Presiding Patriarch

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In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Presiding Patriarch (also called Presiding Evangelist, Patriarch over the Church, Patriarch of the Church, or Patriarch to the Church) is a church-wide leadership office within the priesthood. Among the duties of the Presiding Patriarch are to preside in council meetings, ordain other patriarchs, and administer patriarchal blessings.

Originally, the office of Presiding Patriarch was one of the highest and most important offices of the church's priesthood. The role was equated by Joseph Smith, Jr. with Biblical patriarchs from Adam to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it was expected that the office would descend through lineal succession from father to son. This precedent was set when Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith's brother, became the second Presiding Patriarch because he was the eldest surviving son of the first Presiding Patriarch, Joseph Smith, Sr. When the office was given to Hyrum, he was given "keys of the patriarchal priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter Day Saints". Thus, some have argued that Presiding Patriarch is an office of the Patriarchal Priesthood. However, the existence and meaning of the Patriarchal Priesthood is controversial and uncertain.

The Community of Christ[edit]

In the major denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, the role of the Presiding Patriarch diminished substantially after the death of Hyrum Smith. Today, the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, ordains a Presiding Evangelist who plays an important role as a world church leader, but it is not required that the person be a descendant of Joseph Smith's family. That tradition was discontinued in 1958 when RLDS Prophet–Presidents W. Wallace Smith, a grandson of Joseph Smith, Jr., presented Roy Cheville as a successor to Elbert A. Smith. Unlike Elbert A. Smith, Cheville was not a descendant of Joseph Smith, Sr.. Prior to 1984 Presiding Patriarch and Presiding Evangelist were used interchangeably for the one presiding over the Order of Evangelists. In 1984, the Community of Christ dropped the use the name Presiding Evangelist for this role, along with the change of name of the local office from Evangelist-Patriarch to simply Evangelist. The current Presiding Evangelist of the Community of Christ is David R. Brock.

Role within the Community of Christ[edit]

Within the international leadership Councils, Quorums, and Orders of the Community of Christ, the Presiding Evangelist serves as a spiritual companion, counselor and guide to the church and its leaders, and to the Order of Evangelists in fulfilling the significant ministry they provide, especially what the church considers "a time of transformation and change".

According to the church, Evangelists are ordained to be ministers of blessing, witnessing of Jesus Christ and responsive to the reconciling and redeeming influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of persons, serving in multiple ministries according to the unique gifts and callings of each evangelist.

Chronology of the Presiding Patriarchs/Evangelist of The Community of Christ[edit]

Date Presiding Patriarchs/Evangelist Notes
Joseph Smith, Sr.jpg 18 December 1833 – 14 September 1840 Joseph Smith, Sr. Father of Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith ca 1880-1920.png 14 September 1840 - 27 June 1844 Hyrum Smith Oldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Sr.
Williamsmith.gif 24 May 1845 – 19 October 1845 William Smith Oldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Sr. William Smith was patriarch to the church until his name and positions were read at the 19 October 1845 general conference. Those attenders unanimously voted against Smith being retained as both an apostle and the patriarch.[1] He then lost both offices and was disfellowshipped from the church.[2][1] William Smith would also be referred to as "Petitioner for RLDS Patriarchate" from April 6, 1872 – November 13, 1893 by the Community of Christ (RLDS).[3]
(Petitioner)
April 6, 1872 – November 13, 1893
Alexander Hale Smith.jpg April 1897 – 12 August 1909 Alexander H. Smith Brother of Joseph Smith III
Joseph R. Lambert.jpg 12 August 1909 – 20 April 1913 Joseph R. Lambert Acting Presiding Patriarch
Frederick A. Smith.jpg 20 April 1913 – 10 April 1938 Frederick A. Smith Son of Alexander H. Smith.
Elbert A. Smith.jpg 10 April 1938 – 4 February 1958 Elbert A. Smith Grandson of Joseph Smith, Jr. Son of David Hyrum Smith
4 February 1958 – 4 April 1974[4] Roy A. Cheville Left his professorial career at Graceland College to accept ordination. In 1974 he became "Patriarch Emeritus".[4] First person to serve in that office who was not a direct descendant of Joseph Smith, Sr.
4 April 1974[4] - 29 March 1982[5] Reed M. Holmes  
29 March 1982[5] – 5 April 1992[6] Duane E. Couey  
5 April 1992[6] – 5 April 1994[7] Paul W. Booth Presiding "Evangelist” became preferred title.[3]
5 April 1994[7] – 2000 Everett S. Graffeo  
2000 – 6 March 2006[8] Danny A. Belrose  
1 May 2006[8] – 27 March 2007[9] Richard E. Kohlman Acting "Presiding Evangelist”
26 March 2007[9] David R. Brock  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

