“38. Church Policies and Guidelines,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“38. Church Policies and Guidelines,” General Handbook.
Our Father in Heaven loves all His children. “All are alike unto God,” and He invites all “to come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Nephi 26:33).
Church leaders and members are often asked who can attend meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can become Church members, and who can attend a temple.
The Savior taught that His disciples should love their neighbors (see Matthew 22:39). Paul invited new converts to “no more be strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints” (Ephesians 2:19). The Savior also taught that Church members are not to “cast any one out from … public meetings, which are held before the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:3).
All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The presiding officer is responsible to ensure that all who attend are respectful of the sacred setting.
Those who attend should avoid disruptions or distractions contrary to worship or other purposes of the meeting. All age and behavior requirements of different Church meetings and events should be respected. That requires refraining from overt romantic behavior and from dress or grooming that causes distraction. It also precludes making political statements or speaking of sexual orientation or other personal characteristics in a way that detracts from meetings focused on the Savior.
If there is inappropriate behavior, the bishop or stake president gives private counsel in a spirit of love. He encourages those whose behavior is improper for the occasion to focus on helping maintain a sacred space for everyone present with a special emphasis on worshipping Heavenly Father and the Savior.
Church meetinghouses remain private property subject to Church policies. Persons unwilling to follow these guidelines will be asked in a respectful way not to attend Church meetings and events.
Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available to people who “come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits,” “are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ,” and desire to make and keep sacred baptismal covenants (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).
A minor child age 8 or older may be baptized with the permission of his or her custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s) should understand the Church doctrine their child will be taught and support the child in making and keeping the baptismal covenant.
Temples are holy places of worship in which essential ordinances are received and sacred covenants are made. To members of the Church, temples are houses of God. Because of this sacredness and the covenants made, only members of the Church with a current temple recommend may attend the temple. Members may receive a temple recommend when they faithfully keep the required commandments and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All members, even if they have never married or are without family in the Church, should strive for the ideal of living in an eternal family. This means preparing to be sealed as a worthy husband or wife and to become a loving father or mother. For some, these blessings will not be fulfilled until the next life, but the ultimate goal is the same for all.
Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, provided they keep the covenants they have made with God (see Mosiah 2:41).
An unwed young man under age 18 who is going to become a father may participate in his Aaronic Priesthood quorum or in the elders quorum. This decision is left to the prayerful discretion of the young man, his parents, and the bishop.
An unwed young woman under age 18 who is going to become a mother may participate in Young Women or in Relief Society. This decision is left to the prayerful discretion of the young woman, her parents, and the bishop.
In making this decision, youth, parents, and leaders consider the following:
If the youth participates in youth classes and activities, the child should not accompany him or her.
Older youth who choose to raise the child may benefit from being welcomed into the elders quorum as prospective elders or into Relief Society.
Instructions for performing ordinances and blessings are outlined in the following publications:
Chapter 18 of this handbook
Family Guidebook, pages 18–25
Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B, pages 42–47
For information about who may perform or participate in an ordinance or blessing, see the instructions in chapter 18 for each ordinance and blessing.
If necessary, a presiding officer may ask a priesthood holder to translate or interpret orally an ordinance or blessing into a language that the recipient understands. If a priesthood holder is not available, a presiding officer may ask a capable man or woman to do the translation.
A presiding officer may also ask a priesthood holder to interpret an ordinance or blessing if the recipient is deaf or hearing impaired. If a priesthood holder is not available, a presiding officer may ask a capable man or woman to do the interpretation.
When a person receives a saving ordinance or a priesthood ordination, a clerk from the ward where the person’s membership record is held:
Obtains information about the ordinance or ordination.
Ensures that this information is recorded on the person’s membership record and on the certificate.
The complete date that the following ordinances were performed should be recorded on a person’s membership record: baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordinations, temple endowment, sealing to parents, and temple sealing. For Melchizedek Priesthood ordinations, the name of the person who performed each ordination should also be recorded.
For information about a priesthood holder acting as voice when performing an ordinance outside his home ward, see the instructions in chapter 18 for each ordinance and blessing.
Patriarchal blessings are recorded and transcribed. The exact wording of other ordinances and blessings is not recorded in writing or by recording device. However, a family may record father’s blessings.
No one should take photographs or video recordings of priesthood ordinances or blessings or of baptismal services.
After a legal adoption is final, adopted children receive ordinances in the surname of their adoptive parents. An older child who is adopted after baptism is not baptized again. A clerk changes the membership record to conform to the decree of adoption.
For information about the sealing of adopted or foster children, see 22.214.171.124.
When considering whether to perform ordinances for a person who has an intellectual disability, priesthood leaders and parents prayerfully consider the person’s wishes and degree of understanding. Ordinances should not be withheld if the person is worthy, wants to receive them, and shows an appropriate degree of responsibility and accountability.
The ordinances of salvation and exaltation are not performed for persons who have intellectual disabilities that make them not accountable and unable to make covenants with God. Nor are these ordinances performed for children who die before age eight. These persons are “saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10; see also Moroni 8:8–12).
A bishop consults with his stake president if he has questions about specific persons. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary.
If leaders determine that a person should receive an ordinance, they help him or her understand and prepare for it.
Information about individual ordinances for persons who have intellectual disabilities is provided as follows:
Persons who have physical disabilities, such as the loss of one or both arms, paraplegia, quadriplegia, deafness, or a hearing impairment, may perform and receive ordinances and blessings. Leaders make the necessary arrangements for these persons to participate in ways that their disabilities allow. If leaders have questions they cannot resolve, the stake president refers the questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
Persons who are deaf or hearing impaired may communicate through sign language when performing or receiving an ordinance or blessing. A priesthood leader who oversees an ordinance ensures that the recipient can understand it through an interpreter or by other means (see 126.96.36.199).
Ordinances for Which There Is No Valid Record. For record-keeping purposes, an ordinance is not considered valid unless at least the correct year it was performed is recorded on the membership record. If the date is missing or incorrect, the ordinance can be validated by the member showing the bishop the original certificate that was issued when the ordinance was performed. The bishop then asks a clerk to record this information on the membership record.
If the information cannot be found in Church records, the bishop or clerk may try to verify the ordinance by obtaining the testimony of two witnesses. The two witnesses should:
Have been 10 years of age or older when the ordinance was performed.
Have seen or heard the ordinance.
Be Church members of record at the time they give their testimony.
Give their testimony in writing, stating either (1) the complete date the ordinance was performed or (2) the year it was performed and the person who performed it.
Sign their written testimony in the presence of a member of the bishopric or a higher Church authority.
If this testimony is obtained, the bishop may authorize a clerk to record or correct the date on the membership record. The written testimony may then be discarded.
If the ordinance is not verified by an original certificate, a search of Church records, or the testimony of witnesses, it must be performed again to be considered valid.
If the member has received other ordinances after having received an invalid ordinance, they must be ratified by the First Presidency to be considered valid. To request ratification, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
Ordinances That Were Received out of Sequence. An ordinance is not valid if a person received it out of sequence. For example, the endowment of a man is not valid if he received it before receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. However, the First Presidency may ratify such an ordinance. To request ratification, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
Ordinances That Were Performed before the Appropriate Age. An ordinance is not valid if it was performed before the appropriate age. For example, a baptism is not valid if it was performed before the person was 8 years old. If no other ordinances have been received based on the invalid ordinance, it should be performed again. If other ordinances, such as priesthood ordination, have been received based on the invalid ordinance, those ordinances and the invalid ordinance must be ratified by the First Presidency to be valid. To request ratification, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
Records of Ordinances That Were Performed Again. If an ordinance was performed again to become valid, a clerk records the date it was performed again on the membership record even if it will appear out of sequence with the dates of other ordinances on the record.
The following policies apply to naming and blessing children in special circumstances. See 18.6 for instructions on naming and blessing children.
Children who were born out of wedlock may be blessed in a sacrament meeting, usually a fast and testimony meeting. If a family prefers, the bishop may authorize Melchizedek Priesthood holders to bless the child in the home, with a member of the bishopric presiding.
If a newborn infant is critically ill, a Melchizedek Priesthood holder may perform the naming and blessing in the hospital or at home without previous authorization from the bishop. A person who does this notifies the bishop promptly so necessary records can be made.
When one or both of a child’s custodial parents or legal guardians are not members of the Church and request that a child be blessed, the bishop should obtain verbal permission from both persons before the blessing. He explains that a membership record will be prepared for the child after the blessing. He also tells them:
Ward members will contact them periodically.
He or the ward missionaries will visit them and propose that the child be baptized when he or she reaches age 8.
The mission president holds the priesthood keys for baptizing converts in a mission (see the definition of converts in 18.7.1). Under his direction, a full-time missionary conducts a baptism and confirmation interview for each candidate and authorizes the ordinances to take place. The mission president also oversees the recording of the ordinances by the mission staff so that a membership record can be created.
The full-time missionaries coordinate closely with the ward mission leader (if one is called) or the member of the elders quorum presidency who leads missionary work in the ward. Under the direction of the bishopric, this person plans and conducts baptismal services.
Converts are typically confirmed in any sacrament meeting in the ward where they live, preferably on the Sunday after their baptism. The bishop may grant exceptions for a convert to be confirmed at the baptismal service, for example if the number of confirmations would require too much time in sacrament meeting or to accommodate personal or family needs of the new convert.
Former members who are readmitted by baptism and confirmation after withdrawal or resignation of membership are not considered converts. Missionaries may not interview them for baptism. For information about readmitting former members by baptism and confirmation, see 32.16.
An authorized priesthood leader or missionary interviews each person before baptism and confirmation as outlined in this section.
Eight-Year-Old Children. The bishop or an assigned counselor conducts interviews for the baptism and confirmation of:
Children age 8 who are members of record.
Children age 8 who are not members of record but have at least one parent or guardian who is a member.
The full-time missionaries teach and interview 8-year-old children whose parents are not members and children who will be 9 years old or older at the time of baptism.
A bishopric member who interviews a child for baptism ensures that he or she understands the purposes of baptism. He also ensures that each child understands the baptismal covenant and is committed to live by it. As guided by the Spirit, he could ask questions similar to the first two that are asked in convert baptism interviews (see “Convert Baptism Interviews” later in this section). In asking other questions, the interviewer should bear in mind that children are accounted as sinless before God until the age of 8.
Converts. The full-time missionary district leader normally interviews convert baptism candidates (as defined in 188.8.131.52). The zone leader conducts the interview if the person was taught by the district leader. Missionaries are authorized to conduct these interviews by delegation of authority from the mission president.
Each prospective convert should meet with the bishop before baptism and confirmation. However, the bishop does not interview such candidates for baptism, nor does he determine their worthiness.
Authorization from the mission president is required before a prospective convert may be baptized and confirmed if the person has ever committed a serious crime, participated in an abortion, or committed a same-sex sin. In these instances, the mission president conducts a searching interview and issues a Baptism and Confirmation Record if he determines that the person has repented and is worthy.
If necessary, the mission president may authorize one of his counselors to conduct the interview. Each interview must be authorized separately. The counselor who conducts it reports to the mission president, who may then authorize or deny the baptism and confirmation.
