The Presidency in the Restoration

Stewardship and Authority


A conference was held at Amherst, Lorain County, Ohio, January 25, 1832. Some of the elders asked Joseph to “inquire of the Lord that they might know his will, or learn what would be most pleasing to him for them to do, in order to bring men to a sense of their condition.” Joseph made inquiry of the Lord and received the following message. The conference is also noteworthy because here Joseph Smith was ordained President of the High Priesthood.

We are informed in the Doctrine and Covenants, the President of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church.

“And again, the duty of the president of the office of the high priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses.” D&C 104:42a

How Chosen

It is understood that all priesthood with valid claims must be called of God, as Aaron was called. Men ordained to the presidency of the church must be high priests. The body chooses from the high priests quorum those who will be their three presidents.

“President W.W. Phelps then read the written testimony of the Twelve, as follows: “The testimony of the witnesses to the book of the Lord’s commandments, which he gave to his church through Joseph Smith, Jr., WHO WAS APPOINTED BY THE VOICE OF THE CHURCH FOR THIS PURPOSE:”

D&C Introduction: 5 a

“Of the Melchisedec priesthood, THREE PRESIDING HIGH PRIESTS, CHOSEN BY THE BODY, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the church.”

D&C 104:11b

Should the president of the high priesthood lose his ability to function in his office and calling through transgression or incapacity, he will only have the power to select from the remaining two presidents, the one who will succeed him.

“But verily, verily I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him, for if it be taken from him he shall not have power, except to appoint another in his stead and this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations, or commandments; and this I give unto you, that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.”

D&C 43:2a, b

“Then comes the high priesthood, which is the greatest of all; wherefore, it must needs be that one be APPOINTED, OF THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD, to preside over the priesthood; and he shall be called president of the high priesthood of the church, or, in other words, the presiding high priest over the high priesthood of the church.”

D&C 104:31e

Priesthood Functions

The First President of the Church is President of the high priesthood and called to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet.

“And again, the duty of the president of the office of the high priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses. Behold, here is wisdom, yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet; HAVING ALL THE GIFTS OF GOD WHICH HE BESTOWS UPON THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH.”

D&C 104:42 a, b

The presidency has authority to ordain and set in order all other officers in the church:

…..(Addressing the Presidency), “And this shall be your business and mission in all your lives to preside in council and set in order all the affairs of this church and kingdom.”

D&C 87:5c

The presidency has authority to organize the School of the Prophets:

“And again, verily I say unto thy brethren Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, their sins are forgiven them also,…

…..and they are accounted as equal with thee (Joseph Smith, Jr.), in holding the keys of this last kingdom; as also through your administration the keys of the school of the prophets, which I have commanded to be organized, that thereby they may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe,” D&C 87:3a, b


The Quorum of First Presidency forms an equal part of The Joint Council when sitting as Legislative Bodies:

The Presidency sits in Joint Council with the Twelve, the Seventy, and at times include the Presiding Patriarch and the Presiding Bishop for council in order to legislate important requirements of the church: to formulate, debate, and perfect the implementation of Rules, Resolutions, Policies, and Procedures, that will be a standard guide in governing the Church. These Policies, Procedures, Rules, Resolutions, when perfected, will go to the various quorums in General Assembly for final acceptance and approval.

See the law of common consent contained in the following:

“And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith; for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.” D&C 25:1b

“Neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants, for all things must be done in order and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.” D&C 27:4c

“The Scriptures and the church articles and covenants, with the rules adopted by the church, shall govern in procedure..” D&C 122:10c

“The decisions of these quorums, (Presidency, Twelve and Seventy), or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith and virtue and knowledge; temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, because the promise is, if these things abound in them, they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church, otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision.”

D&C 104:11i-j

The power and authority of the higher, or Melchisedec, priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church; to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; to have the heavens opened unto them; to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn; and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant”

D&C 104:9a, b

Note: Appeal cannot be made to the High Council from the decisions of the Joint Council. The High Council does not have jurisdiction over the legislative decisions of these three quorums. However the High Council can try all church officers for transgression, with the exception of the First Presidency, who is the presidency of the High Council. The Presidency is tried in a special High Council with the Bishopric as Presidency.

“And inasmuch as a president of the high priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve councilors of the high priesthood; and their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.” D&C 104:37 a

“In case the Presidency is in transgression, the Bishop and his council of high priests, as provided in the law; and the Presidency and high council if the bishop, or his counselors, if high priests, are in transgression.”

D&C 122:10b

The first presidency will generally be chosen to preside at a General Assembly. In case of disorganization of the church however, any one of the three presidencies, or in case of emergency a council of High Priests, have the authority to call the remaining quorums together in General Assembly to set the church in order.

The leading quorum having authority such as: Presidency, Twelve, Seventy or Council of High Priests, will set the agenda for the General Assembly, after submitting it for the scrutiny and approval of the remaining General Church Authorities.

The First Presidency will generally be chosen to preside at the General Conference.

Administrative Function

The First Presidency is granted by the Lord and by the common consent of the membership, full authority to enforce all laws given of the Lord. and to implement and enforce all Laws, Rules, Resolutions, Policies, and Procedures that have been properly legislated and approved by the quorums of the Church.

Judicial Function

The Presidency of the Church, due to the dignity of the office should be chosen to sit as the presider or as presiders on the STANDING HIGH COUNCIL of the General Church. See D&C 99