During the last inter-Conference period I have given continuing consideration to the condition of the councils and quorums and orders of the church. This has been done hoping that I would receive light on matters of grave importance to the future of the church. In this I have sought earnestly for divine guidance and also that I might have wisdom to rightly conduct the affairs entrusted into my care. This has been done through personal meditation and prayer.
On one of these occasions after retiring I was awakened and made aware that I would again have the responsibility of communicating the will of the Lord to his people.
Believing that such inspiration and direction have been given me, I present the following as the word of the Lord to us and ask the consideration and action of the members of the Conference upon the matters thus presented.
To the Councils and Quorums and Orders of the Church and to the General Conference:
My servant F. Henry Edwards has served my church long and well in the capacity of a missionary elder, an apostle and, with his apostleship being extended in presidency, as a counselor to the President of the High Priesthood and the church. He is now honorably released from the Presidency and from the heavy responsibilities which he has borne nobly and well. Thus relieved of presiding he should find satisfaction in pursuing his talents of writing and teaching without the heavy administrative requirements which have been placed upon him in recent years. As a high priest he is free to minister through his apostolic witness to the church as his health and circumstances permit and opportunities develop.
To fill the vacancy thus created Duane E. Couey is called from the ranks of the Council of Twelve to become a member of the Quorum of the First Presidency and a counselor to the President of the High Priesthood and the church. In this capacity his apostolic witness is extended in presidency and his ordination should take place as soon as practicable.
The following changes in the personnel of the Council of Twelve are presented after careful and prayerful consideration and with the confirmation of the spirit of inspiration:
My servants D. Blair Jensen and Percy E. Farrow have each made a significant contribution to my work through their ministry in many fields of labor. The last twenty years of Apostle Jensen’s ministry have been given as a member of the Council of Twelve. Apostle Farrow has served as a seventy, President of Seventy, and for the past eighteen years as a member of the Council of Twelve. The time has come when they should be honorably released from the council and be left free to serve as high priests in those fields of ministry which later may be designated for them by the appropriate councils and quorums involved.
To fill the places thus left vacant by the brethren relieved of their responsibility in the Council of Twelve, Earl T. Higdon, Alan D. Tyree, and Aleah G. Koury are called to be apostles in my church. They should be ordained as special witnesses as soon as practicable and be given assignments commensurate with their abilities and devotion.
I have also given the matter of the reorganization of the Presiding Bishopric a great deal of careful and prayerful consideration.
My servant G. Leslie DeLapp, having given service to the church over a long period of time in the capacity of Presiding Bishop, should be honorably released from the onerous responsibilities he has been carrying, though he may act as a traveling bishop and in other capacities, counseling and advising on the law of temporalities in relation to spiritual purposes in harmony with his successor and the First Presidency. He has served the church and his fellowmen with a high degree of skill, evident devotion, great distinction, and at times with a great deal of personal sacrifice on the part of himself and family. He is commended for his good work.
Henry L. Livingston should be relieved of his responsibilities as a counselor to the Presiding Bishop. My servant has given many years of service to my Cause through the church in a variety of capacities and places, in all of which he has performed nobly. I commend him for the kindness and goodness which he displays in so many ways. He is called and, if willing, should be ordained to the office of patriarch to act as a spiritual father to the Saints.
Walter N. Johnson should be chosen and ordained as Presiding Bishop to serve in this capacity for a time.
To assist him as counselors and to serve as members of the Presiding Bishopric my servants Francis E. Hansen and Harold W. Cackler are called and should be ordained and set apart in their places.
The spirit of the Lord prompts me to say further:
A. The hastening time is at hand when the principles of stewardship, accounting, and Zionic procedures must be applied more fully than hitherto. This should be done with care to avoid the appearance of a desire by the Saints to take what does not rightly belong to them. But if they will move with assurance under the direction of those who are knowledgeable, capable, and dedicated, my purposes can be achieved more fully even now.
B. In this the Presidency, Twelve, and Bishopric each has a part to play according to their several callings. But others of my priesthood who are prepared are also to be enlisted so that their skills may be applied to the work which is entrusted to all.
A. To more fully effect the unity of my church, the Presidency and Council of Twelve should be associated more closely in their mutual endeavors. The members of the Council of Twelve are commended for their desire to work diligently to accomplish my purposes.
B. They should continue to exercise their calling as the “second presidency” in harmony with their primary responsibility in new fields. As such second presidency, the council should share with the First Presidency in reviewing and determining policies of church administration, but at the same time should recognize that the burden of the care of the church is laid upon him who is called to preside over the high priesthood of the church and on those who are called to be his counselors.
C. As the members of the Council of Twelve withdraw from detailed administration in organized areas, responsibility to carry on the work in stakes and regions will fall more heavily upon those who have been chosen for this purpose. Their work is necessary and they should be honored in their places, each working with each to perfect my kingdom.
D. Thus freed from detailed administrative duties, the Council of Twelve can give more attention to their primary work of pushing the work into new fields at home and abroad. To this the Council should give major attention even though some apostles may be assigned to general supervision of the work in organized areas and to church-wide functions.
E. In this manner the power of the testimonies of those who are called as special witnesses in my church will add spiritual depth and meaning to my work, both in reviewing and determining principles and procedures in spiritual and temporal realms and in redemptive evangelism at home and abroad.
Your servant in Christ,
W. Wallace Smith
President of the Church
April 18, 1966