The mission president must conduct an interview and receive approval from the First Presidency before a prospective convert may be baptized and confirmed if the person:
Has committed murder (see 184.108.40.206).
Has been involved in the practice of plural marriage (see 220.127.116.11).
Has completed transition to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex (see 18.104.22.168).
Is currently on legal probation or parole (see 22.214.171.124).
Convert Baptism Interviews. The person who conducts a convert baptism and confirmation interview uses the following questions, with the guidance of the Spirit, to determine whether the candidate meets the qualifications described in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 (see also Mosiah 18:8–10; Moroni 6:1–4). These questions should be adapted to the person’s age and maturity.
Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
Do you believe that the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past sins?
Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? (For instructions if the person answers affirmatively, see 126.96.36.199.) Have you ever participated in an abortion? Have you ever committed a same-sex sin?
You have been taught that membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes living gospel standards. What do you understand about the following standards? Are you willing to obey them?
The law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relations outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman
The law of tithing
The Word of Wisdom
Keeping the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to others
When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
After determining that a candidate is prepared for baptism, the interviewer fills out the Baptism and Confirmation Record according to instructions with the form. After a person is confirmed, the bishop and ward clerk ensure that the confirmation information is complete and correct. For more information about the Baptism and Confirmation Record, see 18.8.3.
For guidelines on baptismal services, see 18.7.2.
Persons who have intellectual disabilities and cannot knowingly repent may be considered by the bishop as not accountable. These persons do not need to be baptized and confirmed, regardless of their age (see 188.8.131.52).
If a person later demonstrates an understanding of repentance and an appropriate degree of accountability and desire, he or she may be baptized and confirmed. If a person was baptized but later becomes intellectually disabled, the baptism and confirmation are still valid.
A minor child, as defined by local laws, may be baptized and confirmed only when both of the following conditions are met:
Permission has been given by the custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). They should understand the Church doctrine their child will be taught and support the child in making the baptismal covenant. The person who conducts the baptism and confirmation interview should ask for this permission to be in writing if he feels it will help prevent misunderstandings.
The person who conducts the interview discerns that there is clear evidence that the child understands the baptismal covenant and will make every effort to keep it through obeying the commandments, including faithfully attending Church meetings.
A child whose parents are divorced may be baptized and confirmed only with the permission of the parent(s) with legal custody. If the mother has custody and has remarried and if the child is not formally adopted but has assumed the surname of the stepfather, the child may be baptized and confirmed in the name by which he or she is known. However, the child’s legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the membership record and the baptism and confirmation certificate.
An adult who has previously encouraged, taught, or been involved in the practice of plural marriage must receive approval from the First Presidency before he or she may be baptized and confirmed. The mission president may request this approval from the Office of the First Presidency. The request should provide information about the person’s past involvement in plural marriage and his or her subsequent repentance and current family situation.
A married person must have the consent of his or her spouse before being baptized.
A baptismal candidate who has been cohabiting out of wedlock with a person of the opposite gender must either marry the person or cease living with the person before he or she can be baptized.
Persons whose Church membership has been withdrawn or who resigned membership may be readmitted into the Church by baptism and confirmation. Instructions are provided in 32.16.
See “Converts” in 184.108.40.206.
Persons who have been convicted of crimes and seek baptism for the first time or baptism for readmission into the Church may not be baptized and confirmed until they complete their terms of imprisonment. Those who have been convicted of felonies or any crimes of immoral character may not be baptized and confirmed until they have also completed their terms of parole or probation resulting from their convictions (unless the First Presidency has granted an exception). They are encouraged to work closely with local priesthood leaders and to do everything they can to become worthy of baptism and confirmation.
Full-time missionaries are not to teach people who are in prison or jail.
A person who has been convicted of murder or who has confessed to it, even in private confessions to a priesthood leader, may not be baptized and confirmed unless the First Presidency gives permission. The request for permission must include all pertinent details as determined during a personal interview by the mission president (if the person is seeking baptism for the first time) or the bishop or stake president (if a former member is seeking readmission). As used here, murder does not include police or military action in the line of duty. Abortion is not defined as murder for this purpose.
Mission presidents should counsel with the Area Presidency (see 38.6.22).
A person who is considering elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex (“sex reassignment”) may not be baptized or confirmed.
Baptism and confirmation of a person who has completed sex reassignment through elective medical or surgical intervention requires the approval of the First Presidency. The mission president may request this approval if he has interviewed the person, found him or her to be otherwise worthy, and can recommend baptism. However, the person will be restricted from receiving or exercising the priesthood, receiving or using a temple recommend, and receiving some Church callings.
Stake President’s and Bishop’s Responsibilities. The stake president holds the priesthood keys for conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordaining to the offices of elder and high priest. However, the bishop usually initiates recommendations for these ordinations.
With the approval of the stake presidency, the bishop interviews the member as instructed on the Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination Record. Before doing so, he carefully reviews the person’s membership record to verify that it does not include an annotation, an ordinance restriction, or a Church membership restriction.
After the bishop interviews the member, the stake president or one of his counselors conducts a thorough, searching interview as instructed on the Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination Record. He also makes sure the member understands the oath and covenant of the priesthood and agrees to live by it (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44).
After the interview, the stake presidency asks the high council to sustain the decision to ordain the person. A member of the stake presidency then presents the person for a sustaining vote in the general session of stake conference or in a stake general priesthood meeting (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:65, 67). The person should stand while the congregation gives a sustaining vote. The member of the stake presidency may say:
“We propose that [name] receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained an elder [or we propose that (name) be ordained a high priest]. Those in favor may manifest it by the uplifted hand. [Pause briefly for the sustaining vote.] Those opposed, if any, may manifest it. [Pause briefly to allow for a dissenting vote, if any.]”
The person who is being presented should participate in the sustaining vote. If more than one person is being presented, they usually may be sustained as a group.
If a member in good standing gives a dissenting vote, a member of the stake presidency confers with him or her privately after the meeting. The officer determines whether the dissenting vote was based on knowledge that the person is guilty of conduct that should disqualify him from being ordained to the priesthood office.
Some brethren may need to be ordained before they can be presented in a general stake meeting. When this occurs, they are presented in their ward sacrament meetings for a sustaining vote. Their names are then presented in the next stake conference or stake general priesthood meeting to ratify the ordination.
When the necessary interviews and approvals are completed, the ordination is performed according to the instructions in 18.10.
Elders. Worthy brethren may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained elders when they are 18 years old or older. Based on individual circumstances, such as a young man’s testimony and maturity, school graduation, desire to continue with peers, and college attendance, the bishop determines whether a young man should be ordained an elder soon after his 18th birthday or remain with the priests quorum longer. In making this decision, the bishop consults first with the young man and his parents. By age 19 or prior to leaving home to attend college, serve in the military, or accept full-time employment, all worthy men should be ordained elders.
Recently baptized men ages 18 and older are ordained elders after they have served as priests, developed sufficient understanding of the gospel, and demonstrated their worthiness. No specific time as a member is required.
High Priests. Men are ordained high priests when they are called to a stake presidency, high council, or bishopric or when otherwise recommended by the bishop and approved by the stake president. As an exception, bishops’ counselors in wards that are in young single adult stakes do not need to be ordained high priests (see in 37.3.2). When such counselors are elders, they are not members of the high priests quorum.
Only high priests may stand in the circle when ordaining a man to the office of high priest.
Bishop’s Responsibility. The bishop holds the priesthood keys for conferring the Aaronic Priesthood and ordaining to the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest. Worthy brethren are typically ordained to these offices at the following ages, but not earlier:
Deacon at the beginning of the year they turn 12
Teacher at the beginning of the year they turn 14
Priest at the beginning of the year they turn 16
The bishop or an assigned counselor interviews those who are to be ordained deacons or teachers to determine if they are worthy. The bishop interviews those who are to be ordained priests. Before interviewing a young man for priesthood ordination, a member of the bishopric obtains permission from the young man’s parents or guardians.
If a member is found worthy in an interview, the person who conducts the interview completes the Aaronic Priesthood Ordination Record. The bishop or one of his counselors presents the member in sacrament meeting for the sustaining vote of members (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:65). This should follow the pattern for presenting men for Melchizedek Priesthood ordination (see 220.127.116.11). If a member in good standing gives a dissenting vote, a member of the bishopric confers with him or her privately after the meeting.
After the sustaining vote, the ordination is performed by or under the direction of the bishop according to the instructions in 18.10.
Young Men Whose Parents Are Divorced. A young man whose parents are divorced may be ordained to Aaronic Priesthood offices only with the permission of the parent(s) with legal custody. If the mother has custody and has remarried and if the young man is not formally adopted but has assumed the surname of the stepfather, he may be ordained in the name by which he is known. However, the young man’s legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the ordination certificate.
Those Who Have Been Recently Baptized and Confirmed. Brethren who have recently been baptized and confirmed should receive the Aaronic Priesthood if they are at least age 11 and turning 12 during the year and should be ordained to the appropriate office soon after their confirmation, normally within a week. Before receiving the priesthood, they must be interviewed for worthiness and presented in sacrament meeting for a sustaining vote. They are typically ordained to the following offices when they are the following ages:
Deacon, beginning in January of the year they turn 12
Teacher, beginning in January of the year they turn 14
Priest, beginning in January of the year they turn 16
Those ages 19 and older are also considered prospective elders (see 18.104.22.168).
Because brethren who have been recently baptized and confirmed need to be interviewed by the bishop and sustained by a vote of ward members before they are ordained to an Aaronic Priesthood office, they are not ordained on the day they are baptized or confirmed.
Baptisms of family members should not be delayed so the father can receive the priesthood and perform the baptisms himself.
A prospective elder is a male Church member age 19 or older who does not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Married brethren who are younger than 19 and do not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are also prospective elders.
The bishop interviews prospective elders regularly and works closely with other priesthood leaders in the ward to prepare them to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. If a prospective elder is not already a priest, he should be ordained a priest as soon as he is worthy. He does not need to be ordained a deacon or teacher first. He may be ordained an elder when he has developed sufficient understanding of the gospel and demonstrated his worthiness.
For more information about prospective elders, see 8.4.
Those Who Have Not Lived in the Same Ward for at Least One Year. If a man has not lived in the same ward continuously for at least one year, the bishop contacts the prior bishop to certify the man’s worthiness before approving him for Aaronic Priesthood ordination or recommending him for Melchizedek Priesthood ordination.
If a person is ordained while he is living away from home temporarily and if his membership record is still in his home ward, the bishop of the ward where he is ordained advises the bishop of the home ward so the membership record can be updated. The ordination certificate is prepared in the ward where the ordination is performed.
Those in Young Single Adult Wards and Single Adult Wards. Worthy men ages 18 and older in young single adult wards and single adult wards should be ordained elders. Those who are not ordained elders are affiliated with the elders quorum as prospective elders.
Military Servicemen in War Zones or Isolated Areas. A military serviceman is normally interviewed and ordained in the ward that has his membership record. However, this may not be feasible if the serviceman is at sea for an extended time or is serving in a war zone or isolated area. In such cases, the serviceman meets with his service member group leader. If the group leader feels that the serviceman is ready to be ordained, he makes a written recommendation to the presiding officer of the Church unit that oversees the service member group. That presiding officer contacts the bishop of the serviceman’s home ward to determine if he has any concerns about worthiness.
