sick one and the elders may know what course should be pursued, is an important consideration. It is generally recognized that where help, either by the person himself or by medical therapists, is available that help should be used with wisdom.
SHOULD THE SUFFERER REFRAIN FROM MEDICAL OR
Both human and divine aid may be invoked, the sick one doing all possible to aid recovery, while asking God to work through him to that end also. The law requires that we call medical aid in all cases where life is definitely endangered. Both calls may be made simultaneously without violence to the spirit of faith.
WHERE SHOULD THE ADMINISTRATION BE PERFORMED?
The obligation to call suggests the home of the sufferer, or it may be performed at the pastor's home or at the church. It may also be desired at the hospital. It is felt that the purpose and spirit of the ordinance are best served where the administration is carried out in the presence of those most vitally concerned, and for this purpose the home or the church office are very suitable. There are times when it is wise and desirable that a congregation may be called in fasting and prayer for the benefit of the sick, and if advisable the pastor will so arrange. However, the meetings of the church should never be made an occasion for a parade of the ordinance where those not previously known to be desirous of administration approach the elders successively for administration in public. In this the wisdom of the pastor must be the guide. The circumstances should be those that allow for undivided prayer and faith to be operative. Even hospitals at times are not conducive to this spirit and in a ward a screen is usually desirable, not because of a wish to conceal the administration but because of the previously stated need for a unity of spirit in those witnessing.
MAY A PERSON CALL FOR MORE THAN ONE ADMINISTRATION FOR THE SAME ILLNESS?
There may be need for frequent and regular approach to God through this ordinance. The need for strengthening faith may be the greatest factor, and continuous approach through this rite may be had. There may be need for continued searching after light and wisdom, and only in this way might benefit be obtainable. Consideration should nevertheless be shown for the sacrifice and consecration given by the elders at all times to such calls. Under no circumstances should mere whim be made the cause of unnecessary hardship to the elders. The principle of these men, never to refuse to give what help lies in their power, requires of us that our requests be timely and reasonable.
The ordinance for the healing of the sick is One of the most comforting and fruitful of the Restored Church, and for that reason it should be highly regarded and used with restraint and understanding, which alone can maintain dignity in the exercise of spiritual privileges.
THE PATRIARCHAL BLESSING
WHAT IS A PATRIARCHAL BLESSING?
This is a blessing given by the patriarch accompanied by the laying on his hands. The words of the patriarch are recorded by a stenographer as they are spoken at the time. A copy of the blessing is given to the candidate and one is kept for reference by the Order of Evangelists.
IS THIS THE ONLY FUNCTION OF THE
Of this minister the Doctrine and Covenants of the church states, "The patriarch is an evangelical minister. The duties of this office are to be an evangelical minister, to preach, teach, expound, and exhort, to be a revivalist, and to visit the branches and districts as wisdom may direct, invitation request or the Spirit of God determine and require; to comfort the Saints; to be a father to the church; to give counsel and advice to individuals who may seek for such; to lay on hands for the conferment of spiritual blessings and if so led to point out the lineage of the one who is blessed."
It is seen from this quotation that the conferment of blessings is but one, even if an important one, of the many privileges that may be received at the hands of the patriarchal ministry.
The patriarch is a minister who is free from the problems of administering the organized departments of the church and so is free for this personal and helpful ministry. Though one may seek the advice of this minister in the problems of personal sainthood, he is not available for the settlement of difficulties either personal or official between the Saints. It is the duty of every member to know this and to approach him for ministry in accordance with the provision of the Scriptures.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A BLESSING?
The chief purpose of the patriarchal blessing is indicated in the term itself: to give authoritative, priestly blessing, invoked by a spiritual father representing God and the church. That chief function should not be forgotten. Little children receive a blessing before they are aware of what is happening or able to comprehend its meaning. More mature people come voluntarily to receive a blessing into the spirit of which they may enter intellectually and emotionally. This ordinance coupled with faithful obedience to the will of God brings divine blessings and guidance and may be a help through life.
Other chief functions caught up under the primary one just mentioned are to give comfort when needed, or admonition, and especially good counsel as to a godly way of life, to rededicate and to consecrate, to bring a benediction from above, to help one find himself or herself and make an adjustment to life and its problems.
In the centuries since the children of Israel were taken into captivity, they were scattered and have become known as the "Lost Tribes" of Israel. Some of them were mingled with many other nations, and migrations have taken them to various parts of the world. Their descendants have a spiritual heritage which appears in those patriarchal blessings that indicate such a lineage.
