Who is supposed to take the lead of meetings?


The day after general conference, I began looking over the scriptures that speak of priesthood offices and duties and new thoughts came to mind, some of which I am publishing here.

D&C 20:38-45 describes the calling and duties of an elder:

The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; and to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; and to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost; and to take the lead of all meetings.

The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.

So, “an elder” is “to take the lead of all meetings.”

Which elder takes the lead?

The presiding elder.

And which elder is the presiding elder?

The elders’ quorum president is the presiding elder.

Deacons

A congregation has a quorum of elders and deacons, with presidencies for both, all present in a meeting.

Who takes the lead?

The elders’ quorum president, per D&C 20:44.

And to take the lead of all meetings.  (D&C 20:44)

Teachers

A congregation has a quorum of elders, deacons and teachers, with presidencies for each, all present in a meeting.

Who takes the lead?

The elders’ quorum president, per D&C 20:44.

If all the elders go missing, who then takes the lead?

The teachers’ quorum president, per D&C 20:56.

And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—  (D&C 20:56)

Priests

A congregation has a quorum of elders, deacons, teachers and priests, with presidencies for each, all present in a meeting.

Who takes the lead?

The elders’ quorum president, per D&C 20:44.

If all the elders go missing, who then takes the lead?

The priests’ quorum president, per D&C 20:49.

And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;  (D&C 20:49)

If all the elders and priests go missing, who then takes the lead?

The teachers’ quorum president, per D&C 20:56.

Priests’ quorum president!? What’s that?

That’s a presidency formed of three priests, one priest presiding and two priests as his counselors, just as the elders’, teachers’ and deacons’ quorums are all set up:

Verily, I say unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts, there must needs be presiding elders to preside over those who are of the office of an elder; and also priests to preside over those who are of the office of a priest; and also teachers to preside over those who are of the office of a teacher, in like manner, and also the deacons—wherefore, from deacon to teacher, and from teacher to priest, and from priest to elder, severally as they are appointed, according to the covenants and commandments of the church.  (D&C 107:60-63)

Continuing on…

The bishopric

A congregation has a quorum of elders, deacons, teachers and priests, with presidencies for each, all present in a meeting. Additionally, the bishopric also attends.

Who takes the lead?

The elders’ quorum president, per D&C 20:44.

If all the elders go missing, who then takes the lead?

The priests’ quorum president, per D&C 20:49.

If all the elders and priests go missing, who then takes the lead?

The teachers’ quorum president, per D&C 20:56.

Wait! Isn’t the bishop supposed to take the lead?

Nope. All bishops in the church are high priests who have been called, ordained and set apart as bishops. They function in the capacity of a bishop, not as a high priest. Their jurisdiction, while holding this calling, is that of a bishop. A bishop’s jurisdiction is over the Priesthood of Aaron in a ward, which includes presiding over the priests:

Also the duty of the president over the Priesthood of Aaron is to preside over forty-eight priests, and sit in council with them, to teach them the duties of their office, as is given in the covenants—this president is to be a bishop; for this is one of the duties of this priesthood. (D&C 107:87-88)

The office of a bishop pertains to both the higher or Melchizedek priesthood, being an appendage of it, and also to the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, presiding over it:

And again, the offices of elder and bishop are necessary appendages belonging unto the high priesthood.

And again, the offices of teacher and deacon are necessary appendages belonging to the lesser priesthood, which priesthood was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons. (D&C 84:29-30)

If we were to show this vertically, we could more clearly see that the office an elder always takes precedence over the office a bishop.

Lesser Priesthood

Teacher (1st listed appendage)

Deacon (2nd listed appendage)

High Priesthood

Elder (1st listed appendage)

Bishop (2nd listed appendage)

So, it does not matter whether a bishop is a high priest or a literal descendant of Aaron, once he has been set apart as a bishop, he is locked into it for the duration of the calling, meaning he cannot take the lead of any meeting in which an elder is present, for taking the lead of all meetings pertains to the office of an elder.

Now, in the case of a meeting in which members, priests and the bishopric are all present, but no elders are present, the president of the priests’ quorum*** takes the lead of the meeting, not the bishop.  This is because the scripture specifically gives this as the duty of a priest.  A bishop is given no such duty anywhere in the scriptures.

***

Keep in mind that the priests’ quorum presidency, which is made up of three priests, and the bishopric, which is made up of a high priest and two (elders or high priests) counselors, might be interpreted as two separate presidencies.  For example:

And again, I say unto you, I give unto you Vinson Knight, Samuel H. Smith, and Shadrach Roundy, if he will receive it, to preside over the bishopric; a knowledge of said bishopric is given unto you in the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

And again, I say unto you, Samuel Rolfe and his counselors for priests, and the president of the teachers and his counselors, and also the president of the deacons and his counselors, and also the president of the stake and his counselors.  (D&C 124:141-142)

Historically, these scriptures have been interpreted as meaning that the priests’ quorum is different than the teachers’ and deacons’ quorums, in that those quorums have quorum members (teachers and deacons) composing their presidencies, while the priests’ quorum has the bishopric as its presidency.  So, in the above, Vinson and counselors would have become a presiding bishopric, while Rolfe and counselors would have become a normal bishopric.  That is, indeed, one way of reading these verses.