For ordination to Aaronic Priesthood offices, the presiding officer may authorize the group leader or a Latter-day Saint chaplain to interview the person and oversee the ordination. For ordination to the office of elder, the stake or mission president may authorize a Latter-day Saint chaplain to interview the person and oversee the ordination. All ordinations should be sustained or ratified as explained in 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.
Those Who Have Intellectual Disabilities. Priesthood leaders decide whether those who have intellectual disabilities should receive the priesthood. If the member lives with his parents, priesthood leaders consult with them. To be ordained, a member who has an intellectual disability should first demonstrate an appropriate degree of accountability and an understanding of responsibility. Priesthood holders who have such disabilities should be assisted so they can participate as fully as possible.
Those Who Have Been Readmitted by Baptism and Confirmation. For instructions about ordaining those who have been readmitted by baptism and confirmation after withdrawal or resignation of membership, see 32.17.
Members Who Identify as Transgender. A member who has received elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex (“sex reassignment”), or who has socially transitioned to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex, may not receive or exercise the priesthood. Area Presidencies will help local leaders sensitively address individual situations (see 38.6.22).
A male Church member who experiences gender incongruence, but who does not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender of his birth sex and is worthy, may receive and exercise the priesthood.
Information about patriarchal blessings is provided in the following paragraphs and in these additional sources:
Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs
Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch
Every worthy, baptized member is entitled to receive a patriarchal blessing, which provides inspired direction from Heavenly Father. Parents and Church leaders encourage members to prepare spiritually to obtain their patriarchal blessings. The bishop or an assigned counselor interviews members who desire to receive a patriarchal blessing. If a member is worthy, the interviewer prepares a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend. He submits it through the Patriarchal Blessing System on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. If the blessing will be given by a patriarch who lives outside the person’s stake, a member of both stake presidencies must also approve the recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System. Such authorization may be given only as outlined in 188.8.131.52.
The person who issues a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend ensures that the member is of sufficient age and maturity to understand the significance and sacred nature of the blessing. Ideally the member should be young enough that many important decisions in life are still ahead, though older adults are also encouraged to receive their patriarchal blessings. Priesthood leaders should not establish a minimum age for a member to receive a patriarchal blessing.
A new convert should understand the basic doctrine of the gospel before receiving a patriarchal blessing.
If a baptized member has an intellectual disability, the bishop may issue a recommend only when, in consultation with the parents, he believes there is a sufficient level of understanding. Members should keep in mind that a patriarchal blessing is for the recipient and not for the parents.
When possible, a missionary should receive a patriarchal blessing before beginning missionary service. A missionary who is in residence at a missionary training center may receive a patriarchal blessing only when all of the following apply:
The missionary comes from an area where no patriarch is able to give a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
The missionary will serve in a mission where no patriarch is able to give a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
The missionary will return home to an area that does not have a patriarch.
A patriarch near the missionary training center can provide a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
If a missionary arrives in the mission field without having received a patriarchal blessing, the mission president is authorized to interview him or her, prepare a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend, and submit it through the Patriarchal Blessing System. The mission president ensures that the missionary can receive the blessing in his or her native language. If this is not possible, the missionary may need to wait until returning home to receive a patriarchal blessing.
A stake patriarch normally gives patriarchal blessings only to members in his stake. However, he may give blessings to members outside of his stake in the following circumstances:
A patriarch may give patriarchal blessings to his lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) regardless of where they live. A member of the bishopric conducts an interview and submits a recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. If the recipient lives in a different stake than the patriarch, a member of both stake presidencies must approve the recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System.
A member who lives in a stake that does not have a functioning patriarch may go to a patriarch in a nearby stake. A member of the bishopric conducts an interview and submits a recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System. A member of both stake presidencies must approve the recommend through the system.
A member who lives in a district may go to a patriarch in a nearby stake. The branch president conducts an interview and submits a recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System. A member of the mission presidency and the nearby patriarch’s stake presidency must approve the recommend through the system.
A member who speaks a language that is different from the language of the stake patriarch may go to a patriarch in a nearby stake to receive a blessing in his or her own language. A member of the bishopric conducts an interview and submits a recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System. A member of both stake presidencies must approve the recommend through the system.
When a worthy member enters military service, priesthood leaders encourage him or her to receive a patriarchal blessing before reporting for active duty.
If it is not possible for a member to receive a patriarchal blessing before leaving, he or she can receive it from a patriarch where the temporary duty station is located. The stake president of the temporary duty station contacts a member of the home ward bishopric. The stake president then conducts an interview and submits a recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System. The stake patriarch where the member is stationed then gives the patriarchal blessing. For more information, the stake president or other presiding priesthood leader where the member is stationed contacts the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve at Q12Patriarchs@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Church does not provide translations of the text of patriarchal blessings. Nor are members encouraged to translate patriarchal blessings, since it is difficult to convey the inspired depth of meaning and feeling of a blessing. Nevertheless, if a member does not understand the language of the patriarch and desires to have a blessing translated into another language after it has been received, it is his or her responsibility to find a trusted and worthy member of the Church who can provide the translation. The translator should be carefully selected, skilled in the language, and capable of understanding the spiritual nature and confidentiality of the blessing. Translated copies of blessings are not filed at Church headquarters.
A stake president may request a braille transcription of a patriarchal blessing by contacting the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve.
If a member requires interpretation by sign language to understand the blessing as it is being pronounced, it is his or her responsibility to find a trusted and worthy member of the Church who can provide the interpretation.
In very rare circumstances, a member may request a second patriarchal blessing. However, this is generally not encouraged, and the request may not be approved. If a worthy member has an important reason for such a request, he or she discusses it with the bishop. If the bishop feels that a second blessing is necessary, he prepares a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend and submits it through the Patriarchal Blessing System on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The stake president then interviews the member and reads the original blessing with him or her. If he feels that a second blessing is necessary, the stake president contacts the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve.
If the request is approved, the stake president informs the recipient and the patriarch before approving the Patriarchal Blessing Recommendation in the Patriarchal Blessing System. The stake president also informs the recipient that the original blessing will be replaced by the second blessing. The patriarch may then give a second patriarchal blessing.
Interviewed and Ordained By
Quorum of the Twelve
Members in stake conference or stake general priesthood meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
A member of the First Presidency or Twelve, or the stake president with written approval from the Quorum of the Twelve
Bishop and stake presidency
Stake presidency and high council
Members in stake conference or stake general priesthood meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
Interviewed by the bishop and by the stake president or an assigned counselor; ordained under the direction of the stake president
Stake presidency and high council
Members in stake conference or stake general priesthood meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
Interviewed by the bishop and by the stake president or an assigned counselor; ordained under the direction of the stake president
First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve
Ward members in sacrament meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
A General Authority or Area Seventy, or the stake president with written approval from the First Presidency
Ward members in sacrament meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
Interviewed by the bishop; ordained under the direction of the bishop
Teacher or deacon
Ward members in sacrament meeting
Interviewed and Ordained By
Interviewed by the bishop or an assigned counselor; ordained under the direction of the bishop
Church leaders encourage members to qualify for temple marriage and be married and sealed in a temple. Where temple marriages are not legally recognized, leaders can perform civil marriages that are followed by a temple sealing. This process may also be followed when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded.
This section provides instructions for leaders about performing civil marriages. A civil marriage is valid for as long as a couple lives. It does not endure beyond mortal life.
Civil marriages should be performed in accordance with the laws of the place where the marriage is performed.
Civil marriages and related religious ceremonies should not be performed on the Sabbath or at unusual hours.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about civil marriage that are not answered in this section. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
When permitted by local law, the following currently serving Church leaders may act in their calling to perform a civil marriage ceremony: stake president, mission president, district president, bishop, or branch president.
Latter-day Saint chaplains on active military duty may perform civil marriages without prior approval. Chaplains who are assigned to Reserve or National Guard units must receive prior approval from the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to perform a civil marriage.
Nonmilitary chaplains who serve in hospitals, hospice organizations, assisted living centers, prisons, border patrol, or police or fire departments must receive prior approval from the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to perform a civil marriage.
Retired chaplains are not authorized to perform civil marriages in their capacity as chaplains.
Those who perform marriages acting in their callings as Church leaders or endorsed chaplains should use the guidelines in this section and follow all legal requirements.
Latter-day Saint chaplains are not considered presiding Church officers unless they are serving as a stake president, bishop, or branch president. When a chaplain who is not a presiding Church officer performs a civil marriage, he or she functions as an agent of the government or civilian organization he or she serves. Thus, the wording of the civil marriage ceremony is changed slightly for these chaplains (see 38.3.6).
Church officers and Latter-day Saint chaplains are not to use their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex.
Church officers and chaplains who perform civil marriages for members of the Church should provide the necessary marriage information to the ward or branch clerk. The clerk will then update the membership records.
A Church officer or chaplain who performs civil marriages in a Church capacity may not accept fees.
Church officers may not perform marriages for Church members when neither marriage partner belongs to the Church unit over which the officer presides. An exception is made for Latter-day Saint chaplains. Any other exceptions require the approval of the First Presidency in each case.
Authorized Church officers may perform marriages for nonmembers without receiving special approval.
Civil marriages are preferably performed in the home of a family member or in a Church building. Marriages in a Church building may be performed in the chapel, the cultural hall, or another suitable room. If the marriage will be performed by a priesthood leader but not in a home or a Church building, the priesthood leader approves the location after consulting with the couple. See 35.4.22 for policies on using Church buildings for weddings.
Some areas require that a marriage ceremony be performed by a public official. Some require that the ceremony be performed in a public building or another public place. In these cases, an authorized priesthood officer may conduct a brief religious gathering after the civil marriage, where he provides counsel to the couple and Church acknowledgment of their marriage. When the couple is to be sealed in the temple, the sealing follows the civil marriage as soon as practical.
A civil marriage performed by a Church officer should be simple and dignified. For example, there should be no extravagance in the decorations or proceedings. When a wedding ceremony is held in a Church building, a wedding march is inappropriate. Video recorders and cameras may not be used if the ceremony is performed in the chapel (see 35.4.15).
Before performing a civil marriage, a Church officer may counsel the couple on the sacred nature of the marriage vows and may add other counsel as the Spirit directs.
To perform a civil marriage, a Church officer addresses the couple and says, “Please take each other by the right hand.” He then says, “[Bridegroom’s full name and bride’s full name], you have taken one another by the right hand in token of the vows you will now enter into in the presence of God and these witnesses.” (The couple may choose or nominate these witnesses.)
The officer then addresses the bridegroom and asks, “[Bridegroom’s full name], do you receive [bride’s full name] as your lawfully wedded wife, and do you of your own free will and choice solemnly promise as her companion and lawfully wedded husband that you will cleave unto her and none else; that you will observe all the laws, responsibilities, and obligations pertaining to the holy state of matrimony; and that you will love, honor, and cherish her as long as you both shall live?”
