LDS Church to welcome Gladys Knight, Alex Boyé for celebration of blacks and the priesthood

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SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church will welcome seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight and British-American singer Alex Boyé to a 40th anniversary celebration honoring blacks and the church's revelation on the priesthood on June 1, according to a church news release.

The celebration — called “Be One” — will include a message from the First Presidency of the LDS Church, as well as stories of faith from church members around the globe. Music will be provided by Knight, Boyé, the Unity Gospel Choir International, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Bonner family — eight siblings and their parents who previously worked as Baptist ministers in Africa before converting to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Knight, often recognized as the “Empress of Soul,” is best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and ‘70s with her group, Gladys Knight & the Pips. She became a member of the LDS Church in 1997, following her son and daughter.

Boyé sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from 2007 to 2014, becoming one of three black choir members at the time. He has since released several singles and albums covering popular music infused with African tones.

Gladys and Boyé will sing at a celebration to honor the 40th anniversary of the day LDS faithful believe then-prophet Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation from God that declared the "opportunity to receive all the blessings of the priesthood would be extended to all of God's children everywhere in the world," according to the news release.

Though a few black members received the priesthood during the early days of the church, church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent soon after, according to the church’s website,

“Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance,” the church’s website says.

Then-President Kimball received the revelation June 1, 1978, that ended race restrictions on priesthood authority, the LDS Church said.

The celebration of the revelation’s anniversary is a time to “renew our commitment to ‘be one,’” the church’s statement reads. In LDS scripture, Jesus Christ teaches “be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

“We need to embrace God’s children compassionately and eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism and nationalism. Let it be said that we truly believe the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are for every child of God,” LDS apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard said in the news release.

Tickets to “Be One” are free and can be reserved here. The program will also be broadcast live online and available on-demand after the live event.

Those interested can find more information about the event and the history behind it at


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