Role within within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

When a Presiding Patriarch has existed, the church has sustained the person as a prophet, seer, and revelator.[10] In the history of the LDS Church, there have been eight Presiding Patriarchs, three Acting Presiding Patriarchs, and one Patriarch Emeritus.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) effectively discontinued the office of Presiding Patriarch in 1979, indicating enough local patriarchs existed so that the church-wide position was no longer needed. Until that time, the role and duties of the office had varied. The Presiding Patriarch sometimes appointed local patriarchs in the stakes of the church and presided over them as a loose "Quorum of Patriarchs." Like the local patriarchs, the Presiding Patriarch was also empowered to give patriarchal blessings.

Chronology of the Presiding Patriarchs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

Dates Presiding Patriarch Notes
Joseph Smith, Sr.jpg 18 December 1833 – 14 September 1840 Joseph Smith, Sr. Father of Joseph Smith, Jr.
Hyrum Smith ca 1880-1920.png 14 September 1840 – 27 June 1844 Hyrum Smith Oldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Sr.
Williamsmith.gif 24 May 1845 – 19 October 1845 William Smith Oldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Sr. William Smith was patriarch to the church until his name and positions were read at the 19 October 1845 general conference. Those attenders unanimously voted against Smith being retained as both an apostle and the patriarch.[1] He then lost both offices and was disfellowshipped from the church.[11][1]
John Smith (uncle of Joseph Smith, Jr).jpg 1 January 1849 – 23 May 1854 John Smith "Uncle John"; brother of Joseph Smith, Sr.
John Smith (nephew)1895.JPG 18 February 1855 – 6 November 1911 John Smith Son of Hyrum Smith
Hyrum G. Smith2.jpg 9 May 1912 – 4 February 1932 Hyrum G. Smith Grandson of John Smith, previous Presiding Patriarch; great-grandson of Hyrum Smith
Nicholas G. Smith.jpg 4 February 1932 – 1934 Nicholas G. Smith
(de facto Acting Presiding Patriarch)
Son of Apostle John Henry Smith; grandson of Apostle George A. Smith; great-grandson of former Presiding Patriarch "Uncle" John Smith; was never officially called, set apart, or sustained as the Acting Presiding Patriarch, but carried out the functions of the office
Frank B. Woodbury.jpg 1934–October 8, 1937 Frank B. Woodbury
(de facto Acting Presiding Patriarch)
Unrelated to Smith family; was never officially called, set apart, or sustained as the Acting Presiding Patriarch, but carried out the functions of the office
George F. Richards 1920.jpg October 8, 1937 – 8 October 1942 George F. Richards
(Acting Presiding Patriarch)
Unrelated to Smith family; unlike Nicholas G. Smith and Frank B. Woodbury, was officially called, set apart, and sustained as the Acting Presiding Patriarch
Joseph Fielding Smith (presiding patriarch).jpg 8 October 1942 – 6 October 1946 Joseph Fielding Smith[12] Great-grandson of Hyrum Smith; not a descendant of previous Presiding Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith; released by President George Albert Smith amid reports of homosexual activity. Restored to "priesthood status" in 1957.
Eldred G. Smith.jpg 10 April 1947 – 4 October 1979 Eldred G. Smith Son of former Presiding Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith; great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith. Patriarch emeritus from 4 October 1979 to his death on 4 April 2013.
Position abolished

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d B. H. Roberts (ed.), History of the Church 7:457–59.
  2. ^ Hosea Stout journal, October 6, 1845.
  3. ^ a b Howard, Richard P. Lesson 2: A Brief Historical Survey of the Ministry of the Evangelist-Patriarch, page 13. Temple School Course PA 222: Evangelists: Sharing a New World of Blessing, Community of Christ.
  4. ^ a b c Doctrine and Covenants Sec 151:1a and 151:2
  5. ^ a b Doctrine and Covenants Sec 155:1a and 155:2a
  6. ^ a b Doctrine and Covenants Sec 158:2a and 155:2a
  7. ^ a b Doctrine and Covenants Sec 158:1 and 155:2a
  8. ^ a b Communication to the Church(Belrose Released): March 6, 2006
  9. ^ a b World Conference 2007: Official Minutes of Business Session
  10. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (2013-04-05). "Longest-serving Mormon general authority dies at 106". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ Hosea Stout journal, October 6, 1845.
  12. ^ Not to be confused with his uncle of the same name, Joseph Fielding Smith, who served as church president from 1970 to 1972.

References[edit]