Return to About Mormons home

Concept of Presidency

by J. Bonner Ritchie

The administrative/leadership calling of presidency is part of the presiding structure at all levels in virtually every unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A presidency generally consists of the president (or bishop) and two counselors, with assistance from secretaries and/or clerks. Presidencies are responsible for all members and programs within their organizational jurisdiction and range from the First Presidency of the Church to a presidency of a small priesthood quorum or class.

Presidents are usually called by the next higher level in the organization, and their calling is "sustained" by common consent of the group over which they will preside. Counselors are then nominated by the president, but are likewise approved and called by the higher level. They are designated first and second counselors to establish relative authority and areas of responsibility. The president makes specific assignments to counselors, but in general they assist and support the president in gathering information, analyzing problems, making decisions, and implementing programs.

Decision making in a presidency is not a democratic voting process. The counselors sit in council with the president and give counsel, but the president is responsible to make decisions and to work for unanimity if it has not already been reached. Counselors are similar to a vice-president or assistant administrator except that they do not have independent decision-making power for organizational subunits. The two most common presidencies in the Church, the stake presidency and the ward bishopric, call or release all individuals in positions under their jurisdiction, usually in consultation with the appropriate priesthood quorum or auxiliary presidency. When a president is released, the counselors are automatically also released.

A statement representative of the responsibilities of a president contained in the Doctrine and Covenants includes sitting in council with members, teaching them, edifying them, and presiding over the organization (D&C 107:79-95). The LDS presidency model ensures that no one administrator is responsible alone but always has others who share the burden and perspective of the office and in most matters can act in the president's absence. The authority of the president is clear, but the shared responsibility adds strength and assistance and provides an opportunity for individual development, which is helpful for future leadership.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Concept of Presidency

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

All About Mormons