Church News and Events

Members Can Request Priesthood Line of Authority

Contributed By By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer

  • 7 March 2013

Christ Ordaining the Twelve Apostles, by Harry Anderson. The priesthood line of authority for those performing ordinances can be traced back to the Savior.   Image ©IRI

Speaking on the importance of every priesthood holder being able to trace his own line of authority, President George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency to John Taylor, said, “I believe the time will come when it will be necessary for every man to trace the line in which he has received the Priesthood that he exercises. It is therefore of great importance in our Church that records should be kept and that every man should know whence he derives his authority—from what source, through what channel he has received the Holy Priesthood and by what right he exercises that authority and administers the ordinances thereof. I believe this is of extreme importance and that where there are doubts as to a man’s legitimately exercising that authority, that doubt should be removed” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of George Q. Cannon, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist [1957], 224).

Since ancient times, holders of the priesthood of God have recorded their priesthood line of authority (see Doctrine and Covenants 84). For holders of the priesthood today, tracing back a personal priesthood line of authority to the Savior is unique to the restored gospel.

Priesthood line of authority is a sequential pattern of ordinations that can be followed back to the early beginnings of the Church. It is performed in the manner outlined by the Lord in the scriptures. Part of the Restoration of the gospel included the restoration of the priesthood on the earth by those in authority. Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on Joseph Smith, thereby giving him the same authority given them by Jesus Christ. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4).

“The First Presidency has authorized the gathering of information to record Melchizedek priesthood lines of authority,” said Stephen Carlile, in the Member and Statistical Records Division of the Church’s Finance and Records Department. “It began under President Gordon B. Hinckley, who felt that the Church should start gathering information needed to record Melchizedek Priesthood lines of authority.” The Church can now provide priesthood line of authority information as a service to members upon request.

The priesthood line of authority for those performing ordinances can be traced back to the Savior.

The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood is portrayed by artist Kenneth Riley.

Joseph Smith Ordaining Parley P. Pratt as an Apostle is a painting by Walter Rane.

Priesthood holders in wards and stakes throughout the world perform priesthood ordinances every week. When a man ordains another to an office in the priesthood, the person ordained will determine his line of authority by the priesthood office held by the one performing the ordination at the time the ordination was performed. For example, if a high priest ordains his son to be an elder, his son would trace his line of authority through the high priest line of authority of his father.

Though a priesthood holder with the office of Seventy may be included in a member’s personal line of authority, no separate line of authority is maintained for the office of Seventy. Also, priesthood line of authority for ordained bishops and patriarchs is traced through their high priest ordination. A priesthood line of authority is not recorded for Aaronic Priesthood offices by Church headquarters, although individuals and families are welcome to record it on their own.

“I am wondering how many of you are able to trace your priesthood genealogy back to Jesus Christ?” said President Spencer W. Kimball to priesthood brethren at an area conference in Japan in 1975. “Isn’t it exciting that we are that near to the Lord Jesus Christ in this most important element? And isn’t it exciting that whenever you lay your hands upon a person to ordain him it is the same as if the Lord himself did it?” (Japan Area Conference 1975, 42).

Only information about Melchizedek Priesthood lines of authority can be requested from the Church. Aaronic Priesthood lines are not available. People may request Melchizedek Priesthood line of authority information only for themselves, a child living at home, or a young missionary who is currently serving. These documents are not official Church records.

If you wish to request your priesthood line of authority, include your full legal name, birth date, membership record number (available on a temple recommend or from your ward clerk), the name of the individual who ordained you to the office of elder or high priest (if known), and your return address and telephone number or email address.

Send your request to:

Priesthood Line of Authority
Global Service Center
120 North 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103-1514
Fax: 1-801-240-6816
Telephone: 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3500

For email inquiries, send an email to with PLA in the subject line. In return you’ll receive a form to fill out and return (there is an automated reply to any message that contains “PLA” in the subject line).

Generations and Priesthood Lineage from Adam to Noah
Received priesthood Ordained by (Doctrine and Covenants)

·      Adam from the Savior (78:16)

·      Seth from Adam (107:42)

·      Enos from Adam (107:44)

·      Cainan from Adam (107:45)

·      Mahalaleel from Adam (107:46)

·      Jared from Adam (107:47)

·      Enoch from Adam (107:48)

·      Methuselah from Adam (107:50)

·      Lamech from Seth (107:51)

·      Noah from Methuselah (107:52)

Apostle Line of Authority for President Spencer W. Kimball

·      Spencer W. Kimball was ordained an Apostle October 7, 1943, by Heber J. Grant

·      Heber J. Grant was ordained an Apostle October 16, 1882, by George Q. Cannon

·      George Q. Cannon was ordained an Apostle August 26, 1860, by Brigham Young

·      Brigham Young was ordained an Apostle February 14, 1835, by the Three Witnesses

·      Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the priesthood in 1829 from Peter, James, and John

·      Peter, James, and John were ordained Apostles by the Savior (see John 15:16)