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Aaronic Priesthood commemoration: President Hinckley: `My fellow servants'

Published: Saturday, May 24, 1997

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President Gordon B. Hinckley began his remarks during the Aaronic Priesthood Pioneer Sesquicentennial Fireside on Sunday, May 18, by addressing those in attendance as his fellow servants. He said it was noteworthy that John the Baptist addressed Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that same way when he appeared to them to restore the Aaronic Priesthood to the earth.

John the Baptist "conferred upon these two young men the priesthood of Aaron and told them that it held the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins," President Hinckley said.He added, "You deacons, teachers and priests, by literal descent of the priesthood, have had conferred upon you this same divine authority."

The Salt Lake Tabernacle was filled to capacity for the fireside with Aaronic Priesthood holders, their fathers and leaders, many in shirt sleeves and ties on the warm spring evening. Thousands of others viewed the proceedings over the Church's satellite network, which broadcast the fireside to locations throughout much of North America.

They listened to President Hinckley, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton and Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy and Young Men general president. Elder Goaslind conducted the meeting.

Music was provided by a chorus of Aaronic Priesthood holders from the Clearfield Utah, Clearfield Utah North, Sunset Utah, Clinton Utah, Clinton Utah North, Syracuse Utah, Syracuse Utah South and West Point Utah stakes.

The invocation was offered by Darin Cleverly, a deacon in the Woods Cross Utah Stake, and the benediction was offered by Joseph Brubaker, a priest in the Holladay Utah South Stake.

After speaking briefly about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, President Hinckley spoke of this year's pioneer sesquicentennial celebration.

Having just returned from a trip to New Zealand and Australia, he told a story about a group of Saints in Australia who struggled to make the journey to the Salt Lake Valley. They left Australia on the ship Julia Ann in 1855, he said. A violent storm in the Pacific Ocean drove the ship onto a coral reef where in broke in two. Five people were drowned.

The dreams of a faithful returning missionary who was on the ill-fated ship led to rescue. The crew of the Julia Ann had built a small boat from the wreckage and, as instructed in the dream, sailed west, finding land. They landed in Bora Bora, in the Tahiti group of islands.

President Hinckley said: "A rescue ship was found, and all of those left on the atol were saved. I wish to say to you that the missionary who had the dream enjoyed the ministering of angels as promised by John the Baptist to Joseph and Oliver. I think he did not hear a voice. I think he did not see a heavenly being, but in the stillness of the night, on that harsh and lonely coral reef, out in the vast Pacific Ocean, the Lord favored him with a dream which led to the rescue of himself and his associates."

Remarkable and wonderful changes have occurred since then, according to President Hinckley.

He said, "The days of pioneering are now largely over. The covered wagons are largely gone except for museum pieces. The handcarts have long since fallen apart. The burnings and the drivings of the mobs are things of the past. The cold and terrible snows of the Wyoming highlands that took a toll of death have long since disappeared, and spring and summer are upon the land. The emigrant boats that brought our people to these shores are long since gone. How thankful we ought to feel for all of this."

After speaking about the end of the pioneer days, President Hinckley emphasized that the world continues to face problems today. "They are different from those faced by the young men of 150 years ago. But they are just as real, and in many respects far more deadly."

Following are specific problems he mentioned and some of his comments about them:

- Drugs and alcohol: "I hope that none of you ever touches illegal drugs. They will destroy you if you do. . . . Shun alcohol in any of its forms."

- Pornography: "It is poison in a very inviting form. Stay away from it. It, too, can destroy you. It will take from you the ministering of angels. It will make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to teach the gospel of repentance. It will make you unworthy to perform baptisms. In other words, it will destroy your capacity to serve as young men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood."

- Filthy and sleazy talk: "You cannot afford to let it get into your vocabulary. If some of your peers insist on using it, turn away from them."

- Taking the Lord's name in vain: "The Lord has said He will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." (See Ex. 20:7.)

- Immorality: "It is attractive and seductive. Please, my dear young friends, I plead with you, do not become involved with it. It can only lead to sorrow and regret.

"The Lord has designed that girls should be attractive to you boys, and that boys should be attractive to girls. There is a divine purpose in this. But that purpose will never be achieved through an immoral act. I plead with you young men to look upon young women with respect and speak of them with respect. . . . Do not use foul language in speaking of them. Have a good time with them. Have fun with them, but stay away from anything that speaks of an immoral act. I promise you that you will be grateful that you did."

- Gangs: "Find your association in the young men of your quorums. These are boys of your kind with whom you can have a wonderful time, without walking dead-end paths of evil."

- Honesty: "Dishonesty is destructive and totally wrong. Do not take that which does not belong to you. Never become involved in shoplifting or anything of that kind. Do not stoop to cheating."

President Hinckley counseled the young men: "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.

"Find your comfort in prayer. Read the scriptures. . . . Go to seminary. Attend institute. Participate in your meetings - Sunday School, priesthood meeting, sacrament meeting.

"Prepare yourselves for missions. You will soon be old enough to go. It will be difficult and taxing work. It will require all the faith you have, all the strength you have, all the courage and determination you have."

The Lord expects great things of young men, President Hinckley said, referring to Bible prophets Samuel and David, and to Nephi and Moroni from the Book of Mormon, and to Joseph Smith.

Reciting the text of two well-known Church hymns, he exhorted the young men to "carry on" (Hymns, p. 255) and remain "true to the faith" (Hymns, p. 30).