But the wording also permits presidencies of deacons, teachers and priests, and also a separate bishopric which presides over the entire Aaronic Priesthood and has some special connection, in particular, to the quorum of priests.

In fact, taking this alternate view, we can also see that president of a stake and the president over the high priests’ quorum, which historically have been combined together into one president, can also be interpreted as two separate presidencies.  For example:

And again, I give unto you Don C. Smith to be a president over a quorum of high priests; which ordinance is instituted for the purpose of qualifying those who shall be appointed standing presidents or servants over different stakes scattered abroad; and they may travel also if they choose, but rather be ordained for standing presidents; this is the office of their calling, saith the Lord your God.

I give unto him Amasa Lyman and Noah Packard for counselors, that they may preside over the quorum of high priests of my church, saith the Lord.  (D&C 124:133-136)

So, the presidencies of the quorum of high priests are instituted for the purpose of qualifying men for the presidencies of the stakes.  The one is for the other, but they are not the same.  And so, after we read the Lord appointing who will be the presidency of the quorum of the high priests, we read that they were to also appoint a president of the stake and counselors:

And again, I say unto you, Samuel Rolfe and his counselors for priests, and the president of the teachers and his counselors, and also the president of the deacons and his counselors, and also the president of the stake and his counselors.  (D&C 124:141-142)

In like manner, the presidency of the quorum of priests, which presidency is made up of three priests of the quorum, may have been instituted for the purpose of qualifying men for the bishopric, hence the link between the bishopric and the priests.

In other words, the Aaronic priesthood priests’ quorum was to have two presidents: one an ordained bishop and the other an ordained priest.  This was to correspond to how the Melchizedek priesthood was originally set up: with two presidents; a first elder, apostle or president (Joseph Smith) and a second elder, apostle or president (Oliver Cowdery and later Hyrum Smith.)  The locally organized Melchizedek priesthood would also have two presidents: a president of the stake and a high priest president over the high priests’ quorum.

I suppose I could take this further, but I think what I have written will suffice.

High priests

A congregation has a bishopric as well as quorums of elders, deacons, teachers and priests, with presidencies for each, all present in a meeting. Additionally, there are high priests present.

Who takes the lead?

The elders’ quorum president, per D&C 20:44.

Why doesn’t the high priest take the lead?

High priests may only officiate as high priests when they are called to do so by the stake presidency.

High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member. (D&C 107:10)

They may officiate in the office of an elder, priest, teacher, deacon and member, without permission from the stake presidency, but in any of these capacities, they still are subject to the leadership of the elders’ quorum president, who is to take the lead of all meetings.

What if the high priest officiates in his own standing?

Okay, in that case the high priest is given an assignment by the stake president and is sent out, (essentially as a local apostle). A high priest’s main duty is to teach:

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. (Alma 13:1)

therefore, the high priest will be sent to his own ward or to some other ward of the stake, to deliver some message or teaching. We get these all the time in the form of high counselors delivering their talks on assignment from the stake presidency. In such a case, the high priest still doesn’t take the lead of the meeting.

The reason is because they are acting in their capacity as, or exercising their right to officiate as, high priests, not as elders. Elders have the right to take the lead of all meetings, therefore, a high priest on assignment, sent by the stake presidency, must still defer meeting conducting and leadership to the elders’ quorum president. Although the high priest is there on his own authority, once an elders’ quorum is established with an elders’ quorum presidency, the elders’ quorum president is the man in charge of all the meetings. So, although he may get up and speak to the congregation, he must do so with the permission or consent of the elders’ quorum president. If he tries to take the lead of any meeting, while a presiding elder is there, he will be trampling upon the elder’s rights and the priesthood order set up by God in the scriptures.

Now, if there are no presiding elders present in the congregation, then the high priest who is officiating in his standing, defers to the priests’ quorum president.  If there are no priests, then he defers to the teachers’ quorum president.  This is because these quorums have been given the jurisdiction of leading meetings in the absence of elders or priests.  High priests have no such right of leading meetings.

Also, if there is a high priest in the congregation, but he is not officiating in his own standing, not currently being under assignment, and if the congregation is missing all its elders, then the high priest can officiate in the office of an elder (without anyone’s permission) and he has the right to take the lead of that meeting, even with priests and teachers present, because they cannot take the lead when an elder is present.

