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Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (as of 1808-1901). On floor: Matthias F. Cowley, Abraham O. Woodruff. Seated (left to right): Brigham Young, Jr., George Q. Cannon, President Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Franklin D. Richards. Standing (left to right): Anthon H. Lund, John W. Taylor, John Henry Smith, Heber J. Grant, Francis M. Lyman, George Teasdale, Marriner W. Merrill.
by W. Keith Warner
Each week the two presiding quorums of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints meet jointly as the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Meeting in a room in the Salt Lake Temple, this council discusses and decides all major Church appointments and policy matters.
The presiding members in this council are the First Presidency, consisting of the president of the church, who has ultimate authority for all matters in the Church, and his counselors, who assist him in directing the affairs of the Church. The Council also includes the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The members of these two quorums are the only men on earth who hold all the keys, or authorization, of the priesthood, and only they are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators for the Church.
N. Eldon Tanner, counselor to four Church Presidents, said, "It is in this body [the Council] that any change in administration or policy is considered and approved, and it then becomes the official policy of the Church" (Tanner, 1979, p. 47). Responsibilities of the Council include such matters as approval of new bishops; changes in ward, stake, mission, and temple boundaries and organizations; and approval of general officers and central administration of the auxiliary organizations of the Church, such as the Primary, Sunday School, and Relief Society.
The order and procedure of the Council are rarely discussed in public, but can be inferred from published accounts of the process by which a revelation was announced in 1978. After a considerable period of prayer and discussion among the General Authorities, President Spencer W. Kimball felt inspired to extend eligibility for the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church. He first presented it to his counselors, who accepted and approved it, and then to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The same inspiration came to the members of the Council, who then approved it unanimously (McConkie, p. 128). After the Council had sustained the President in this action, the revelation was subsequently presented to all other General Authorities and to the general membership of the Church, who approved it unanimously (Tanner, 1978).
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page)
McConkie, Bruce R. "The New Revelation on Priesthood." In Priesthood. Salt Lake City, 1981.
Tanner, N. Eldon. "Revelation on Priesthood Accepted, Church Officers Sustained." Ensign 8 (Nov. 1978):16-17.
Tanner, N. Eldon. "The Administration of the Church." Ensign 9 (Nov. 1979):42-48.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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