“Aaronic Priesthood Satellite Fireside,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 74–75
“We are remembering the coming of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley a century and a half ago,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in the Aaronic Priesthood Sesquicentennial Fireside held on 18 May 1997 in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. The fireside was broadcast to more than 3,000 meetinghouses in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
President Hinckley talked about the divine authority through which the Aaronic Priesthood is conferred: “I hope you have some understanding of it. I hope you have great appreciation for it. I hope that you pause and think once in a while of the precious gift you have received through the mercy of our Father in Heaven.”
He also advised the young men about the problems they face today. “They are different from those faced by the young men of 150 years ago,” he said. “But they are just as real, and in many respects far more deadly.” He told the youth to shun drugs, alcohol, pornography, filthy and sleazy talk, taking the Lord’s name in vain, immorality, and gangs. “Rise above all of these things. Stand firmly against them. Demonstrate that this generation can handle its problems as well as earlier generations handled their problems.”
In his remarks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “The faithful Saints who have gone before have given us our collective heritage. We gain much from remembering the courage, the devotion, the dedication which is required in every land and in every age in order to be a faithful member of the Church and kingdom of God.”
Elder Holland related an incident in the life of Elder Reed Smoot, who in 1903 as a young member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was elected to the United States Senate from the newest state in the Union—Utah. Elder Smoot served in the Senate for 30 years. He was offered the nomination for president of the United States on the Republican ticket on two separate occasions if he would deny his faith. Elder Smoot said, “If I had to make my choice between being a deacon in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or being the president of the United States, I would be a deacon.”
“I, too, would rather hold the Aaronic Priesthood than hold the highest public office in the land,” concluded Elder Holland.
“Quite often, when we hear stories of valiant pioneer youth or when local stories of achievement are told, some young men doubt that they could personally achieve such a thing,” said Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Presidency of the Seventy. “I testify to you that by the virtue of the priesthood you hold, you have access to the same blessings that have helped others accomplish mighty feats.”
Youth should not doubt that they are part of a “royal generation,” he continued. Instead, they should recognize their parents and Church leaders as pioneers who can teach them how to stay on the right path. “You do have special things to do, my young brethren,” said Elder Goaslind. “Listen to those who have gone before you, and learn from their experiences. Then blaze the trail and remember that others will follow you.”
Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, praised “our Aaronic Priesthood pioneers” for their commitment to priesthood service. “Many young people of Aaronic Priesthood age were part of the nearly 70,000 who made the difficult journey to the Salt Lake Valley.” He shared the stories of two young men who traveled across the plains despite difficult circumstances and worked to bring hundreds of other Saints safely to Zion.