... A question as to the proper use of the terms "ordain" and "set apart" came up and was discussed at length, the main speakers being Presidents Snow, Cannon and Smith, Apostles Richards, Lund, Smith, Woodruff and Clawson. The question was sprung by Brother Lund, who stated that on his arrival from Liverpool [England], homeward bound from Palestine, he received a message by cable, requesting and authorizing him to ordain Joseph W. Mcmurrin as one of the First Presidents of Seventies. He attended to the matter, but in the ordination the word "ordain" was not used, though the words "set apart" were, and all the rights, privileges and powers pertaining to that office were conferred upon Brother McMurrin. He had since learned that it was held, especially by the Seventies, that their presiding officers should be ordained, and some of them had queries in their minds as to whether or not this had been done in the case of Brother McMurrin. The latter being already a Seventy, at the time of his call to be one of the Presidents over the Seventies, the thought had passed through the mind of Brother Lund that it was not necessary to ordain him to preside, and he had therefore used the words "set apart" instead of "ordain". He had since looked up the definition of the word ordain, and found that one of its definitions was "to set apart". He had concluded in his own mind that it was really not necessary to reordain Brother McMurrin, but he desired the mind of the Council upon the matter.
President Snow having asked the brethren to express their views upon the question, President Cannon referred to a remark which had been made to the effect that in organizing the Presidency of a Deacon's quorum the Presidents were not ordained but set apart to preside. He then said that in his opinion the case of a President of a Deacon's quorum and that of one of the First Presidents of Seventies were not parallel, for the reason that the latter was a prominent office and the other was not. He thought there was a difference between ordaining and setting apart, and that a President of Seventies, like Brother McMurrin, should be ordained to that office. According to all the views heretofore entertained, if such a thing should occur as the breaking up of the Quorum of the First Presidency and that of the Apostles, the authority of this Church would rest on the First Seven Presidents of Seventies, and no doubt they would proceed to organize the Church. Therefore, while the word ordain meant setting apart, there was a distinction in our minds between the two proceedings. The ordaining of a man seemed to confer a more definite authority than the setting apart. Moses Thatcher had held that in the case of a Bishop all that was necessary was the setting apart, but from this view the speaker dissented. In the matter referred to by Brother Lund, President Cannon thought it would be unfortunate for Brother McMurrin's ordination to be questioned, as men upon whom the latter had laid his hands might question the legality of their ordination. President Cannon said that as Brother Lund's intent was to ordain Brother McMurrin and confer upon him all the keys of the office in question, it ought to cover the case and his ordination should therefore not be
President Snow said that President Cannon had expressed his views exactly, although, after conversing with Brother Lund upon the subject, he had thought it better to bring up the matter before the council. He favored the use of the word ordain in Brother McMurrin's case, but at the same time he held that the conferring of all the rights, keys and powers of the office was equivalent to an ordination, and the term used really embodied all the meaning that the word ordain could convey. He thought that it would be very unwise to question the ordination.
President Richards moved that it be the sense of the Council that the action taken with Bro[ther]. McMurrin as to the office named was a competent act and that there should be no revision of it. The motion was seconded and carried.
President Cannon further remarked that when a man holds a Priesthood and he is called to labor within that Priesthood to preside, the words "set apart" should be used, but the office of President of Seventies being a prominent office the Word "ordain" should be used.
President Smith: The Presidency of the Church is a prominent office, but the First Presidency are not ordained.
President Cannon: They are already Apostles, and no new power is conferred upon them by reason of their calling to act in the Presidency.
President Smith thought that the words "set apart" used in the case of a President of Seventies were just as proper and appropriate as in the case of the Presidency of the Church, or in that of a Stake President, since it conferred no higher Priesthood upon either of them to call them to act in the Presidency of these several organizations.
President Cannon rejoined that he would not feel satisfied, if called to act as a President of Seventies unless the word "ordain" were used; that is, if it were intentionally omitted and the words "set apart" substituted; but if other brethren felt to use the words set apart instead of the word "ordain", he would not question their right to so express themselves. Yet if he were the subject for ordination, and Brother Lund, after this consideration of the question, were to ordain him and use the words "set apart" instead of "ordain", he would not feel satisfied with his action.
President Snow remarked that he would not feel satisfied either.
President Richards stated that the Josephites asked the question, by way of criticism, if Brigham Young was ordained to preside, holding that all such officers should be ordained.
