First Presidency (Community of Christ)

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This article is about First Presidency of the Community of Christ. For information about the First Presidency in the wider Latter Day Saint movement, see First Presidency.

The First Presidency of the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is the church's highest-ranking priesthood quorum. It is composed of the Prophet–President and two counselors, and they preside over the whole church under the principles of "theocratic democracy" observed in the governance of the church. This includes responsibility for the World Conference, field ministries, priesthood quorums and orders, and headquarters functions. The president of the Church holds the priesthood office of Prophet and is also a High Priest.

In 1860 with the reorganization of the First Presidency, Joseph Smith III became the second Prophet-President of this church and also President of a new First Presidency. William Marks became Smith's First Counselor.

In the Community of Christ, each new church president has generally been "designated" as the successor by the preceding church president. The Counselors in the First Presidency are then chosen by the church president and are often, but not required, to be former or current members of the Council of Twelve Apostles. In addition, the death or resignation of the Prophet-President does not dissolve the First Presidency, which continues on as the church's executive council in the persons of the remaining two presidents until a Prophet-President is called. The two members who were counselors to the prophet-president, cease to be counselors during this time. Upon ordination of the Prophet-President, the former first presidency is dissolved, and upon ordination of the two he/she calls to be his/her counselors and presidents of the church it is reorganized. Members of the First Presidency are not members of the Quorum of Twelve nor do they hold the priesthood office of apostle, regardless of previous calling.

Prior to 1996, all prophet-presidents were descendants of the movement's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr.. This pattern was broken by Wallace B. Smith, who designated W. Grant McMurray church president. McMurray, in turn, resigned the church presidency in 2004 without designating a successor. A joint council of church leaders led by the Council of Twelve Apostles announced in March 2005 the name of Stephen M. Veazey as Prophet-President designate. Veazey had been serving as president of the Council of Twelve. Delegates elected to a special World Conference of the church approved Veazey and he was ordained as the 8th president of the High Priesthood, Prophet, and President of the Church on June 3, 2005.

One June 4, 2005 with the ordinations of Ken Robinson and David D. Schaal to the priesthood office of president (and concurrently as counselors to the President of the Church), the First Presidency was reorganized. At the 2007 World Conference, Becky L. Savage was ordained as the first woman to serve in the First Presidency. She replaced Ken Robinson, who was ordained to the office of evangelist and is expected to retire from full-time ministry "at an appropriate date".[1] Schaal was released on May 7, 2012,[2] and his position in the First Presidency remained vacant until Apostle Scott Murphy was ordained to the position at the World Conference of April 2013.

Current members of the First Presidency are:

At the 2007 World Conference, President Veazey stated that President Savage "will not be relegated to any kind of secondary role based on seniority or responsibility." Veazey assigned Savage to lead headquarters operations and leadership development while Schaal will oversee field and human resources ministries in addition to other duties.[3]

Chronology of the First Presidency[edit]

