As a Black member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have come across a few Blacks who know very little about the Church other than at one time Blacks were not allowed to hold the Priesthood.That one small piece of information alone prevents some from considering membership in The Church of Jesus Christ. They believe that the Church is prejudiced and racist, however, my personal witness and testimony is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes people of all races, cultures, and backgrounds who are willing to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In February 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an official statement about the Church’s stand on racism which states in part:
The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.
For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.
We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
On 29 February 2012, The Church issued the following official statement about the Church and race which reads:
People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some Black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three decades ago extended the priesthood to all worthy male members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world. (See also: Race and the Priesthood).
The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”
The issue of Blacks not being able to hold the Priesthood for a period of time in the Church was never a concern for me even when I was investigating the Church because I am a firm believer that God always has a purpose and a reason for all things that He does.The psalmist declared as recorded in Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” It is not necessarily for us to understand the “why” of everything, but rather we are to have faith and trust and believe that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Throughout the period of the Priesthood restriction, the number of Black members (male and female) in the Church continued to increase. These faithful members held church callings and remained true to the faith. They also held firm to their belief that in the Lord’s due time those who were being denied the Priesthood would one day be able to enjoy the full blessings thereof. That blessed day came in June 1978 when, through a revelation received by a Prophet of God, Spencer W. Kimball, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced to the Church that all worthy men, regardless of race, were to be allowed the blessings of holding the Priesthood.
Almost 17 years ago, on the evening of Tuesday, 10 March 1998, in a little storefront chapel in Reykjavík, Iceland, I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since becoming a member of the Church, I can boldly testify that the Church is neither prejudiced nor racist. From the very first time that I walked through the doors of a LDS chapel, I have felt nothing less than a warm, welcoming spirit and an atmosphere of acceptance.
During my years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, I have been blessed to exercise the Priesthood that I hold by ministering to members in need, serving in several areas of leadership, and participating in many activities in the Church without the least degree of concern with respect to my race. No one judges me because of the color of my skin, nor am I ever denied any privileges of the Gospel because I am Black. I have in the past and continue to this day to enjoy the full fruits of the Priesthood exactly as any other member.
I have traveled to many parts of the world in my short lifetime, and in many places the differences between races and cultures are quite clear, however, I have found that there are no racial barriers or walls in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everyone, regardless of culture or race, is welcomed with open arms. Latter-day Saints know of a surety that God loves all of His children, and therefore, there are “no more strangers” in the kingdom as shown in the love that the members have for one another. Everyone is known as Brother or Sister. We are all working towards the same goal of one day returning to live in our Heavenly Father’s presence for all eternity.
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This entry was posted in Priesthood Power and Authority and tagged Church, endurance, faith, gospel, Hope, Jesus Christ, Life, love, Mormon faith, Mormons, obedience, patience, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.