On March 31, during an unforgettable priesthood session of the 188th Annual General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced modifications to local Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to allow increased fellowship, unity, revelation and ministering.
The Church’s 17th president is only months into his new calling, but he’s no neophyte to priesthood instruction. A quarter century ago, Elder Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also challenged men of all ages to honor their priesthood and its offices.
The Savior of the world “chose to honor us with His priesthood, so we honor Him by honoring His priesthood — both its power and those who bear it,” he said during the priesthood session of the 163rd Annual General Conference. “By doing so, men, women and children throughout the world will be blessed. Honoring the priesthood fosters respect, respect promotes reverence, and reverence invites revelation.”
The Lord’s Church differs from man-made institutions, he said. It is neither a democracy nor a republic, but rather, a kingdom with ultimate authority at the top: the Lord directing His anointed servants who testify to all the world that God has spoken again.
“Priesthood titles are not created by man; neither are they for adornment, nor do they express mastership. They denote appointment to service in the work of the Lord.”
The titles of the priesthood deserve “our utmost care and respect.” Members of the First Presidency are addressed as “President,” as are members in a presidency of a stake, mission and quorum or branch presidents.
The title “Apostle,” meanwhile, is also sacred. The preferred title for one of the Twelve is “Elder” or “Brother.”
Elder Nelson said the title “Elder” is also sacred — and shared by all who bear the Melchizedek Priesthood.
The General Authorities are, of course, ordinary people who “require haircuts, laundry services and occasional reminders, just like anyone else.” But they are also recognized as instruments in the hand of the Lord, and their official acts are valid on earth and in heaven, Elder Nelson said in his address 25 years ago.
Additionally, honoring the priesthood means honoring one’s personal call to serve, he said, by taking counsel, not speaking ill of Church leaders, not coveting position, not second guessing who should or should not have been called, not refusing an opportunity to serve and not resigning a call.
— Jason Swensen