June 4, 2010

Remembering June 1978 - Michael R. Ash

I was a nearly 17 when the revelation was announced. We had been living in Nurnberg Germany while my Dad (retired Army at the time) was working Civil Service teaching at the military colleges. We had a small branch and typically met at a military chapel. Our Seminary teacher Bro. Coleman was a recent convert. He brought his young son (who must have been about 6 years old) with him to Church. His wife was not a member.

He was a very kind and spiritual man (probably in his early 30s). He was one of those kinds of guys that you could just feel the goodness when he was around. He knew very little about the Gospel. He was called to be our Seminary teacher and we would meet for an hour after Sacrament meeting while we were still in the church building. Often, he had more questions for us about the Gospel than he would teach us.

One day he told us that he had had a dream wherein Joseph Smith came and laid his hands on him to give him the priesthood. Brother Coleman told Joseph that he could not have the priesthood because he was black. Joseph insisted and then he woke up.  He wondered what we thought.

We told him that he was a good man and would undoubtedly receive the priesthood in the hereafter. A few months later we returned to the United States where we heard about the revelation on the news in Colorado and our entire family rejoiced; we were very excited. The first thought that came to our minds was Brother Coleman. We wished that we could have been there with him to share in his joy of the news and we wished we would have had some contact info so we could have contacted him after we left Germany (but as young teenaged boys, we didn't think about such things).

The significance and timing of his dream is one of a handful (or two) of the most spiritually confirming things that I've had a part in experiencing. In Edward L. Kimball's recent BYU Studies article I now find that our Seminary teacher was among many black members who had visions and dreams. What a wonderful thing to see happen first hand. His article brought back some fond memories.


Michael R. Ash is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One's Testimony In the Face of Criticism and Doubt and Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. He writes a weekly column for MormonTimes.com.

June 1, 2010

Remembering June 1978

On June 8, 1978 a revelation was announced to the world by press release:

"He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows there from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color" (Official Declaration—2).

I was raised in the Church post-1978 and I can't pinpoint the time I first learned that the priesthood had been restricted from blacks of African descent. The issue became acute during my mission while serving in the predominantly black area of inner city Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I've since wondered what it must have felt like to hear that announcement. How did people hear about it? Where were they? What did they feel? I've been asking people to send me their stories.

"Remembering June 1978" is a short series intended to commemorate the lifting of the priesthood restriction. Throughout the month I'll post experiences from Margaret Blair Young, Greg Prince, Terryl Givens, Darius Gray, and others. If you have a story to share, send it to me at lifeongoldplates (at) yahoo (dot) com. Or feel free to post experiences in the comments section.


Michael R. Ash

Edward L. Kimball

Ron Romig

Darius Gray

Gregory A. Prince

Margaret Blair Young