Some may have attached too much importance to the naming of lineage; whether they are to be numbered among the children of Ephraim or Manasseh or perhaps Judah. Remember, however, that this rests with the patriarch as he shall feel directed, whether he shall indicate the lineage in each case. Do not be unduly concerned if this is not done. It is not the primary purpose of blessing.
WHAT PREPARATION SHOULD ONE MAKE FOR
It is well that those who are to receive a blessing shall make some definite preparation, if time permits. This preparation should include prayer, meditation, self-examination, perhaps fasting if the state of health permits, reading of certain Scriptures and meditation thereon.
Suggested readings are: Doctrine and Covenants 11:4, 5; John 14:1; II Peter 5:11; Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 5:2-16; I Corinthians 13:1-7; 2 Nephi 13:27-32.
If the time does not permit this Scripture reading before the service, it may be well that something of the kind be taken up afterward as a help to a definite reconsecration and forward movement.
The one receiving the blessing should have some clear idea concerning the purpose of the blessing and what may be expected. Some have erred in thinking that the blessing is a sort of adventure in fortunetelling, a prying into the future. This is not so. This does not mean that the spirit of prophecy may not be present, for fine promises have been made and kept; but the spirit of prophecy has other and more important functions than predicting future events.
IS THERE ANY CHARGE FOR
There is no charge for this service, for like all other privileges of the gospel, it is free. Should the one receiving the blessing desire to make an offering he may do so. Certain expenses are incurred in the operation of this function, and such may be used for this purpose.
It is important to remember that the general approach when receiving a blessing must be made in the spirit of seriousness and sincerity. It must arise out of a real personal desire and sense of need, in a prayerful spirit and with the intention to heed the counsel given. Coming in that spirit one may claim the promise, "ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you."
THE BLESSING OF CHILDREN
The laying on of hands is taught in the Scriptures for several purposes; for confirmation, administration for the sick, ordination to the ministry, the conferring of patriarchal blessing, and for the blessing of children.
THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE BLESSING
When Jesus was teaching the multitude, some of the people who surrounded him brought their children forward that he might touch them. The disciples rebuked them and would have sent them away, but the Master said, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
From this statement we draw the conclusion that little children are pure in the sight of God. The Book of Mormon is particularly clear on the innocence of children. Read Moroni, chapter 8, for a very beautiful exposition of this truth.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF BLESSING CHILDREN?
It is in the nature of a dedication of the little child to God. The parents should recognize the heavy responsibility that they have assumed in undertaking to bring to maturity a little child and in so doing naturally desire to seek divine aid in the task.
WHERE IS THE BLESSING OF CHILDREN PERFORMED?
This may be performed in the home, but it has become customary for the parents to arrange with the pastor for a service of dedication in the church. This custom has dignified the ordinance by providing an opportunity for the serious contemplation of parental responsibility and the holding before the congregation the symbol of purity which characterizes the Christian aim. This service thus provides the occasion for one of the most beautiful ceremonies of the gospel.
IS THE BLESSING IN THE NATURE OF A
There is no similarity between this rite and that of other denominations known as christening. The parents have already named the child, and though it is customary for the elder blessing the babe to make particular mention of its name, it is in no sense a christening which is to other churches a substitute for baptism. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and until a child is eight years of age, the church holds that he is not a fit subject for baptism. See chapter 1.
WHAT THEN ACTUALLY OCCURS WHEN A CHILD
At the appropriate time in the service, the parents bring the child forward to the elder or elders. If the child is small, one of them takes it in his arms while the other (if two) also places his hands upon him. The elder offers a prayer of dedication, praying for protection through life and for wisdom in the parents to guide the development in body, mind, and spirit, a great responsibility.
SHOULD A CHILD OF MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS OF
The church has given instructions to the elders that when a child has reached the age of eight years he is to be then considered a prospect for full membership in the church and therefore should not be accepted for blessing. The parents and church officers should then consider it their responsibility to teach the child what is required of one growing to the age where he rightly makes a choice of his path in life.
DOES THE FACT THAT A CHILD HAS BEEN BLESSED
No rights of membership are conveyed by the ordinance of blessing nor is the name recorded upon the roll of membership. However, a certificate of blessing is issued, and the record of the blessing is kept at the church office for reference.
IS THE SALVATION OF THE CHILD IN JEOPARDY
While we consider the presenting of every child for blessing to be a very proper and desirable procedure, it is unscriptural to affirm that this is an ordinance of salvation. Such fear is a relic of superstitions which have been wrongly taught by those departing from true Christian doctrine. Should parents be so unfortunate as to lose a child before blessing has been had they can rest in the comfort of the words of the Master, "For of such is the kingdom of heaven."
