Elder Perry Visits our Sacrament Meeting

We had a visit from Elder Perry to our ward in Camarillo today. He told us he was in town on one of the last days of a week-long series of meetings in California. He started in San Jose on Tuesday and had one more half day Monday in San Fernando. He has been meeting each day with the missionaries for a few hours and then with the Priesthood leadership of multiple stakes.

We were expecting a large crowd for the missionary farewell of the youngest sister of our bishop. I’ll bet she’ll always remember that she spoke on the same program as an apostle. When he walked in, nine year-old Whitney Peterson handed him a piece of paper with four questions. He delighted us by answering them candidly and directly. I paid close attention to what he said.

Four Questions for an Apostle

Her first question was “How many churches have you visited?” I think she meant different wards or stakes “You do the math,” he answered. “I’ve been doing this for forty years. We go out three weeks out of every month. We have five weeks off in the summer and two weekends off each year for General Conference.” I did the math. Without duplicates, that would be 1,320 churches.

Next, Whitney asked, “How many temples are there in the world?” He laughed as he replied, “I don’t know. I can’t keep track anymore.” Somebody apparently looked it up as he was talking and told him - 136. He told the story of president Hinckley going to Stake Centers while on visits to Mexico looking for properties large enough to accommodate temples to be built next door.

The next question was “Where do you live?” I expected him to simply say Salt Lake, but he told us he lived a half block north of the conference center and that he walks to work each day. He has a key to a side door so he walks the rest of the way through the tunnels to his office in the church administration building. Now I know how this almost 90 year-old apostle keeps in shape.

An Apostle’s Witness of the Savior

The last question was the best. “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” I listened closely to hear how an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ would answer this question. He told a couple of stories. First, he described one of the weekly meetings with the twelve way back when Elder LeGrand Richards was still alive. The meeting had to do with changes being made in the temple.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Elder Richards said that President Woodruff had been there. When asked why, he said that Elder Richards was the only one of the twelve present who had attended the 1893 dedication of the Salt lake Temple (as a child). President Woodruff was vitally concerned with the temple that he had dedicated. To Elder Perry, this was a visit by an angel.

The 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood

He then told the story of the 1978 revelation that all worthy men could hold the priesthood. He said that there were only three of the twelve still alive who had been there. He described how President Kimball asked to be the voice in the weekly prayer circle and how he poured out his heart in petitioning the Lord for understanding of his will on what should be done on this issue.

He said that the outpouring of the spirit was so great that at the conclusion of the prayer they each went back to their offices without saying a word. They usually go have lunch together. Something sacred had happened. To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple. The next Thursday, President Kimball submitted the new revelation to the twelve.

The Savior Directs This Church

Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. He spoke for a moment about placing our tent door toward the temple. He then closed by bearing testimony. He said, “There is only one man who receives revelation for all. This is not a man-made church. The Savior directs this church from above.”

“This is how he continues to reach out to each of us. There is an order and a system in place. Twelve are given the keys but only one may use them at a time. In the church there is order and uniformity. This provides absolute certain direction that comes from the Lord. I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church.”

Comments

Ray said…
Thank you for this post. Our apostles and prophets also are good people.
Michael said…
"Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions."

I find this comment a little disconcerting coming from an Apostle. Our cultural expectations are much different.
Stephen said…
I agree Michael, especially in light of Jacob 1:5-6 which I read today in prep for next weeks Gospel Doctrine lesson.
The Book of Mormon and early LDS history clearly teaches the opposite. If the heavens are mostly closed, isn't it because of lack of faith?
Howard said…
Interesting Elder Richards died in 1983, nothing more recient?
Michael said…
It makes me wonder about the PoF and the new truths introduced in that document conceding the eternal nature of gender and the fixed roles articulated for men and women. It also makes me wonder about the Prop 8 fight.

Are these new things merely the reasoning of men?
Brig Savage said…
He's referring to the priesthood revelation type of heavens opening. That was described by others as a kind of Kirtland Temple outpouring of the spirit. Otherwise, it's the still small voice.
kramer said…
So, now we define a "special witness" of Jesus Christ not as one who has had a special experience (as Paul), but as one with a special calling. Didn't Joseph Smith tell the apostles in his day that after receiving their calling, they were to strive to have a personal visitation?

Such a personal visitation is not just the right and privaledge of the Apostles, but of everyone who is baptized and continues worthy. The Second Comforter.
Katrina M. said…
As I read this and read the comments, I was reminded of the saying that "those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know." I don't think he is going to announce to a strange congregation about sacred experiences without a very strong prompting of the Spirit. It sounds like he tried to answer the question without saying anything he shouldn't say. And I also don't think he was saying that the heavens are closed as in no revelation. Are we so limited to think that the Lord is only directing His church through direct visitation? Don't the prophet and Apostles receive revelation the same way we do - through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? I never imagined that the Savior came to see the Prophet every day to tell him face to face how to direct the Church. Not everything requires an actual visitation from the Savior. Even in the scriptures, the Lord didn't visit with His prophets all the time. I have full faith in the leaders of the Church to lead us in the paths of the Lord through the power of the Spirit, which is plain to feel each time they speak to us.
Adam said…
Friends,

If I were Elder Perry, this is why I would hesitate before speaking in sacrament meeting about sacred things. What has been clearly said over and over by these special witnesses is that Christ personally and directly leads His church.