However, the moment an elders’ quorum member enters the meeting, that man is the elder who takes the lead of the meeting. This is because his membership in the established quorum of elders takes precedence over any high priest officiating in the office of an elder, for although the high priest can be considered an elder while he’s officiating as such, he does not pertain to the elders’ quorum established in that ward, from which presiding elders are to be chosen. So the quorum member elder becomes the de facto presiding elder (and thus the leader of the meeting) the moment he walks into the room.

What about apostles and seventies?

Apostles and seventies are all elders that travel. As such, they have all the duties of the normal elders, but because they do not pertain to the elders’ quorums of the wards they attend, they must submit to the leadership of the established elders’ quorum president, so they cannot take the lead of any meeting that is attended by a quorum member elder.

What about the stake presidency? Surely they can take the lead!

Not on a ward level. The name of the game is jurisdiction. The elders’ quorum president has complete jurisdiction over taking the lead of all meetings of his ward. Only if there is a stake meeting, of several wards and branches, only then does the stake presidency take the lead of the meetings. So, the reunion of a stake brings everyone under his jurisdiction, while the reunion of a ward brings everyone under the jurisdiction of an elders’ quorum president. When the stake president enters a ward to speak, he does so as a visiting high priest (an apostle), and not as a president of anything in the ward, and so everything that pertains to a high priest officiating in his own standing pertains to him, including having to submit to the leadership of the elders’ quorum president.

What about the president of the church?!

It doesn’t matter what title a person holds. There are only a limited number of priesthood offices and a president of the church is a high priest, so everything that applies to a high priest applies to him. If the president of the church comes to a ward, he must submit to the leadership of the elders’ quorum presidency:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— (D&C 121:41-42)

The principle is this: When you enter the jurisdiction of someone else’s priesthood quorum, you essentially enter without priesthood. You may influence them, or attempt to influence them, but cannot do so by virtue of your priesthood office, nor can you remove the rights that pertain to their office, calling and quorum.

I will close with a final scripture:

But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings… (D&C 46:2)

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“Every elder, priest, teacher or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts…of God unto him.”


My text for this post is the part of D&C 20: 60 that says,

Every elder, priest, teacher or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him;

First callings, then ordination, then gifts

We are taught by our leaders that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” This means that the gifts come with, or belong to, the calling. In other words, that once a man is called to an office and ordained, the Lord gives him the gifts necessary to fulfill the duties of that office as long as he magnifies his calling. I have also heard people testify that once released from their callings, these gifts leave them and they are once again just every day members.

In all honesty, I can see how such an interpretation can fit the scripture. All that is required is to read the scripture as if it said, “Every [priesthood office] is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God [which will come] unto him [through this ordination].”

First gifts, then callings, then ordination

Another way of reading the scripture is as if it said, “Every [priesthood office] is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God [which have already come] unto him.” In this view, God (and man) sees that the priesthood candidate already has all the necessary gifts for one or more offices of the priesthood, so He calls the man to one of those offices and has him ordained.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to take this latter interpretation as my guide and see what picture it paints. I’m not doing this just as a useless exercise, but one based upon historical fact and precedent. For example, if we look at the life of Joseph Smith, we find that his life followed the gifts-callings-ordination order precisely.

Joseph was a prophet, seer and revelator before he was ordained to any priesthood office In fact, he was using a seer stone before he was even called by the Lord to be a seer. So, his gifts came to him first, then he received a calling from the Lord and finally he was ordained to the offices of the priesthood. This same pattern can be found elsewhere in the scriptures.

One gift, church; many gifts, priesthood

And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church. For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. (D&C 46: 10-11)

The Lord has said that “every man is given a [singular] gift.” But He doesn’t expect us to stop at just one. In fact, He has commanded the church to “seek ye earnestly the best gifts [plural]” (D&C 46: 8.) And He has even opened up the possibility of getting every gift.

And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. (D&C 46: 28-30)

All of the offices of the priesthood require multiple gifts. It takes a lot more faith to obtain many gifts than to obtain just one, therefore the priesthood is designed to be a body of men who have exercised exceedingly great faith. They are “called…on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling” (Alma 13: 3). The “good works” of these men is the use of their multiple gifts of the Spirit, for “if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God” (Moro. 10: 25).

After having obtained several gifts, the Lord calls these men into His priesthood and has them ordained to one of its offices, according to the gifts they have, so that they can more widely use them “for salvation” (D&C 84: 73) and “for the benefit of those who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited” (D&C 46: 9), and “in order that every member may be profited thereby” (D&C 46: 29).