The bridegroom answers, “Yes” or “I do.”
The Church officer then addresses the bride and asks, “[Bride’s full name], do you receive [bridegroom’s full name] as your lawfully wedded husband, and do you of your own free will and choice solemnly promise as his companion and lawfully wedded wife that you will cleave unto him and none else; that you will observe all the laws, responsibilities, and obligations pertaining to the holy state of matrimony; and that you will love, honor, and cherish him as long as you both shall live?”
The bride answers, “Yes” or “I do.”
The Church officer then addresses the couple and says: “By virtue of the legal authority vested in me as an elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I pronounce you, [bridegroom’s name] and [bride’s name], husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded for the period of your mortal lives.”
[Alternate wording for a chaplain not serving as a presiding Church officer: “By virtue of the legal authority vested in me as a chaplain in the [branch of military or civilian organization], I pronounce you, [bridegroom’s name] and [bride’s name], husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded for the period of your mortal lives.”]
“May God bless your union with joy in your posterity and a long life of happiness together, and may He bless you to keep sacred the vows you have made. These blessings I invoke upon you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”
The invitation to kiss each other as husband and wife is optional, based on the cultural norms of the couple being married.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about issuing temple recommends that are not answered in this section. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
Members Who Were Not Previously Endowed. After baptism and confirmation, these members may be issued limited-use recommends to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead as outlined in 26.4.2—usually within a week of being confirmed. Brethren must be ordained to an office in the priesthood before they may be issued limited-use recommends.
These members may not be issued recommends to receive their own endowment until one full year after the date of their readmission to the Church by baptism and confirmation.
Members Who Were Previously Endowed. These members may not be issued recommends, including limited-use recommends, until their temple blessings are restored through the ordinance of restoration of blessings (see 32.17.2).
A member who has committed a serious sin may not receive a temple recommend until he or she has repented. The waiting period between the sin and the issuing of a recommend is left to the bishop’s discretion. It should be sufficient to determine that the person has genuinely repented.
A member who has received elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex (“sex reassignment”), or who has socially transitioned to the opposite gender of his or her birth sex, may not receive a temple recommend. Area Presidencies will help local leaders sensitively address individual situations (see 38.6.22).
A member who does not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender and is worthy may receive a temple recommend and temple ordinances.
Members receive temple recommends based on their own worthiness. Some members have parents or other close relatives who belong to apostate groups. Such affiliations of close relatives do not affect a member’s temple worthiness. However, to be issued a temple recommend, these members must confirm that they do not agree with the teachings of apostate groups.
Sealing ordinances include covenants that can bind families together for eternity. These ordinances include (1) sealing of a husband and wife and (2) sealing of children to parents.
Members who have concerns about the eternal nature of the sealing ordinance and their associated family and spousal relationships can find peace in the knowledge that Heavenly Father is loving and just. Faithful children who are sealed to parents or born in the covenant retain the blessing of eternal parentage. This is so even if their parents cancel their marriage sealing, have their Church membership withdrawn, or resign their membership.
Members who are divorced but still sealed to the former spouse are often troubled by the thought of that sealing. The sealing will not be compulsory in the postmortal life for either a man or a woman. If temple covenants are broken and no repentance is made, the sealing between the husband and wife is revoked. However, those who keep their covenants will retain the individual blessings provided by the sealing. This is the case even if the spouse has broken the covenants or withdrawn from the marriage.
Once a cancellation of sealing has been approved by the First Presidency, individual blessings pertaining to that sealing are no longer in force. Priesthood leaders counsel with members seeking a cancellation of a sealing to help them understand these principles. However, priesthood leaders should honor the agency of the member in these decisions.
A bishop should consult with his stake president if he has questions about sealing policies that are not answered in this section. Stake presidents contact the Office of the First Presidency or the temple in their temple district for guidance in special circumstances related to sealings that are not covered in these instructions.
A man and woman who were married outside a temple and have been members of the Church for one year may be sealed in the temple when they are prepared and worthy of a temple recommend. They do not need to wait a year after a civil marriage and can be sealed as soon as circumstances permit.
When issuing recommends for a couple to be sealed, priesthood leaders make sure the marriage is legally valid.
Women. A living woman may be sealed to only one husband. If she is sealed to a husband and later divorces him, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing from the First Presidency before she may be sealed to another man in her lifetime (see 184.108.40.206).
A living woman who is not currently married may be sealed to a deceased husband, even if they were divorced in life. A living woman who is currently married may not be sealed to a deceased husband without First Presidency approval.
Men. If a husband and wife have been sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him (see 220.127.116.11). A sealing clearance is necessary even if (1) the previous sealing has been canceled or (2) the divorced wife is now deceased.
A sealing clearance is needed if a man is divorced from the woman who was most recently sealed to him. For example, if a man received a sealing clearance to be sealed to a second wife after a divorce and his second wife dies, he would not need a sealing clearance to be sealed again.
Women. After a living woman has been sealed to a husband in the temple, she may not be sealed again unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing.
Men. If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may have another woman sealed to him if she is not already sealed to another man. In this circumstance, the man does not need a sealing clearance from the First Presidency unless he was divorced from his previous wife before she died (see 18.104.22.168 for the policy in cases of divorce).
Before a living spouse can be sealed to a deceased spouse, he or she must receive signed consent from the deceased spouse’s widow or widower (if there is one).
A woman who has previously been sealed must receive a cancellation of that sealing from the First Presidency before she may be sealed to another man in her lifetime. A man who has been divorced from a woman who was sealed to him must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him (see 22.214.171.124).
When the bishop and stake president recommend that a cancellation of sealing or a sealing clearance be granted, they submit an application to the First Presidency using Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR). Leaders who do not have access to LCR may obtain an Application to the First Presidency form by contacting the Confidential Records Office at Church headquarters. Leaders should not contact the Office of the First Presidency to obtain a copy. Instructions are on the form.
Before submitting the application, the stake president makes sure that the divorce is final. He also makes sure that the applicant is current in all legal requirements for child and spousal support related to the divorce.
If a member has requested a cancellation of sealing or a sealing clearance, he or she may not schedule an appointment for a temple marriage or sealing until receiving a letter from the First Presidency giving notice that the cancellation or clearance has been granted. The person presents this letter at the temple.
If a person commits adultery while married to a spouse to whom he or she has been sealed, he or she may not be sealed to the partner in the adultery unless the sealing is authorized by the President of the Church. Such authorization may be requested after the couple have been married for at least five years. The request may be submitted with an application for cancellation of sealing or sealing clearance.
A couple who desires to have a sealing restriction removed may seek interviews with their bishop and stake president. If these leaders feel to recommend removal of the restriction, they may write letters to the First Presidency summarizing their recommendations and commenting on the applicants’ temple worthiness and the stability of their marriage for at least five years. The couple should also write a letter of request to the First Presidency. The stake president submits all of these letters to the First Presidency.
Couples who are married in a temple for time only are not usually sealed at a later time. For such a sealing to occur, the woman must first receive from the First Presidency a cancellation of her previous sealing. Such requests are considered only in exceptional circumstances. If a bishop and stake president feel that a cancellation may be justified, they may submit an application to the First Presidency using LCR.
Deceased Women. A deceased woman may be sealed to all men to whom she was legally married during her life. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before a deceased woman may be sealed to other men to whom she was married. This includes former husbands from whom she was divorced.
Deceased Men. A deceased man may have sealed to him all women to whom he was legally married during his life if they are deceased or if they are living and are not sealed to another man.
Deceased Couples Who Were Divorced. Deceased couples who were divorced may be sealed by proxy. These sealings often provide the only way for children of such couples to be sealed to parents. See 28.3.8 for a restriction if either the husband or wife had Church membership withdrawn or had resigned membership at the time of death. First Presidency approval is required for the sealing of a deceased couple who obtained a cancellation of their sealing in life.
After a husband and wife have been sealed in a temple, if Church membership is withdrawn from one of them or if one of them has resigned membership, his or her temple blessings are revoked. However, personal blessings of the sealing for the spouse and children remain in force if they remain worthy.
Children who are born to a couple after one or the other has had Church membership withdrawn or has resigned membership are not born in the covenant. See 126.96.36.199.
Children who are born after their mother has been sealed to a husband in a temple are born in the covenant of that sealing. They do not need to receive the ordinance of sealing to parents. Being born in the covenant entitles children to an eternal parentage, depending on their faithfulness.
If a woman who has been sealed to a former husband remarries, the children of her later marriage are born in the covenant of the first sealing unless they were born after the sealing was canceled or after it was revoked due to withdrawal or resignation of Church membership.
Children who are not born in the covenant can become part of an eternal family by being sealed to their natural or adoptive parents. These children receive the same right to blessings as if they had been born in the covenant.
A child may be sealed only to two parents—a husband and wife—and not to one parent only.
Males who are at least 11 and turning 12 during the year of the ordinance must hold the priesthood and be ordained to the office appropriate to their age before they may be sealed to their parents. Members who are married or are 21 or older may not be sealed to their parents unless they are endowed.
A deceased person is usually sealed to his or her birth or adoptive parents. However, a deceased child may also be sealed to:
A birth father and stepmother.
A birth mother and stepfather.
Foster parents or grandparents who raised the child.
A couple who intended to adopt the child but could not complete the adoption before the child died.
These sealings may be done even if a deceased child is already sealed to his or her birth or adoptive parents. First Presidency approval is not necessary. Sealings to nonbiological or nonadoptive parents in circumstances other than those listed above require First Presidency approval.
To observe the sealing of living siblings, stepsiblings, or half siblings to their parents, children under the age of 21 must be born in the covenant or sealed to their parents. In addition, children ages 8 and older must be baptized and confirmed, and males who are at least 11 and turning 12 during the year of the ordinance must hold the priesthood and be ordained to the office appropriate to their age.
Members who are married or are 21 or older must be endowed to observe such sealings.
Living children who are born in the covenant or have been sealed to parents cannot be sealed to any other parents unless the First Presidency gives approval.
Living children who are legally adopted and were neither born in the covenant nor sealed to former parents may be sealed to their adoptive parents after the adoption is final. A copy of the final adoption decree should be presented at the temple; a court decree granting legal custody is not sufficient clearance for a sealing. There is no obligation to identify the natural parents of these children.
First Presidency approval is necessary for a living member to be sealed to foster parents. This requirement applies even if the natural parents of the foster child are unknown and cannot be identified by reasonable effort. Such requests are made by the stake president.
A deceased adopted person is usually sealed to his or her adoptive parents.
A deceased foster child is usually sealed to his or her natural parents.
A living unmarried child under 21 who was not born in the covenant or sealed previously and who has not been adopted may be sealed to one natural parent and a stepparent if both of the following conditions exist:
The natural parent to whom the child is being sealed has legal custody of the child and physical custody of the child the majority of the time.
The other natural parent has given a signed letter of consent. A court decree granting legal custody is not sufficient clearance for a sealing. The letter of consent should use wording similar to the following: “I, [name of natural parent], give permission for [name of child or children] to be sealed in the temple to [name of parents]. I understand that the sealing is a religious ceremony and does not have legal implications.” The letter should be presented at the temple before the sealing.
