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Advancement through the priesthood: how it has changed over the past 50 years

Advancement through the priesthood: how it has changed over the past 50 years

I am comparing my experiences when I joined the Church over 50 years ago to what takes place currently.

Being over the age of 18, I became a member of what was then known as the ‘Aaronic Priesthood – Adult’. Progression through the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood was as it continues to be today, but there did not seem to be an over-reaching goal.

Ordination as an Elder seemed to be reserved either for married men or those going on a mission, so that they would be able to go to the temple. Granted that I was moving around a lot at the time, which may have contributed to the delay, but it took me over three years to become an Elder.
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I valued this of course, but looking back I seem to have missed out on learning about many of the things relevant to being an Elder, especially the spiritual aspects, which I only picked up later. In some places where I was living we met with the Elders in priesthood meeting, but  in others we did not.

Some time after my ordination -- I think that it was in the early 1970s -- the programme changed, and the Aaronic Adult programme became the ‘Potential Elder’ programme. Looking at this from the outside I can see that the whole paradigm changed. The Potential Elders met with the Elders, and the Quorum Presidency met with each Potential Elder individually, to set goals which would lead to their ordination as an Elder, hopefully within nine or ten months from baptism.

Logical and basic as this may seem now, it was quite revolutionary then. It all may be an indication of how the Church was growing, in that you could concentrate on doing one calling properly, instead of also having to find time for your other responsibilities.

Nowadays, I often watch men who have come into the Church and see how they grow as a result of this programme if they make the effort to do so. There is no doubt that it is inspired.