“[Joseph Smith] 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, June 9, 1905, Pioneer Stake Relief Society minutes
Both an Elder and a High Priestess are Sisters of Magdalene, and a member of the Sisterhood of Magdalene. Just as the High Priests are modeled after Melchizedek and Jesus Christ, the ultimate High Priest (Heb 5: 8-10), the High Priestesses of the Fellowship are modeled after Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus and the first apostle (or the first disciple) to see the resurrected Jesus. These Sisters are given power and authority to administer in spiritual things.
When a Priestess turns 18, she may prayerfully counsel with her congregation’s Pastor/Bishop and her area Matriarch to see if the Lord has called her to to the Sisterhood of Magdalene as an Elder. If so then she may become a High Priestess later, after gaining some experience in the High Sisterhood. Women over 18 coming from another branch of Mormonism may also prayerfully see if the Lord has called them to be ordained a High priestess in the Fellowship. Generally, this would be women holding the priesthood in the Community of Christ or women that have received their endowments in one of Brigham Young’s branches of Mormonism.
It should be remembered that not all women will be called to be Elders or High Priestesses. This call must come from the Lord, rather than merely “coming of age.” The window to become an Elder or a High Priestess never closes. Priestesses should be counseled to pray about entering the High Sisterhood between the ages of 18 and 24, as moved by the Spirit.
The Lord has commanded the Fellowship to ask all prospective Sisters of Magdalene the following:
- Do you take upon yourself the name of Christ?
- Have you been born again unto your redeemer, Jesus Christ?
- Do you desire to serve the Lord in the office of priestess?
- Will you strive to move forward in Christ, that the Holy Spirit may be in you and with you even unto the end of your life?
- Are you obedient to the laws of your land (or of your country), in the kingdom of men?
If she answers in the affirmative to all of these, is willing to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those that mourn, and she does not cause that harm come to another; she may partake of the Lord’s ordinances as the Holy Spirit so leads.
Any later found unworthy may still be stripped of their title.
It is the duty of these Sisters to:
- teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the Fellowship
- take the lead all Society meetings, and assist the elders and high priests in taking lead in Fellowship meetings
- conduct the meetings as led by the Holy Ghost, and according to the commandments and revelations of God.
- be responsible for all of the duties of the Benevolent Society’s deacons, Teachers, and Priestesses
- perform the sacraments of the washing and anointing, and sacraments of the Endowment for new sisters, and for their own husbands and children as they enter the ministry or re-partake of these sacraments
Elders should be endowed up to the third endowment, and thus have the full set of the robes of the priesthood, covering their heads when fulfilling their duties worthily to the Lord. They do not work for money, but for the glory of the Lord, whom they serve. They may ordain Deacons, Teachers, Priestesses, and fellow Elders. High Priestesses may do the same and ordain fellow High Priestesses. They may perform all of the Priesthood ordinances and they may stand in the circle and act as witnesses of such.
Elders and High Priestesses are to carry their licence with them, signed by another High Priestess (normally the local Pastor/Bishop or one of her councilors), and the local Matriarch or one of her councilors, after being voted in by their local Fellowship. They should live worthy of their call, and prayerfully follow the spirit of the Word of Wisdom as it is not a commandment but sound council from the Lord to His Saints.
There may be up to 96 elders and high priestesses in an assembly.
If you have a question, or feel the call of the Holy Spirit to join the Sisterhood of Magdalene as a high priestess, please contact us: