Vaughn J. Featherstone Talk
Notes from an address given by Vaughn J. Featherstone in a Primary Conference in Salt Lake City in the mid-seventies when he was in the Presiding Bishopric.
(About Vaughn J. Featherstone’s talk about the importance of Primary. Apparently it was given in a 1973 Primary Conference.
There may be a copy of the talk in a book called To Be on Holy Ground; A Guide to Teaching by the Spirit, by Lois A. Stokes… There is at least a reference in that book.)
I believe you ought to go to the stake president or the counselor in charge of Primary with whom you work. Let him know you feel the need to have the very best possible workers in your primary organizations.
Let me suggest something to you. I have done a lot of repenting since I have been a General Authority. I remember in different stakes in which I have worked that we would oftentimes say, “The Primary is the place where you can train teachers.” How ridiculous can we possibly be! I want you to know since I have been a General Authority, in the stakes I have gone to in the early morning meeting with the bishoprics I have said, “If you don’t listen to anything else, would you please listen to this. We have a problem in the Church. We take people who have never had a priesthood holder in the home, some who have never held a family home evening, people who are new converts into the Church, and people who have not been married in the temple. We call them to teach those young children. We expect our children to be totally priesthood oriented, to understand what the gospel means in their lives; and some of our teachers have not experienced these things.
We, as a Presiding Bishopric, met for three days when we were first called. We locked the doors and we brainstormed. Why in the history of the Church is the deacon’s program lower than it has ever been? What is the problem that deacons are lower than teachers and priests in activity now for the first time in the history of the Church? We considered every possible concept that we could come up with.
Then one of our great Social Service workers, who is a professional, sat in the meeting and he said, “I can tell you what the problem is. I attended Primary yesterday for the first time in thirteen years. I sat in the back row and looked. Over here was this little boy with this behavior problem and this girl with this behavior problem, and here is this little fellow with this problem.” He said, “You know, their behavior problems are already set before you get them in the Aaronic Priesthood. All you are trying to do when they come into the Aaronic Priesthood is remedy a need in Primary. I believe if ever in the history of the world we needed the best teachers, it is now! This is what I tell the stake presidents and bishops:
“Will you go out and get the stake presidents’ wives, the high councils’ wives, and the bishops’ wives and put them in Primary. Take the new converts and put them in Relief Society. It is a good organization for them.” You see what would happen if anyone got out of line in Relief Society. They would say, “Why, I believe you are mistaken.” These little children’s minds are like a sponge. If you tell them at Primary that next Thursday the Savior is going to come, you know what they do-they believe it. We had an experience I was personally acquainted with. Two sisters had the same age group in Primary. One day when they came out of their classes, the one said, “You didn’t teach that balony about temple marriage, did you?” The other one said, “What do you mean? That was one of the most beautiful lessons of the entire year.” The first person said, “Well, I don’t happen to believe all of that. I taught them a lesson out of the Reader’s Digest as a substitute.”
Why would we dare have teachers who are not priesthood oriented, who do not have the love and devotion to the Church, or who are not totally committed to the Church? Why do we have those kinds of teachers teaching these young minds who open up the way we described a minute ago? We need wonderful converted, endowed, priesthood-oriented men and women to teach these precious Primary Children.