120 years ago today - Thursday, Jul 10, 1902

[Rudger Clawson]

The clerk read a letter from Patriarch Oliver B. Huntington, who said that there was a lack of understanding and harmonious action among the patriarchs of the church in reference to their duties, the charging of a fee, &c., and asked for instructions. Considerable discussion followed. Apostle Jno. H. Smith ... As to whether they should charge a fee or depend upon voluntary donations is a matter to be determined by each patriarch. Their field of labor should be confined to the stakes where they reside, but if they officiate in other stakes, it should be by permission.

Apostle Clawson ... In speaking of the practice of charging a fee, said that so far as he knew it was very offensive to the people, and he believed it would be better for them to depend upon voluntary donations. He mentioned the temple as an example and said, of course, it is understood that the expense of running our temples is very heavy, but, nevertheless, the blessings of the house of the Lord are free to the saints, "without money and without price" [Isa. 55:1], and yet all who enter these sacred places have an opportunity to make donations. If a fee were charged at the temple, he believed it would be offensive to the people and productive of no good. He took the same view in relation to the patriarchs.

Pres. Lund said that the patriarchs would have to use care in regard to charging a fee as there was no doubt in his mind that this was a matter of offense to the people.

Pres. Smith called attention to the fact that there is more or less expense connected with the giving of blessings, such as paper, pens, ink, and clerk hire, which should be borne by those who are benefited. He did not like the idea, however, of charging a fee. He thought that in all cases when the patriarch is asked as to his bill, he should say, "If I were to make a charge, it would be so much a blessing, but, of course, I make no charge but leave it to your discretion as to whether you would like to make a free-will offering." Patriarchs should impress those who come to them that they have the spirit and power to bless, and the people would then feel that a patriarchal blessing is beyond price. And the impression should never go out that they are traveling around giving blessings simply for the fee. A patriarch should be the acme of fatherhood to the church in exercising the spirit of his calling and priesthood. ...

Patriarch Jno. Smith made some remarks and said that he usually charged two dollars for a blessing, in cases where the parties could afford to pay, but in many instances where a man and his family came, it did not average more than a dollar a piece, and in some cases he received nothing at all.

It became the sense of the council by vote that the church furnish a record for the patriarchs, the form to be determined by Pat. Jno. Smith and Apostle Clawson, and that where a fee is mentioned it shall be done in the manner suggested by Pres. Smith. Pres. Lund said that Brother Jno. Smith should inspect the records of the various patriarchs and see that they are properly kept and see if the patriarchs, or any of them, are in the habit of using presumptuous words in their blessings.

[Stan Larson (editor), A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic diaries of Rudger Clawson, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1993, http://bit.ly/rudgerclawson]

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