Organized Areas of the Church
Stakes are fully organized units of Church society that provide physical and spiritual nurturing of its citizens from birth to the grave.
April 8, 1844. “I have received instructions from the Lord that from henceforth, wherever the Elders of Israel shall build up churches and branches unto the Lord throughout the States, there shall be a stake of Zion. In the great cities, as Boston, New York, etc., there shall be stakes. It is a glorious proclamation, and I reserved it to the last, and designed it to be understood that this work shall commence after the washings, anointings, and endowments have been performed here.”—Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. Page. 363,
“Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about; yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom.” D&C 108:3c
“Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered, they that remain and are pure in heart shall return and come to their inheritances; they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy; to build up the waste places of Zion. And all these things, that the prophets might be fulfilled. And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed, neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed for the work of the gathering of my Saints, until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains, or the strength of Zion.” D&C 98:4g-4i
A General Conference held at Nauvoo beginning October 3, 1840, appointed a committee consisting of Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, and Almon Babbitt, to organize stakes between Nauvoo and Kirtland Ohio. During the month of October the committee appointed at General Conference organized stakes at the following named places: Lima, Quincy, Mount Hope, in Adams County, and one at Freedom; and on November 1 they organized a stake in Morgan County, Illinois, called Geneva stake. RLDS History Vol. 2 pp. 467, 468
A stake organization consists of three High Priests; a Bishop and Council; a High Council of twelve High Priests; a High Priests quorum, one or more Elders quorums; and quorums of Priests, Teachers, and Deacons.
The Stake Presidency and High Council, are to oversee the spiritual condition of the Stake. They jointly constitute a judicial body for settling difficulties that may not be satisfactorily adjusted in the Bishop’s courts. It is, however, an ecclesiastical court of origin as well as of appellate jurisdiction.
The Bishopric constitutes the local presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood and each quorum of Aaronic Priesthood has its own elected president. These quorums of Priests, Teachers and Deacons aid the Bishopric in the work of their ministry. The Deacons see to the affairs of the church buildings and grounds and look to the comfort of the congregation. They are also to assist the Teachers when occasion requires. The Teachers are the watchmen upon the towers of Zion, and it is their business to see that there is no iniquity in the Church such as backbiting, or faultfinding, and that the members attend to all their religious duties. It is the duty of the Priest to visit in the homes of the people and instruct them in the gospel. They should be invited to meet with, and teach them the eternal truths of the gospel.
In addition to these officers, there is in each stake a quorum of High Priests, and one or more quorums of Elders. These constitute the standing ministry in the stakes of Zion, and are authorized to teach the gospel, to warn all men against evil, and to invite and persuade all men to come unto Christ. These provisions are made for home ministry, in the Church organization proper.
The Stake is the perfect design of our Lord to provide for the spiritual and temporal welfare and for the nurturing of the Saints throughout their lifetimes. Every provision is made for carrying on the work of the ministry, instructing the Saints in the things of God, inviting all to come unto Christ; the object of the Church being to lift to higher, and ever higher levels the lives of the Saints of God, until they shall become sanctified in Holiness and become perfect men and women in Christ Jesus the Lord.
The church has elected to divide unorganized areas into districts and large Congregations. This division is employed as an expedient to prevent overlap in these areas. The commandment for gathering to the Center Place (City New Jerusalem), has never been rescinded. The fully organized church unit is the Stake Organization. The church has been commanded to build up the Center Place, and then to raise up Stakes from the Center Place outward until the whole world is filled.
The church cannot be considered fully organized until these Stake units are set in order, in place and are functioning on a level to bring righteousness and sanctification to the Saints. Each stake is a monolithic community of saints.