General Presidencies of Aaronic Priesthood MIA–Young Men and Young Women
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“General Presidencies of Aaronic Priesthood MIA–Young Men and Young Women,” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 86–87

General Presidencies of Aaronic Priesthood MIA–Young Men and Young Women

Robert L. Backman,
General President, Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Men

Great programs are great, but we can’t accomplish anything without people to participate in them. President Tanner has said that the secret of the success of this church is in our participation. You and I are here today because of our participation in the Church, our involvement, our responsibilities in God’s kingdom. How unfortunate it would be if we did not have such an assignment.

When one of my daughters was eight or nine years old, she came back from Sunday School one day. She had been serving as the president of her class. As we sat down to Sunday dinner, she heaved a huge sigh of relief and said, “I was released from being Sunday School class president this morning. Now I know what President McKay must feel like running the Church.”

How else do we learn except by participation and involvement? Do you recognize how few opportunities in the past we have given our youth to take responsibilities? I served as a mission president. I don’t think any other former or present mission president would disagree with me when I say that one of the chief concerns we have when young men and young women come into the mission field is that too few of them have ever learned what it means to take responsibility. This society of ours cripples us in teaching our youth to take responsibility. They can’t take jobs. It is against the law. There aren’t enough daily chores to keep a boy or a girl busy, so something else must be evolved to take the place of them. All too often nothing has, and so our young people grow up being spectators instead of participators in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again I would ask you, how strong would your testimony be if you did not have an active role to play in the kingdom of God? I think that is what all of this comes down to. We must involve our youth—involve them not just to be spectators but to be planners, to be implementers, to be evaluators. Out of that great process, we think we are going to see a tremendous change take place as our young men and young women build strength of character to withstand the alien society in which we live, find the means to resist temptation, and then discover ways to serve, learning that happiness lies in losing themselves in selfless service to their fellowmen. That is what it is all about.

Ruth Hardy Funk,
General President, Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women

We as members of this great church are entering into an era in this final dispensation wherein women are being called and inspired to take their complete and rightful place in the homes and congregations of the world as they support and sustain the priesthood work that is now going forth. It is a testimony to me how the Lord has prepared the entire world for this further understanding of his priesthood and its blessings upon the lives of women and children as they seek to understand and assume their rightful roles.

Women of the world can only gain the liberation they seek by recognizing within themselves the gifts of womanhood and the gifts of motherhood, and satisfying them in the natural and divine role as found within the priesthood and as provided through those vessels of the Lord who are the bearers of the priesthood. This is the only key to our identity—the role we play in the priesthood of God. As one beautiful board member expressed: “I am not interested in liberation. I am interested in exaltation.” …

With President Lee’s permission, may I recall a unique and celestial experience that was granted the general presidencies of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA when, on Thursday, March 29, we were invited to share a celestial hour with the brethren in their weekly temple meeting at which all of the General Authorities were in attendance. At the time we were called, President Lee referred to the direction and change of the MIA program, as it now would become the Aaronic Priesthood MIA, as the most significant change I would see in my lifetime as far as the organization of the Church is concerned. After days and months, I am beginning to know in just a small way this enormous significance, which I am sure will grow and grow and encompass all of the priesthood programs of the Church.

After weeks of prayerful pondering with our Presiding Bishopric, appraising considered suggestions by our board, after deep deliberation by the correlation committees, and exact scrutiny by members of the Twelve Apostles acting as advisers for the curriculum of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA, and finally after careful review by the First Presidency, the proposed organization was refined and made ready by this divine process to be presented in the temple. Our joy was great.

The day prior to this appointed hour, President Lee extended through the Presiding Bishop an invitation to the joint presidencies to be in attendance at the temple meeting when the proposal would be presented to the governing body of the Church. This would include us as women. The significance of this occasion was reinforced when President Lee said that according to his knowledge this was the first time in the history of the Church that any women had been invited to be in attendance at this special meeting.

The formality, the order, the spirit, the tremendous feeling of power, the strength of the priesthood manifest, and the sacredness of the entire setting were almost overwhelming. President Lee commented on the historical nature of our being there and then asked us to stand and be introduced individually.

Following Bishop Brown’s presentation and the discussion that followed, at which he invited a response from the women present, a vote was called for, following which President Lee assured us of the support of everyone in the room and official approval was made for the Aaronic Priesthood MIA.

In this holy setting in the company of these brethren, prompted by the President’s great consideration for the young women of the Church in allowing us to come, we were allowed to witness the process whereby all matters and all programs of the Church become official.