8.1 Definition and Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood
The priesthood is the power and authority of God. It is conferred upon worthy male members of the Church. Those who hold priesthood keys direct the administration of the ordinances of the gospel, the preaching of the gospel, and the government of the kingdom of God on the earth.
The Aaronic Priesthood holds “the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins” (D&C 84:26–27; see also D&C 13:1; 107:20). The Aaronic Priesthood also “has power in administering outward ordinances” (D&C 107:14).
For more information about the purposes of the priesthood and priesthood keys, see chapter 2.
Aaronic Priesthood Offices and Duties
The offices in the Aaronic Priesthood are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. Each priesthood office has rights and responsibilities of service, including authority to administer priesthood ordinances. For information about ordination to the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest, see 20.7.
Worthy brethren may receive the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained deacons when they are at least 12 years old. A deacon has the following responsibilities:
He lives a righteous life and remains worthy to exercise the priesthood. He sets a good example for fellow quorum members and other Church members.
He passes the sacrament (see 20.4.3).
He serves as a standing minister, “appointed to watch over the church” (D&C 84:111). He is also to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59). This responsibility includes fellowshipping quorum members and other young men, notifying members of Church meetings, speaking in meetings, sharing the gospel, and bearing testimony.
He assists the bishop in “administering … temporal things” (D&C 107:68). This responsibility may include gathering fast offerings, caring for the poor and needy, caring for the meetinghouse and grounds, and serving as a messenger for the bishop in Church meetings.
He participates in quorum instruction by being an active student of the gospel.
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a deacon. He also assists teachers “in all [their] duties in the church … if occasion requires” (D&C 20:57).
Worthy brethren may be ordained teachers when they are at least 14 years old. A teacher has all the responsibilities of a deacon. He also has the following responsibilities:
He prepares the sacrament (see 20.4.2).
He is to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53). One way he does this is by serving as a home teacher.
He is 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 responsibility includes being a peacemaker and being an example of moral integrity and uprightness.
He is to “see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty” (D&C 20:55).
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a teacher.
Worthy brethren may be ordained priests when they are at least 16 years old. A priest has all the responsibilities of a deacon and teacher. He also has the following responsibilities:
He is to “preach, teach, expound, exhort, … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20:46–47).
When authorized by the bishop, he performs baptisms, confers the Aaronic Priesthood, and ordains deacons, teachers, and priests (see D&C 20:46, 48).
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a priest.
The bishop’s responsibilities regarding the Aaronic Priesthood are outlined in 8.3.1.
Aaronic Priesthood Quorums
A priesthood quorum is an organized group of brethren who hold the same priesthood office. The primary purposes of quorums are to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, and instruct members in doctrines, principles, and duties.
The bishop organizes the deacons into a quorum of up to 12 members, the teachers into a quorum of up to 24 members, and the priests into a quorum of up to 48 members (see D&C 107:85–87). If quorum membership increases beyond these numbers, the bishop may divide the quorum. Before doing so, he considers the eventual size of the quorum, available leadership, and the effect on quorum members.
In a ward or branch with few young men, Aaronic Priesthood quorums may meet together for instruction and activities.
Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood
Young men are in a time of preparation and personal spiritual growth. Accordingly, parents and the bishopric and other Aaronic Priesthood leaders help each young man to:
Parents and leaders help young men accomplish these objectives in family home evenings, family scripture study, meetings, activities, and interviews and by encouraging them to participate in the Duty to God program (see 8.12).
Young men should not recite these objectives in their meetings or activities.