As a church, we tend to be overly casual in our relationship with Him. Quick, repetitive prayers, referring to Him as our brother in the same sense that we talk about someone with whom we would share a hockey game or poker night.

In truth, He is the living Savior and while He does love and care for us individually, and He is our spiritual brother, we are not His equal. Those called as special witnesses understand this relationship and while they are guided by Him, they treat those relationships as sacred trust. Not something to be casually discussed in sacrament meeting.

I believe Elder Perry did a great job answering this questions. He said, yes we have special spiritual experiences, yes I will briefly recount a few that have been publically mentioned before and No, I won’t' talk about my own specific experiences but I will testify that Christ does lead this church.

I was once told that when it comes to sacred things there are two kinds of people. Those who have very special, sacred experiences with the Lord and those who talk about them. And the two are never in the same group.

Elder Perry's talk would be a good example of that.
Rachael said…
What a neat experience! I loved the four questions and Elder Perry's answers.
Susan Reed said…
Well said Adam, I couldn't agree more. Thank you.
Michael said…
Matthew 5:37 - But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

No word games are allowed of true disciples of Christ. Speak clearly, truthfully and without ambiguity.

Definitions - the significant differences between Inspiration and Revelation (they are not the same):

in·spi·ra·tion/ˌinspəˈrāSHən/
Noun:
The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: "flashes of inspiration".
The quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something: "a moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull display".
Synonyms:
afflatus - inhalation

rev·e·la·tion/ˌrevəˈlāSHən/
Noun:
A surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one made in a dramatic way.
The making known of a secret or the unknown.
Synonyms:
disclosure - exposure - detection - apocalypse

Was the 1978 experience "inspiration" or "revelation"?
Adam said…
Michael,

I confess I am a just seeing this blog for the first time today, and I’ve not taken the time to read up on the past comments of the people who post here. As such, it’s hard for me to tell if you are asking a sincere question of just trolling for an argument. Either way, I’ll bite and respond.

By claiming that “No word games are allowed of true disciples of Christ” you are making an argument that, if true, would mean that we have to toss out half of the scriptures. Christ taught in parables, the most quoted book of scripture, Isaiah, is full of dualism, imagery, and esoteric term. Isaiah’s words are similar to the parables of Jesus in their manner of teaching. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him why He taught in parables, He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the people in general] it is not given. . . . Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. . . . For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. . . . But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13;11, 13, 15–16.)

Many of the people of Jesus’ time were spiritually immature and unprepared to receive the doctrines He taught. Through parables He was able to teach the more spiritually mature and at the same time veil His teachings from those who were not prepared to understand or follow them. In that manner He kept many from being condemned for having a knowledge of principles they were unable to live (see Alma 12:9–11; Jacob 4:14).

In the same spirit we are taught as fast as we are able to handle it. There are often messages taught in General Conference that pass right over the many members of the church. It requires spiritual maturity to understand them.

As for splitting hair over the definition of inspiration and revelation, you only have to look to the first line of Official Declaration -2 to get your answer. “In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball…….”

It was a revelation.
Carol said…
Thank you, Joe and Adam!

It looks like you are "steadfast and immovable", humble --"teachable", andknowledgeable.

How can we judge if an experience is the "right way" to receive a witness, when we are not the one to experiience it? To me, it is more important to know that the apostles KNOW the Savior, than it is to know by what method they received that knowledge. I hope, I will always correct myself as I find I have a wrong perspective.
Michael said…
Hmmmm....interesting thoughts and perspectives from everyone. I don't know if I agree but I always listen to other viewpoints. I am not a troll. I am sincerely exploring thoughts, re-evaluating common assumptions we make, and questioning everything.

Just one comment to share with Carol - we have all been commanded to KNOW the Saviour. Each and everyone one of us. If we don't ask those who already know Him how to go about it then we will not be successful in fulfilling that commandment. We are told to NEVER rely upon anyone else for that knowledge but to seek it personally and to never stop until we have it.
Elizabeth said…
I know you had the best of intentions on posting this experience and these notes. What a wonderful experience it must have been to hear Elder Perry! You were probably unaware of this when you posted your experience, but the Church Handbook #2 advises against this, warning that notes from such meetings are for personal use only, as found in section 21.1.39 in Handbook 2, accessible from lds.org. Thank you for understanding.
Michael said…
That is funny. It made my evening.
Michael said…
Based upon the Handbook of Instructions we should remove D&C 76 from the scriptures. Perhaps we should also remove the First Vision as well.
Tim Malone said…
To Elizabeth: Thank you for reminding me of the policy that we not share personal notes from visits by General Authorities. I should have checked first with Elder Perry. I did the next best thing. I asked him after it was posted if he felt it needed to be removed or if it erroneously reflected anything he said. He replied that he doesn't see anything wrong with what I wrote and that he is fine with me leaving it up on my personal blog.
cwmom said…
I love Elder Perry and so appreciate his insight! Elder Perry is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and represents the Savior's church, here upon the earth. For those who don't recognize who he represents, how would they ever recognize the Savior?
Howard said…
So Elder Perry answers the question “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” with Elder Richards' report of a pre 1983 manifestation of President Woodruff and the 1978 outpouring of the spirit regarding lifting the priesthood ban. And he said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. Then the apologists hurry to fill in the perceived gaps for him! Can't he speak for himself? Didn't he? Apparently he did and according to Tim he let it stand.

