Doctrine and Covenants 102: High Councils and Church Discipline

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 116–117

Although the Prophet Joseph Smith received the necessary priesthood keys of Church government from Peter, James, and John before the organization of the Church (D&C 27:12–13), the Lord revealed more and more about how the Church should be organized and governed as its membership grew. For example, in 1830 the general leadership of the Church consisted of the First Elder and the Second Elder of the Church (Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery). In 1832 the Presidency of the High Priesthood was organized (D&C 81), and that presidency also became the First Presidency of the Church in 1833. WhenDoctrine and Covenants 102was given there were about 3,000 members of the Church—about the size of a stake today. Consequently, the Lord gave additional revelation on governing His growing Church by directing the Prophet Joseph Smith to organize the first high council.This first high council of the Church was presided over by the First Presidency and handled matters concerning thewhole Church. As other stakes were organized, however, the Lord gave revelation concerning a “Presiding High Council” of the Church (D&C 107:33)—which was the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—to handle matters concerning the whole Church, while each stake had a “standing high council” (D&C 107:36) that handled matters pertaining to that stake only.Today, each stake of the Church is presided over by a stake president and two counselors, and they are assisted in their duties by a stake high council—according to the pattern given inDoctrine and Covenants 102. President Stephen L Richards, who served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and as a counselor in the First Presidency during his lifetime, said, “The genius of our Church government is government through councils” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 86).

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 102

Minutes(section heading)The record of what occurred in a meeting 
Standing(v. 3)Permanent 
Vacancy(v. 8)Unfilled position 
Sanctioned, sanction(vv. 8, 19)Approved, accepted, sustained 
Convened, convenes(vv. 8, 13)Gathered in a formal meeting 
Cast lots by numbers(v. 12)Be assigned a number by chance 
Ascertain(vv. 12, 34)Determine, find out 
Commencing(v. 12)Beginning 
Impartially(v. 20)Fairly 
Manifest it(v. 20)Make it known 
Altered(v. 21)Changed 
A sufficiency(v. 23)Enough 
Foregoing(v. 24)What was written before 
Transmit(v. 26)Send, communicate 
Appeal, appealed(vv. 27, 31, 33)Ask for reconsideration 

Doctrine and Covenants 102:2, 12–33—“Settling Important Difficulties”

In addition to helping administer the programs of the Church, a high council helps the stake presidency in the disciplinary matters of the Church—following the pattern set inDoctrine and Covenants 102. Additional instructions are given in theChurch Handbook of Instructions.A Church disciplinary council is held when a member commits serious violations of gospel principles, such as fornication, adultery, homosexual acts, abortion, criminal acts, apostasy, or abuse of spouse or children. Some disciplinary councils are held at the ward or branch level, while more serious cases are held at the stake or district level. These Church councils k to bring the sinner to repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the Church and protection of its members.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 102.

Activity A iconA Backup System

Doctrine and Covenants 102:9–11refers to the President of the Church. It can also refer to the president of a stake. According to these verses, what happens if the president is unable to be in attendance or participate in a council?

Activity B iconWhat Happens?

Based onDoctrine and Covenants 102:13–29, summarize what happens in a stake disciplinary council.