The following are question we have received and their answers. If you have a question, please send it to:
How can a woman hold/use the Priesthood? I’ve been taught my whole life it is for males only.
While it is true that some Mormon branches do not allow women to hold or use the priesthood, this is not true of all. In 1984 the Community of Christ (then known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Chrsit of Latter Day Saints) was given the following revelation:
“I say to you now, as I have said in the past, that all are called according to the gifts which have been given them. This applies to priesthood as well as to any other aspects of the work. Therefore, do not wonder that some women of the church are being called to priesthood responsibilities. This is in harmony with my will and where these calls are made known to my servants, they may be processed according to administrative procedures and provisions of the law.” – D&C 156:9b-9c, Community of Christ edition
However, this should not have been seen as new to Later Day Saints or Mormons. Under the prophet Joseph Smith Jr., the sisters of the Nauvoo Relief Society were taught to use the priesthood.
“Thursday 28 at Two o’clock after-noon met the members of the “Female Relief Society” and after presiding at the admission of many new members. Gave a lecture on the priesthood, shewing how the Sisters would come in possession of the privileges & blessings & gifts of the priesthood— & that the signs should follow them. such as healing the sick casting out devils &c. & that they might attain unto. These blessings. by a virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments.” – Joseph Smith’s journal; April 28,1842
The Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book confirms the prophet’s journal.
“Prest. Smith continued the subject by adverting to the commission given to the ancient apostles “Go ye into all the world” &c.— no matter who believeth; these signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils &c. should follow all that believe whether male or female. He ask’d the Society if they could not see by this sweeping stroke, that wherein they are ordained, it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is confer’d on them— and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on…
“Respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing— that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration.” – Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, p. 36; April 28, 1842
And Bathsheba W. Smith adds a third witness:
“I never like to hear a sermon without hearing something of the Prophet [Joseph Smith Jr.], for he gave us everything, every order of the priesthood. He said he had given the sisters instructions that they could administer to the sick and he wanted to make us, as the women were in Paul’s day, ‘A kingdom of priestesses.’” -Bathsheba W. Smith, 4th General Relief Society President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 9 June 1905, Pioneer Stake Relief Society minutes, CJCLdS archives
Even if women held the priesthood in some manner, this was for work in the temple, not actually holding an office of the priesthood within the Nauvoo Relief Society or performing ordinances, as mentioned here, right?
The original Nauvoo Relief Society had the same priesthood offices as the male organization, just as the Fellowship today.
“If any Officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the Institution, let them be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers &c. are among us.” – Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, p. 8; March 17, 1842
And, we see that these women used oil with the laying on of hands to heal the sick as well.
“Prest. Smith then gave instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands or the anointing with oil and said it was according to revelation that the sick should be nursed with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy: who are better qualified to ad minister, than our faithful and zealous sisters whose hearts are full of faith tenderness sympathy and compassion? No one.” – Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, p. 42; April 28, 1842
If this is true, why has (insert branch of Mormonism here) done things (in the manner their branch of Zion does things)?
The Fellowship cannot speak or answer for other branches of Christianity, Mormon or not.
What’s going on with the names? Why isn’t the whole organization just “the Relief Society?”
The true name of the priesthood is “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (DaC 104:1b CoC, 107: 3, CJCLdS). Males join what the ancient church called “the Melchizedek Priesthood,” so named for simplicity and as not to be repetitious with the name of God (DaC 104:1c CoC, 107:4 CJCLdS). An appendage to that is the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, named after Moses’ brother, Aaron, and the Levites (DaC 104:2, 8a-b CoC; 107:6, 13-14 CJCLdS).
The same is true for the Sisterhood of Christ. The High Priesthood (or Sisterhood) is named after Mary Magdalene, as she was the wife of Jesus Christ. This Priesthood is the very same as the Melchizedek Priesthood, but has been named such to avoid confusion. Likewise, the Levitical Priesthood/Sisterhood is named after the sister of Moses’ as it is a mirror of the Aaronic; thus both appendages are named after Moses’ siblings, for clarity.
This keeps with the tradition of Mormonism, as established by the Lord through his prophet; Joseph Smith Jr. The prophet was not inspired to invite women into the offices of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, but to create a Sisterhood with same offices of the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God; yet for women. This modern organization simply expands on what the prophet Joseph and his wife Emma started. This blueprint was created after much prayer, fasting, inspiration, and revelation from the Lord through the First Elder of the Fellowship, the prophet David. We know to be the will of the Lord, Jesus Christ, for the Fellowship at this time, an that it may change once the Lord sees fit to organize it.
By combining these two Priesthoods in the Fellowship, men and women take on equal roles in the Kingdom of God, here on the Earth. It is our belief that this was the direction the Lord planned to move the original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints before the prophet was martyred. This creates a proper checks and balances system to keep the Fellowship running smoothly.
What is an “assembly?” Why are the women’s groups not quorums?
To avoid confusion, men’s groups are called “quorums,” and women’s groups are called “assemblies.” A quorum is “a select group” (Merriam-Webster). An assembly is “a company of persons gathered for… worship…” (Merriam-Webster). Both mean roughly the same thing.