Church leader reflects on personal struggles with restriction of the priesthood before 1978

Reflecting on his own conversion to the Church in 1983, Elder Fred A. Parker, an Area Seventy, said he, like many others, struggled to understand the restrictions on the priesthood that were in place prior to 1978.

"When I learned about the earlier restriction on blacks holding the priesthood, the missionaries could never satisfy me as to the reasons why," Elder Parker said in a recent Ensign article. "I couldn't understand it."

Elder Parker explained that he spent four years, between 1979 and 1983, investigating the Church, grappling with questions and feeling unsatisfied by the explanations and answers from others.

"In the end ... it wasn't a person who got me through my questions," he said. "My answer came through praying, studying and feeling the Spirit."

It was his choice to search diligently for answers and build a relationship with the Savior that Elder Parker credits for helping him find strength and healing in a continuing pattern throughout the years. Citing instances where he has felt hurt by the actions or words of others, Elder Parker stated that racism can be found everywhere, even within the Church community; but getting offended and leaving the Church is not the answer, he said.

"I've found that to overcome hurt, whatever the cause, our source of healing and conversion is Jesus Christ, and the Church is His means to bring us to Him through learning His gospel and participating in ordinances so that we can be healed," Elder Parker said.

Referencing the "Be One" celebration — hosted by the Church on June 1 in commemoration of the 1978 priesthood revelation which lifted the previous restrictions on Black members' holding the priesthood — Elder Parker said, "To be His people, we must be one in Christ."

Read the full article here.

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