High priest (Latter Day Saints)
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In most denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, a high priest is a member of the priesthood within the Melchizedek priesthood order. High priests are typically older and more seasoned leaders within the priesthood. The term derives in part from the Epistle to the Hebrews which describes Jesus as "a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." (5:10; see also 6:20). Movement founder Joseph Smith, Jr. ordained the first high priests on June 3, 1831.
High priests in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Like other priesthood offices in the LDS Church, high priests are organized into quorums. The High Priests Quorum, however, is organized at the stake level, with the president of the quorum being the stake president. In contrast, priesthood quorums for the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, and elder are organized at the ward level. In consultation with the bishop, the stake president organizes a high priests "group" in each ward. Each group is provided with a group leader who typically selects two assistants and a secretary to assist him. Assignments made to the group include home teaching and assisting adult males who are not yet elders prepare to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. High priests are also responsible for temple and family history work within a ward.
In a district, there is no high priests quorum. Men holding the office of high priest join the elders quorum of the branch that they live in.
There are a number of positions in the LDS Church which may only be filled by a high priest. Among these are stake president and his counselors, member of a stake high council, and mission president. A bishop must be a high priest unless he can prove a right-by-lineage to the calling (see D&C 107:69). Bishops' counselors are usually high priests, but this is not required and counselors in a student ward are not ordinarily ordained high priests to fill this position. A branch president and his counselors need not be high priests. Any high priest is eligible to be called as a member of the First Presidency, but in recent practice most members of the First Presidency have been apostles.
- High priest, The Joseph Smith Papers (accessed December 28, 2011)
- High Priest, Encyclopedia Mormonism, Macmillan, 1992.
- A Study of the History of the Office of High Priest[dead link], Lawson, John D., Masters Thesis Brigham Young University, 2006.