IS IT NECESSARY THAT THE PARENTS SHOULD BE
This ordinance is free to all whether the parents are members of the church or not. The elders of the church are pleased to perform this ordinance wherever the parents indicate their desire and reverently approach the occasion of blessing.
| The government
of the church has been described as a theocratic-democracy. This involves three elements
of government God, priesthood, and membership. So far as we are directly concerned, there
are two main divisions of function, priesthood and membership.
THE FUNCTIONS OF PRIESTHOOD IN THE
The call to ministry originates with God, and this call is expressed through previously ordained ministers. Only authorized officers of the church in their various administrative spheres may express this call to ministry. In the local branch the pastor is the only administrative officer in this sense. Others may give witness to but may not initiate the call of any man.
Nevertheless, the membership has full right to approve or to disapprove, to accept or refuse the ministry of one so called. After approval by higher administrative officers, all such calls are presented to the body within whose area the ordination would immediately take effect, and the principle of common consent here operates. When this approval is given by a branch or district, etc., the rights and duties outlined in the doctrines of the church are conferred upon the one so called, by ordination. The minister then carries the right to officiate anywhere in the world within the bounds of his calling.
Members of the church should look to the priesthood for guidance and direction in the matters of the church, and the Doctrine and Covenants particularly enjoins respect for this function. See Doctrine and Covenants 125:14.
Thus the church to this degree is governed by revelation.
ARE ALL OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH CALLED BY
All officers requiring ordination to the ministry are governed as stated in the previous paragraphs, but there are numerous officers chosen for other than ministerial work. These are nominated and voted upon by the common consent of the membership. These officers are those of local treasuries and secretarial work and those of the church school and its departments. Such officers are not necessarily ordained ministers although they frequently are.
The pastor of the local church is elected by common consent and may be nominated as a rule by a member or some minister having higher jurisdiction. Unless there is some grave reason for a departure from this principle, he should be sustained by majority vote. Any variation of this procedure would be protected by the right of appeal. The only restriction being placed upon the appointment of the pastor is that he must be chosen from the ranks of the priesthood, normally of the high priesthood or eldership.
ARE THERE MATTERS OF GOVERNMENT WHERE
There is a large field of legislation that may be initiated by the membership of the church, quite apart from priesthood responsibility. The principle of common consent operates throughout the church in the various conferences of branches, districts, and missions and in the General Conference of the whole world organization. Each held has certain restrictions of responsibility, all of necessity being subject to the General Conference. In all such meetings and conferences, the right is there exercised to discuss, amend, assent to or dissent from all proposed enactments that would govern the future conduct of the church."
It is important that each member become familiar with church law which is definite as to where the fields of membership action and administrative functions shall operate. This involves a study of the Doctrine and Covenants and of General Conference Resolutions.
WHAT DEGREE OF RESPONSIBILITY RESTS UPON A
A great responsibility rests upon the membership in this respect. To get a full democratic vote is impossible, for that would involve equality of understanding by each voter, require that every member of the church be present, and each would have to have an equal ability to express a point of view. With these facts in mind, it is essential that each person should be careful to use his voting privilege as a stewardship and avoid the use of his vote in ignorance or without due respect for the principles of justice and honesty of purpose.
HOW OFTEN ARE MEETINGS FOR THE CONDUCT
In most branches these meetings are held annually, and it is the duty of every member to attend such with previous preparation having been made throughout the year by interest in and understanding of all the activities of the church both local and general. It is not reasonable or just for consistently non-attending members to turn up at business meetings to vote on an equal basis with those who will be expected to be governed by the adoptions of these "absentees." District and mission conferences are also convened periodically where such organizations exist, and these are constituted on the delegate system, the branches appointing delegates when required. The General Conference meets at intervals set by the vote of the business session, and all organized branches or districts are represented there by their chosen delegates.
AVENUES OF SERVICE
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES OF SERVICE ARE THERE FOR
The great missions of the church are to redeem men and to build the kingdom of God. The accomplishment of these missions calls for a great many kinds of consecrated abilities from the membership. Every good gift bestowed upon men and women can be used to serve humanity and the work of the church. It is the opportunity of each member to discover his own talents, and to find joy in the service of God and his follow mortals by contributing to the great work of the church and of the kingdom of God.
