Elder Perry on the Priesthood, Part Two: The Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods

Priesthood quorums play a vital role in strengthening those who bear the priesthood, according to Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Quorum members strengthen each other, and those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood help to train those who hold the Aaronic, or preparatory priesthood.

Elder Perry, who has spoken many times about the priesthood in general conference addresses and in General Authority training, shared his comments in the second part of a four-part interview about the oath and covenant of the priesthood, as revealed in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Elder Perry on the Priesthood

Here are some general conference addresses and other messages Elder Perry has given about various aspects of the priesthood:

For additional references on the priesthood, see the Topical Guide entry for Priesthood.

The greatest brotherhood

“The Priesthood is a class where you learn the doctrines of the kingdom, where you’re taught by those authorized to teach the correct docrines,” Elder Perry said. “Then it’s a great brotherhood, probably the greatest brotherhood there is on earth.” 

The quorum has a responsibility to help priesthood holders to live up to the terms of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, Elder Perry said. “From the time a young man is ordained . . . he belongs to a quorum.” Speaking of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Perry said, “I belong to a quorum. It’s a very special quorum. It’s made up of all the different types of occupations and professions you can think of.” In the quorum, however, they agree unanimously before taking action. 

He also said that quorum leaders should reach out to those who are “having a little trouble in defining the way they should be living.” He said leaders should know who all of the members of the quorum are, prioritize those who have the greatest need of visits, and draw them back into fellowship. He said missionary work is also part of the responsibility of a quorum, and so is Christlike service.

Helping Each Other

Elder Perry said that the Melchizedek Priesthood has a responsibility to teach and train the Aaronic Priesthood, which is a preparatory priesthood. He said they should teach them principles of organization, helping others, and unity. He spoke of how fellowship in a quorum helped a young man and four of his friends to remain faithful and prepare for full-time missionary service. He said one of the great experiences of his life was home teaching with his son.

As he did in the first segment of the interview, on the oath and covenant of the priesthood, in segment two he also said the quorum serves as a class, a fraternity, and a service unit. “Unless we have support to help us in our roles as we proceed through life,” he said, “I think we’ll find ourselves, without a firm plan, a firm direction, a firm road map to lead and guide and direct us, and I think a quorum helps us form that road map that will lead us back to the presence of our Father in Heaven.”

Also in this series

This four-part series on the priesthood began with a segment on the oath and covenant of the priesthood, featured comments about the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods in part two and, in part three, the priesthood and the family, and concludes with this segment, part four, on the restoration of the priesthood.

What Is a Priesthood Quorum?

Elder Perry explained the nature of a priesthood quorum in a general conference address, “What Is a Quorum?” published in the Liahona and Ensign, November 2004. Here are some excerpts from that address:

I wish the feeling and respect we have for our Council [the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] could be transported to every quorum in the Church. Would you deacons, teachers, priests, elders, and high priests quorums listen for a moment to what I believe is one of the greatest blessings one can receive from being a bearer of the priesthood? That special blessing is belonging to a priesthood quorum.

President Stephen L. Richards, many years ago, gave us some wonderful counsel on Church government. His statement is as follows:

“The genius of our Church government is government through councils. . . . I see the wisdom, God’s wisdom, in creating councils: to govern his Kingdom. In the spirit under which we labor, men can get together with seemingly divergent views and far different backgrounds, and under the operation of that spirit, by counseling together, they can arrive at an accord. . . . I have no hesitancy in giving you the assurance, if you will confer in council as you are expected to do, God will give you solutions to the problems that confront you” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 86).

And what are the great benefits you will experience from belonging to a quorum? Again from Stephen L. Richards. He said, “A quorum is three things: first, a class; second, a fraternity; and third, a service unit” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1938, 118).

I see this genius so manifestly apparent in the functions of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We are a class as we study the doctrines of the kingdom together. Can you imagine what a special experience it would be to be in a quorum meeting and be taught gospel doctrine by [prophets and apostles]? . . . This same blessing can be yours in each of your quorums. The words of the Apostles, past and present, live in the scriptures, conference addresses, Church magazines, devotionals, and so forth. They are available to bring the power of the doctrine of the kingdom into your quorum’s class. Make of your quorum a class to increase your knowledge of the gospel of our Lord and Savior.

In our Quorum, we have a special brotherhood. We are there to lift, inspire, and bless each other with the spirit of our calling. When one is burdened, there are 11 others anxious to help lift and share that burden. At times we rejoice together in feelings of accomplishment. We weep together in times of sorrow. We never feel as if we are facing a problem alone! There is always the counsel, support, help, and encouragement of our Quorum members.

From the book Priesthood and Church Government, we have this statement . . . “The feeling of brotherhood should permeate the quorum. It should be the first concern of a quorum to help all members who may be in need temporally, mentally, or spiritually. The spirit of brotherhood should be the directing force in all the plans and operations of the quorum. . . .” (Rudger Clawson, foreword to A Guide for Quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood [1930], 3; quoted in John A. Widtsoe, comp., Priesthood and Church Government [1939], 135). We would encourage each priesthood quorum in the Church to cultivate such a brotherhood.

Finally, the only purpose for our Quorum is to be of service. . . . Make of each of your quorums a great service organization for the benefit of all your quorum members.