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Dear Gramps,

It is my understanding that in the beginning of the restoration of the Gospel, that the offices in the Aaronic Priesthood were confirmed upon older men, in general. Do you know the general time, when it was decided to confer the Aaronic priesthood upon the young men of teenager ages? Was their a recorded revelation or such that is known why young men were given the awesome responsibility of holding the Aaronic priesthood at such a young age? Thanks,

Brandon

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Answer

 

Dear Brandon,

Of course in the very early days of the Mormon Church all members were converts, principally adults. However, youth were also ordained to both the Melchizedek and the Aaronic Priesthood. In Joseph Fielding Smith’s, Answers to Gospel Questions,2:, p.8, we read,

“From the records of the Church, there seems to be no definite time when the Aaronic Priesthood was first given to boys. Some ordinations were given to very young men who showed aptitude as far back as the days of Kirtland; for instance, Don Carlos Smith, youngest brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was ordained and labored as a missionary when only fifteen years of age. (D.H.C., Vol. 4, p. 393.)  George A. Smith, father of John Henry Smith, was active in the ministry when about fifteen years of age, and also was a member of Zion’s Camp in 1834. He was ordained a seventy when the first seventies were chosen in 1835 and was called into the Council of the Twelve when twenty-one years of age. Other young men who were worthy were ordained in those early days and sent out to preach the gospel. President Joseph F. Smith was ordained an elder and sent on a mission when he was fifteen. So we see the conferring of the priesthood was not completely confined to men in the days of Kirtland, Nauvoo, or in the Salt Lake Valley.”

New male converts were ordained first to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, and then to offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Ordaining principally youth to the Aaronic Priesthood did not start until some time after the number of youth in the church, i.e. baptized children of members, became large enough to merit individual quorum consideration The definition of the current minimum ages for the Aaronic Priesthood offices was defined by the First Presidency of the Mormon Church in 1908. The following entry from the Encyclopedia of Latter-Day Saint History gives the specific information.

“Age groups of youth with ward quorums (1908-present). In 1908 the First Presidency restructured the Aaronic Priesthood to be a priesthood for boys. They approved that worthy boys be ordained at set ages and advance through each office: deacons at age 12, teachers at 15, priests at 18, and elders at 21. Church headquarters produced lesson manuals and assigned duties geared to these age levels. For ward teaching, ordained teachers and priests served as junior companion-apprentices to Melchizedek Priesthood holders. In the 1930s the Church began an adult Aaronic Priesthood program for converts and less-active adult men.”

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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