Outside of the lines of service that are the special responsibility of the priesthood, there are many things needed by the church and the people that can be done or given by a consecrated membership. Indeed, the work of the church could not succeed without the consecrated efforts of talented and loyal members. The best that every member can do or give is needed.
GOD CALLS ACCORDING TO OUR TALENTS,
Men have the responsibility and privilege of preparing to fulfill the functions of ministry in one of the priesthoods of the church. While we are definite in our belief as a church that God calls men by revelation, so are we definite in our recognition of the fact that God calls according to preparation and readiness to serve.
Thus, men with souls developed to the condition where they are receptive to the prophetic spirit (that is the expression of the truth of the power of Christ in a life which is more than word only) are awaited by God.
SERVICE THROUGH EVANGELISM OR MISSIONARY
Missionary work provides the widest avenue of service in the church and the world, and is open to all within the areas of their calling and qualification. To work effectively in this avenue of service, one must be qualified by knowledge of the church and the truths that it has been commissioned to teach. All members, both priesthood and membership, are urged to share in this great task of converting the world. Attendance at all church study classes and preaching services will help to qualify one to this end. "Let him that is warned warn his neighbor" is the motto of all true Saints. We may not all be commissioned to preach from the pulpit nor to administer the ordinances of the church, but all can tell the good news to men.
THROUGH PASTORAL ACTIVITY
The shepherding of souls is a great opportunity open to men and, in some spheres, to the women of the church. The guiding, nourishing, and healing of souls is the most rewarding and satisfying of activities for the Master. More and more is the need for such leadership becoming evident. There is here a channel of service open to many in both ministry and counseling. Preparation through study of human nature and the relation of the gospel thereto will enable the call of God to be fulfilled in us more fully. While pastoral ministry is a function of priesthood, there is an ever-expanding field of social service for women temperamentally fitted and qualified.
THROUGH THE TEACHING SERVICE OF THE
The teaching service of the church is open to both men and women of suitable type and preparation. Large staffs of consecrated men and women are continually required for the work of the church school And its departments. Opportunity to train for teaching and group leadership is offered regularly through the church schools and by the Department of Religious Education. These courses are open to all who desire to qualify.
THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF LEADERSHIP
Groups and societies of the church membership in adult, young people's, and children's divisions of the church are in need of a constant supply of developing leaders who are willing to specialize in ministering to the needs of these sections. Leadership of women and of men, Zion's League and Scouts, Orioles and Blue Birds and Cubs, etc., offers a fine field of service for consecrated workers of the church. These departments continue to increase in numbers with consequent need for leadership.
THROUGH THE AVENUE OF CHURCH LITERATURE
There are a number of ways of spreading the gospel story and of helping those already in the church to a fuller understanding of the message. Not least of these ways is writing. The consecration of one's pen to the service of the church both for publication of suitable material and by private and personal letter is within the gift and calling of many Saints.
THROUGH THE AVENUE OF MUSICAL ABILITY
The ministry of preaching and teaching is one avenue that has found the need of a companion ministry and that is the ministry of music. Few meetings of the church in our day do not find need for this particular service of music and song. The Spirit of God is often brought to the realization of people through this channel of art. Here then is an avenue of service which might be regarded as second only to the ministry of the spoken word. If one has this gift of music it is a duty to cultivate it and give of that cultivation to the services of the church. Instruction is given in the Scripture concerning this responsibility.
"Let the young men and maidens cultivate the gifts of music and of song; let not the middle-aged and the old forget the gladsomeness of their youth and let them aid and assist so far as their cares will permit."-Doctrine and Covenants 119:6.
THROUGH THE INDUSTRIAL AND ECONOMIC SPHERES
As the church enters more fully into the practical application of the principle of Zionic Stewardship, avenues of service in the technical and industrial fields as well as those of economics will become more and more important. Trained and useful participation in the great project of industrial Zion will be required in the years to come, and preparation for the acceptance of this great challenge opens an expanding avenue for those so minded. Zion cannot be established without such consecrated servers.
BY CONTRIBUTING ACCORDING TO OUR MATERIAL
One may feel limited by qualification in many of the tasks open for the developing membership of the modern church organization, but the field of personal giving to the funds of the church is one where very few are not privileged to serve. To study and know one's obligations to the financial department of the church is to become aware of a vast field of need, To obey the law is to make possible much of that progress of which we dream in less practical moments.
