Topic Study: Unity

(March, 2002 See also Body, Sanctity of: Be One, TG Entry: Unity)


Perhaps one of our best examples of Unity is how the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles functions.

I             Unity within the Quorum of the 12 Apostles

We can learn a great deal about how the Quorum of the Twelve interacts with each other.

I.A            Unity in the Leading Councils

There is unity in the First Presidency of the Church. There is unity between the Presidency and the Twelve, perfect unity. There is unity among the members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric. I am somewhat familiar with the history of this Church, and I do not hesitate to say that there has never been greater unity in its leading councils and the relationships of those councils one to another, than there is today.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Special Witnesses for Christ,” Ensign, May 1984, 51

I.B            Diversity

I love my Brethren. To a man they are loyal. They are supportive. Without hesitation they respond to every call regardless of personal convenience. They are true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now again, when these two are ordained and set apart, the quorum will be full. Two remarkable and wonderful men were lost with the passing of Elder LeGrand Richards and Elder Mark E. Petersen. Two remarkable and wonderful men have been called to take their places, called under the direction of the Lord, and sustained by the faith of the membership of the Church.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Special Witnesses for Christ,” Ensign, May 1984, 51

Have you ever studied the professions prior to becoming members of the Quorum of the Twelve?  They come from very different backgrounds.  In 2003, the oldest member of the Quorum of Twelve was Elder Haight.  He was born in 1906.  The youngest was Elder Holland.  He was born in 1940.  That is a difference of 34 years.  When I studied this I was 38, and I realized it would be like me having a friend that was 4 years old.

These men a very different from each other, and yet they have a real spirit of unity.  What could create that?

I.C            Seniority

The members of the Quorum of the 12 are very careful about the order of seniority, in terms of how long those individuals have been members of the Quorum of the 12.  This was done even in olden times.

2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

John 20:2 – 6

Even members of the Quorum today show the same respect to one another.

In contrast, seniority is honored among ordained Apostles—even when entering or leaving a room. President Benson related to us this account:

 “Some [years] ago Elder Haight extended a special courtesy to President Romney while they were in the upper room in the temple. President Romney was lingering behind for some reason, and [Elder Haight] did not want to precede him out the door. When President Romney signaled [for him] to go first, Elder Haight replied, ‘No, President, you go first.’

 “President Romney replied with his humor, ‘What’s the matter, David? Are you afraid I’m going to steal something?’ ” 9

Such deference from a junior to a senior Apostle is recorded in the New Testament. When Simon Peter and John the Beloved ran to investigate the report that the body of their crucified Lord had been taken from the sepulchre, John, being younger and swifter, arrived first, yet he did not enter. He deferred to the senior Apostle, who entered the sepulchre first. (See John 20:2–6.) Seniority in the apostleship has long been a means by which the Lord selects His presiding High Priest.

Russell M. Nelson, “Honoring the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1993, 40

I.D            True Brotherhood

Listen to this story about the members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve…are truly men who are striving to be pure in heart. A spirit of righteousness, love, and unity abounds in their quorum meetings.

The Twelve love President Hunter, and President Howard W. Hunter loves the Twelve. President Hunter’s gentle, persuasive leadership invites the Spirit of the Lord into all of their meetings. I hope President Hunter will forgive me for relating an experience which portrayed to me the great love the Twelve have for each other, which love brings the Holy Spirit into their quorum meetings.

Many will remember a number of years ago President Hunter was informed that he would not walk again. However, his faith and determination were greater than that message. Daily, without fanfare and the knowledge of others, he went through some very strenuous physical therapy exercises with [page 29] determination, faith, and the vision that he would walk again. During those difficult months, his Brethren of the Twelve were praying for him daily in their quorum meetings and in their private prayers.

Months later, on a Thursday morning, I went to President Hunter’s office to discuss an agenda item for the temple meeting that morning. I found he left early and was informed that he was walking to the temple. I questioned that information and then hurried to catch up with him. When I caught up with him, he was walking with the help of a walker. We walked together to the elevator and then up to the fourth floor. We went down the hall to the upper room of the temple. When their president walked into that room, the Twelve stood and began to clap their hands. They tenderly watched him walk over to his chair and let his body down into the chair. Then with magnificent love, honor, and tenderness, each of the Twelve went up to him and extended to him an affectionate touch, kiss on the forehead, and a hug, showing their great love and admiration for him. They all sat down, and President Hunter thanked them and said, “I was not supposed to walk again, but with the Lord’s help and my determination and, most important, the faith of my Brethren of the Twelve, I am walking again.” President Howard W. Hunter is an example of maintaining faith and determination in the face of adversity. The Twelve are examples of maintaining faith and prayer in behalf of those who are experiencing adversity.

Rulon G. Craven, “Prophets,” Ensign, May 1991, 28-29

I.E            Unanimous Decisions

Why is all this unity so important?

27 And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—

28 A majority may form a quorum when circumstances render it impossible to be otherwise—

29 Unless this is the case, their decisions are not entitled to the same blessings which the decisions of a quorum of three presidents were anciently, who were ordained after the order of Melchizedek, and were righteous and holy men.

30 The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;

31 Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.

D&C 107:27 – 31

In some legislative assemblies of the world, there are some groups termed the “loyal opposition.” I find no such principle in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior gave us this solemn warning: “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). The Lord made it clear that in the presiding quorums every decision “must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every [page 38] member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions” (D&C 107:27). This means that after frank and open discussion decisions are reached in council under the direction of the presiding officer, who has the ultimate authority to decide. That decision is then sustained, because our unity comes from full agreement with righteous principles and general response to the operation of the Spirit of God.  (James E. Faust, “Keeping Covenants and Honoring the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 38)

I.F            Welcome

As new members are welcomed into the quorum, the President of the Quorum welcomes these new members.  (Elder Holland talked about this one time, but I cannot find the quote).

II            Liken To Ourselves

Listen to what the Lord said to us.

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.

25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.

27….  I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:24-25, 27

Each of us is very different from other members, either in our quorums or classes.  We would do well to follow the example of the Quorum of the Twelve in the way we treat other members of our classes or quorums.

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