Women and men are both invited to be leaders within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Each local congregation (ward or branch) cannot function without both. The chief clergy amongst the men is the Bishop, which is similar to the pastor of a Protestant church, or the priest of a Catholic diocese. Mormon Bishops, and every other auxiliary leader in Mormon wards or branches (congregations), serve as unpaid volunteers.
The chief of the women leaders in every Mormon congregation is the Relief Society President. She, like the Bishop, serves with two counselors in leading the Ward. Unlike the Bishop, she does not govern within the ward, but is expected to help lead the membership and provide counsel and recommendations to the Bishopric on a regular basis.
Leadership positions within a ward are generally as follows:
Organization led by:
Bishopric — men
Relief Society — women
Elder’s Quorum — men
Young Women — women
Young Men — men
Primary (children’s organization) — women
Sunday School — men
One of the 4 purposes of the LDS Church is to care for the poor and needy. This is done jointly between the Bishop and the Relief Society President. Bishop’s orders for assistance are required to be signed by both of them, every time. (Unless the assistance is going to the Bishop or his family, in which case his ecclesiastical leader, the Stake President, must sign).
The Stake President (a stake is a group of wards under one regional administration) and his counselors serve alongside the Stake Relief Society President and her counselors. In the General Church leadership, the Prophet and his counselors also serve side by side with the General Relief Society presidency. In all this, ultimately the Church governance is held via the Priesthood of God through the men who bear that priesthood. “Priesthood” in the Church of Jesus Christ does not mean clergy trained and paid in their profession. Rather, “priesthood” is the authority and power to act in God’s name. Thus, all worthy men in Mormonism may bear the priesthood and use it to serve others. Through the priesthood, all spiritual gifts are manifest in this, God’s true and living church.
Priesthood responsibilities are given by revelation in the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 121;34-46, a collection of modern revelations for the LDS Church. One such revelation is, in part:
Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
This article was written by Cliff, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.