A man is ordained in this manner—exceedingly great faith and repentance, good works (working by the power and gifts of God), called by God to an office of the priesthood according to the various gifts he has, and then ordination to the office he’s been called to—”that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to [the] Son for redemption” (Alma 13: 2). This manner of ordination also virtually guarantees that “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” because no one would be ordained who did not have access to a variety of the gifts of the Spirit and thus to the powers of heaven.

New Testament and D&C 4 qualifications

Before going into an enumeration of the gifts that pertain to each office, let me back up a bit because the New Testament has requirements for priesthood office that precede the gifts.

1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1 give some qualifications for the offices of elder, bishop and deacon. The description is of a righteous, God-fearing, charitable man who has a good reputation in the church and in the community and a well-behaved family. Of particular note is that the elders, bishops and deacons all had to be married men with children.

We typically think of the office of a deacon as the “entry level” position, therefore, the New Testament requirements for a deacon can be extrapolated to all other offices of the priesthood.

D&C section 4 also has a list of qualification for those called to the priesthood, namely that the man should possess faith, hope, charity and love with an eye single to the glory of God.

The list of best gifts

#1.   Personal knowledge of Christ, having seen Him in person.

#2.   Belief in Christ without having seen Him.

#3.   Differences of administration.

#4.   Diversities of operations.

#5.   Word of wisdom.

#6.   Word of knowledge.

#7.   Faith to be healed.

#8.   Faith to heal.

#9.   Working of miracles.

#10. Prophesying.

#11. Discerning of spirits.

#12. Speaking in tongues.

#13. Interpretation of tongues.

#14. Discerning of gifts.

Qualifications of the office of a deacon

1)  Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)  Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)  Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)  Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)  Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)  Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)  Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 ) Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

The duties of a deacon are listed in D&C 20: 59; 84: 111.

He must have gift #2 because he must be a believer in Christ in order for him to “invite all to come unto Christ.” (It is not necessary that he has seen Christ personally.) He must have gifts #5 and #6 because it is his duty to teach all to be wise and to have knowledge (see D&C 46: 17-18.) He must have gifts #7 and #8 because as a believer in Christ, certain signs will follow him, which include surviving poisonous snake bites and deadly drinks, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and causing the tongue of the dumb to speak (see D&C 84: 65-72.)

Teachers are to be assisted in all their duties by deacons, if occasion requires. Deacons can only assist teachers in their duties if they possess the gifts required for the fulfillment of those duties. So, the above list of gifts is the minimum for a deacon.

For example, if a teacher needs assistance in a duty that requires gift #11 and there are two deacons available, one that possesses gift #11 and one that does not, only the one with the required gift can assist.

This creates the need for a deacon to apply himself and seek out the additional gift required to assist teachers in all their duties (gift #11.)

Qualifications of the office of a teacher

1)  Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)  Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)  Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)  Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)  Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)  Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)  Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 ) Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)  Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

The duties of a teacher are listed in D&C 20: 53-57, 59; 84: 111.

He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.)

He must have gift #11 because it is his duty to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (D&C 20: 54). This requires that he be able to discern between lying, evil spirits and contrite spirits.

Qualifications of the office of a priest

1)   Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)   Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)   Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)   Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)   Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)   Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)   Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 )  Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)   Must have best gift #9 (working of miracles)

10) Must have best gift #10 (prophesying)

11) Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

12) Must have best gift #12 (speaking in tongues)

13) Must have best gift #13 (interpretation of tongues)

14) Must have the Nephite gift of beholding angels and ministering spirits (Moro. 10: 14)

The duties of a priest are listed in D&C 20: 46-52.

He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.)

Miracles He must have gift #9 in order to perform miracles. Now some may say that a priest does not need to possess this gift to fulfill the duties of his office. But a priest is the first priesthood office that actually performs ordinances of the gospel. Neither a deacon nor a teacher can do that (see D&C 20: 58). A priest, then, represents Jesus Christ Himself when he ordains other priests, teachers and deacons; or when he baptizes; or when he breaks bread, blesses the sacrament and passes it out. And he is to follow the example of the Savior in administering it. Sometimes the Lord used bread and wine that was already available, but other times He miraculously provided these things (see 3 Ne. 20: 3-7.) In the New Testament, He turned water into wine and performed the miracles of the loaves of bread and fishes. The sacrament being a meal, it is not a stretch to see how these miracles can apply to it. Jesus also said that His followers would do the works He did, and greater works also. (See John 14: 12.) So, it seems to me that priests (and all other offices that perform ordinances) need to possess the gift of the working of miracles in order to properly represent the Lord, who is a God of miracles. In this way, the miraculous powers of godliness may be manifest in the ordinances of the priesthood (see D&C 84: 20-21.) Additionally, the priesthood (office of priest) of Aaron “holds the keys of the ministering of angels,” according to John the Baptist (as recorded in D&C 13.) The beholding of angels is linked to, or goes hand in hand with, the gift of miracles (per Moro. 7: 29-37.)