If the other natural parent is deceased or if his or her parental rights have been fully terminated by legal process, no consent is required.
If the other natural parent cannot be located and thorough efforts to find him or her have failed, no consent is required. In this case, the bishop or stake president writes a letter indicating that thorough efforts to locate the missing parent have failed. This letter should be given to the temple before the sealing.
A living endowed member who is married or who is 21 or older and was not born in the covenant and has not been sealed to parents may be sealed to one natural parent and a stepparent.
Children conceived by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization are born in the covenant if their parents are already sealed. If the children are born before their parents are sealed, they may be sealed to their parents after their parents are sealed to each other.
If a child was born to a surrogate mother, the stake president refers the matter to the Office of the First Presidency.
Children who are born in the covenant or sealed to parents remain so even if the sealing of the parents is later (1) canceled or (2) revoked by the withdrawal or resignation of Church membership of either parent. Children who are born after their parents’ sealing is canceled or revoked are not born in the covenant. These children need to be sealed to their parents after their parents’ blessings are restored (if applicable) and any other obstacles are removed.
A few policies in this section are about matters that the Church “discourages.” Church members usually do not experience membership restrictions because of their decisions about these matters. However, all people are ultimately accountable to God for their decisions.
The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:
Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.
A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.
A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.
Even these exceptions do not automatically justify abortion. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.
Presiding officers carefully review the circumstances if a Church member has been involved in an abortion. A membership council may be necessary if a member submits to, performs, arranges for, pays for, consents to, or encourages an abortion (see 188.8.131.52). However, a membership council should not be considered if a member was involved in an abortion before baptism. Nor should membership councils or restrictions be considered for members who were involved in an abortion for any of the three reasons outlined earlier in this section.
Bishops refer questions on specific cases to the stake president. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary.
As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion.
Abuse is the mistreatment or neglect of others in a way that causes physical, sexual, emotional, or financial harm. The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse their spouses, children, other family members, or anyone else violate the laws of God and man.
All members, especially parents and leaders, are encouraged to be alert and diligent and do all they can to protect children and others against abuse. If they become aware of instances of abuse, they should counsel with the bishop. Church leaders should take reports of abuse seriously and never disregard them.
All adults who work with children or youth are to complete children and youth protection training within one month of being sustained (see ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). They are to repeat the training every three years.
When abuse occurs, the first and immediate responsibility of Church leaders is to help those who have been abused and to protect vulnerable persons from future abuse. Leaders should not encourage a person to remain in a home or situation that is abusive or unsafe.
In some countries, the Church has established a confidential abuse help line to assist stake presidents and bishops. These leaders should promptly call the help line about every situation in which a person may have been abused—or is at risk of being abused. They should also call it if they become aware of a member viewing, purchasing, or distributing child pornography.
The help line is available for bishops and stake presidents to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone numbers are shown below.
United States and Canada: 1-801-240-1911 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-1911
United Kingdom: 0800 970 6757
Ireland: 1800 937 546
France: 0805 710 531
Australia: 02 9841 5454 (from within the country)
New Zealand: 09 488 5592 (from within the country)
Bishops and stake presidents should call the help line when addressing situations involving any type of abuse. Legal and clinical professionals will answer their questions. These professionals will also give instructions about how to:
Assist victims and help protect them from further abuse.
Help protect potential victims.
Comply with legal requirements for reporting abuse.
The Church is committed to complying with the law in reporting abuse (see 184.108.40.206). Laws differ by location, and most Church leaders are not legal experts. Calling the help line is essential for bishops and stake presidents to fulfill their responsibilities to report abuse.
A bishop should also notify his stake president of instances of abuse.
In countries that do not have a help line, a bishop who learns of abuse should contact his stake president. He will seek guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office.
Stake presidents and bishops make every effort to counsel those who have been involved in abuse. Victims of abuse often suffer serious trauma and feelings of guilt. These victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders should be sensitive to them and give caring counsel and support to help them overcome the destructive effects of abuse. Leaders also give assurances of God’s love.
Stake presidents and bishops should help those who have committed abuse to repent and to cease their abusive behavior. If an adult has committed a sexual sin against a child, the behavior may be very difficult to change. The process of repentance may be very prolonged. See 220.127.116.11.
Stake presidents and bishops should also be caring and sensitive when working with the families of victims and perpetrators of abuse.
Guidance for counseling victims and offenders is provided at Abuse: How to Help.
In addition to the inspired help of Church leaders, professional counseling may be needed for victims, offenders, and their families. Leaders may contact a Family Services office or another trusted resource in the community for assistance.
Leaders in the United States and Canada can find information about the nearest Family Services office in the Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL). Leaders can also obtain this information by calling:
1-800-453-3860, extension 2-1711
In other areas, leaders can contact the Family Services specialist or the welfare and self-reliance manager through the area office.
For information about what bishops and stake presidents should do when they learn of any type of abuse, see 18.104.22.168.
See also FamilyServices.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Abuse of a child or youth is an especially serious sin (see Luke 17:2). As used here, child or youth abuse includes the following:
Physical abuse: Inflicting serious bodily harm by physical violence. Some harm may not be visible.
Sexual abuse or exploitation: Having any sexual activity with a child or youth or intentionally allowing or helping others to have such activity. As used here, sexual abuse does not include consensual sexual activity between two minors who are close in age.
Emotional abuse: Using actions and words to seriously damage a child or youth’s sense of self-respect or self-worth. This usually involves repeated and continuing insults, manipulations, and criticisms that humiliate and belittle. It may also include gross neglect.
Child pornography: See 38.6.6.
If a bishop or stake president learns of or suspects child or youth abuse, he promptly follows the instructions in 22.214.171.124. He also takes action to help protect against further abuse.
If a minor abuses a child, the stake president contacts the Office of the First Presidency for direction.
Physical or emotional bullying between children or youth of a similar age should be addressed by ward leaders. A membership council is not held.
Abuse of a spouse or another adult can occur in many ways. These include physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Adults who are elderly, vulnerable, or disabled are sometimes at high risk for abuse.
Often there is not a single definition of abuse that can be applied in all situations. Instead, there is a spectrum of severity in abusive behavior. This spectrum ranges from occasionally using sharp words to inflicting serious harm.
If a bishop or stake president learns of abuse of a spouse or another adult, he promptly follows the instructions in 126.96.36.199. He also takes action to help protect against further abuse.
Leaders seek the direction of the Spirit to determine whether personal counseling or a membership council is the most appropriate setting to address abuse. They may also counsel with their direct priesthood leader about the setting. However, any abuse of a spouse or another adult that rises to the levels described below requires holding a membership council.
Physical abuse: Inflicting serious bodily harm by physical violence. Some harm may not be visible.
Sexual abuse: See the situations specified in 38.6.17.
Emotional abuse: Using actions and words to seriously damage a person’s sense of self-respect or self-worth. This usually involves repeated and continuing insults, manipulations, and criticisms that humiliate and belittle.
Financial abuse: Taking advantage of someone financially. This may include the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, or other valuables. It may also include fraudulently obtaining financial power over someone. It could include using financial power to coerce behavior. See also 188.8.131.52.
Members who have abused others should not be given Church callings and may not have a temple recommend until they have repented and Church membership restrictions have been removed.
If a person abused a child or youth sexually or seriously abused a child or youth emotionally or physically, his or her membership record will be annotated. He or she must not be given any calling or assignment involving children or youth. This includes not being given a ministering assignment to a family with youth or children in the home. It also includes not having a youth as a ministering companion. These restrictions should remain in place unless the First Presidency authorizes removal of the annotation. See 32.14.5 for information about annotations.
In stake and ward council meetings, stake presidencies and bishoprics regularly review Church policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse. They teach the key messages in “Preventing and Responding to Abuse,” an enclosure to the First Presidency letter dated March 26, 2018. They invite discussion from council members. Leaders and council members seek the guidance of the Spirit as they teach and discuss this sensitive subject.
If a member’s abusive activities have violated applicable law, the bishop or stake president should urge the member to report these activities to law enforcement personnel or other appropriate government authorities. The bishop or stake president can obtain information about local reporting requirements through the Church’s help line (see 184.108.40.206). If members have questions about reporting requirements, he encourages them to secure qualified legal advice.
Church leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities. In some locations, leaders and teachers who work with children and youth are considered “mandated reporters” and must report abuse to legal authorities. Similarly, in many locations, any person who learns of abuse is required to report it to legal authorities. Bishops and stake presidents should call the help line for details about mandated reporters and other legal requirements for reporting abuse. The Church’s policy is to obey the law.
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife (see 2.1.2).
It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear (see 2.1.3). The decision about how many children to have and when to have them is extremely personal and private. It should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.
The Church discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization includes procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligations. However, this decision is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the husband and wife. Couples should counsel together in unity and seek the confirmation of the Spirit in making this decision.
Surgical sterilization is sometimes needed for medical reasons. Members may benefit from counseling with medical professionals.
The Lord’s law of chastity is:
Abstinence from sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman according to God’s law.
Fidelity within marriage.
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife.
Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. In God’s sight, moral cleanliness is very important. Violations of the law of chastity are very serious (see Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Alma 39:5). Those involved misuse the sacred power God has given to create life.
A Church membership council may be necessary if a member:
Has sexual relations outside of a marital relationship authorized by God’s law, such as adultery, fornication, and same-sex relations (see 32.6.2).
Is in a form of marriage or partnership that is not authorized by God’s law, such as cohabitation, civil unions and partnerships, and same-sex marriage.
Uses pornography intensively or compulsively, causing significant harm to a member’s marriage or family (see 38.6.13).
The decision about whether to hold a membership council in these situations depends on many circumstances. These are outlined in 32.7. For example, violating temple covenants increases the likelihood of a council being necessary to help a person repent. In some cases, personal counseling and informal membership restrictions may be sufficient (see 32.8).
See 220.127.116.11 for when a council is required for sexual sins.
The Church condemns child pornography in any form. If a bishop or stake president learns that a member is involved with child pornography, he promptly follows the instructions in 18.104.22.168.
A Church membership council and record annotation are required if a member makes, shares, possesses, or repeatedly views pornographic images of children (see 22.214.171.124 and 32.14.5). This guideline generally does not apply to children or youth of approximately the same age who share sexual pictures of themselves or others. Personal counseling and informal membership restrictions may be appropriate in those situations.
For more guidance, see 38.6.13.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). For this reason, the Church discourages donating sperm or eggs. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the potential donor. See 38.6.9. The Church also discourages selling sperm or eggs.
The Church condemns female genital mutilation.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). When needed, reproductive technology can assist a married woman and man in their righteous desire to have children. This technology includes artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.
The Church discourages artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization using sperm from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of a lawfully married man and woman.
See also “Adoption” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The Church condemns any form of incest. As used here, incest is sexual relations between:
A parent and a child.
A grandparent and a grandchild.
An uncle or aunt and a niece or nephew.
As used here, child, grandchild, siblings, niece, and nephew include biological, adopted, step, or foster relationships. Incest can occur between two minors, an adult and a minor, or two adults.