So nothing more recent than 30 years ago? Apparently not!
Eric said…
I was there and heard his entire talk.

This is not a criticism of Tim's recording of the event, but it's an interesting lesson on how peoples' interpretations of events can be quite different.

Section 21.1.39 does have some wisdom in it! (By the way, the section would allow D&C 76 and the First Vision since they are in official Church publications.)

After reading Whitney's last question, Tim wrote, "He told a couple of stories." However, before he related the 2 stories, Elder Perry's immediate response to the question was to say something to the effect that the heavens are NOT closed [placing vocal emphasis on the "NOT"].

During his talk he never made any statement that the 2 instances he mentioned were the ONLY 2 instances.

Tim wrote, "Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly." I'm not so sure he ever answered "directly," because she asked if HE saw such and such. In example #1, he said that Elder Richards said Wilford Woodruff was there. Regarding example #2, Tim wrote, "To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple." However, I do not recall him using any such words.

Tim wrote that he said (in quotations), ". . . I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church." On the other hand, I thought he said, "I know without a doubt that God lives, and that Jesus IS the Christ" [placing vocal emphasis on the "IS"]. I will admit he could have said something about directing the Church after that.

Anyway, it's fascinating to realize that when we record events we are selectively emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain things by the way we include (or don't include) them in our report.

Tim's statement that Elder Perry reviewed what he wrote is also interesting to ponder and apply to oneself. . . . To what degree do I scrutinize and edit what someone else has said about my words?
Tim Malone said…
Thank you Eric for adding the additional detail, and the insights about using emphasis - both mine and from Elder Perry. I also thought of adding that the when he answered Whitney's questions, he did not say these were the only instances of recent heavenly visitations. And there's no mistake that there was some unintended editorializing in there: "To Elder Perry, this was...."

If I remember correctly, there were several recorded accounts of the King Follett discourse, each one adding additional insight by the phrases they included or emphasized. I would estimate there were 400 or 500 people in attendance that day. I imagine each one could add something interesting and each one would be different depending on where they are in their lives.

For example, I have been reading Denver Snuffer's books for the last six weeks. My focus has been on the idea that regular, everyday members of the church like you and me can and should be seeking to receive the Lord. We were commanded to receive the Holy Ghost and most of us have done so. We should encourage each other to go on to also receive the Lord.

I confess I was hoping for a simple, quiet and direct answer from Elder Perry to the last question. I was hoping to hear, "Yes, I have seen angels and I have seen the Lord. He has ministered to me. You can also see him. You should strive to do so. Here's how to do that..." But then, this was not a private setting and in my opinion, the instances he cited were appropriate.

Finally, it's not fair to give everyone the impression that we can have the General Authorities review or comment on our notes. My case is highly unusual since I have a conduit into Elder Perry's office - my sister is his secretary. She was very gracious, as was he, when I asked her to get his opinion if I should remove the post after being reminded of the policy.
Closet Doubter said…
I was at a priesthood leadership meeting years ago with BKP. In that meeting, he told us he had NEVER had a personal visitation from a heavenly bean or even seen one. He said he had NEVER even heard an audible voice from above. But he did say that he has had undeniable feelings and promptings from the spirit.

So, was BKP not telling the truth because it was too sacred? was this lying for the Lord?

Or do we expect too much of the 15? Do we expect that they walk and talk with the Lord on a daily basis? Was BKP just trying to re-set our expectations? Was LTP doing the same in Tim's ward?

BTW, I too was at the same meeting as Tim, and thought he did a good job of capturing LTP"s thoughts.
Closet Doubter said…
A companion of mine on my mission had the opportunity while a missionary to go pick up Apostle H. W. Hunter at the airport and drive him to the mission office. During this time my companion was alone with Elder Hunter while they waited for somebody. Elder Hunter started up what sounded like small talk, but was something much more profound. He said to my companion “ Elder, you know when people bare their testimony, and they say ‘I know Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus’”. My companion answered in the affirmative, and he had heard that often. Elder Hunter continued “ Well, it really isn’t right that they say ‘I know’ unless they were actually in the sacred grove with Joseph. They should say ‘I believe’ instead of ‘I know’ They believe Joseph saw God, but they don’t know because they didn’t see it” My companion agreed, and then Elder Hunter looked him square in the eye and said in a forceful voice “ I Know that Jesus is the Christ”.
I believe this is the closest that any Apostle will come to inferring that they have seen Christ. I’ve always thought that we use “I Know” way too much in church, and in fact always use the words “I believe” when I bear my testimony, even when I held leadership positions and would bare my testimony before the ward.

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