A priest also must have gift #10 because it is his duty to preach the gospel, which is supposed to be preached according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation (see Alma 43: 2), necessitating the gift to prophesy. He must have gift #11 for the same reasons as a teacher and also because it is his duty to baptize only those who have a contrite spirit (see Moro. 6: 2 and D&C 20: 37), therefore he needs the discerning of spirits.

Unlike deacons and teachers, who are standing ministers, meaning that they do not and are not supposed to travel, priests (and all other offices of the priesthood except deacons and teachers) are to travel and preach the gospel, as the Holy Ghost directs them. This means that they may find themselves among people who speak an unknown language. For this reason alone, every priest must have gifts #12 and #13. But even if preaching among a people of a known language, these gifts are needed as a sign to unbelievers (see 1 Cor. 14: 22.)

Like deacons, priests are also given a command to assist, “if occasion requires.” However, unlike deacons, who are to assist teachers in the duties of the teachers, a priest is to assist an elder in the duties of the priest. For this reason, it is not necessary that a priest obtain any more gifts of the Spirit to assist an elder.

Qualifications of the office of an elder

1)   Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)   Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)   Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)   Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)   Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)   Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)   Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 )  Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)   Must have best gift #9 (working of miracles)

10) Must have best gift #10 (prophesying)

11) Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

12) Must have best gift #12 (speaking in tongues)

13) Must have best gift #13 (interpretation of tongues)

14) Must have best gift #14 (discerning of gifts)

The duties of an elder are listed in D&C 20: 38-45. He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.) He must have gifts #9, #10, #11, #12 and #13 for the same reasons as a priest (see above.)

An elder must also have gift #14 because “unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God” (D&C 46: 27).

Qualifications of the office of a seventy

A seventy is an elder (see D&C 124: 138-139), therefore, all the qualifications of an elder also apply to a seventy. The seventy are a group of constantly traveling elders, and are under the direction of the twelve apostles, whereas the normal group of elders are standing ministers that may travel (see D&C 124: 137) as they desire and as the Spirit dictates to them.

During the time of Moses, seventy elders of Israel saw the Lord (see Ex. 24: 9-11.) During the time of Christ, seventy men who were with the Lord in His ministry (in other words, they saw the Lord) were sent out by Him and performed the same work of miracles as the twelve (see Luke 10: 1-20.) So, following the same pattern, a seventy can be required to have gift #1, so as to be an eyewitness.

Qualifications of the office of an apostle

An apostle is an elder (see D&C 20: 38), therefore, all the qualifications of an elder also apply to an apostle. Like the seventy, the apostles are a group of constantly traveling elders.

Also like the seventy, apostles must have gift #1 so that they are eyewitnesses of Christ. (Seventies and apostles are called to be special/especial witnesses of Christ. The only thing that makes their witness “special” or “especial” is that they have personally seen Christ.)

Qualifications of the office of a high priest

High priests have “authority to officiate in all the lesser offices,” therefore a high priest must possess “all the gifts of God which he bestows” (D&C 107: 92) upon the church (all 14 best gifts.) Additionally, the way he receives his calling is different. Whereas all other offices of the priesthood may receive a calling via either angelic ministration or the voice of God to prophets (see Moro. 7: 22-23), a high priest must receive his calling “by [God’s] own voice out of the heavens” (D&C 84: 42).

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. (JST Genesis 14: 29)

Qualifications of the office of a bishop

Bishops typically are high priests who are ordained as bishops, so all the same qualifications of a high priest apply to a bishop. They must possess every gift.

Ordained patriarchs (evangelical ministers) and gifts #3 and #4

Obviously, based upon what a patriarch does, he would need to have the gift to prophesy (gift #10), the gift of the word of wisdom (gift #5) and the gift of the word of knowledge (gift #6). Beyond those three gifts, I leave it to the reader to figure out the rest of the qualifications of a patriarch and also whether the 3rd and 4th gifts fit into any of the duties of the non-high priest offices. (A high priest and bishop who is an ordained high priest must have every gift, therefore, they must have gifts #3 and #4.)

What’s the point?

Obviously, the priesthood isn’t currently ordained this way. It could be, but I doubt that the present church will ever require such qualifications. Finding anyone with even one gift is hard enough, let alone many gifts. It is much easier to call unmarried men and boys according to their age and some standard of “worthiness” than according to the gifts of the Spirit that they possess. Otherwise, we’d have hardly any priesthood holders.

Nevertheless, tribes can ordain as they see fit, regardless of how the church is currently doing it. There may be some gospel-based tribes out there that will require that all candidates possess the necessary gifts prior to being called and ordained to their tribal priesthood. If and when that day comes, “the rights of the priesthood [will again] be inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.”