IN THE HUMBLE ROLE OF A GOOD MEMBER
Quite apart from the special avenues of service dealt with in this chapter there is the most fundamental need of all, and that is to support those who are called and selected to carry forward the work of the church in the entire field of ministerial and departmental labor. This need not be an inactive service but one of constructive support of every activity connected with the kingdom of God. Each should seek to find his gift and magnify it for the service of his fellow man and God.
| From the very
beginning, Christianity has been a missionary message. As it was in the days of the early
Christian church, so it is today when the gospel has been restored. As in the days of
Christ the injunction was given to the disciples to go into all the world with the
message, so in this generation has the commandment been given that he that is warned
should warn his neighbor.
A COMMITMENT OF SAINTHOOD
When a person accepts membership in the Church of Jesus Christ, he accepts more than the mere responsibility of living a life according to the personal standards of Christ. He accepts, along with this, the responsibility of sharing the good news he has received with every other person within the circle of his influence that has not yet heard the gospel. The faith of Christ is a world faith, and there are no boundaries for its establishment. Thus every member has the dual responsibility of witnessing for Christ in his life and of inviting men to become members of the church.
A SAINT SHOULD TAKE INITIATIVE
A Saint is one charged with delivering a message to men. If one is convinced of the vital nature of the message, his sense of urgency will not allow him to wait until others come to him to inquire. Because he realizes the importance of the warning message, he goes out towards those who need the gospel.
NOT ONLY A CHARGE TO ORDAINED MINISTERS
Although certain men ordained to ministerial office have special responsibilities toward evangelism, every person that has accepted the gospel and has become a member of Christ's church is charged with the task of making known the faith. "It becometh every man who hath been warned, to warn his neighbor"- "in mildness and meekness."-Doctrine and Covenants 85:22; 38:9.
FIELDS OF PERSONAL EVANGELISM
One of the great advantages of personal missionary endeavor is the wide and immediate field that is immediately open to those with the passionate urge to tell the good news. Other forms of missionary endeavor contemplate sending missionary specialists into specially selected places, where by sacrifice and devotion, they may convert people to Christ. The ordinary member of the church, however, has a particular opportunity right where he is.
IN THE HOME
Most Latter Day Saint homes will have a good spiritual atmosphere, but in far too many is it taken for granted that the members will make their decisions for Christ and the church in due course. This should be regarded as the first definite responsibility of a member, that is to complete, by conversion, the family circle.
To first win members of Latter Day Saint homes is the natural way in the field of missionary endeavor. Children, young people, husband or wife of a member of the church should be regarded as the first responsibility of the converted person. Many thousands of potential workers for Christ are missed by failure of members to realize the urgency of this field.
IN THE SCHOOL
Leaders in student life exercise a great influence upon their companions. Where a young student is endeavoring to witness for Christ by maintaining the personal standards of the gospel, he is assisting to fulfill the missionary injunction. Young people should ever be ready to bear witness of the Christ and his message among their fellows. There are many instances of the devout life of a student being the focus around which much teaching of the gospel message has centered. Too many students in advanced fields of education today are reticent about speaking of the gospel to their fellows. There is urgent need for the Christian message in schools, colleges, and universities.
IN THE REALM OF BUSINESS
Most adult members of the church spend the major portion of their waking hours with their business associates. The Latter Day Saint evangel should penetrate into every relationship. The business and industrial contacts of a fully converted Saint are full of spiritual Opportunities for one who is alert to take advantage of them. In the early Christian church many of the first disciples came directly from the business and community contacts of the Master himself. Peter, Andrew, and John were no doubt so contacted.
In the early days of the church, it was impossible for a member to keep hidden his identity with the church. To be a Saint meant a vital experience of saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Similar intimacy with Christ will inspire men to a similar spiritual vitality, and this must be evidenced both in action and by word in the daily contacts of office, shop, and factory.
IN THE SOCIAL WORLD
Unlimited opportunity and challenge is offered to men and women in the spheres of social life. All members should take advantage of their membership in social groups to win men and women of high principle and conviction to the larger vision of the gospel. One should not be diffident about witnessing for Christ in whatever social strata one may be placed. Jesus went into all circles, both high and low.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE MISSIONARY MEMBER
The prerequisites in the character of a member for this first and greatest task of the church is beautifully set out in Doctrine and Covenants 4: "If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work, for, behold, the field is white already to harvest, and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perish not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualifies him for the work."
SOUND PERSONAL CONVICTION
It is important that the member who would do this work of winning men for Christ and the church should have a sound personal conviction. The missionary worker must have a sound conviction as to the Sonship of Jesus Christ and of the divine nature of the church. He must have a conviction beyond doubt of the love of God for men. Mere opinion is not sufficient but a passionate conviction of the need of God in the lives of men and women. If this conviction is present, then the compulsion will be to share this divine knowledge with all.
