[Editorial note: most of the below comes from either official minutes or diary narrations of formal Council meetings in the Temple. Follow links to read all of the entries. A church email account is needed to access the diary.]
Thursday, Additional. Pres. McKay had asked Marion G. Romney and me to administer the Sacrament, it being our Testimony-Fast day. After we completed, Pres. McKay said something like this: “I am sure the Lord is pleased with our program. I believe that this TWELVE is approved by the Savior as much as any he has ever had.
Quarterly meeting of the council of the Twelve. Our quarterly meeting was a delightful one, and each of us spoke at length. There is a sweet spirit of brotherliness, and I was reminded again of what President Smith reported to the Presidency of the Church recently that perhaps there had never been such unity in the Council of the Twelve as at the present time. Certainly there had never been greater unity.
In the minutes of the Council Meeting of the Presidency and the Council of the Twelve of March 5th, 1953, is this paragraph. We had just sung, prayer and had the Circle prayer, then the Sacrament when Pres. David O. McKay said: …
“Pres. McKay remarked: “I feel impressed to say, Brethren, that I feel the Lord, our Savior, is as pleased with the Twelve today as he was with the Eleven when He instituted the Sacrament just before His death. The Lord Bless you.”
Then President McKay said: “While we are in the circle, may I express to you my gratitude for the loyal support and love that these two devoted counselors give to the President. I assure you there is unity in the Quorum of the First Presidency. With all my soul, I ask the Lord to continue to bless them. I would like to express too, appreciation and gratitude for the loyalty that you give to the First Presidency, and the love that you manifest and to express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the rich outpouring of His holy spirit during the conference. Each one of you was magnified and inspired, with the result that while the Church and I may say a large portion of the United States was blessed as a result of that great conference. With all my heart, I say God bless you and continue to attend you.”
President McKay later said that he thought that uniformly we had the best messages ever given. The spirit that accompanied the remarks of the Brethren; the height of instruction; the applicability of the instructions were just the best that we have ever had.
Journal, circa. July 1, 1954. President McKay made the following statement in our Council meeting of the Presidency and the Twelve on July 1, 1954.
“I would like to say, Brethren, at the close of this half year’s work that you have the utmost, whole hearted confidence of the Presidency. I am sure I am speaking for my counselors when I say we commend you for the success you have achieved in your official visits among the members of the Church, in conferences and in special appointments. Besides the reports that you give here, we receive direct reports from presidencies of stakes, and not infrequently from members of wards; and without exception, you brethren have rendered a service to the people which is incalculable, and with all our hearts we say God bless you. May the vacation which is before you prove to be restful and upbuilding. We admonish you not to accept too many private invitations [to speak] that are coming to you daily, we know.
“Never before, I think, has our Church been in a more suitable attitude before the world to render effectively the message of the restoration of the gospel. The Christian sects are, shall I say, disintegrating. That is a little strong, but they sense their inadequacy to represent our Lord and Savior. In fact, they are not recognizing Him as the Savior of the world, and I thought this morning as we administered the Sacrament of the great responsibility that rests upon this group of men. Here, with our associates of the General Authorities, rests the responsibility of declaring to the world of the divine Sonship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. No other body in the world has the testimony, has the responsibility that we possess. It is mighty, but the Lord is with us, and as long as He is with us He will guide us. We hope to be able to discharge that responsibility acceptably before Him.
“I repeat, you have our love, our blessing and our utmost confidence. God bless you in your work.”
At the meeting this morning there seemed to be an especially sweet spirit. … President McKay spoke in the most tender and sweetest spirit of the unusual opportunity we had in the temple, how glorious it would be if rulers of nations and statesmen and demigods had the spirit that we have in the temple and could gather around an altar, and with only one single thought in mind—the building of the Kingdom of God—could pray and deliberate.
Special meeting of the Presidency and the Twelve.
President McKay announced that the matter he wished to present to the Brethren was the reorganization of the First Presidency. He said that it had been quite a task to face the reality that the Presidency would have to be reorganized; that the Brethren had all felt the loss of Brother Stephen L. Richards, his clear vision, sound judgment, loyalty to the truth and the Church, and the Brethren of the Council; but that he had been called home and this work is greater than any man or any set of men.
