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Mormons to mark 30 years of blacks in priesthood

Latter-day Saints will mark the 30th anniversary Sunday with an evening celebration of words and music in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle.

Heralded as a revelation from God to church President Spencer W. Kimball, the four-paragraph statement gave blacks full membership in the church for the first time after nearly 130 years.

Some say it was the most significant change in church policy since Mormons abandoned polygamy in 1890 to gain statehood for Utah.

Unlike other religions, the Mormon priesthood is not a set of trained clerics. It is a lay status granted to virtually every Mormon male at age 12, allowing them to bestow blessings and hold certain church callings.

Until 1978, black men could attend priesthood meetings but could not pass sacraments or give blessings, even on their own families. They could not enter Mormon temples for sacred ceremonies, including marriage.

“It left you on the outside,” said Darius A. Gray, who is black and joined the church as a young man in 1964. … Mormons to mark 30 years of blacks in priesthood – 06/07/2008 – MiamiHerald.com