High priest (Latter Day Saints)
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In most denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, a high priest is an office of the priesthood within the Melchizedek priesthood. High priests are typically more experienced 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 ordained the first high priests on June 3, 1831.
High priests are organized into quorums. The first president of a high priests quorum of the church was Smith's younger brother, Don Carlos Smith.
High priests in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), high priests are primarily responsible for the spiritual welfare of the members and the administration of local church units called wards and stakes.
Like other priesthood offices in the LDS Church, high priests are organized into quorums. The high priests quorum 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 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 the stake president and his counselors, members of a stake high council, mission president, and member of a temple presidency. A bishop must be a high priest unless he can prove a right-by-lineage to the calling (see D&C 107:69). Bishop's counselors are usually high priests, but this is not required and counselors in a student or young single adult 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. Since 1995, individuals ordained to the office of seventy are ordained first to the office of high priest.
- 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.