Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some notable LDS Church policies from 1963

NOTE: This story is most suitable for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, given the depth and extensive details provided therein.

By Lynn Arave

THE Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has experienced many policy changes over the decades.

Rapid growth alone has prompted many changes in LDS Church policies over the years.
Below is a look at some of the more unusual of the LDS Church's policies, as stated more than 50 years ago in the 1963 General Handbook of Instructions:

1963 LDS Church policy examples:

-In the 1960s, ALL stake presidents, stake clerks, bishops, high priest presidencies were supposed to ALL be set apart by a General Authority, either a member of the First Presidency, the Twelve, an Assistant to the Twelve or from the First Council of the Seventy. However, assistant stake clerks could be set apart by the stake president.

-BEFORE reorganizing any high priests quorum, a stake president was supposed to consult with a General Authority.

-Stake high council members and alternate members of a high council were still chosen by Stake presidencies and approved by the high council, but all new high councilors still needed to be interviewed by a General Authority. (Note that alternate high councilors do not exist today.)

-"Sunday Schools should not closed on the day of stake conferences," the 1963 handbook stated. All classes, except those for adults were still expected to be held back then. However, all church members, young and old, were still encouraged to attend stake conference and as such could be excused from Sunday School on that day. "... any class in Sunday School may, under proper supervision, attend the stake conference in a body," the manual stated. (Note that back in the 1960s, there was both a morning and an afternoon session of stake conference held. All church members were encouraged to attend both -- the afternoon session especially, a time period when NO Sunday School was held.

-Senior missionary couples DID NOT have an option to choose where they wanted to serve back then.

-"Stake presidents are not to release any bishop without prior permission from the First Presidency to take such action," the 1963 Handbook stated.

-"If sacrament meetings are held in the afternoon, stake and ward officers are expected to arrange firesides or other special meetings for the young people in the evening so they will not be enticed to go to picture shows, the canyons, or otherwise violate the Sabbath," the Handbook said.

-"Those who are invited to take part in the services (sacrament meetings) should remain until the close of the meeting; otherwise they should not be invited to take part," the Handbook stressed.

-"While the clothing and general appearance of those who administer and pass the sacrament should be neat, clean, and conservative, it is not desirable to require such uniformity in dress and action as to give the appearance of formalism. White shirts and modest ties are always appropriate and should be encouraged," the Handbook said.

-"Missionary farewells" were noted as being proper in the 1960s.  Talks by missionaries, family members and the bishop were all acceptable then. Missionary farewells with "entertainment" programs were to be held on a weekday, not Sunday, and their programs had to be approved by the Bishop.
"Home receptions following Sunday farewell testimonials should be discontinued as being out of harmony with Sabbath observance," the Handbook said.

-Red-colored warning stickers were attached to the white-colored church membership records of members where there was some question relative to extending temple and other privileges to that member.

-"A tithe is one-tenth of a wage earner's GROSS income," the 1963 Handbook specifically defined.

-Fast offerings back then were kept in ward accounts for ward use. However, remaining funds after a month's bills for the needy was paid, were to be sent to the stake president. Funds not used by the stake in a given quarter, were to be sent to the Presiding Bishop's office. If a ward or stake had fast offering needs they could not meet, Church Headquarters sent funds to cover such needs.

-There were NOT formal, as in word-for-word questions asked by leaders to obtain temple recommends in the 1960s. However, pretty much the same subjects of questions used today were suggested as things to ask a candidate -- Word of Wisdom, meeting attendance, morality, no affiliation with opposing groups, sustaining local and general church leaders, etc.

-"Temple recommends expire July 31 of each year," the Handbook said.

-NO temple recommends were to be issued to wives whose husband were not members of the Church. However, such wives could perform baptisms for the dead in temples. 

-Cremation was discouraged (like today). Funerals services were to be held the usual way, but graveside and dedicatory prayers were not necessary. Temple garments and robes were to be removed before cremation (as an opposite of today's policy).

-"Bishops may offer the use of meetinghouses for the funeral services of respected non-members of the Church who may have no direct religious affiliations, or are inactive members of denominational churches.These services may be held according to the rituals of the church of which the deceased was a member, and may be conducted by a clergy man of such church as the family desires," the Handbook said.

-There was a Church Building Committee in 1963, headquartered at 125 North Main Street, Salt Lake City. (However, standards and consistency was not prevalent in Church buildings until 1965, when a new Building Committee was organized.)

-Back then, Church Headquarters paid up to 70 percent of ward and branch operating expenses for utilities and  janitorial services. "Other operating expenses are to be raised locally through the budget," the Handbook stated.

-In 1963, there were priesthood quorum dues and relief society annual dues -- AND they were not included in ward budgets.
Ward budgets did include the "Boy Scout Council Quota." (So, yes, FOS did exist in some form back then too.)

-Members of the Church who work for state liquor stores, or who are engaged in the trafficking of liquor "should not be assigned as stake or ward officers," the Handbook stated.

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