During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ organized His Church on the earth. After His death, congregations of believers met together to worship; to learn and practice His teachings; and to serve, inspire, and strengthen each other. The Savior promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Today, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are organized into congregations. Small congregations are called branches, and each branch is presided over by a branch president. When approved by the Area Presidency, a mission president may organize a branch when at least two member families live in an area and one of the members is a worthy man who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood or is a worthy priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. A worthy person is one who has entered into covenants with the Lord, such as the baptismal covenant, and is striving diligently to keep these covenants.
The mission president supervises the branch, and the branch president is accountable to him. When a sufficient number of branches have been organized in a reasonable geographic proximity to each other within a mission, the mission president, with approval of the Area Presidency, may organize these branches into a district. When the branch is part of an organized district, the branch president is supervised by the district presidency, which, in turn, reports to the mission president.
The Church has prepared this guidebook to help branch leaders learn the responsibilities of their callings and how to fulfill them. All leaders and other Church members are to help accomplish the mission of the Church, which is to invite all people to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32). To accomplish this mission, leaders help members:
Proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Share the gospel by bearing testimony as prompted by the Spirit. Missionaries should continue to help sustain new converts during their transition to Church membership.
Perfect the Saints. Help new converts progress in the Church by ensuring that they have a friend and an assignment and are nourished by the word of God. Receive the ordinances and make the covenants of the gospel, strive to keep the commandments as they have promised, serve their fellowmen, care for the poor and needy, and fellowship one another to build the community of Saints.
Redeem the dead. Identify deceased ancestors and perform temple ordinances for them as far as reasonably possible to prepare for family exaltation.
This guidebook can help branch leaders, individuals, and families learn to live under the influence of the Holy Ghost so the fulfillment of their Church callings is a privilege and a joy. In addition to this guidebook, the scriptures, Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders’ Guidebook (31178), Family Guidebook (31180), Teaching Guidebook (34595), Gospel Principles (31110), Gospel Fundamentals (31129), Information for Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders on Curriculum (36363), and other Church publications will be helpful.