Following his ordination in June 1978, Joseph Freeman became an instant celebrity. He was asked to be interviewed on prominent news networks and was a much sought-after speaker in Utah. What was it like to be such a sought after speaker?
Joseph: Well, one of the things that, for me, having been a young minister, I was used to speaking. So, people began asking me to speak more and more. I was speaking no more than anybody else in the Church, in the beginning. But suddenly, I was speaking at least three times a week, and sometimes three times a day. My wife and I and the children, we were just traveling every weekend. We would spend all day Sunday going someplace speaking. In those days, the church, you had a morning meeting, and then you’d come back in the afternoon. Then you might have a fireside after that. So, most Sundays would be that way. I would speak somewhere in the morning, or speak at a sacrament meeting, and then do a fireside. [I would speak] at least two firesides almost every weekend. Then sometimes in the middle of the week, I would speak to a youth group. Our life was just busy like that. Then, my Bishop called me. He had been put in the stake presidency. Later, he became the patriarch in the stake. He said that the general authority, and I don’t know which one that had set him apart, said to him, he asked him, somebody told the general authority that Bishop Swain was my Bishop, and he had ordained the first black that received the priesthood. Then, that general authority said, “Well, how is Brother Freeman doing?” The bishop says, “Well, I don’t know. He’s so busy speaking and traveling.” He said, “Well tell him to slow down and become busy in his own ward, and just be like everybody else, so that he can grow in the Church and the Church then can utilize him.” So, the bishop called me up immediately and told me. I then immediately called. I had appointments six months ahead. So I called all of these people and told them, I needed to slow down and only speak once a month. So, that’s what the calendar became. Even today, I try not to do more than that. But I’m not speaking as much like I used to.
GT: It finally calmed down.
Joseph: Yes, that’s right. But it was an exciting time, and not something to brag about, but to rejoice about. I rejoice in knowing that God had saw me, a little nobody and that he’d blessed me to receive the priesthood. It didn’t matter whether I was the first or 151st, it just mattered that I had the priesthood. It’s the same way today, I’m just grateful to hold the priesthood.
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Don’t miss our previous episodes with Joseph.