Dates Prophet–President of the Church Counselors Change
8 March 1832 – 3 December 1832 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Jesse Gause
Sidney Rigdon
Initial organization of First Presidency
3 December 1832 – 18 March 1833 Joseph Smith, Jr. Sidney Rigdon Jesse Gause excommunicated
18 March 1833 – 5 December 1834 Joseph Smith, Jr. Sidney Rigdon
Frederick G. Williams
Frederick G. Williams called as Counselor
5 December 1834 – 3 September 1837 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Oliver Cowdery (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
Frederick G. Williams
Oliver Cowdery called as Assistant President of the Church
3 September 1837 – 7 November 1837 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Oliver Cowdery (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
Frederick G. Williams
Oliver Cowdery (Assistant Counselor)
Hyrum Smith (Assistant Counselor)
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Joseph Smith, Sr. (Assistant Counselor)
Hyrum Smith, John Smith and Joseph Smith, Sr. called as Assistant Counselors; Oliver Cowdery also given the title of Assistant Counselor
7 November 1837 – 11 April 1838 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Oliver Cowdery (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
Hyrum Smith
Oliver Cowdery (Assistant Counselor)
Joseph Smith, Sr. (Assistant Counselor)
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Frederick G. Williams rejected as Counselor at church conference; Hyrum Smith called as Counselor
11 April 1838 – 14 September 1840 Joseph Smith, Jr. Sidney Rigdon
Hyrum Smith
Joseph Smith, Sr. (Assistant Counselor)
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Oliver Cowdery excommunicated
14 September 1840 – 24 January 1841 Joseph Smith, Jr. Sidney Rigdon
Hyrum Smith
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Death of Joseph Smith, Sr.
24 January 1841 – 8 April 1841 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
William Law
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Hyrum Smith called as Assistant President of the Church; William Law replaces Hyrum Smith as Counselor
8 April 1841 – 25 May 1842 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith (Assistant President)
John C. Bennett (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
William Law
John Smith (Counselor)
John C. Bennett called as Assistant President
25 May 1842 – 4 February 1843 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
William Law
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
John C. Bennett disfellowshipped
4 February 1843 – 18 April 1844 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
William Law
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Amasa M. Lyman (Counselor)
Amasa M. Lyman called as Counselor
18 April 1844 – 27 June 1844 Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith (Assistant President)
Sidney Rigdon
John Smith (Assistant Counselor)
Amasa M. Lyman (Counselor)
Apostasy of William Law
6 April 1860 – 6 April 1863 Joseph Smith III
Reorganization of church with Joseph Smith III as prophet–president
6 April 1863 – >May 22, 1872 Joseph Smith III William Marks William Marks called as Counselor
May 22, 1872 – April 10, 1873 Joseph Smith III   Death of William Marks
April 10, 1873 – 1885 Joseph Smith III William W. Blair
David Hyrum Smith
William W. Blair and David Hyrum Smith called as Counselors
1885 – April 18, 1896 Joseph Smith III William W. Blair Release of David Hyrum Smith due to ill health and incapacitation
April 18, 1896 – April 18, 1902 Joseph Smith III   Death of William W. Blair
April 18, 1902 – April 19, 1909 Joseph Smith III R. C. Evans
Frederick M. Smith
R. C. Evans and Frederick M. Smith called as Counselors
April 19, 1909 – December 10, 1914 Joseph Smith III Frederick M. Smith
Elbert A. Smith
R. C. Evans released and Elbert A. Smith called as replacement
May 5, 1915 – October 2, 1922 Frederick M. Smith
Elbert A. Smith
Frederick M. Smith ordained prophet–president after death of Joseph Smith III; Elbert A. Smith retained as Counselor
October 2, 1922 – April 7, 1938 Frederick M. Smith Elbert A. Smith
Floyd M. McDowell
Floyd M. McDowell called as Counselor
April 7, 1938 – October 1938 Frederick M. Smith Floyd M. McDowell Elbert A. Smith released as Counselor
October 1938 – March 20, 1946 Frederick M. Smith Israel A. Smith
Lemuel F.P. Curry
Floyd M. McDowell resigns as Counselor; Israel A. Smith and Lemuel F.P. Curry added as Counselors
April 9, 1946 – March 1949 Israel A. Smith
John F. Garver
F. Henry Edwards
Reorganization of First Presidency after death of Frederick M. Smith
March 1949 – April 2, 1950 Israel A. Smith F. Henry Edwards Death of John F. Garver
April 2, 1950 – June 14, 1958 Israel A. Smith F. Henry Edwards
W. Wallace Smith
W. Wallace Smith called as Counselor
October 8, 1958 – April 18, 1966 W. Wallace Smith F. Henry Edwards
Maurice L. Draper
Reorganization of First Presidency after death of Israel A. Smith
April 18, 1966 – March 29, 1976 W. Wallace Smith Maurice L. Draper
Duane E. Couey
F. Henry Edwards released and replaced with Duane E. Couey
March 29, 1976 – April 3, 1978 W. Wallace Smith
Wallace B. Smith (Assistant and prophet–president designate)
Maurice L. Draper
Duane E. Couey
Wallace B. Smith added as an assistant to W. Wallace Smith and given title prophet–president designate
April 3, 1978 – March 29, 1982 Wallace B. Smith Duane E. Couey
Howard S. Sheehy, Jr.
Reorganization of First Presidency upon retirement of W. Wallace Smith
March 29, 1982 – April 5, 1992 Wallace B. Smith Howard S. Sheehy, Jr.
Alan D. Tyree
Duane E. Couey released and replaced with Alan D. Tyree
April 5, 1992 – April 15, 1996 Wallace B. Smith Howard S. Sheehy, Jr.
W. Grant McMurray
Alan D. Tyree released and replaced with W. Grant McMurray
April 15, 1996 – April 2000 W. Grant McMurray Howard S. Sheehy, Jr.
Kenneth N. Robinson
Reorganization of First Presidency upon retirement of Wallace B. Smith
April 2000 – June 3, 2005 W. Grant McMurray Kenneth N. Robinson
Peter A. Judd
Howard S. Sheehy, Jr. released and replaced with Peter A. Judd
June 3, 2005 – March 1, 2007 Stephen M. Veazey Kenneth N. Robinson
David D. Schaal
Reorganization of First Presidency upon resignation of W. Grant McMurray
March 1, 2007 – May 7, 2012 Stephen M. Veazey David D. Schaal
Becky L. Savage
Kenneth N. Robinson released and replaced with Becky L. Savage
March 7, 2012 – April 16, 2013 Stephen M. Veazey Becky L. Savage David D. Schaal released, seat vacant for a year
April 16, 2013 Stephen M. Veazey Becky L. Savage
K. Scott Murphy
K. Scott Murphy promoted to Presidency

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2007/letterofcounsel.asp
  2. ^ Stephen M. Veazey, "Letter of Counsel Regarding the Presiding Quorums", 2012-05-07.
  3. ^ Andrew M. Shields, "Official Minutes of Business Session, Wednesday March 28, 2007," in 2007 World Conference Thursday Bulletin, March 29, 2007, p. 326. Community of Christ, 2007

External links[edit]