Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Question

 

Gramps,

This question goes to the issue of local leaders making rules which may actually go against church guidelines, or simply make church policy more strict. For instance, does a bishop have the authority to preclude worthy priesthood holders who do not have a temple recommend from participating in a baptism or confirmation, requiring that only those with current temple recommends can participate (performing the baptism or standing in on the confirmation blessing)? Does a local leader have the authority to make policy that would automatically exclude converts, for instance?

Shawna

 

Answer

 

Shawna,

The local leaders (Bishops and Stake Presidents) have the keys to the administering and running of local congregations. This gives them a lot of leeway in how they can do things. The Church in many ways tries to run by the Joseph Smith quote, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

The Church teaches the local leaders; it gives them guidance in the form of handbooks and training meetings as well as access to someone higher up to ask questions to. But it rests on them to make the day-to-day work. For your case of a bishop precluding worthy priesthood holders from participating in ordinances, he very much can. The bishop is responsible to make sure the ordinance is done properly including the worthiness of everyone involved. He would be well within his authority to pull any member that wishes to be a part of the ordinance in for an interview, and if not satisfied with the results deny, him.

Normally, the bishop should know the worthiness status of the members of his ward that are doing ordinances so this is unnecessary; he can just say yes or no. However, if friends and family¬† he doesn’t know come in from other wards to participate, then he needs a way to find out if they are worthy. This is not a new issue for the Church.

In Joseph Smith’s time if a stranger were to come into a local congregation and claim to be a member in good standing he would need to produce a certificate or trusted witnesses in order to be accepted as such. Nowadays a valid temple recommend fills much the same role.

A bishop can take the possession of a valid recommend as a verification rather then needing to interview the person or call his or her current bishop. This does pose a problem if recent or re-activating members wish to participate in ordinances outside their local ward, and special arrangements need to be made in those cases. However, a recent convert or re-activating member should be well-known to his or her own bishop and he can make that call in his ward even if the person does not have a current recommend. A bishop can deviate from church guidelines if he feels it is in the best interests of his ward. Of course he should only do so prayerfully and thoughtfully and he should be prepared and expected to answer for such an action.

Gramps

 

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit churchofjesuschrist.org or comeuntochrist.org.

Pin It on Pinterest