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Priesthood Offices in a Tribal Setting


Church ordinations

During the time of Christ, one of the qualifications for priesthood was that men had to be married.  (See 1 Tim. 3: 2, 12 and Titus 1: 6.)  During the time of Joseph Smith, adult men were ordained to both Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.  Later, during brother Brigham’s time the Aaronic priesthood began to be conferred upon young men.

Currently, in the modern church, if men and boys are worthy and are sustained by the congregation, they are ordained to these offices in the following way: deacons are ordained when 12 years old, teachers when 14, priests when 16 and boys become eligible for the office of an elder when they turn 18 (prospective elders.)  The Aaronic priesthood is now, essentially, a youth program, to prepare boys to receive the Melchizedek priesthood.

Grown men entering the priesthood may be given the office of a priest, becoming a prospective elder and then later ordained an elder, or may merely be ordained an elder from the start.

The following are the duties of an elder, priest, teacher and deacon in the church.  (E=Elder; P=Priest; T=Teacher; and D=Deacon.)

Duties of the Priesthood (for the church)

.P..          Preach
EP..         Baptize
E…          Confirm baptized church members by the laying on of hands
E…          Administer the sacrament
.P..          Administer the sacrament (when no elder is present)
E…          Take the lead in all church meetings
.P..         Take the lead in church meetings (when no elder is present)
..T.         Take the lead in church meetings (in the absence of the elder or priest)
E…          Conduct church meetings as led by the Holy Ghost
.P..          Assist elder (if occasion requires)
E…          Ordain elders
EP..        Ordain priests
EP..        Ordain teachers
EP..        Ordain deacons
EPTD      Teach
EPTD      Expound
EPTD      Exhort
E.TD       Watch over the church
.P..         Visit the house of each church member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties)
..T.         Be with and strengthen church
..T.        See that there is no iniquity in the church
..T.        See that there is no hardness in the church with each other
..T.        See that there is no lying in the church
..T.        See that there is backbiting in the church
..T.        See that there is no evil speaking in the church
..T.        See that all the church members do their duty
..T.        See that the church meet together often
..TD      Warn
..TD      Invite all to come to Christ
..TD      Be a standing minister to the church
…D       Assist teachers in their duties (if occasion requires)

Now let’s look at these same duties and offices of the priesthood in a tribal setting.

Duties of the Priesthood (for the tribe)

.P..          Preach
EP..         Baptize
E…          Confirm baptized tribal members by the laying on of hands
E…          Administer the sacrament
.P..          Administer the sacrament (when no elder is present)
E…          Take the lead in all tribal gatherings
.P..         Take the lead in tribal gatherings (when no elder is present)
..T.         Take the lead in tribal gatherings (in the absence of the elder or priest)
E…          Conduct tribal gatherings as led by the Holy Ghost
.P..          Assist elder (if occasion requires)
E…          Ordain elders
EP..        Ordain priests
EP..        Ordain teachers
EP..        Ordain deacons
EPTD      Teach
EPTD      Expound
EPTD      Exhort
E.TD       Watch over the tribe
.P..         Visit the house of each tribal member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties)
..T.         Be with and strengthen tribe
..T.        See that there is no iniquity in the tribe
..T.        See that there is no hardness in the tribe with each other
..T.        See that there is no lying in the tribe
..T.        See that there is backbiting in the tribe
..T.        See that there is no evil speaking in the tribe
..T.        See that all the tribal members do their duty
..T.        See that the tribe gather together often
..TD      Warn
..TD      Invite all to come to Christ
..TD      Be a standing minister to the tribe
…D       Assist teachers in their duties (if occasion requires)

Tribal ordinations

Obviously, a tribe can do what it wants, meaning it can organize itself using the priesthood however it wants.  So, a tribe can opt to duplicate the modern church model and ordain boys to the Aaronic priesthood.  But it can also follow the New Testament/Early Mormonism models and ordain only married men to either priesthood.

Let me give an example of how a tribe can develop its own “priesthood qualifications” for ordination to its tribal priesthoods.

According to how connected one is to the tribe, by the number of covenants

Ordaining to the offices of the priesthood in a tribal setting can depend upon the man’s connectedness to the tribe.  Connectedness can be determined by the number of wives he has and the combined number of husbands his wives have.  Once the required number of wives/husbands is reached, he can be eligible for ordination if the tribe consents to it.  Here is one way to do it:

  • Deacon – Monogamy (1 wife and 1 husband)
  • Teacher – Multi-spouse System (husband has 2 wives and his wives have a combined total of 2 distinct husbands)
  • Priest – Multi-spouse System (husband has 4 wives and his wives have a combined total of 4 distinct husbands)
  • Elder – Multi-spouse System (husband has 8 wives and his wives have a combined total of 8 distinct husbands)

These numbers are, of course, arbitrary.  A tribe can decide how many covenantal connections a man and his wives must have for the man to be ordained to an office of the priesthood.  The principle, though, is that with more connections a man has to the tribe, he has that much more vested interest in it.  Also, as men take on more wives (and their wives covenant with more husbands), they enter into more marriage/family/clan/tribal responsibilities, therefore, their priesthood office should reflect a corresponding increase in duties and responsibility.

