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Question

 

Gramps,

I moved to a new ward when my oldest son was 15. At sixteen I ordained him to the office of Priest and bestowed the rights, powers, and authority of that office, I added in the ward and stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It had been explained to me in previous wards that that was added in order for record keeping. My Bishop chastised me in front of the Priest quorum and stated that I had done the ordination incorrectly, because I added the stake and the ward. Was I wrong?

John

 

Answer

 

Hi, John,

In your simple question, “Was I wrong?”, I sense that you are asking two separate questions:

  1. Were you technically incorrect in stating the location of the ward and stake when you ordained your son?
  2. Should you have been publicly corrected in the manner that was done?

Let’s cover each question separately.

I remember being ordained to various Aaronic Priesthood offices as a young man. As I recall, it was done much like you describe, with the location of where I was to serve in that office specified in the ordination. But is that how it should be done?

The particulars of ordination to an Aaronic Priesthood office are found in Section 20.7 of Handbook 2. According to this source, the appropriate sequence of events in a Priesthood office ordination is as follows:

  1. Calls the person by his full name.
  2. States the authority by which the ordination is performed (Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood).
  3. Confers the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood, unless it has already been conferred.
  4. Ordains the person to an office in the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood and bestows the rights, powers, and authority of that office. (Priesthood keys are not bestowed in conferring the priesthood or ordaining to one of these offices.)
  5. Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
  6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Based on this description, it appears your bishop was correct: Location is not to be stated in such an ordination. This makes sense. If you are, let’s say, an elders quorum president, you stop having any authority as a president outside your ward boundaries. But such is not the case with holding a Priesthood office. A deacon is a deacon wherever he may be in the world, not just within his ward and stake.

The second question that I sense from you, whether the bishop’s correction of you was handled appropriately, is a more sensitive question. Frankly, it’s one that I cannot answer, since I wasn’t there. Section 20.1 of Handbook 2 says, in the context of the offering of sacrament prayers:

To avoid embarrassing a priesthood holder, the bishop quietly corrects errors only if essential elements of the ordinance or blessing are incorrect.

I would assume this same discreetness applies to other Priesthood ordinances, such as ordinations.

Let me also point out that when we feel put on the spot, it is easy to get bruised feelings over what amounts to a trifle. Perhaps the bishop was trying to offer you some quiet feedback that he supposed would go over the heads of the assembled priests. Perhaps before the ordination, the bishop had carefully laid out what was to happen in the ordination, and wanted to clue in the priests that there had been a small anomaly. Bishops are only human beings, and they have the normal range of human weaknesses.

So if this bishop did speak out of turn in publicly correcting you over a minor procedural matter, I would encourage you not to take it to heart. Being the bishop is a hard and mostly thankless job. You would be doing your bishop a great favor if you did as the prophet Joseph Smith encouraged Parley P. Pratt to do after he had been offended by some minor injustice: “Walk these things under your feet.”

 

Gramps

 

 

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