“Lesson 27 Teacher Material: The Revelation on the Priesthood,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 27 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
Display the accompanying image of Brother George Rickford:
Invite a student to read aloud the following account of a man named George Rickford:
In 1969, George Rickford, a young adult living in Leicester, England, encountered missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. George initially resisted their message, but eventually he began meeting with the missionaries. After three months of intense investigation, George awoke one morning with a conviction that the Church was true.
George was eager to share his newfound testimony with the elders, but before he could do so, they informed him that he would be ineligible to receive the priesthood if he were to join the Church because of his mixed-race heritage, which included ancestors of black African descent.
George was devastated by the news. He recalled, “I had a very hostile reaction. I became very aggressive and after some heated discussion I kicked them out. … I gave them a real verbal tongue-lashing about discrimination and racism and all those kinds of words.”
Once the missionaries were gone, George wept. (See Elizabeth Maki, “I Will Take It In Faith,” history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.)
Refer students to section 1 of the preparation material. Ask them the following question, allowing them some time to consider how they would respond:
If someone asked you why the priesthood and temple restrictions existed, what would be the main points you would want to discuss? (Consider writing students’ responses on the board.)
Invite students to reflect on questions they might have regarding the priesthood and temple restrictions. Encourage them to keep those questions in mind during the lesson and to pay attention to discussions and inspiration from the Holy Ghost that may help address those questions.
Display the following statement, and invite a student to read it aloud:
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. (“Race and the Priesthood,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
Why do you think it is important to avoid speculating about previously given reasons for why the priesthood and temple restrictions existed?
Invite students to recount what they know about the circumstances that led to the revelation from the Lord that lifted the priesthood and temple restrictions.
Explain that Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants contains the official announcement of the revelation that was received by President Spencer W. Kimball and accepted and approved by his counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in June 1978.
Invite students to read silently the first two paragraphs of Official Declaration 2 under the words “Dear Brethren.” Invite them to look for what Church leaders said they had witnessed and to report what they find.
Next, invite students to recount the story of Brother Billy Johnson and his congregation in Ghana from section 2 of the preparation material.
How did these individuals exemplify “the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood had been withheld”?
Ask a student to read more from the account of George Rickford, and invite the class to listen for how George chose to act in faith after he learned of the priesthood restriction:
One day, George was speaking with a close friend about his experiences with the missionaries and began teaching his friend about the Prophet Joseph Smith. He recalled, “As I told that story, I just came alive and something took over and I just radiated.”
The experience reaffirmed George’s testimony, but his concerns about the priesthood restriction still remained. As he prayed for further understanding, this message came to him: “You don’t have to understand everything about my gospel before you commit yourself to it. Why don’t you show your faith by accepting what you’ve heard and commit the rest into my hands?”
Comforted by the message, George prayerfully responded, “Yes, Lord, I will. I will take it in faith. And thank you, by the way, thank you.” Two months later, George was baptized and became a faithful member of the Church.
George wrote in 1975 (three years before the revelation on the priesthood) that he accepted the priesthood ban “in faith, without any reservation” and expressed his belief that, whatever his own condition then, God was just. “I am just grateful that the Lord’s priesthood is once again upon the earth, with all its attendant blessings, authority, and responsibility. It matters less to me who has it and who hasn’t, but much more how it is utilised.” (In Maki, “I Will Take It in Faith,” history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
What can we learn from the example of George Rickford that could help us when we have unanswered questions about the gospel? (After students have shared, write the following truth on the board: When we have unanswered questions, we can move forward in faith while relying on the light and knowledge God has given us.)
How can the bolded truth help someone who may be struggling with his or her faith because of unanswered questions about the gospel?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
Faith never demands an answer to every question but seeks the assurance and courage to move forward, sometimes acknowledging, “I don’t know everything, but I do know enough to continue on the path of discipleship.” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 66)
How has the light and knowledge God has given you helped you to move forward in faith when you have faced unanswered questions or uncertain situations?
How might we help someone who is struggling with unanswered questions move forward in faith?
Give students time to ponder how they can apply the principle of acting in faith to their own life or use it to help someone they know. Invite students to consider recording their plan in their journal.
Invite a student to read aloud the third and fourth paragraphs under “Dear Brethren:” in Official Declaration 2, beginning with “He has heard our prayers.”
What can we learn from these paragraphs about how the Lord directs His Church? (After students have responded, write the following truth on the board: The Lord directs His Church through revelation to His prophets.)
When have you seen the Lord direct His Church through revelation to His prophets in your lifetime?
Explain that the day after the revelation on the priesthood was received, George Rickford was ordained as a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and received the Melchizedek Priesthood soon after. In October 1978, George and his wife, June, were sealed together with their four children as an eternal family in the London England Temple (see Maki, “I Will Take It in Faith,” history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
What impact did the revelation have on the Church, its members, and people throughout the world?
Display the following statement, and invite a student to read it aloud:
The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching. (“Race and the Church: All Are Alike Unto God,” Feb. 29, 2012, newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
To conclude the lesson, invite students to consider (or practice), based on what they learned today, how they might respond if they were asked why the Church did not ordain men of black African descent to the priesthood for a time. Emphasize that it is appropriate to explain to others that we do not know why the priesthood and temple restrictions began. However, we can share and testify of the truths we do know, including those that have been discussed today.
Explain to students that in preparation for the next class, they will study what prophets, both ancient and modern, have taught about the destiny of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Encourage students to come ready to discuss ways they can help in the Lord’s work of salvation in the last days.