Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

7. 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. The primary purposes of quorums are to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, and instruct members in doctrines, principles, and duties.

Apostles and Seventies are organized into quorums at the general Church level.

Each stake has one high priests quorum. The stake presidency is the presidency of that quorum. Members of that quorum are the high priests who currently serve in the following callings: the stake president and his counselors, bishops in the stake and their counselors, high councilors, and functioning patriarchs. Clerks, executive secretaries, and branch presidencies are not members of the high priests quorum.

On Sundays, members of the high priests quorum will meet with the elders quorum if they are not assigned elsewhere.

Each ward has one or more elders quorums. The elders quorum includes all elders and prospective elders in the ward. It also includes high priests who are not currently serving in the following callings: the stake president and his counselors, the bishop and his counselors, high councilors, and functioning patriarchs. Members of the elders quorum—whether elders, seventies, or high priests—retain their current priesthood office.

Members of temple, mission, and missionary training center presidencies are members of their ward elders quorum.

If a ward has an unusually large number of active Melchizedek Priesthood holders, the stake presidency may organize an additional elders quorum (see D&C 107:89). In such instances, each quorum should have a balance in age, experience, and priesthood office and strength.

Elders are ordained high priests when they are called to serve as a stake president or one of his counselors, as a bishop or one of his counselors (for an exception, see “Leadership” in Handbook 1, 9.1.6), on the high council, or at other times as recommended by the bishop and approved by the stake president.