Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

Melchizedek Priesthood


7.1 Definition and Purposes of the Melchizedek 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 Melchizedek Priesthood holds “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” (D&C 107:18).

For more information about the purposes of the priesthood and priesthood keys, see chapter 2.


Melchizedek Priesthood Offices and Duties

The offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood are elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. Each priesthood office has rights and responsibilities of service, including authority to administer priesthood ordinances. This chapter contains information for leaders of elders and high priests. For information about ordination to the offices of elder and high priest, see 20.7.


Worthy brethren may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained elders when they are at least 18 years old. The rights and responsibilities of elders are revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–45; 42:44; 46:2; and 107:11–12. Elders also hold the authority of deacons, teachers, and priests.

High Priest

Brethren are ordained high priests when they are called to a stake presidency, high council, or bishopric or when otherwise determined by the stake president. The rights and responsibilities of high priests are to preside and to hold all the authority of elders (see D&C 107:10).

Brethren in districts are not ordained to the office of high priest.


Melchizedek 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.

Each ward has one or more elders quorums. Each quorum has up to 96 elders (see D&C 107:89).

Each stake has one high priests quorum. The stake presidency is the presidency of that quorum. In each ward, high priests are organized in a high priests group.

Patriarchs are not organized into quorums. Apostles and Seventies are organized into quorums at the general Church level.


7.10 Additional Guidelines and Policies


Brethren Who Have Special Needs

Brethren who may have special needs include those who are ill, elderly, widowed, divorced, homebound, or bereaved and those who care for chronically ill family members. Members of their quorum or group should offer help.

Brethren who have these and other special challenges may come to their elders quorum president or high priests group leader with their concerns. These leaders should listen, offer love and encouragement, and maintain appropriate confidentiality. If they learn of possible concerns with worthiness or sensitive family matters, they refer the brethren to the bishop.

For information about helping brethren with disabilities, see 21.1.26 and disabilities.lds.org.


Offering Support at Times of Death

When a death occurs in the ward, the bishop may ask the high priests group leader or elders quorum president to contact the family to give comfort, assess needs, and offer assistance. He may request similar assistance from the Relief Society president. Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders coordinate these efforts.

The bishop may also ask Melchizedek Priesthood leaders to help make preparations for the funeral service. For additional information about funerals, see 18.6.

If possible, deceased members who were endowed should be buried in temple clothing. In some circumstances, the bishop may ask the high priests group leader or elders quorum president to assign an endowed man to dress or oversee the proper dressing of a deceased endowed man. These leaders ensure that the assignment is given to a person who will not find it objectionable. Guidelines for dressing deceased members are provided in Instructions for Clothing the Dead Who Have Received Their Endowments. Leaders may obtain these instructions from Church Distribution Services.

For additional instructions on dressing deceased members in temple clothing, the bishop may refer to Handbook 1, 3.4.9.

The elders quorum president, high priests group leader, home teachers, and other brethren continue to offer support, comfort, and assistance to the bereaved during the period of adjustment following the death.


Instructions about Temple Clothing and Garments

See 21.1.42.


Funding for Activities

See 13.2.8.