I recently took a camping trip with my sons as part of a yearly tradition within my Church that includes a fireside program with skits, spiritual thoughts and testimonies. This event not only helps fathers and sons develop lasting bonds with each other, but also reminds us of the restoration of priesthood authority in this dispensation.
In the LDS Church we define priesthood as the power and authority of God delegated to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mam” (Moses 1:39). Because this authority was lost after the death of Jesus Christ and His Apostles the authority of God to organize His Church and perform ordinances of salvation had to be restored. Joseph Smith was the first, through heavenly messengers, to have the priesthood restored to him; allowing him to re-organize Christ’s true Church once again on this earth.
On May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went into the woods along the Susquehanna River to pray in hopes of learning how they could obtain the blessing of baptism. John the Baptist, the same mentioned in the New Testament, laid his hands upon Joseph and Oliver and conferred the Priesthood upon them. John then directed Joseph to baptize Oliver, and Oliver to then baptize Joseph, after which they were filled with the spirit of prophecy and predicted many things to happen in the near future.
Near the end of the month Joseph and Oliver were visited by Peter, James, and John, again on the banks of the Susquehanna River, who conferred upon Joseph and Oliver additional priesthood authority, and the keys of the apostleship. Joseph and Oliver now had the authority to act as legal agents for the Lord in building the kingdom of God upon the earth.