LOVE FOR MEN
With the conviction of God's love for men must he a sense of oneness with all God's children, which reaches out to them in very truth. If one has this earnest desire for the well-being of others, it is naturally expressed in service to mankind. With this vision the missionary member sees men, not so much as they are but as they can be with the love of God shared out to them, and so he seeks with energy to bring all within that influence. This often demands sacrifices, but such sacrifices automatically bring salvation to the giver.
THE PRAYERFUL LIFE
Vital to the missionary activity is a disposition and ability to pray. One who is working in the stead of the Saviour must keep close to the source of power and of love. This prayer function will be fruitful in the dedication of life to the great cause, and make possible the expression of the Master's character before all men.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE CHURCH AND ITS DOCTRINE
One cannot tell others of the message if one does not have a certain degree of sound understanding of the message and the way that it should function through the church. Therefore the Saints have been enjoined to study to show themselves approved before God. It is essential that the fundamental truths be understood so that the work of Christ may be held to no ridicule and the name of the Saviour glorified. Familiarity with the Three Standard Books of the church is important in this regard. Many texts are available for the help of members in this respect.
PERSONAL CONTACT IS VITAL
All members should have a sense of the value of their own personal witness. In this as in other things, each individual member counts. What you can do another may not and vice versa. Most of the members of the church have been won to the gospel by personal contact in one way or another, and in the large percentage, this personal contact has been demonstrated to be the primary contact. By this personal contact and witness, men are brought into contact with the services and meetings of the church, particularly preaching and church school activities. In the days of Christ there were no means of communication as we have them today, yet the news was heralded throughout the known world. It was by personal contact that this was done with remarkable speed. There is no better method today.
While technical detail of method is outside of the scope of these paragraphs, it should be the aim of every member to become acquainted with the best methods of making approaches to people who are not yet interested in the church. One should become familiar with the literature of the church, knowing what tracts and texts are available to personal work. A successful missionary person will discover and develop skills in human relationships, and will know when to invite prospects into suitable groups and meetings. He will be anxious to make his home available for cottage and fireside talks with representative men of the ministry.
There is no more successful way of knowing the value of Christ and the church than for each member to become missionary minded and inculcate in himself a passion for the welfare of souls. Thus the members become grounded, the church is built up, the financial means for the establishment of Zion becomes available to a larger extent, in short the entire mission of Christ is brought nearer to fruition.
THE FINANCIAL LAW
WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A MEMBER OF THE
CHURCH TOWARD HIS POSSESSIONS?
| It is the
responsibility of every member to regard himself as a steward of all that has been given
into his care. Each member of the church is under obligation to use every talent for the
establishment of the Zionic ideal in the world. This stewardship includes mental and
spiritual blessings as well as those of material value. While making all his abilities
available to the larger task of regenerating the world, it is vital that the material
aspect of the kingdom be given the priority that it deserves. Hence there has been given a
definite law by which we should operate our temporal stewardships.
WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL LAW OF THE CHURCH?
It is God's law governing the manner in which the income of the church is to be obtained, the purpose for which it is used, and the channels through which expenditures should be made. The financial law as well as every other law of God is founded upon justice, equity, and righteousness.
TO WHOM SHOULD ONE LOOK FOR EXPLANATION
Revelations to the church make it the duty of the Bishopric to bring to the church an interpretation of the financial law as a result of their mutual study and research in the Word of God.-See Doctrine and Covenants 129: 8. This they have done, and their interpretation has been accepted by General Conference.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FINANCIAL LAW?
The purpose is manifold.
1. The first and primary purpose is to build character. Faithful adherence to the principles of this law will leave little room for selfishness. It will help develop ability and skill in the management of one 5 personal and family finances, thus avoiding the adverse effects of mismanagement which usually result in mental distress and financial insecurity.
2. It was instituted to bring members to a higher plane of living and thinking and to a closer relationship with Christ, because to fulfill its requirements one must work with him and in accordance with his divine purpose.
3. It is to enable one to properly determine the annual increase in net worth and furnish a basis for knowing the exact amount due to the Lord as his share of one's financial gains.
