120 years ago today - Mar 1, 1900

John T. Church denied priesthood due to race,

Because of Church's mixed-race status, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve met two weeks later to consider his petition to be ordained an Elder and serve a mission, as promised in his blessing. However, after the following theologically and doctrinally unsound discussion, Church was denied the priesthood:

At 11 oclock the Twelve Apostles met with the Presidency at the office. There were present: Presidents Snow, Cannon and Smith, Elders Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, John W. Taylor, Anthon H. Lund and Abraham O. Woodruff.

A communication from President Ira Hinckley setting forth that a man in Oasis named Church, had received his patriarchal blessing in which he was told that he was of the lineage of Ephraim and that he would have the priesthood and go on a mission. But it is believed and so understood that he inherits some negro blood in him through his mother, and many questions were being asked about the right of this party to hold the [p. 2] Priesthood, some holding that he might do so provided the white blood predominates.

President Snow, commendint [sic] on this subject, said that he asked President Brigham Young on one occasion, why it was that millions and millions of people were cursed with a black skin, and when, if ever, this curse would be removed? President Young explained it in this way but whether he had it revealed to him or not, President Snow did not know. When Cain slew Abel he fully understood the effects of the killing of his brother, but that it extended to the spirits in eternity. He said that in the spirit world people were organized as they were here. There were Patriarch[s] standing at the head of certain classes of spirits, and there were certain relationships existing which affected their coming into the world to take tabernacles. For instance, when Able [sic] came into the world it was understood by Cain that the class of people which he presided over as a prince, if they ever came into the world in the regular way, they would have to come through him. So with Cain, he

was a prince presiding over a vast number of a certain class of spirits, and it was natural that they should come through him, if at all, and therefore when Cain slew Abel he understood that the taking of his brothers life was going to deprive the spirits over whom he (Abel) presided from coming into the world, perhaps for thousands and thousands of years; hence the sin was immense because the effects were immense. Then there was this understanding when the Lord executed judgement [sic] upon Cain: The spirits under his leadership still looked up to him, and it was understood that this curse would remain upon his posterity until the class of spirits presided over by Abel should have the privilege of coming into the world and taking tabernacles, and then the curse would be removed.

President Cannon remarked that he had understood that the Prophet Joseph had said during his lifetime that there would be a great wrong perpetrated if the seed of Cain were allowed to have the Priesthood before Abel should have posterity to receive it and this curse was therefore to remain upon the [p. 3] seed of Cain until the time should come that Abel should have posterity. He understood that that time could not not [sic] come until Abel should beget spirits in the eternal worlds and those spirits obtain tabernacles; if it were otherwise the slayer would have advantages over the slain. President Cannon further remarked that it would seem that there was a class of spirits who had to take such bodies for the reason hat Ham introduced this blood through the ark by marrying a woman of the cursed seed named Egyptus.

Despite her children not being able to receive priesthood or enter the temple, in 1903, Harriet Lenore Birchet Church, the former slave, was herself allowed to be endowed and sealed in the temple. Years later, some of her children did go through the temple, but others had their temple work done for them vicariously after death.


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