Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reed Smoot Hearings: Day 8 - Andrew Jenson

March 10,1904

This is part II of Mr. Jenson's testimony before the committee.  He appeared before the committee yesterday.  Mr. Worthington is cross-examining the witness.

He starts out asking Mr. Jenson about the book Latter-Day Saints' Biographical Encyclopedia, and he finds out that Mr. Jenson used information from Bishop Orson F. Whitney's History of Utah, M. F. Cowley's History of the Lives of the Leaders, and individually talking to people that were included in the book.  However, even with all of that work, the book does contain mistakes.
Mr. Worthington.  For instance, I note that you say in the very first sentence about Mr. Smoot, that he has been "a member of the council of twelve apostles since 1898."  That is a mistake?
Mr. Jenson.  It is a typographical error.  It ought to be 1900.
Commentary:  That single error could possibly place the veracity of the book's contents into question.  If there is one thing wrong that was easy to find, how many more things are there that are wrong?  Can any of it be trusted absolutely?

Mr. Worthington has finished.  The Chairman then asks if Mr. Jenson can provide the names of all the bishops in the church (he can, but not from memory).
The Chairman.  There is a bishop for every stake, I understand?
Mr. Jenson.  No, sir.  There is a bishop for every ward and a president for every stake.
The Chairman.  Yes.  How many stakes and wards are there?
Mr. Jenson.  There are 53 stakes and about 700 wards.
Senator Depew.  How many wards are there for each stake?
Mr. Jenson.  All the way from about 5 up to thirty-three.
Senator Depew.  What is the relation of these officers?  You have first your ward bishop.  They are responsible to the stake president?
Mr. Jenson.  Yes, sir.
Senator Depew.  What are their relations to the apostles?
Mr. Jenson.  They are laboring immediately under the direction of the first presidency, not of the apostles.
Mr. Worthington.  It has already been brought out that the apostles are no part of the working machinery of the church.
Senator Depew.  This organization seemed so perfect that I wanted to get the detail of it.
Mr. Jenson.  There are three men, constituting the first presidency, presiding over the church, and there is a similar procedure of three presiding over each stake, and these are responsible to the presidency of the church directly.
Commentary:  As of the end of 2009, there were 2,865 stakes and 28,424 wards and branches throughout the church - my how the church has grown in a little over 100 years.  The statement by Senator Depew was a very nice complement to the church.  He appreciates the organization.  It is also noteworthy to again mention the fact that the apostles do not come into play with the wards or stakes of the church as far as the hierarchy is concerned.

He is then questioned about the selection of Stake Presidents and Bishops of wards.  A summary of this would be that the President of the Church is given names that he either agrees or disagrees with and then those names are presented to the people of the stake/ward for approval or disapproval.
The Chairman.  Is it usual to send up a large number of names?
Mr. Jenson.  No, sir.
The Chairman.  What is the usual practice?
Mr. Jenson.  I think the usual way is sending up only one name.
The Chairman.  The bishops of the various wards are not acted on by the people until the president indicates his approval?
Mr. Jenson.  No, sir; and yet I think there are exceptions.  For instance, in the distant stakes there may be variations where the president of the church is not personally acquainted with the names that have been sent in to him, and in that case it may be left almost entirely to the presidency of the stake.
Commentary:  When the church was small the president apparently made it a policy to try and get to know as many of the leading members across the church as possible; he could therefore pass judgment on whether he felt they would be good stake presidents or bishops.  Today, that type of intimate knowledge is impossible because of the sheer size of the church and geographic locations.  It is interesting that the officers of the church were given a "stamp of approval" by the president of the church himself.

Senator Dubois then asks Mr. Jenson to state the line of authority in the church from top to bottom:

First Presidency --> Apostles --> Presiding Patriarch --> 7 Presidents of the Seventy --> Presiding Bishopric

Commentary:  In October 1979, the priesthood office of the Presiding Patriarch was discontinued and Eldred G. Smith was released and designated Patriarch Emeritus.  The LDS Church no longer has this priesthood position today.  However, there are local stake patriarchs located throughout the church, just not a presiding patriarch.

Here's a link to the conference address where the Presiding Patriarch was removed:  Here

Here's an interesting comment from Mr. Jenson that doesn't really apply to the questioning, but I found interesting light of the present-day church policy of most members holding a calling.
Mr. Tayler.  Each elder is empowered by the church to solemnize marriages, is he not?
Mr. Jenson.  No, sir.  The great majority of the elders are not active officers.  They are not called to do anything.  They are elders only by title.
Commentary:  My how times have changed.  I cannot remember a time when I didn't have a calling.  I guess as the church has grown there were new needs and therefore new callings for members to help out with.  Apparently in the earlier stages of the church (100 years or more ago), members just attended church - that was all, and that was enough.  Today callings are used to help keep people active and give them something to do (a reason to go to church, I guess).

To finish up Mr. Jenson's testimony I'll quote a section of it where he is asked to know the limit of obedience for church members.
The Chairman.  Just one question I want to ask for information:  Suppose a member of your church in good standing is directed by the president or any of the men in authority to sell his property and remove to some locality.  Is that binding upon them?
Mr. Jenson.  No; he is under no obligation at all.
The Chairman.  He can disobey it if he wants to?
Mr. Jenson.  Yes, sir.
The Chairman.  What would be the effect of it?
Mr. Jenson.  The effect would not be serious at all.  He might be called disobedient to counsel, if it was given as counsel, but the church does not dictate in these matters.
The Chairman.  They never do that?
Mr. Jenson.  There was a time, Mr. Chairman, in the earlier days of the church, many years ago, in the early settlement of Utah, for instance, when the settled St. George and sent missionaries to what is now Nevada, when they called men to go on temporal missions, the same as they might do on preaching missions; but that was back in the earlier days in Utah, when that was necessary, and they were simply called to go, and they could refuse or accept as the chose, the same as any other mission.  But of late years no such call has been made that could be called binding at all.
Senator Dubois.  To illustrate now:  Suppose the authorities should ask the president of the stake up in Cache Valley to select 20 families and take them up to the forks of Snake River, in Idaho, what would the president of the stake do?
Mr. Jenson.  The president undoubtedly would call for volunteers and that so many families were wanted up there, "Are there any here who want to go?"
Senator Dubois.  Would he be likely to get 20 families?
Mr. Jenson.  He would not be under obligation to get 20 families.
Senator Dubois.  I say would he be likely to get 20 families?
Mr. Jenson.  If there were 20 who volunteered to go; otherwise he would not call them.
Senator Dubois.  Would 20 likely volunteer to go?
Mr. Jenson.  In many instances the people are very anxious to go to a new country if they find there are openings for settlers.
Sentor Dubois.  The if 20 families were called for by the authorities they would go, would they not?
Mr. Jenson.  I remember nothing of that kind since 1873, as far as I am acquainted with the history of the church.
Senator Dubois.  I am asking about the present day.  I suppose you can say no if you want to.
Mr. Jenson.  I will say no.  It has not happened for twenty or thirty years that I know of.
Commentary:  To me this means that members can choose to obey or not obey counsel that is given of a temporal nature.

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