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General authority

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a general authority is a member of the highest levels of leadership in the church[1] who has administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church. A general authority's jurisdiction is church-wide, in contrast to the responsibilities of a local authority or an area authority, which relate to a particular area, unit, or department of the church. As a group, the general authorities are often referred to as "the Brethren".[1] As of May 2014, the number of general authorities is 106.[2]

Contents

  • Origin of the term 1
  • Composition and distinction from general officers 2
    • General officers 2.1
  • Tenure 3
  • Common consent 4
  • General authority firsts 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Origin of the term

The first scriptural use of the term general authority was in minutes of a meeting for the organization of the Presiding High Council in 1834. Though the original minutes did not refer to the term general authorities, the revised minutes, which were included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, stated that decisions of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles "can only be called into question by the general authorities of the church in case of transgression."[3] The use of the term general authorities at this time and in this context is generally interpreted to include the First Presidency and the Presiding High Council.

Composition and distinction from general officers

By definition, general authorities are members of the church's priesthood.[1] In order of precedence,[1] the general authorities include the members of the following leadership organizations:

Organization Membership Title given to members
(e.g., Title Smith or Title John J. Smith)
Tenure
First Presidency President of the Church and his chosen counselors President[1] President of the Church: Life
Counselors: Until own death, death of the President of the Church, or release at the discretion of the president
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 12 Apostles Elder;[1]
President or Acting President of the Quorum: President[1]
Typically life; may be removed from Quorum to join First Presidency
Presidency of the Seventy 7 Seventies, typically drawn from the First or Second Quorum of the Seventy Elder[1] Variable (usually 5-8 years); until release at the discretion of the church president; may remain a member of the First or Second Quorum of the Seventy when released
First Quorum of the Seventy Up to 70 Seventies Elder[1] Life; will typically be relieved of active duties and granted emeritus status around age 70
Second Quorum of the Seventy Up to 70 Seventies Elder[1] Variable (usually 5-7 years); until release at the discretion of the church president
Presiding Bishopric 3 Bishops: one presiding bishop and two counselors Bishop[1] Variable (usually 9-12 years); until release at the discretion of the church president; will typically become a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy upon their release[4]
Presiding Patriarch 1 Patriarch, usually a descendant of Joseph Smith, Sr. Elder Defunct; Life; In 1979, Eldred G. Smith was released from active duties and given general authority emeritus status. A new presiding patriarch has not been called since his death in 2013.
Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Defunct (was variable) Defunct (was Elder) All Assistants to the Twelve were added to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1976 and the position was eliminated

General officers

Not all church leaders with church-wide responsibility are considered general authorities. The

  • Grampa Bill's G.A. Pages : brief biographies of every LDS Church general authority in history

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m  
  2. ^ "Church Organization", LDS.org (LDS Church), retrieved 2014-05-15 
  3. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 102:32
  4. ^ From 1961 to 2012, every member of the Presiding Bishopric had been called to be a general authority in another capacity upon being released from the Presiding Bishopric. Most have become Assistants to the Twelve or members of the First Quorum of Seventy; Robert D. Hales was called as member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 2012, H. David Burton and his counselors were released and designated as emeritus general authorities.
  5. ^ "Church Organization: General Authorities", LDS.org (LDS Church), retrieved 2013-03-14 
  6. ^  .
  7. ^ Flake, Lawrence R. (2001), "Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Called By Each President of the Church", Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, Provo, Utah:  .
  8. ^ This practice had become more flexible for a period of time when Gordon B. Hinckley was church president. For example, as of the October 2004 General Conference, three of the seven members of the Presidency of the Seventy, two other members of the First Quorum, and four members of the Second Quorum were aged 70 or more and continued in office. During the administration of Thomas S. Monson, the typical pattern described has been used.
  9. ^ The April 2012 release of H. David Burton and his counselors was an exception to this, as they were simply designated as emeritus general authorities, rather than members of the First Quorum.
  10. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 20:65
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Jason Swenson, "Elder Hugo E. Martinez: 'The Lord is in charge'", Church News, 2014-04-14.