The President said: “The Savior is at the head of it and I think he has been with us as we have deliberated and presented to him the problems that we are facing and the need of his continual guidance. We believe that now we will present to you, with His approval, the names of the Brethren to complete the First Presidency.
The President thereupon presented Pres. J. Reuben Clark Jr. as First Counselor and Henry D. Moyle as the Second Counselor. Each of the two counselors spoke feelingly and humbly of their appointments.
[Temple meeting] President Clark paid glorious tribute to Pres. McKay and then President McKay expressed his affection for his counselors and for the Twelve and spoke in endearing and admiring terms of the brethren with whom he worked. He shed a few tears as he expressed the hope, the wish that all who were sour and apostate in their minds might feel the deep spiritual atmosphere of this room when this body of men were together.
President McKay expressed the sentiment that as we grow we have to meet these expanding conditions: that our duty is to organize stakes when the people are prepared for them; and our duty is to give them the necessary help. … He did not think we needed to hesitate to take steps to organize a stake in Amsterdam because of these conditions. He thought it was a serious thing to bring people into the Church and then deprive them of the privilege of service in the various organizations of the Church.
He further said: “The Lord is opening up the way so that it can be done. … The Lord is prospering the Church—I think we ought to go ahead with it. When we get up against a difficulty the Lord will remove it. He always has and always will.
In the minutes of November 17, 1960, which I read after I had returned last month, I found the following paragraph which pleased me so much I wished to put it in this journal:
President McKay said he felt impressed to say a word to the brethren in appreciation of their labors, speaking for the First Presidency. He addressed the brethren as follows:
“I think that the Quorum of the Twelve is setting an example to all the Church in efficiency and devotion and unity, spreading the gospel as the Council of the Twelve should. Personally, I wish to express appreciation and gratitude for your efforts, your interest, your capabilities, controlling the Church and putting it in order, and setting in proper order the branches, stakes, wards and missions of the Church. With all my heart I say, ‘God bless you.’ Never before, so far as I know, have we had a Quorum of Twelve Apostles and General Authorities of the Church who were more devoted in doing their work, and who were performing it more efficiently than the General Authorities of the Church at the present time. I want you to know that that is the feeling of the First Presidency towards this group especially, and your associates.”
The Prophet is so wonderful, his eyes light up and when he smiles, it fills your heart with gladness. He has such a great grasp of all of the many problems in the Church and is so kindly and so inspired. It was good to be with him.
The President was in good form in spite of his near-ninety years. His legs are shuffling a little and sometimes his words come with a little difficulty but in general, he does remarkably well and he is extremely alert mentally. He is a marvelous individual and has the traits and qualities of the Master in a large degree.
[Buenos Aires] We spent the evening in a more delightful experience in testimonies and music and a very inspiring evening. . . . The testimonies were warm and inspiring. Brother Finn Paulsen began. … President Paulsen said that President McKay had said emphatically, “The Lord wants these people, the Paulsens, in South Brazil.” Their testimonies were all delightful. I love these folks. When they bore their testimonies, I loved them more.
In our meeting last Thursday, President McKay, who is getting more feeble physically all the time, was with us. He opened the meeting after the Sacrament by saying, “I was just thinking now much better this world would be if all men would take an hour, just as we have done today, and think about the blessings of the Lord instead of thinking about interfering with other men’s work or seeking to take advantage of other men and just be relaxed. Just that one thing would make a difference in this old world. I appreciate the opportunity of contemplating these things because I know, as you know, that as a result of the contemplation, we bring ourselves into harmony and grow spiritually.”
Note: About a week ago, President McKay told President Brown, “I am going to live another five years, if necessary.” [He lives just a few months under that prophesied five years.]
