First Presidency

First Presidency

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In the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

, the First Presidency (or the Quorum of the Presidency of the Church) was the highest governing body in the Latter Day Saint church established by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1832, and is the highest governing body of several modern Latter Day Saint denominations. Smith established the inaugural First Presidency in 1832, and the body continued to exist until Smith's death in 1844. Some time later, First Presidencies were reorganized by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon was a leader during the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Baptist background:...

 for the Rigdonite
Rigdonite
Rigdonite is a name given to members of the Latter Day Saint movement who accept Sidney Rigdon as the successor in the church presidency to movement founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. The early history of the Rigdonite movement is shared with the history of the Latter Day Saint movement, but as of the...

s (now defunct), by Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III was the eldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and Emma Hale Smith...

 for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

), by James J. Strang for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement with around three hundred members as of 1998...

, and by William Bickerton
William Bickerton
William Bickerton was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement after the 1844 succession crisis. In 1862, Bickerton became the founding president of the church now known as The Church of Jesus Christ , which is one of many churches that claim to be a continuation of the Church of Christ founded...

 for The Church of Jesus Christ
Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite)
The Church of Jesus Christ is a Christian religious denomination headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, United States. The Church of Jesus Christ is a Restorationist church and is historically part of the Latter Day Saint movement...

, although the latter two organizations have not had a First Presidency for much of their history.

The First Presidency in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the First Presidency is the presiding, or governing authority of the church. It usually consists of the President of the Church and two counselors, although up to eight counselors have on occasion been included in the presidency at the same time. The counselors assist the church president and work closely with him in guiding the entire church.

Like the church president and President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . In general, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is the most senior Apostle in the church, aside from the President of the Church...

, counselors in the First Presidency are referred to by the title "President"; he and his counselors are referred to as President Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson
Thomas Spencer Monson is an American religious leader and author, and the 16th and current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . As president, Monson is considered by adherents of the religion to be a "prophet, seer, and revelator" of God's will on earth...

, President Henry B. Eyring
Henry B. Eyring
Henry Bennion Eyring is an American educational administrator, author, and religious leader. In 2008 Eyring became First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . Eyring was the Second Counselor to Gordon B. Hinckley in the First Presidency from October...

, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf is a German former aviator and airline executive. He currently serves as the Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the eleventh most senior apostle in the ranks of the Church.-Early life and education:Uchtdorf...

. All members of the First Presidency are sustained
Common consent
Common consent is a democratic principle established by the Latter Day Saint movement's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., who taught in 1830 that "all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith." As it is most frequently used by the Church of Jesus Christ of...

 by the membership of the church as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Any worthy high priest within the church may serve as a counselor in the First Presidency, though most of its members have been chosen from among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy...

. Charles W. Nibley
Charles W. Nibley
Charles Wilson Nibley was the fifth presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1907 and 1925 and a member of the church's First Presidency from 1925 until his death....

, for example, was a counselor to Heber J. Grant
Heber J. Grant
Heber Jeddy Grant was the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . He was ordained an apostle on October 16, 1882, on the same day as George Teasdale...

 without ever being ordained to the priesthood office of apostle
Apostle (Mormonism)
In the Latter Day Saint movement, an Apostle is a "special witness of the name of Jesus Christ who is sent to teach the principles of salvation to others." In many Latter Day Saint churches, an Apostle is a priesthood office of high authority within the church hierarchy. In many churches, apostles...

.

In the case of an infirm president, his counselors may be called upon to perform more of his duties. If needed, any number of additional counselors may be called to assist them, though the president of the church still remains the only person on the earth authorized to use all priesthood keys.

Counselors serve in the First Presidency until their own deaths, until the death of the church president who called them, or until they are released by the church president. The death of a church president dissolves the First Presidency, and leaves the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . In general, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is the most senior Apostle in the church, aside from the President of the Church...

 as the senior leader of the church.

The death or release of a counselor does not dissolve the First Presidency.

Often, the surviving counselors of the late president will be called as counselors in the new First Presidency, but a notably infirm counselor may revert to his place among the Twelve Apostles with a healthier man called as counselor in his place. On the death or release of a first counselor, the second counselor usually succeeds and a new second counselor is named. Although this is a fairly common occurrence, there are no hard and fast rules about such practices and each president is free to choose the counselors he prefers.

