The Real Elder Price
The Real Elder Price, Part 6: The Dedication
Of course, the article is imbued with the prejudice of its time and the concepts that undergirded colonialism, but the Mormon view of ever-increasing light and progress is unmistakably present, as is the understanding that all mankind comprise the "human family."
It also responds to the fictional Elder Price's singing "I believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people." No, the principle that "all are alike unto God" is eternal. God has never changed His mind about that, regardless of what any mortal has said.
And so Elder Holland dedicated the land of Cameroon for the preaching of the gospel. I'll let the missionaries describe the events in their own words:
Elder Henry Lisowski: It turned out we would NOT be able to go to the dedication after all. So, we eight missionaries sat silently at 7:30 in the morning, looking out toward the mountains, and waiting as our country was dedicated. There was no parting of clouds, no brilliant rays of sunshine frying the wicked, and no falling fireballs. But it was still pretty cool.
|Elder Jeffrey Holland on Dedication Hill|
Elder Jared Wigginton: We heard of the power of the Spirit that was present [at the dedication]. Elder Holland's prayer compared the missionary work to the rock upon which it was given in the hill—a rock of Christ with the potential to roll and grow beyond measure. He put to shame with Apostolic authority that Africans were 'fence sitters' in the pre-existence and admitted that the reason for the Priesthood restriction is still not known today. He edified us. I understand so much more clearly why I am serving.
Elder Chiloba Chirwa: We shook the hand of Elder Holland. I will never forget the experience of today. He pronounced a blessing upon all the people of this country, and I know that everything he said in his dedicatory prayer will be fulfilled. I am still trying to compose myself. What a privilege it was to gaze into those piercing blue eyes and listen to his apostolic voice.
Elder Kendell Coburn: We had the wonderful opportunity to have a zone conference with Elder Holland. The most powerful thing he did was to bear testimony of the Savior. His apostolic testimony was one of the most powerful moments of my life. My joy is full. I am overflowing with happiness and peace. And I am so grateful to be a missionary here in Africa.
Elder Seth Lee: We got the opportunity to meet Elder Holland personally and be taught by him. His message to us focused on three important things: focusing on the scriptures to teach the doctrines; enjoying our time on our missions; and his personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Church and the divinity of what we are doing in Cameroon. I love that man, and now I've got a new favorite quote from an Apostle. He said, "A boy becomes a man when he has served in Cameroon!
|Missionaries on Dedication Hill|
Margaret Blair Young is the president of the Association for Mormon Letters and has published eight books—six novels and two short story collections. Three of the novels were co-authored with Darius Gray and give the history (documented) of Black Latter-day Saints. She and Gray made the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, which is currently under contract with the Documentary Channel and showing nationally. She has written six encyclopedia articles and other scholarly papers on Blacks in the western United States, and particularly Black Mormons. She teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.