This morning, I had a rare privilege. I called on President McKay at 8:00 in the morning, and in accordance with an appointment, and he was ready and very gracious. His smile is captivating. HE makes one feel that his greatest pleasure is to meet one, and that each one is very special. … I said to him, “President McKay, these Indian people have waited a long time for the gospel and have never received it.” And he said, “yes, they surely have.” And I said, “I think the time of the Lamanite has come for them to hear the gospel.” And he said, “Yes, it is time and they must hear it and your are the one of the Twelve who has the vision of it, and you are the one of the Council of the Twelve who should look after this work. You have my blessing.” I thanked him kindly and arose to go and when he attempted to get up, I urged that he remain seated and he said, “Why should I not get up?” And when I shook hands goodbye, he drew me to him and embraced me and said, “You go with my blessing.” This was a glorious experience—to be in his presence; to have his undivided attention; to have him consider with me our program for the Indian.
President David O. McKay came to our meeting this morning for two and one half hours; he seemed a little weaker physically than usual but very alert mentally. Some decisions he made this morning certainly were inspiration and revelation. We all felt it. I have great confidence in his spiritual vision.
It was a very pleasant day at the temple. President McKay came in at 10:00 with Brother Tanner. … After the sacrament, President McKay became somewhat emotional as he expressed his affection for the brethren, and his appreciation for their unanimity and faithfulness and brotherly love. … He shed a few tears as we sang and as he spoke to us of his affection for us, his brethren. He indicated two or three times that he felt that the other brethren with whom we had served through the years were very near and watching us in our work. He has now been an apostle for sixty years; President Smith for fifty-five years.
[Discussing whether to create “foreign stakes with Seventies quorums”]
I remember very well when I was appointed and the matter was decided here, that President McKay said something which impressed me very much. As we were deciding to make those stakes down there [in Australia and New Zealand], he said, “Brethren, that’s right—that is what the Lord wants.” That greatly impressed me. I may not be quoting exactly. I have felt good about the stakes in foreign lands since the President who has all the keys and authority has indicated that they should be established. …
Brother Romney said, “I was sitting by him at the table and we were having a luncheon and he turned to me and said, “Brother Romney, I feel that the lord wants you to organize a stake here, and I want you to stay here and organize a stake.” That was the first of the stakes south of the Equator. …
“Elder Romney then said, “That was what he said and I stayed there and he helped select the stake president. He told me who was to be put in that stake as president and left the rest of the organization to me and I organized it. … He told me sitting right beside me and he got the inspiration. He was President of the Church and it seems to me I have never had any doubt in my mind. I didn’t make up the decision.
Minutes of the meeting of the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve convened in the Salt Lake Temple on Thursday, December 1, 1966, at 10 o’clock a.m.
Remarks by President David O. McKay: This is the most auspicious time of our lives to meet in the upper room of the Temple and partake of the Lord’s sacrament, renewing our covenants in the presence of one another. We are now in the presence of the most precious group of men in all the world, men who in the presence of one another acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior, the most precious group of men in the world. No other group of men in all the world can come nearer the presence of our Lord and Sacior, and in that brotherhood we bear witness that no other being, person, may receive the united sustenance and brotherhood that we have recognized this morning. No other group of men in all the world are entitled ot the brotherhood of one another and of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, as is illustrated in this brotherhood today.
I wish to express my thanks to our Heavenly Father and his Son for this manifestation this morning. No other group in all the world can offer this manifestation in gratitude, partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, covenanting with one another that we esteem that brotherhood by partaking of the sacrament under these auspicious circumstances, this expression of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who whom we give obedience and testify of his divinity. O Lord, accept our gratitude this morning, in the truest sense for our beloved Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I testify to you brethren in his name that I appreciate as never before our fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. Brethren, I appreciate as never before the value of our brotherhood through Jesus Christ. May this manifestation of divine brotherhood be cherished and held sacred by this group and those who are absent on assigned duty, and the value of this brotherhood be esteemed through Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, I pray with all my soul in his name. Amen.
President McKay said: We have never been nearer to our Lord than we are this morning. I think the brotherhood of this group has never been dearer than it is this morning. I love you. I am sure the Lord is with us and will always be with us. This group of men are more precious than any other group of men that has ever occupied the Twelve. God bless you all and your loved ones, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The President was there and expressed his love for the brethren and said, among other things, “You don’t know how noble you are and how grateful I am to be with you.”