Another reason to link the priesthood to marriage is because the Lord has set the husband at the head of the wife, regardless of whether he has the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods.  Because of this relationship, priesthood is useful to keep a husband in his proper place, for entrance into the priesthood is designed to be entrance into lifelong service.  All husbands, therefore, should be priesthood servants.

For the other priesthood offices, such as high priest, bishop, seventy, apostle, etc., inter-husband covenants—meaning that two or more husbands enter into a united order for the establishment of Zion by covenanting with each other—can be added as eligibility requirements to the qualifications of an elder.  For the office of high priest, it can follow the scriptural pattern of having it confirmed by the voice of God out of the heavens, etc.

Manner of tribal ordinations

There are three valid methods of priesthood ordination.  The first method comes from the Book of Mormon:

In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.  (Moroni 3: 3)

The second one is the method used during the time of Joseph Smith:

By authority of the Holy Priesthood and by the laying on of hands, I ordain you an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers, keys and authority pertaining to this office and calling, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The final method is that used from 1919 onward, including today:

To perform a priesthood ordination, one or more authorized priesthood holders place their hands lightly on the person’s head. Then the priesthood holder who performs the ordination:

1. Calls the person by his full name.

2. States the authority by which the ordination is performed (Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood).

3. Confers the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood unless it has already been conferred.

4. Ordains the person to an office in the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood and bestows the rights, powers and authority of that office. (Priesthood keys are not bestowed in conferring the priesthood or ordaining to one of these offices.)

5. Gives a priesthood blessing as the Spirit directs.

6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Of the three methods, I would recommend that a tribe use only the first two because the third method creates the perception that priesthood keys are not passed on, even though they are.  This, of course, is a control mechanism to center power in priesthood “leaders” who “hold keys.”  Also, when using the second method, one would not ordain to an office in the church, but to an office in the tribe.

Priesthood re-ordinations

A man that comes into a tribe who has already been ordained an elder in the church may be ordained to an office of the tribal priesthood according to the tribe’s eligibility requirements.  So, let’s say the man is in a monogamous marriage when he enters the tribe and the tribe allows monogamous men to be only ordained tribal deacons.  In this case, the man would be ordained a tribal deacon, despite being an elder of the church.  The tribe then recognizes his priesthood office as that of a deacon, whereas the church recognizes his priesthood office as that of an elder.  The tribe can continue to utilize and recognize validly ordained church elders until such time when the tribe has ordained tribal elders according to its eligibility requirements.  Then it may use the tribal elders (and priests) exclusively to ordain all other tribal offices.

For example, in cases of taking the lead in tribal gatherings, if there are four men in the tribe who are ordained elders in the church but three are tribal deacons and one is a tribal teacher, the tribal teacher would take the lead in the tribal gatherings, for in a tribal setting, tribal priesthood takes precedence over church priesthood.  Nevertheless, if someone needs to be baptized (requiring the office of a priest or elder), any of these four men could do it using church priesthood authorized by the tribe.  At some point, one of these tribal men will hold the tribal office of elder, at which point church priesthood no longer need be relied upon. 

Tribal records

While a tribe is still in its infancy and consists of but few persons, ordinances can be performed without witnesses or record-keeping.  However, when there is finally a sufficient number of tribal members, the tribe may gather and formally establish itself according to the gospel laws.  The gathered tribe, using its tribal keys and the law of common consent, can then authorize the performing of all the tribal ordinances once more for each of the tribal members, but this time with two or three tribal witnesses (the law of witnesses) and with a tribal recorder appointed among their number to record all the names, dates, ordinances, convenants entered into (including marriage covenants) and ordinations performed, as well as recording the names and certifications of the witnesses, etc., all on a tribal record or book.  Doing this utilizes the priesthood sealing power so that the tribal record becomes “a law on earth and in heaven, [that can] not be annulled”.  This tribal record is all important so that when the time comes for the tribe to be assimilated into the larger tribes of Israel, these tribal ordinances will be accepted as valid and binding both on earth and in heaven.

Working in this way, using the priesthood sealing power to formally establish a tribe, sets the tribe up for permanency both here and in the afterlife.

A mere example

Please don’t take these words as being the only way to organize a tribal priesthood.  I merely write this to get people thinking tribally, to help them conceive of the options available to them and to provide an example of one way to organize a tribal priesthood in righteousness so that Lord will be pleased and pour down His blessings and the tribe’s actions will be justified.  But there are undoubtedly other, valid ways to go about this.