4. It is the divine way of procuring funds to pay the costs for the administration of the work of the church.
5. It specifies to whom payment of tithes, etc., should be made.
6. It names the purposes for which the funds are to be expended.
OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW
WHAT STEPS WOULD INVOLVE A FULL COMPLIANCE
The Order of Bishops has stated the following to be the duty of every member of the church to fully acknowledge his stewardship:
a. Filing his inventory (First financial statement)
b. Paying his tithes
c. Paying his surplus
d. Making his offerings
e. Thereafter giving an account of his stewardship annually as provided in the law of God (Annual financial statement)
HOW DO I PROCEED TO FILE MY INVENTORY?
A form has been compiled by the Bishopric to assist members in this accounting. This form makes provision for one's total assets to be listed and balanced against one's liabilities and so the net worth is arrived at. The special work of the Bishop or his agent is to assist members in the preparing of this statement. Such officers will be willing to assist when invited to do so.
HOW IS TITHING COMPUTED?
When making a first accounting, the Lord's share as a tithe will be one tenth of one's net worth. Tithing is computed solely upon increase. Therefore, at the first accounting all that one has is increase from birth. Thereafter when one makes an annual accounting, the increase will be calculated by subtracting the amount required to be spent on necessary living from the total income for the year. Of the remainder, the increase, one tenth is due as a tithe to the Lord.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD ONE FILE HIS INVENTORY?
An inventory should be filed on recognition of the essential nature of the financial law, thus recognizing the principle of stewardship. Thereafter an annual accounting should be made, usually at the end of the financial year.
WHEN SHOULD ONE PAY TITHES?
Tithes should be paid regularly while cash is available even though these payments may be made in relatively small amounts. The reasons for this are apparent.
1. To God belong the first fruits of man's effort.
2. When meeting obligations as they fall due, God's blessing may be expected on one's stewardship.
3. To delay payment opens the way to spend what is really God's. At least tithes on luxuries and nonessentials should be tithed as spent.
4. Careful and regular accounting is fundamental in stewardship.
5. Small periodical payments in no way relieve members of their obligation to file an annual statement. Small regular payments ensure that the major part of the debt is met when it falls due.
6. The church is in need of financial assistance regularly to continue its work and cannot wait easily on a year's accumulation before commencing to pay.
IS THE FILING OF A FINANCIAL STATEMENT AND
In common with every other law of the church, compliance is a matter of individual obedience. Nevertheless, obedience to the principle of accountability is an aid in the assessing of one's responsibilities to God and of analyzing one's own affairs. To obey the baptismal covenant in its truest sense, one cannot avoid this obligation along with others.
IS ANY MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OR OFFICIAL
No one is exempt from obedience to the law of stewardship and each should render an accounting to God for his stewardship conduct.
DISCUSSION OF TITHING
FOR WHAT PURPOSES IS TITHING USED?
1. Tithing is used primarily for financing the Lord's work which involves such expenditures as the support of missionaries and those engaged in the general work of the church.
2. Tithing is used in maintaining the operation of general church offices.
3. Tithing is used to provide for the administrative expenses incurred in the operation of the church.
4. Tithing is used for the support of the educational program of the church.
DOES PAYMENT OF THE TITHE WORK A HARDSHIP
To pay one tenth of the increase does not work a hardship on anybody. Those who have a larger increase can afford a proportionately large payment, while those who have prospered less have correspondingly less to pay. However, those who neglect to pay when due, will find a subsequent problem as the debt accumulates. No true steward would repudiate a debt accumulated by his failure to meet the obligations when first due.
ARE THERE NOT SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE TOO
It is possible, but rarely would there be a steward who has not handled some amount that would not come within the definition of necessary living expenses, and so become regarded as increase.
The rule in offerings is, "Freely ye have received, freely give." This Church of Jesus Christ is not supported by the surplus donations or bequests of rich folk, but by the consecrated giving of the rank and file members. To pay tithing is merely to discharge a debt. To give offerings generously and liberally to church projects is an expression of our true character and worth, our real love for and gratitude to God.
WHAT IS MEANT BY TITHE, INCREASE, SURPLUS,
TITHE literally means ONE TENTH. A tithe of one's increase actually means one tenth of one's increase.
INCREASE in relation to one's first accounting would be one's net worth. We came into the world with nothing and all that has accrued to us since birth is an INCREASE from the bounty of the Lord. This is really a generous interpretation, because up to the time of our first recognition of our stewardship much has been in our possession that has gone. However, all that is required is that we recognize our responsibility to our present blessings.
INCREASE in relation to each subsequent yearly accounting is simply the difference between the total income from all sources for the year less that which, as a steward, one has decided was necessary to a normal healthy life. ONE TENTH of this increase is TITHING.