When a minor is a victim of incest, the bishop or stake president calls the Church’s abuse help line in countries where it is available (see 126.96.36.199). In other countries, the stake president seeks guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office.
If a minor commits incest, the stake president contacts the Office of the First Presidency for direction.
Victims of incest often suffer serious trauma and feelings of guilt. These victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders should be sensitive to them and give caring counsel and support to help them overcome the destructive effects of incest. Leaders also give assurances of God’s love.
“That which is of God is light” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). The occult focuses on darkness and leads to deception. It destroys faith in Christ.
The occult includes Satan worship. It also includes mystical activities that are not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such activities include (but are not limited to) fortune-telling, curses, and healing practices that are imitations of the priesthood power of God (see Moroni 7:11–17).
Church members should not engage in any form of Satan worship or participate in any way with the occult. They should not focus on such darkness in conversations or in Church meetings.
The Church condemns pornography in any form. Pornography use of any kind damages individual lives, families, and society. It also drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.
Helping Those Who Struggle with Pornography (booklet)
Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts (booklet)
Stake presidents and bishops also provide support to family members as needed.
Church leaders should realize that use of pornography can be a compulsion or an addiction. In addition to the inspired help of these leaders, some members may need professional counseling. Leaders may contact Family Services for assistance. See 188.8.131.52 for contact information for Family Services.
Personal counseling and informal membership restrictions are usually sufficient when helping a person repent of using pornography (see 32.8). Membership councils are not usually held. However, a council may be necessary for intensive and compulsive use of pornography that has caused significant harm to a member’s marriage or family (see 38.6.5). A council is required if a member makes, shares, possesses, or repeatedly views pornographic images of children (see 38.6.6).
The Church encourages families and members to reach out with sensitivity, love, and respect to persons who are attracted to others of the same sex. The Church also promotes understanding in society at large that reflects its teachings about kindness, inclusiveness, love for others, and respect for all human beings. The Church does not take a position on the causes of same-sex attraction.
God’s commandments forbid all unchaste behavior, either same-sex or heterosexual. Church leaders counsel members who have violated the law of chastity. Leaders help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Behavior that is inconsistent with the law of chastity may be cause for holding a Church membership council (see 38.6.5). It can be forgiven through sincere repentance.
If members feel same-sex attraction and are striving to live the law of chastity, leaders support and encourage them in their resolve. These members may receive Church callings, hold temple recommends, and receive temple ordinances if they are worthy. Male Church members may receive and exercise the priesthood.
The circumstances of some faithful members do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life. They will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, provided they keep the covenants they have made with God (see Mosiah 2:41).
“Same-Sex Attraction,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Same-Sex Attraction,” Life Help, ChurchofJesusChrist.org
In addition to the inspired help of Church leaders, members may benefit from professional counseling. Leaders may contact Family Services for assistance. See 184.108.40.206 for contact information.
As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Church also affirms that God’s law defines marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.
Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same sex, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family.
Parents have primary responsibility for the sex education of their children. Parents should have honest, clear, and ongoing conversations with their children about healthy, righteous sexuality. These conversations should:
Be appropriate to the age and maturity of the child.
Help children prepare for happiness in marriage and follow the law of chastity (see 2.1.2).
Address the dangers of pornography, the need to avoid it, and how to respond when they encounter it.
For more information, see “Sex Education and Behavior” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
As part of their responsibility to teach their children, parents should be aware of and appropriately seek to influence the sex education taught at school. Parents teach correct principles and support school instruction that is consistent with the gospel.
The Church condemns sexual abuse. As used here, sexual abuse is defined as imposing any unwanted sexual activity on another person. Sexual activity with a person who cannot give legal consent is considered sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can also occur with a spouse. For information about sexual abuse of a child or youth, see 220.127.116.11.
Sexual abuse covers a broad range of actions, from harassment to assault. It can occur physically, verbally, and in other ways.
If leaders and members become aware of sexual abuse, they take action to protect victims and others as soon as possible. This includes alerting the bishop or stake president.
If a bishop or stake president learns of sexual abuse, he calls the Church’s abuse help line in countries where it is available (see 18.104.22.168). In other countries, the stake president seeks guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office.
A membership council is required if a member committed a rape or is convicted of sexual assault (see 22.214.171.124). A council must also be held for sexual activity with a vulnerable adult. As used here, a vulnerable adult is a person who, because of physical or mental limitations, either cannot consent to the activity or cannot understand the nature of it.
To address other forms of sexual abuse, leaders seek the Spirit’s guidance about whether personal counseling or a membership council is the most appropriate setting (see 126.96.36.199 and 32.8). In severe cases a council is required. Leaders may counsel with their direct priesthood leader about the setting.
If membership restrictions result from a membership council that is held for sexual abuse, a person’s records are annotated.
Victims of sexual abuse often suffer serious trauma and feelings of guilt. These victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders should be sensitive to them and give caring counsel and support to help them overcome the destructive effects of abuse. Leaders also give assurances of God’s love.
For information about counseling in cases of abuse, see 188.8.131.52.
Church members who are single and pregnant are encouraged to meet with their bishop. Family Services is available for:
Consultation with Church leaders.
Counseling with single expectant parents and their families.
No bishop’s referral is needed for this service. There is no charge.
Leaders may contact Family Services for assistance. See 184.108.40.206 for contact information.
Mortal life is a precious gift from God—a gift that should be valued and protected. The Church strongly supports the prevention of suicide. For information about how to help someone who is suicidal or someone who has been affected by suicide, see suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Most people who have thought about suicide want to find relief from physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pain. Such individuals need love, help, and support from family, Church leaders, and qualified professionals.
The bishop provides ecclesiastical support if a member is considering suicide or has attempted it. He also immediately helps the member obtain professional help. He encourages those close to the person to seek professional help as needed.
Despite the best efforts of loved ones, leaders, and professionals, suicide is not always preventable. It leaves behind deep heartbreak, emotional upheaval, and unanswered questions for loved ones and others. Leaders should counsel and console the family. They provide nurturing and support. The family may also need professional support and counseling.
It is not right for a person to take his or her own life. However, only God is able to judge the person’s thoughts, actions, and level of accountability (see 1 Samuel 16:7; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9).
The family, in consultation with the bishop, determines the place and nature of a funeral service for the person. The family may choose to use Church facilities. If the person had received the temple endowment, he or she may be buried in temple clothing.
Those who have lost a loved one to suicide can find hope and healing in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). For this reason, the Church discourages surrogate motherhood. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the husband and wife.
Children who are born to a surrogate mother are not born in the covenant. Following their birth, they may be sealed to parents only with the approval of the First Presidency (see 220.127.116.11).
Transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love. All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of the Church (see 38.1.1).
Gender is an essential characteristic of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. The intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth. Some people experience feelings of incongruence between their biological sex and their gender identity. As a result, they may identify as transgender. The Church does not take a position on the causes of people identifying themselves as transgender.
Most Church participation and some priesthood ordinances are gender neutral. Transgender persons may be baptized and confirmed as outlined in 18.104.22.168. They may also partake of the sacrament and receive priesthood blessings. However, priesthood ordination and temple ordinances are received according to birth sex.
Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s birth sex (“sex reassignment”). Leaders advise that taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.
Leaders also counsel against social transitioning. A social transition includes changing dress or grooming, or changing a name or pronouns, to present oneself as other than his or her birth sex. Leaders advise that those who socially transition will experience some Church membership restrictions for the duration of this transition.
Restrictions include receiving or exercising the priesthood, receiving or using a temple recommend, and receiving some Church callings. Although some privileges of Church membership are restricted, other Church participation is welcomed.
Transgender individuals who do not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender and are worthy may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.
Some children, youth, and adults are prescribed hormone therapy by a licensed medical professional to ease gender dysphoria or reduce suicidal thoughts. Before a person begins such therapy, it is important that he or she (and the parents of a minor) understands the potential risks and benefits. If these members are not attempting to transition to the opposite gender and are worthy, they may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.
If a member decides to change his or her preferred name or pronouns of address, the name preference may be noted in the preferred name field on the membership record. The person may be addressed by the preferred name in the ward.
Circumstances vary greatly from unit to unit and person to person. Members and leaders counsel together and with the Lord. Area Presidencies will help local leaders sensitively address individual situations. Bishops counsel with the stake president. Stake presidents and mission presidents must seek counsel from the Area Presidency (see 32.6.3 and 22.214.171.124).
For further information on understanding and supporting transgender individuals, see “Transgender” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Note: Some content in this section may undergo future revision.
Autopsies may be performed if the family of the deceased gives consent and if the autopsy complies with the law.
The Church does not normally encourage cremation. The family of the deceased must decide whether the body should be cremated, taking into account any laws governing burial or cremation. In some countries, the law requires cremation.
Where possible, the body of a deceased member who has been endowed should be dressed in temple clothing when it is cremated. A funeral service may be held (see 29.6).
Euthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease. A person who participates in euthanasia, including helping someone die by suicide, violates the commandments of God. (See also 38.7.10.)
Members who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) should be treated with dignity and compassion. Some people with HIV are innocent victims of the acts of others. For example, they may have become infected through a careless blood transfusion or an infected parent. If infection has resulted from transgressing God’s laws, the Church advocates the example of the Lord, who condemned the sin yet loved the sinner and encouraged repentance. Members should reach out with kindness and comfort to the afflicted, ministering to their needs and helping them find solutions to their problems.
The principal safeguards against HIV and AIDS are chastity before marriage, total fidelity in marriage, abstinence from any same-sex relations, avoidance of illegal drugs, and reverence and care for the body.
Attendance at Church meetings by persons with HIV infection or AIDS does not pose a serious health problem. Public health authorities affirm that HIV has not been transmitted through casual contact in homes, schools, churches, or places of work.
Those who occasionally may need to clean up blood or render first aid should learn and follow the recommendations of local health officials.
The use of hypnosis under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders is a medical question to be determined by competent medical authorities. Members should not participate in hypnosis for purposes of demonstration or entertainment.
In extremely rare circumstances, a baby is born with genitals that are not clearly male or female (ambiguous genitalia, sexual ambiguity, or intersex). Parents or others may have to make decisions to determine their child’s sex with the guidance of competent medical professionals. Decisions about proceeding with medical or surgical intervention are often made in the newborn period. However, they can be delayed unless they are medically necessary.
Special compassion and wisdom are required when youth or adults who were born with sexual ambiguity experience emotional conflict regarding the gender decisions made in infancy or childhood and the gender with which they identify.
Questions about membership records, priesthood ordination, and temple ordinances for youth or adults who were born with sexual ambiguity should be directed to the Office of the First Presidency.
Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.
The Church opposes the use of marijuana for non-medical purposes. See “Word of Wisdom” (38.7.13).
However, marijuana may be used for medicinal purposes when the following conditions are met:
The use is determined to be medically necessary by a licensed physician or another legally approved medical provider.
The person follows the dosage and other directions for use from the physician or other authorized medical provider.
The Church does not approve of the use of marijuana in smoking or vaping forms.
The donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit to individuals with medical conditions. The decision to will or donate one’s own body organs or tissue for medical purposes or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member is made by the individual or the deceased member’s family.
A decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer.