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Let the Aaronic Priesthood Do Home Teaching and Let the Elders Administer the Sacrament


What is up with the home teaching assignments being placed solely upon shoulders of the Elder’s Quorum? Sure, we elders have a scriptural mandate to “watch over the church” (D&C 20: 42), which includes home teaching, but so does the Aaronic Priesthood.

Take, for example, the priests, who have the duty to “visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20: 47), i.e. a duty to do home teaching.

And also consider the teachers, who are “to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty” (D&C 20: 53-55), i.e. they are to do home teaching.

And a teacher “is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires” (D&C 20: 57), which duties include home teaching.

So, why don’t we dump some of those home teaching assignments onto the heads of the priests, teachers and deacons and lighten the load somewhat for the Melchizedek Priesthood, so that the elders can focus on more important things, such as administering the sacrament, which is one of our scriptural mandates, for the Lord said that elders are “to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—” (D&C 20: 40)?

And why don’t we free up the priests to sit in the congregation with their families instead of having them administer the sacrament in the presence of the elders, which is contrary to scriptural mandate, as that is the duty of the priests (see D&C 20: 46) only when the elders are not present: “But when there is an elder present, he [the priest] is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20: 50-51)?

And while we’re at it…

…why don’t we dump the monthly home teaching visits in favor of bi-monthly, quarterly (every three months) or bi-annual visits, like some early saints did? Surely, then, our home teaching numbers will approach 100%, despite an ocean of inactives.

Just some thoughts in my head, of late…

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Scriptural Discussion #1: Priesthood Ordinations—By The Power Of The Holy Ghost


PRIESTHOOD ORDINATIONS—BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST

Moroni said, “And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.” (Moroni 3: 4)

The Lord said, “And, behold, you are they who are ordained of me to ordain priests and teachers; to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men;” (D&C 18: 32)

The Lord said, “Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.” (D&C 20: 60)

Discuss.

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Discharging Priesthood Duties


I hold both the priesthood of Aaron and that of Melchizedek and have been ordained to four offices. Each office comes with specific duties, which I will enumerate:

  • As an elder of the Melchizedek priesthood, I have a duty to baptize, to ordain elders, to ordain priests, to ordain teachers, to ordain deacons, to administer the sacrament, to confirm those who are baptized into the church by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, to teach, to expound, to exhort, to watch over the church, to confirm the church by the laying of the hands and the giving of the Holy Ghost, and to take the lead in all meetings, conducting all meetings as I am led by the Holy Ghost. (See D&C 20: 38-45.)
  • As a priest of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to preach, to teach, to expound, to exhort, to baptize, to administer the sacrament, to visit the house of each member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties,) to ordain priests, to ordain teachers, to ordain deacons, to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present, and to assist an elder if occasion requires . (See D&C 20: 46-52.)
  • As a teacher of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to watch over the church always, to be with and strengthen them, to see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking, to see that all the members do their duty, to see that the church meet together often, to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest, to be assisted always in all my duties in the church by the deacons (if occasion requires,) to warn, to expound, to exhort, to teach, to invite all to come unto Christ, and to be a standing minister unto the church. (D&C 20: 53-57, 59; 84: 111.)
  • As a deacon of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to warn, to expound, to exhort, to teach, to invite all to come unto Christ, to watch over the church and to be a standing minister unto the church. (See D&C 20: 59; 84: 111.)

So, here are my questions: How do I (and others who hold these offices) discharge all these duties? In other words, what are the various ways that these duties can be legitimately discharged? Do I need to be directed by my priesthood leader to discharge each duty, or can I perform some of these duties (say, for example, warning, exhorting or preaching) without the okay from the one who holds the keys over these two priesthoods (the bishop, the elders quorum president and ultimately the stake president?) How does one go about discharging a duty to warn, expound, exhort and teach without offending the person or people being warned, expounded to, exhorted or taught? How do I see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking without offending people? If I see this iniquity or backbiting, etc., do I approach the person doing it or do I just report it to the priesthood key holder? What if it is the one holding the keys that is iniquitous or lying? Then what does one do? Is it my duty to personally correct him? If I do correct him personally or if I report him to the priesthood key-holder above him, will I put my membership in jeopardy and be seen by the leaders as being critical of the leadership, or will I be seen as merely discharging my duties? Should I worry about the consequences of correcting a leader and not correct him or should I just fulfill my priesthood duty and let the consequences follow? What are your thoughts on this matter?

One last question, are we (the deacons quorums, teachers quorums, priests quorums and elders quorums,) as priesthood holders of the church (or to speak more locally, of your ward,) discharging the above listed duties, or are they being neglected? I extend a special invitation to the sisters to add your two cents according to your personal observations.

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