References

See also

First Individual Date Position Notes
First second-generation general authority Joseph Smith, Sr. December 18, 1833 Presiding Patriarch Son Joseph Smith, Jr. was President of the Church
First non-American general authority John Taylor December 19, 1838 Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Born in England; joined church in Upper Canada
First third-generation general authority John Smith February 18, 1855 Presiding Patriarch Father was Hyrum Smith, Assistant President of the Church and presiding patriarch; grandfather was Joseph Smith, Sr., presiding patriarch
First fourth-generation general authority Joseph Fielding Smith April 7, 1910 Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Father was Joseph F. Smith; President of the Church; grandfather was Hyrum Smith; great-grandfather was Joseph Smith, Sr.
First general authority of Asian descent Adney Y. Komatsu 4 April 1975 Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Joined the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1976; was given emeritus status in 1993
First Native American general authority George P. Lee 3 October 1975 First Quorum of the Seventy Excommunicated in 1989
First resident of Europe general authority Charles A. Didier 3 October 1975 First Quorum of the Seventy Native of Belgium; was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from 1992 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2007; was granted emeritus status 3 October 2009.
First resident of Asia general authority Yoshihiko Kikuchi October 1977 First Quorum of the Seventy Native of Japan; was granted emeritus status 1 October 2011.
First resident of the United Kingdom general authority (i.e. resident when called) Derek A. Cuthbert March 1978 First Quorum of the Seventy
First resident of Latin America general authority Ángel Abrea 20 March 1981 First Quorum of the Seventy Given emeritus status in 2003
First resident of Australia general authority Robert E. Sackley April 1988 First Quorum of the Seventy Transferred to Second Quorum of the Seventy in 1989; died in 1993
First general authority of black African descent Helvécio Martins April 1990 Second Quorum of the Seventy Released in 1995
First Korean general authority Han In Sang July 1991 Second Quorum of the Seventy Released in 1996
First Filipino general authority Augusto A. Lim July 1992 Second Quorum of the Seventy Released in 1997
First Chinese general authority Tai Kwok Yuen July 1992 Second Quorum of the Seventy Released in 1997
First resident of Africa general authority Christoffel Golden Jr. April 2001 First Quorum of the Seventy Resident of South Africa
First black African general authority[11] Joseph W. Sitati April 2009 First Quorum of the Seventy Native of Nairobi, Kenya
First Puerto Rican and Caribbean general authority[12] Hugo E. Martinez April 2014 Second Quorum of the Seventy Native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

General authority firsts

This biannual procedure is dictated by church theology, which states that the church shall be governed by the common consent of its membership.[10] Dissenting votes are rare and have even more rarely prevented a person from holding the proposed position. General authorities and general officers are also assigned to deliver sermons during the two-day conferences.

In the biannual

Common consent

As with any calling in the church, general authorities and general officers serve "until they are released". In current church practice, men called to the First Quorum of the Seventy typically remain general authorities for life, but are granted emeritus status in the October following their 70th birthday.[8] Members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy are typically called for a period of five to seven years. When members of the Second Quorum are released, they are no longer general authorities of the church. When members of the presiding bishopric are released, they typically become members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and are therefore retained as lifetime general authorities, including later being granted emeritus status.[9]

A person is typically called to be a general authority or general officer by a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve. The president of the church and members of the Quorum of the Twelve are typically called for life, although there have been more than a dozen instances when an apostle has been released from his service in the Quorum of the Twelve due to disfellowshipment, excommunication, or resignation.[7]

Tenure

Typically, general authorities are given authority to use the sealing power, while general officers and area seventies are not.

Due to this change, no general auxiliary presidencies are composed of general authorities. Rather, the general authority seventies remain active in general church committees and have less jurisdiction over local stakes, particularly in North America. Generally, stake presidents now report to area seventies, who in turn report to area presidencies, which are usually composed of general authority seventies. In North America, there are no area presidencies, with members of the Presidency of the Seventy taking the responsibility of overseeing the areas.

Until 2004, general leadership for the general conference, Thomas S. Monson, of the First Presidency, announced that "a recent decision [has been made] that members of the Quorums of the Seventy [will] not serve in the general presidencies of the Sunday School and Young Men."[6]

Also excluded from the definition of general authorities are members of the Third through the Eighth Quorums of the Seventy, who are called area seventies and have responsibilities relating to a limited geographical area, not church-wide authority.[5]

The latter three groups are composed of women and represent the only three organizations in which women are given church-wide authority.

include the general presidencies of the following organizations: [1]

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