Feast upon the Word Blog

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Aaronic Priesthood Lesson 4: Gathering Fast Offerings

Posted by NathanG on January 27, 2009

I am now teaching Aaronic Priesthood lessons, kind of.  For the time being I teach the deacons, but we haven’t had any deacons present for a few weeks.  I was looking at this lesson and wasn’t sure how I would teach it, and then I wasn’t sure I understood the doctrine very well.  Here’s some questions that hopefully someone has some thoughts on.

What are the deacons to learn from a lesson that focuses solely on how to gather fast offerings, when fast offerings have not been collected by the deacons for years in the ward?  The ward that I am in covers several towns and the land area is probably equivalent to about 12-15 stakes where I grew up in Idaho.  It isn’t very practical for our few young men to gather fast offerings.  It is very practical for people to pay their fast offerings the same way as they pay tithing.  Again, what is the lesson that should be taught to deacons who don’t gather fast offerings?

As I thought about the above question, I wondered what the scriptural basis of gathering fast offerings was.  I found absolutely nothing about deacons gathering fast offerings.

While I was looking for that answer, I realized another thing, I couldn’t find much about the duties of a deacon in the scriptures.  D&C 20 says as much about what  a deacon can’t do, as what he can do.  I couldn’t find anything about passing the sacrament.  When I was a deacon, the two duties that I had were to pass the sacrament and gather fast offerings.  (I would be happy for somebody to just show me what I have been overlooking.)

My best solution to these questions is that the duty of the deacon is to be called upon to assist any other priesthood office as the occasion demands.  The bishop is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and is responsible for the administering of temporal things  and the sacrament.  The assignment of passing the sacrament and collecting fast offerings is entailed in assisting other priesthood bearers and has traditionally become the duty of the deacon by virtue of delegation from the bishop.  The need for deacons to gather fast offerings was definitely different back when goods and commodities were given rather than cash.  Now it’s just tradition.

What is the difference between tithing and fast offerings from a priesthood standpoint?  Tithing is to be given to the bishop or his counselors.  Fast offerings can be collected by deacons (although we don’t just give our fast offerings to a deacon, they were given an assignment to collect certain people’s offerings).  Does this teach any particular difference between the two offerings?

4 Responses to “Aaronic Priesthood Lesson 4: Gathering Fast Offerings”

  1. Fraser said

    I don’t have any testimony of deacons collecting fast offerings either, and look forward to hearing some doctrine on it :-) (Preferably from someone outside of UT/ID where its not just a matter of walking around the block!)

    As for the duties of a Deacon, the other thing is that the Aaronic Priesthood is a preparatory priesthood, so the Deacons’ should be learning to work as a quorum, if only in planning and running activities, service projects and fellowshipping/training each other, and quorum less-actives.

    Oh, and as teacher, you’re always entitled to inspiration to teach a different topic, aren’t you? ;-)

  2. anothernonymous said

    I had this lesson assignment last Sunday. I taught something completely different. I find that almost every other lesson I teach in Aaronic Priesthood quorums (I teach 1-2 times a month), I have followed the Spirit which led me to a completely different topic better suited to the needs of our boys versus the topic assigned in the manual.

    Take for instance the fast offerings lesson. The Church website has suggestions to bring it up to date with recent conference addresses from Church leaders who are still alive (Pres. Kimball seems to be the most oft-quoted in the manual), but the material suggested had only a strained correlation to the actual practice of deacons collecting fast offerings, which is hardly a common practice anymore (the quorum of my youth never did this either). It seemed to me that the intended purpose for carting deacons around to knock on doors collecting fast offerings is to give them experience in preparation of mission service; if so, I wish the manual would state this explicitly. Now (2009), the practice of deacons collecting fast offerings, in which youth and adults are asked to refrain from one-to-one groupings, would be a logistical nightmare and poor use of resources, save for instances where parents are willing to accept the responsibility to take their boys on the assigned route. I assume under the same circumstances that Teachers in the Aaronic Priesthood can no longer have a home-teaching companion other than their father or other blood relation.

    Oh and don’t forget the other common duty assigned to a deacon is that of Bishop’s messenger during Sacrament Meeting.

  3. anon said

    In the West Jordan (south-west of SLC) Welby Stake the boys are now required to collect Fast Offerings TWO weeks in a row – the second week they visit the houses of those that didn’t answer the door the previous (fast sunday) week.

  4. YM President said

    I am a YM President in England and next month the YM will start collecting fast offerings for the first time in years in our ward.

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