My patriarchal blessing tells me I will see many changes in my lifetime. Indeed I have! Remember when we used to have the following?
– quarterly stake conferences, and two conference sessions each
– everybody working on stake farms
– assessment of hundreds of dollars per family to build a new meetinghouse or temple
– missionary farewells, with printed programs
– missionaries set apart by general authorities, and all attending the “mission home” in Salt Lake City
– monthly payments made according to the mission
– auxiliary organizations with their own publications
– young women who wore dresses
– assistants to the Twelve
– seventies quorums in the stakes
– a Church patriarch
– ward meetings held in the morning and afternoon, and Sunday School had a time for hymn practice, plus 2 1/2 minute talks and sacrament gems
– Primary in the middle of the week
– Area conferences (during the administration of President Kimball)
I have seen many changes over the years:
– more sister missionaries and older couples
– rewording of parts of the temple ceremony; music and film used in the endowment
– many more temples, and smaller temples
– regional representatives, area authorities, and emeritus general authorities
– more seventies quorums for the Church
– our LDS edition of the Bible; slight changes in the Articles of Faith, a subtitle for the Book of Mormon, etc.
– “new” revelations (and then transferred from their original placement in the Pearl of Great Price to the Doctrine and Covenants)
– all worthy men may receive the Priesthood
– simpler garments, and two-piece, and khaki green for military personnel
– “genealogy” changed to “family history” plus enormous technological changes in research
– Spirit-focused missionary lesson plans and approaches
– women speaking in general conference and temple dedications, etc.
– correlated curricula, with greater emphasis on the scriptures
– the Church’s new logo, emphasizing JESUS CHRIST
– “homemaking” changed to “enrichment”
– changes in the Strength of Youth pamphlet
– and numerous others: temple recommends for two years, worldwide
training meetings; Perpetual Education Fund; temple dedications
broadcasted in many chapels; lower age for elders and sister missionaries
Changes have been made to accommodate growth and progress, but some changes have been dramatic and traumatic. A friend and neighbor told me that while he was serving a mission in 1958 in North Carolina, he and his companion sought permission to baptize a black man. The local patriarch ejected them from his property. Some Saints left a conference meeting when they saw the black man attending. On the other hand, the visiting authority, Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, left the pulpit, stepped across the benches, and gave the black man a big hug.
Forty-five years later this friend and his wife were serving a mission in Mauritius, and there were black missionaries serving with themincluding, as they learned, the grandson of that black man who was baptized in North Carolina! How things had changed.
We will continue to see changes in the Church because we are a “work in progress.” Those who resist and fight against inspired adjustments and improvements, insisting on the “old way” of doing things, may find themselves hindering the work of the Lord. In one sense, tradition is the enemy of continuous revelation. We must allow the Lord to speak, to “download” to us when necessary, “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).