Russell Dewey Ritchie's father was born into slavery and later converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1909, when Russell was 11, his father was denied priesthood ordination and temple admission. Russell was not ordained to the LDS lay priesthood as a teenager but he was as an adult. He became a deacon in 1970, at age 71.

VIDEO: Struggling with the History of Race and the Priesthood | His Grace | Danor Gerald



Danor acknowledges certain challenges of race and priesthood that young Black men face when joining the Church. In a private and personal way, he learned that not all past issues need justification if you know the reality of God.


One day early in his investigation into the Church, he told a friend that what the missionaries were teaching felt right to him. He felt something whispering to him that this was what he was looking for. He later learned about the Holy Ghost and was baptized and confirmed.


He soon heard criticisms over past priesthood issues and was shocked. Wondering about the reasoning, he prayed to understand. Seeking the Lord’s voice, he wondered, “Am I not good enough [to hear]?”


In time, “I did hear His voice,” he said. “It was the most beautiful, soft, amazing thing.” To verify what he heard, he asked again. “Yes, my son,” he heard in response.


“I know I’m a son of God, and I know He loves me more than I can stand,” he said. “I don’t need justification for the past. … All I want is a personal relationship [with God].”


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