President Cannon referred to the revelation providing for the Presidency of the Church, in which revelation the words "appointed and ordained" are used. He then said that in speaking to President Young, after he had selected additional counselors, he asked him if he was going to set them apart. The President answered No, that their priesthood, the Apostleship, entitled them to officiate without further action.
Brother Woodruff here remarked that there was an
understanding among the people that the word "ordain" should be used in all prominent offices, and the words "set apart" in case of temporary callings.
President Snow put this question: "Suppose a man were ordained an Elder in the following manner, `I appoint you to be an Elder, and confer upon you all the rights and keys of this office and calling in the Melchizedek Priesthood, etc.'; and this language were used with the intent of ordaining him an Elder. I hold that such a man would be in every sense of the word ordained."
President Cannon stated that he was told by the late Apostle Parley P. Pratt that the first Elders of the Church, in confirming new members, laid their hands upon them and confirmed them, but that the language was not spoken audibly, and that the prophet Joseph told them they had better speak audibly. But the people received the Holy Ghost all the same.
President Smith asked if the use of the word "ordain" should be confined to the First Seven Presidents of Seventies. A high Priest, he said, was called to preside over a Stake, but the word "ordain" as not used in setting him apart.
President Snow replied that he did not care particularly whether the word "ordain" were used or not, so long as other words were used bestowing all the rights, keys and powers of the office intended to be bestowed upon the person. Such language, with the intent, would in the judgement of the President be all sufficient.
President Smith remarked that this expressed his feelings exactly, and he further said that he was heartily in accord with the action taken upon the matter of the ordination of Brother McMurrin by Brother Lund. He did not believe it would be right to question that ordination. Brother Lund was an Apostle, and was authorized to ordain or set apart Brother McMurrin, and his intent was all right before the Lord, Even if he did not use all the words that some one else would have used, the act was just as acceptable before the Lord, and his mind was that no one should be permitted to call in question Brother McMurrin's ordination. This, he understood to be the substance of the action taken. He believed that the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. He did not favor a uniform ceremony any more than he favored a uniform suit of clothes for missionaries, so long as the language used in ordaining was that prescribed by revelation. In the sacramental prayer and in the form of baptism the Church had a definite guide, but he did not think, even if we failed to confine ourselves strictly to those prescribed forms, that it would vitiate our actions, if the intent was pure; as the authority and intent would govern in such cases; still it would be better to be exact in all such cases. Referring to the Lord's prayer, President Smith said that he did not believe for a moment that it was the intention of the Savior to have the Apostles always using that exact form of prayer; but the object evidently was to impress upon them the need of simplicity and directness in presenting their petitions to the Father. Where this was done, and the dictates of the Spirit faithfully followed, all would be acceptable before the Lord. The
"Josephites" had compiled a book of rules, and the result was that they were all the time quarreling as to how things should be done. Referring to the ceremonies of the various sectarian churches, the speaker said he believed they were all of the devil. He regarded the man of authority as the constitution, and whatever he did by the promptings of the Holy Spirit would be acceptable to the Lord.
Brother John Henry Smith held in the main with President Smith, but it seemed to him that if the Church was to be run by the operation of the Spirit upon the Elders, or rather by what some of the Elders deem operations of the Spirit, the result would be a grand conglomeration of various views. He then went on to say that it was already understood that a Bishop should be ordained; this being so, why not determine which of the officers of the Church should be ordained, and which set apart, defining the distinctions between them. He held that if the Apostles were not united in such matters, confusion must result. Speaking of the ceremony of baptism, he said that it had gone out that the words "forgiveness of your sins" should be added to the ceremony, as published in the Doctrine and Covenants, but that had since been corrected. The speaker held that uniform views on all such subjects should exist in this council.
Brother Lund remarked that if Presidents of Stakes and all officers having special callings were ordained, the sacredness of the word "ordain" would be lost. It was only as to the Presidents of Seventies that the use of this word had been called in question, or rather the omission of it, and he did not think that any difficulty would arise from the present understanding.
President Snow expressed the belief that no further light would be obtained by discussing the question any longer at the present time, and remarked that if the Council preferred the First Presidency to further consider the matter, it would be done.
Brother Clawson moved that this be the sense of the meeting, and the motion was seconded and carried. ...
[First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve minutes]