“The Dawning of a Brighter Day”

 

The Bern Switzerland Temple
of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints (in Zollikofen b. Bern)

 

I have no idea how I failed to note the fact that yesterday marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the revelation that granted the right of ordination to the priesthood to all worthy males.

 

Perhaps it was because, as I’ll explain below, I didn’t actually hear the news until 11 June.  In any case, the day I received the news was one of the happiest of my life.

 

1978 had already been a very good year.  I had spent pretty much the first half of it in Israel, with forays into Egypt, Jordan, and Greece.  In less than three months, I would marry my fiancé.  Then, after a brief honeymoon, we would head off to Egypt, where I would pursue further studies.

 

On the morning of 11 June, I was attending church services in Zollikofen, Switzerland, next door to the temple there.  I had been volunteering in the temple on my way back from Jerusalem and was about to go to London and, from there, home to the United States.

 

In the background, the Aba Nigeria Temple of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(dedicated AD 2005)

 

In the opening announcements, the man conducting the services indicated that there were rumors — this was long before the days of easy internet communication, and even international phone calls were still problematic — that an announcement had been made regarding the restriction on ordaining blacks to the priesthood.  It was possible, though uncertain, that the restriction had been altogether lifted.  He had, I believe, heard something on the radio.

 

I immediately made my way to the Zollikofen train station and rode to the Bern Hauptbahnhof in order to look through the newspapers there.  I found a brief article in the International Herald Tribune indicating that President Spencer W. Kimball had opened the LDS priesthood to blacks.  I still thought, though, that something must have become garbled in the account.  The priesthood restriction had been such a painful issue for so very long that I couldn’t imagine that the pain had so suddenly been lifted.  I was hopeful, but still not sure.  It seemed too good to be true.

 

It wasn’t until later that afternoon — I stuck around the temple grounds, hoping for news — that the president of the temple could report that the rumor had been confirmed to him by a phone call from somebody in Salt Lake City.

 

I floated.  I glowed.  I could scarcely keep from singing for the rest of that day, and for quite a few days thereafter.

 

And this video still makes me glow and brings tears to my eyes.

 

Here are the words, for those who might be unfamiliar with them, to the Mormon Pioneer hymn that very appropriately plays behind the video:

 

Come, come, ye saints. No toil nor labor fear,
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
‘Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell –
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake.
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell –
All is well! All is well!

We’ll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid.
There the Saints will be blessed.
We’ll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King.
Above the rest these words we’ll tell:
All is well! All is well!

And, should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell:
All is well! All is well!

 

 


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