When severe illness strikes, members should exercise faith in the Lord and seek competent medical assistance. However, when dying becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence. Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable. These judgments are best made by family members after receiving wise and competent medical advice and seeking divine guidance through fasting and prayer.
Many private groups and commercial organizations have programs that purport to increase self-awareness, self-esteem, and spirituality. Some groups promise to enhance individual agency or improve family relationships. Some offer “experiential” or “empowerment” training.
Some of these groups falsely claim or imply that the Church or individual General Authorities have endorsed their programs. However, the Church has not endorsed any such enterprise, and members are warned against believing such claims. The fact that the Church has not formally challenged such an enterprise should not be perceived as a tacit endorsement or approval.
Church members are also warned that some of these groups advocate concepts and use methods that can be harmful. In addition, many such groups charge exorbitant fees and encourage long-term commitments. Some intermingle worldly concepts with gospel principles in ways that can undermine spirituality and faith.
These groups tend to promise quick solutions to problems that normally require time and personal effort to resolve. Although participants may experience temporary emotional relief or exhilaration, old problems often return, leading to added disappointment and despair.
Church leaders are not to pay for, encourage participation in, or promote such groups or practices. Also, Church facilities may not be used for these activities.
Leaders should counsel members that true self-improvement comes through living gospel principles. Members who have social or emotional problems may consult with priesthood leaders for guidance in identifying sources of help that are in harmony with gospel principles.
Temple ordinances are not performed for stillborn children. However, this does not deny the possibility that a stillborn child may be part of the family in the eternities. Parents are encouraged to trust the Lord to resolve such cases in the way He knows is best. The family may record the name of a stillborn child on the family group record, followed by the word stillborn in parentheses.
Memorial or graveside services may be held as determined by the parents.
It is a fact that a child has life before birth. However, there is no direct revelation on when the spirit enters the body.
The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.
Members should not use any substance that contains illegal drugs. Nor should members use harmful or habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician.
Questions regarding the exchange of information and contact between adopted children and their biological parents should be handled with sensitivity. The legal rights and emotional needs of all relevant parties should be considered.
In the United States and Canada, stake presidents and bishops may contact Family Services for guidance:
1-800-453-3860, extension 2-1711
Outside the United States and Canada, leaders may contact Family Services or the Family Services person in the area office.
Members who wish to adopt children or provide foster care should be certain to obey all applicable laws of the countries and governments involved.
For information about placing children for adoption, see 38.6.18.
Members may use audiovisual materials, such as CDs, DVDs, and computer presentations, in Church settings with the following restrictions:
They may not be used in sacrament meetings or in the general session of stake conference (however, appropriate recorded musical accompaniment may be used if a piano, organ, or accompanist is not available).
They may not be used if such use is restricted by copyright (see 38.8.13).
They may not be used if they contain material that is not suitable for Church settings.
Audiovisual materials that meet these criteria may be used in the chapel during meetings other than sacrament meeting or the general session of stake conference if they are an important part of the meeting.
Church members should not seek the autographs of General Authorities or Area Seventies, including signing in their scriptures, hymnals, or programs. Doing so detracts from their sacred callings and the spirit of meetings. It also could prevent them from greeting other members.
Members should not take photographs of General Authorities or Area Seventies in chapels.
English-speaking members should use the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible. This edition includes the Topical Guide; footnotes; excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation; cross-references to other passages in the Bible and to the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price; and other study aids. Although other versions of the Bible may be easier to read, in doctrinal matters, latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations.
Spanish-speaking members should use the Latter-day Saint edition of the Reina-Valera Bible. This edition includes study aids similar to those in the Latter-day Saint edition in English.
In many other non-English languages, the Church has approved a non–Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible for use in Church meetings and classes. Members should use these editions of the Bible.
The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical translation is not by comparing different texts but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.
Printed copies of approved editions of the Bible are available from Church Distribution Services. Electronic text and audio recordings of Latter-day Saint editions are also available at scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Church discourages rewriting the Book of Mormon into familiar or modern English. The First Presidency has said:
“When a sacred text is translated into another language or rewritten into more familiar language, there are substantial risks that this process may introduce doctrinal errors or obscure evidence of its ancient origin. To guard against these risks, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve give close personal supervision to the translation of scriptures from English into other languages and have not authorized efforts to express the doctrinal content of the Book of Mormon in familiar or modern English. (These concerns do not pertain to publications by the Church for children.)” (“Modern-Language Editions of the Book of Mormon Discouraged,” Ensign, Apr. 1993, 74).
Church employees are to uphold Church standards at all times. To begin or continue employment, they must be worthy to have a temple recommend. This includes employees of the Church Educational System and Church universities and colleges.
Periodically, representatives of the Church Human Resource Department will contact stake presidents or bishops to verify the temple worthiness of current or potential Church employees. These requests may be written or made by telephone. Leaders should respond promptly.
Church employees must comply with employment laws. Church headquarters or the area office can provide information about applicable laws.
The First Presidency has consistently encouraged members of the Church to read the Church magazines. Local Church leaders should encourage members to have the Church magazines in their homes. These magazines contain the Lord’s guidance given through latter-day prophets. Church magazines strengthen faith in the Savior and provide inspired direction for personal challenges.
The stake president and bishop may assign their executive secretaries to coordinate Church magazine subscription efforts (see 33.3.4 and 33.4.4). Bishoprics may also call a ward magazine representative and appoint others to assist. If a ward magazine representative is called, he helps plan and direct Church magazine campaigns, helps members begin or renew subscriptions, and teaches members the benefits of subscribing to the Church magazines.
Members can subscribe to the Church magazines through Church Distribution Services. In some areas, members can subscribe by filling out the subscription form on the Church magazines’ webpages.
The Church’s name and logotype are key Church identifiers. They are registered as trademarks or are otherwise legally protected worldwide. They should be used only according to the following guidelines.
Local units may use the written name of the Church (not the logotype) when all of the following conditions are met:
The activity or function with which the name is associated is officially sponsored by the unit (for example, a sacrament meeting program).
The name of the local unit is used as a prelude to the name of the Church (for example, Canyon View Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
The typeface does not imitate or resemble the official Church logotype.
The Church’s official logotype (see the front cover of this handbook) is to be used only for items approved by the Correlation Department at Church headquarters. Examples of these items are:
Official Church publications and stationery.
Missionary name tags.
Meetinghouse exterior signs.
The logotype may not be used as a decorative element, a computer screen saver, or a desktop background. Nor may it be used in any personal, commercial, or promotional way, such as on family history books, T-shirts, buttons, or banners. Questions may be directed to:
Intellectual Property Office
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0005
Telephone: 1-801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3959
As authorized by the Church’s presiding councils, some Church units are provided computers for purposes such as record keeping and family history. The stake president oversees the placement and use of computers in the stake. Guidelines for obtaining and managing Church computers are available from Church headquarters or the area office. These guidelines provide information about matters such as:
Hardware and software.
Disposal of computers.
Stolen or damaged computers.
Use by members.
Where necessary, stake presidents arrange to make ward and stake computers available for members to use family history programs. Ward and stake computers are not authorized for other personal uses.
To protect confidential information on computers, leaders and clerks should use the password features of Church record-keeping systems. Personal passwords to access Church financial systems are never to be shared. Additional instructions about protecting confidential information are provided in 33.8 and 33.9.
Computers should be placed so members of the bishopric and clerks can process members’ weekly contributions in privacy.
For restrictions on duplicating computer software, see 38.8.13.
The stake presidency may assign an assistant stake clerk to be the stake technology specialist. The stake clerk could be given this assignment if necessary. The stake technology specialist manages Church computers in the stake, including those in family history centers. These responsibilities are outlined in 126.96.36.199.
The laws governing creative works and their permissible use vary from one country to another. The Church policies outlined in this section are consistent with international treaties that are applicable in most countries. For simplicity, this section refers to a creator’s rights as “copyright.” However, certain of these rights may be known by different names in some countries.
Copyright is protection given by law to the creators of original works of authorship that are expressed in a tangible form, including:
Literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works.
Works of art, photography, and sculpture.
Audio and audiovisual works (such as movies and videos, CDs, and DVDs).
Computer programs or games.
Internet and other databases.
Church members should strictly observe all copyright laws. Generally, only copyright owners may authorize duplication (copying), distribution, public performance, public display, or derivatives of their work. Using a work in any of these ways without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy and may also subject the Church or the user to legal liability.
A user of a work should assume that it is protected by copyright. Published works usually include a copyright notice, such as “© 1959 by John Doe.” (For sound recordings, the symbol is ℗.) However, a copyright notice is not required for legal protection. Similarly, the fact that a publication is out of print does not nullify its copyright or justify duplicating, distributing, performing, displaying, or making derivatives of it without permission.
The following questions and answers may help members understand and abide by copyright laws when using copyrighted materials at church and at home. If members have questions that are not answered in these guidelines, they may contact:
Intellectual Property Office
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0005
Telephone: 1-801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3959
Can I copy pictures from Church magazines? Pictures in Church publications may usually be copied for noncommercial Church, home, and family use. However, they may not be copied for commercial purposes without specific written permission from the IPO. If a picture is restricted from being copied, words such as “may not be copied” will appear in the credits for the image.
Can I copy published Church materials? Church publications may usually be copied for noncommercial Church, home, and family use. No commercial use may be made of Church materials without specific written permission from the IPO.
Can I copy music? Special copyright laws apply to music. A person may copy music from Hymns, the Children’s Songbook, and Church magazines for noncommercial Church, home, and family use except where a restriction is expressly noted on the hymn or song. Duplicating printed or recorded music without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy. Music that has been duplicated contrary to this policy must not be used for Church purposes.
Can I alter, copy, or segment Church-produced audiovisual materials? Not unless such use is specifically authorized by the IPO. Church-produced audiovisual materials should be used in accordance with prescribed instructions in the manuals and on the packaging materials.
Can I copy materials that are not owned by the Church? Generally not. Copyright laws govern the use of privately owned materials. Usually there are restrictions that give the conditions the public must follow before copying non-Church materials. These restrictions are usually listed near the beginning of a publication. Members should strictly observe all copyright laws.
Can I show commercial audiovisual products at Church functions? Generally not. Church members should not violate warnings and restrictions that are placed on commercial audiovisual products. Using commercial audiovisual products at Church functions generally requires permission from the copyright owners.
Can I download or duplicate computer software and other programs for Church use? Generally not. Computer programs and other software may not be duplicated or downloaded unless all licenses have been appropriately purchased. As an exception, Church family history programs may be downloaded at no charge.
Can I download or distribute materials that I find on Church websites? The Church has created several websites, including ChurchofJesusChrist.org, ComeUntoChrist.org, and FamilySearch.org. Unless otherwise indicated, all material on Church-owned websites, including visuals, text, icons, displays, databases, and general information, may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for noncommercial Church, home, and family use only. Material from these sites may not be posted, transcribed, or distributed to other websites or computer networks without permission from the IPO.
Church-owned sites and any information on these sites, including the names and addresses of those who have submitted information, may not be used for selling or promoting products or services, soliciting clients, or any other commercial purpose.