The First Presidency in Community of Christ


The First Presidency is the highest leadership or priesthood
Priesthood (Mormonism)
In the Latter Day Saint movement, priesthood is considered to be the power and authority of God, including the authority to act as a leader in the church and to perform ordinances, and the power to perform miracles. A body of priesthood holders is referred to as a quorum.Priesthood denotes elements...

 quorum of the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

 church (which shares a common historical foundation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Normally the First Presidency consists of the Prophet-President of the church and two counselors.

In 1860 with the reorganization of the First Presidency, Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III was the eldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and Emma Hale Smith...

 became the second Prophet-President of this church and also President of a new First Presidency. William Marks
William Marks (Mormonism)
William Marks was a leader in the early days of the Latter Day Saint movement and was a member of the First Presidency in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...

 became Smith's First Counselor.

The First Presidency of Community of Christ differs from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the church president is always the senior-most member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy...

 (of which there are usually 14 following the death of the Prophet). In Community of Christ, by contrast, each new church president has generally been "designated" as the successor by God through revelation received by the preceding church president (while still in that role). The Counselors in the First Presidency are then chosen by the church president and are occasionally, but not required, to be former or current members of the Council of Twelve Apostles. In addition, the death 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, to the office of president, the first presidency is then deemed reorganized. Members of the First Presidency are not generally considered to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or holding 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
Wallace B. Smith
Wallace Bunnell Anthony Smith was Prophet-President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , from April 5, 1978 through April 15, 1996. Son of President W. Wallace Smith, he was designated as his father's successor in 1976, and ordained church president in 1978 when his...

, who designated W. Grant McMurray
W. Grant McMurray
William Grant McMurray was Prophet-President of the Community of Christ from 1996 until 2004. He was the first non-descendant of Joseph Smith to head the church, and under his administration, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints changed its name to Community of...

 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
Stephen M. Veazey
Stephen Mark Veazey is the current Prophet-President of the Community of Christ, headquartered in Independence, Missouri. Veazey's name was presented to the church in March 2005 by a joint council of church leaders led by the Council of Twelve Apostles, as the next Prophet-President...

 as Prophet-President designate. Veazey had been serving as president of the Council of Twelve. Delegates elected to a special World Conference
World Conference (Community of Christ)
World Conference is the highest legislative body in the Community of Christ and is empowered to act for the entire church. It operates according to a principle known as "common consent" and is presided over by the First Presidency...

 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 Schaal as presidents of the church and counselors to the president, the First Presidency was reorganized.

On March 27, 2007 President Robinson retired from his position in the First Presidency and Becky Savage was ordained into the First Presidency. She is the first female to sit on the First Presidency.

Unlike most Latter Day Saint denominations with a First Presidency, the counselors in the First Presidency of Community of Christ are no longer designated "first" and "second" counselors.

Current members of the First Presidency:
  • President Stephen M. Veazey
    Stephen M. Veazey
    Stephen Mark Veazey is the current Prophet-President of the Community of Christ, headquartered in Independence, Missouri. Veazey's name was presented to the church in March 2005 by a joint council of church leaders led by the Council of Twelve Apostles, as the next Prophet-President...

     (President of the High Priesthood & of the Church)
  • President Becky L. Savage
    Becky L. Savage
    Becky L. Savage has been a counselor to Stephen M. Veazey in the First Presidency of the Community of Christ, since March 2007. Savage is the first female member of the First Presidency in the history of the Community of Christ....

     (Counselor to the president)
  • President David D. Schaal
    David D. Schaal
    David D. Schaal has been a member of the First Presidency of the Community of Christ since 2005. Schaal was also a member of the church's Council of Twelve Apostles from 2002 to 2005....

     (Counselor to the president)

The First Presidency in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


A First Presidency also leads the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement. The president of the church is Frederick Niels Larsen, a direct descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr....

, which was formed primarily out of discontent with changes in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Church President is Frederick Niels Larsen
Frederick Niels Larsen
federick Niels Larsen is the President/Prophet of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is the great grandson of Joseph Smith....

, a direct descendant of Joseph Smith Jr., as the church feels strongly about lineal succession. The First and Second Counselors to the president are Robert Ostrander and Lane Harold respectively.