SURPLUS is that portion of a man's possessions, whether money or property, of which he has no present need; the word "need" being determined by the man's position, sphere of action, his business, and his dependents. Such payments are to be used in the building up of Zion.
OFFERINGS are monies given freely from that which is left after tithing has been computed, that is from the nine tenths. They may be given in the spirit of sacrifice from that which may be regarded as one's necessary living expenses. During the year there are frequent opportunities for making offerings to the church.
SHOULD ONE TITHE MONEY COMING INTO ONE'S
This problem is clearly answered if we remember that stewardship is not so much concerned with material things as with the attitudes and development of men and women. It is never the amount of money that is tithed but the person who is tithed. It would not absolve a member from his personal obligation to tithe his increase if an amount of money had, because of being a legacy through several generations, been tithed several times. That which is increase is tithable by every person by whom it is possessed. Thus tithed, legacies and gifts are tithable again by the one receiving the same.
TO WHOM IS TITHING PAID?
Tithing should be paid to the local agent of the Bishop who transmits such monies regularly to the Bishop's office for custody. Each officer who receives money as tithes issues an official receipt stating the amount and purpose for which it is received. Records are kept of all tithing paid over the years of one's membership.
The oblation is a special offering that is received at the Communion service. From these oblations the needs of the poor throughout the church are met. This is done in accordance with the ability of the church to meet such needs. It is a general church offering not to be retained by the local congregations, but to be sent by the local Bishop's solicitor to the Bishop for his distribution.
The needs of the local church are met from offerings made to the local treasury by methods decided upon in each branch. These offerings are quite separate from those made to the Bishop for general church needs. Local churches do not draw from the general funds for local expenses, therefore it is necessary that each member be mindful of these needs and make regular subscription to such medium of the local plan. Inquiry from the local branch treasurer as to one's local obligations will be welcomed and the local procedure explained.
WHAT ACCOUNTING HELPS ARE PROVIDED FOR A
The church has prepared income and expense record books for the careful and simple accounting of income and expenditure of both adult and young members. The Family Expense Record is particularly compiled for those who have set up a home. The family budget is simply handled, and all the information required at the annual accounting time is thus readily available. Every home should use this help.
The Youth Income and Expense Record is provided as a special aid to the youth. It is particularly planned for the unmarried young people of the church who wish to account for their financial stewardship in a businesslike way. It provides a means for a regular and consistent payment of the tithe - the share of increase which belongs to the Lord. Young people who have established their homes should use the regular Family Income and Expense Record Book.
| There is no
official creed endorsed as such by the Church of Jesus Christ. It has been well stated
that the creed of the church is "all Truth." Such truth we believe to be
fundamentally stated in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.
Certain of the basic truths, however, have stood out in bold relief because of their very nature and have been gathered together in a statement or Epitome of Faith. This basic list is worthy of study and understanding which, of course, can only come as a member searches diligently in the scriptures just mentioned and in the standard literary works of representative church writers.
In God the Eternal Father, creator of the heavens and the earth.
In the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ the Saviour of all men who obey his gospel;
In the Holy Ghost whose function it is to guide all men unto the truth.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto salvation.
In the six fundamental doctrinal principles of the gospel: Faith; Repentance; Baptism by immersion in water; The Baptism of the Holy Ghost; The Laying on of the Hands for the healing of the sick, for conferring of the Holy Ghost, ordination, and blessing of children; Resurrection of the dead; and the Eternal Judgment.
In the justice of God who will reward or punish all men according to their works, and not solely according to their profession.
In the same kind of organization that existed in the primitive church: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, seventies, etc.
In the Word of God contained in the Bible, so far as it is correctly translated.
In the Word of God contained in the Book of Mormon, being a record of divine dealings with men in the new world as in the old.
In the Word of God revealed today and recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants of the church.
In the willingness and ability of God to continue his revelation of his will to men to the end of time.
In the powers and gifts of the gospel: Faith, discernment of spirits, prophecy, revelation, healing, visions, tongues, and their interpretation, wisdom, charity, temperance, brotherly love, etc.
In marriage as instituted and ordained of God whose law provides for but one companion in wedlock, for either man or woman, excepting in case of death. When the marriage contract is broken by transgression, the innocent party is free to remarry.
In the Book of Mormon declaration: "There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none."
In the Doctrine of Stewardships; that is, that every man is accountable to God for the conduct of his life and the use of his material blessings.
In the Divine Commission to the church to establish a Christian community called Zion built upon the basis of stewardship and the principle of equality of opportunity, and where each member shall give according to his capacity and receive according to his needs.