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John Wesley Harmon - Black Saints History


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As it is black history month I thought it would be good to highlight a pioneer in early church history, John Wesley Harmon.  I used to minister to a ward in Camden, NJ many years ago so this is special to me.

A few highlights from his life:  (See https://exhibits.lib.utah.edu/s/century-of-black-mormons/page/harmon-john-wesley-jr)

June 15, 1900, at the age of nineteen, Wesley was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Camden, New Jersey, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  He wrote his testimony which was published in the Liahona Elder's journal.  Liahona Elder's Journal 1909 vol6, no1, pg19×

"He wrote: “I wish to add my testimony to those of the scattered Saints throughout the land. I was baptized [June] 15, 1900, since which time the blessing of the Lord has rested upon me in such a degree that I know the work is of God. Spread this fact to all the world: ‘Mormonism’ is Truth!”

In 1912 he asked the president of the Eastern states mission Ben E. Rich about priesthood ordination.  President Rich forwarded his correspondence to the office of the first presidency in Salt Lake city. 

Here is a scanned transcript of the reply from the First Presidency, First Presidency letter to Ben E. Rich, regarding J. Wesley Harmon, 1912

A few excerpts:  "Salvation is not confined to people of one family or race"  God is no respecter of persons Romans 2, "Now does this imply that every individual is to have the opportunity to become a priest, a king, a ruler?  Not at all!"

"My house is a house of order, saith the Lord, One of the principles of that order is that persons of the negro race may not be ordained to the Priesthood, but they may and do receive the blessings of salvation in time and eternity, which imply glory, honor, everlasting progress and position for which they are prepared and which are beyond human power to describe, but it must be evident to every clear thinker that every soul receiving salvation cannot be endowed with the power and authority of "kings and priests unto God and His Christ," or where would be the people to constitute the kingdoms, and the conditions needing ministration and regulation for the maintenance of that order prevails in the Kingdom of the Father."

His biography says that he may have attended meetings at the home of Reed Smoot (United States senator from Utah)

He graduated from Howard University became a reverend or chaplain and owned a grocery store.

Edited by blueglass
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52 minutes ago, blueglass said:

it must be evident to every clear thinker that every soul receiving salvation cannot be endowed with the power and authority of "kings and priests unto God and His Christ," or where would be the people to constitute the kingdoms, and the conditions needing ministration

Yes, what would heaven be without inequality and caste systems? What a wretched vision of priesthood.

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9 hours ago, Nevo said:

Yes, what would heaven be without inequality and caste systems? What a wretched vision of priesthood.

English feudal maybe?

Understandable given how scriptures and prophets use monarchical terms so extensively, but I am hoping it is a lacking transmission (our mortal minds can’t conceive of what these mortal words are meant to be analogous to in the heavens) choice and the use of unity terms, of being one is closer to the celestial reality.

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From the footnotes:

Quote

[28] John Wesley Harmon Jr., FindAGrave.com. In 1976, Harmon was ordained to the LDS priesthood by proxy and received proxy temple rituals in the Los Angeles California Temple. See John Wesley Harmon Jr. (K63L-68Y), ordinance records at FamilySearch.org, accessed 16 December 2020.

1976.  Two years before OD-2.

I believe much of the Millennium will be spent working out and correcting the oversights and errors of what has come before, such that the Atonement can be manifested in all its power.  As Brigham Young put it:

Quote

“In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God [see Revelation 3:12], and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. … And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then [children] will be sealed to [parents] until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 333–34).

This sounds wonderful.  I believe those who were wronged and/or neglected in this life, like Bro. Harmon, now have a greater perspective than what was available to them in this life, and such persons they will forgive the trespasses and shortcomings of those who erred or transgressed against them.

Thanks,

-Smac

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