What permission is needed to present musical and theatrical productions? Productions that are owned by the Church or IRI may be performed in Church settings without permission from Church headquarters. If a copyrighted production is not owned by the Church, members must obtain the copyright owner’s permission to perform all or part of it in a Church setting. Usually the copyright owner requires fees or royalties even if no charge is made for the performances. All presentations should have the approval of local priesthood leaders.
The Church makes available scriptures, magazines, manuals, books, and other materials to help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Leaders encourage members to obtain copies of the scriptures and Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families to support gospel study at home.
Leaders ensure that teachers use Church-approved materials for quorum and class instruction. The publication Instructions for Curriculum provides information about how to organize Sunday classes and which materials to use for lessons.
Dating and get-acquainted businesses often promote their services to single members of the Church. Church meetinghouses, classes, or programs may not be used to promote any private business venture, including dating and get-acquainted businesses or services. Lists of Church groups or other information about members should not be given to such businesses.
Stake and ward directories may be published according to the following instructions:
Names, addresses, and phone numbers may be included in a directory only if they are listed in a commercial telephone directory or, if they are unlisted, if the member gives permission. Email addresses may be included only with the member’s permission.
Stake or ward budget funds are used to pay for directories. Directories may not contain advertising.
Leaders should not distribute directories outside the stake or ward boundaries or permit their use for commercial or political purposes.
The beginning of each directory should include a statement that it is to be used only for Church purposes and should not be copied without permission of the bishop or stake president.
The Church has established an email system for communicating with priesthood leaders and for them to communicate with each other. Priesthood leaders will be notified when this system is available to them.
Generally, members are encouraged to remain in their native lands to build up and strengthen the Church. Opportunities for Church activity and for receiving and sharing the blessings of the gospel are increasing greatly throughout the world. As members remain in their homelands and work to build the Church there, great blessings will come to them personally and to the Church. Stakes and wards throughout the world will be strengthened, making it possible to share the blessings of the gospel with an even greater number of Heavenly Father’s children.
Experience has shown that those who emigrate often encounter language, cultural, and economic challenges, resulting in disappointment and personal and family difficulties.
Missionaries should not ask their parents, relatives, or others to sponsor members who wish to emigrate to other countries.
Members who emigrate to any country should comply with applicable laws.
When traveling to the United States or other countries on student or tourist visas, members should not expect to find jobs or obtain permanent visas after entering that country.
To be considered for Church employment in any country, a person must meet all conditions of immigration and naturalization laws. The Church does not sponsor immigration through Church employment.
A proper fast-day observance typically includes abstaining from food and drink for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period, attending fast and testimony meeting, and giving a generous fast offering to help care for those in need.
The Church opposes gambling in any form, including government-sponsored lotteries.
For most Church meetings, speakers and instructors should belong to the local ward or stake.
The bishop’s approval is required before guest speakers or instructors may participate in any ward meeting, including quorum, Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Women, and Primary meetings. The stake president’s approval is required for such participation in stake meetings.
The bishop or stake president carefully screens guest speakers or instructors and the subjects of their presentations. This may include contacting the person’s bishop. The bishop or stake president ensures that:
Presentations are in harmony with Church doctrine.
Guest speakers or instructors are not paid a fee, do not recruit participants, and do not solicit customers or clients.
The travel expenses of guest speakers or instructors are not paid, either with local unit budget funds or by private contributions.
Presentations comply with the guidelines for using Church facilities (see 35.4).
Church members are obligated by the twelfth article of faith to obey the tax laws of the nation where they reside (see also Doctrine and Covenants 134:5). Members who disapprove of tax laws may try to have them changed by legislation or constitutional amendment. Members who have well-founded legal objections may challenge tax laws in the courts.
Church members who refuse to file a tax return, pay required income taxes, or comply with a final judgment in a tax case are in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the Church. Such members may be ineligible for a temple recommend and should not be called to positions of principal responsibility in the Church. A Church membership council is required if a member is convicted of a felony for willfully violating tax laws (see 188.8.131.52).
When carefully used, the internet can help coordinate the work of the Church, strengthen faith, and minister to the needs of others. The internet can also help people connect with one another and share Church content with friends and family. However, members should remember that electronic communication should not replace opportunities for in-person contact, where feasible.
The Church provides a number of official websites, blogs, and social media profiles for general use. These sites and resources are clearly identified as official either by the use of the Church logo or in some equivalent manner. They also comply with legal requirements and the Church’s intellectual property and privacy policies.
Temples, missions, and visitors’ centers are not authorized to create websites.
Members may not create websites, blogs, or social media profiles on behalf of the Church or to officially represent the Church and its views. However, they may create websites, blogs, or social media profiles to assist with their callings. When doing so, members must include a disclaimer such as “This is not an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and comply with the following guidelines:
Local priesthood leaders must first approve the creation of calling-related websites, blogs, or social media profiles.
The Church logo may not be used or imitated.
The name and contact information of the member who is responsible for the website, blog, or social media profile should be posted publicly.
Members should not state or imply that their online resource’s content, images, or other materials are sponsored or endorsed by the Church or officially represent the Church in any way.
Photographs of other individuals or personal information should not be displayed without consent.
Social media properties must be properly maintained and actively moderated to ensure that any inappropriate content is promptly removed.
The website, blog, or social media profile should not be the name of a Church unit. For example, “First Ward News” or “Friends of the First Ward” is acceptable, while “First Ward” is not.
Please see internet.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for additional examples and clarification.
For help with the calendar, directory, and other tools on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, please visit tools.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Members are encouraged to use the internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ.
Members are encouraged to share messages from official Church websites and social accounts, as well as their own words, images, and media. As members express their own thoughts and feelings, they should not give the impression that they represent or are sponsored by the Church.
As members use the internet to hasten the work of the Lord, they should exemplify civility and focus on sharing praiseworthy messages that strengthen those with whom they come in contact.
Search for “Internet Usage Helps for Members” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org to find additional guidelines.
Members should obey, honor, and sustain the laws in any country where they reside or travel (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:21–22; Articles of Faith 1:12). This includes laws that prohibit proselyting.
When legal help is needed for Church matters, Church leaders should contact Church legal counsel. In the United States and Canada, stake presidents should contact the Office of General Counsel at Church headquarters (1-801-240-6301 or 1-800-453-3860). Outside the United States and Canada, stake presidents should contact the area office to obtain local legal counsel.
Church leaders should not involve themselves in civil or criminal cases for members in their units, quorums, or organizations without first consulting with Church legal counsel. This same policy applies to corresponding with lawyers or court personnel, including through email.
Leaders should confer with Church legal counsel if, in their Church capacities, they:
Believe they should testify or communicate in a legal matter.
Are being required by legal process to testify or communicate in a legal matter.
Are ordered to provide evidence.
Are asked to provide documents or information voluntarily.
Are asked to communicate with lawyers or civil authorities about legal proceedings, including sentencing or parole hearings.
However well intentioned, Church leaders sharing information in legal proceedings can be misinterpreted and damaging. Such sharing can be especially harmful to victims and their families. Following the Church’s policy also helps keep the Church from being wrongly implicated in legal matters.
Church leaders may not testify on behalf of the Church in any legal proceeding without prior approval from the Office of General Counsel. This policy also applies to sentencing and parole hearings. Church leaders may not provide written evidence in their leadership capacity without this approval.
Leaders should not suggest or imply that their testimony in a legal proceeding represents the position of the Church.
Leaders should not influence the testimony of a witness in any legal proceeding.
Contact information for Church legal counsel is provided in 38.8.26. Outside of the United States and Canada, leaders should contact their area legal counsel.
Some businesses and individuals send local leaders promotional items that might appear to be official Church correspondence. Official correspondence can be distinguished from other correspondence as follows: it is always conveyed (1) personally by Church leaders, (2) in a letter from Church leaders on Church letterhead stationery, or (3) by announcement in a Church publication. Only these items require Church leaders’ attention and action.
Local leaders should place a return address on all letters and other items of correspondence sent to Church headquarters, in addition to the return address on the envelope in which the item is sent.
Members of the Church are discouraged from making telephone calls or writing letters to General Authorities about doctrinal issues or personal matters. With an ever-increasing Church membership, responding personally to these inquiries presents an almost insurmountable task and would make it difficult for General Authorities to fulfill the duties for which they alone are responsible. The General Authorities love the members of the Church and do not want them to feel that they are without the support and guidance they need. However, all things need to be done with wisdom and order.
The Lord has organized His Church so every member has access to a bishop or branch president and a stake, district, or mission president who serve as spiritual advisers and temporal counselors. By reason of their callings, these local leaders are entitled to the spirit of discernment and inspiration to enable them to counsel members within their jurisdiction.
Members who need spiritual guidance, have weighty personal problems, or have doctrinal questions should make a diligent effort, including earnest prayer and scripture study, to find solutions and answers themselves. Church members are encouraged to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost to help them in their personal lives and in their family and Church responsibilities.
If members still need help, they should counsel first with their bishop. If necessary, he may refer them to the stake president.
In most cases, correspondence from members to General Authorities will be referred back to their local leaders. Stake presidents who need clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of their members to the First Presidency.
Baptism into the Church, priesthood ordinations, and the issuing of temple recommends are based on the personal worthiness of each individual as established by a careful interview by that person’s local priesthood leaders. Members of the Church should endeavor to be involved in activities and employment upon which they can in good conscience ask the blessings of the Lord and which are consistent with the principles of the gospel and the teachings of the Savior.
Church members are encouraged to follow the Savior’s example of offering hope, understanding, and love to those who have disabilities. Leaders should get to know those who have disabilities and show genuine interest and concern.
Leaders also identify members who may need additional care because a parent, spouse, child, or sibling has a disability. Caring for a family member who has a disability can be a refining process that builds faith. But it can also contribute to financial, marital, and family challenges.
Leaders also seek out members with disabilities who are living in group homes or other facilities away from family members.
Leaders, teachers, and other members should seek to understand a person’s disability and any needs that may be associated with it. They can increase their understanding by talking with the person and his or her family members. They can also read talks by Church leaders, articles in Church magazines, and online resources at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Leaders assess the needs of those who have disabilities and those who are caregivers. These leaders determine how ward or stake resources could be used to help meet the needs as appropriate. Leaders encourage members to give assistance and reach out in love and friendship. The bishopric or stake presidency may call a ward or stake disability specialist to help individuals and families.
Leaders may also identify appropriate community resources that could help individuals who have disabilities and their families.
For additional information on assisting persons who have disabilities, leaders and members may go to disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Leaders may also contact Family Services (where available).
Leaders and members should not attempt to explain why the challenge of a disability has come to a family. They should never suggest that a disability is a punishment from God (see John 9:2–3). Nor should they suggest that it is a blessing to have a child who has a disability.
When considering whether to perform ordinances for a person who has an intellectual disability, priesthood leaders follow the guidelines in 18.1.
Many members with disabilities can serve in nearly any Church assignment. Leaders prayerfully consider the abilities and desires of each person and then provide appropriate opportunities to serve. Leaders also counsel with the person’s family and consider the effects of a Church calling on the person and his or her family or caregiver.
When considering Church assignments or callings for caregivers of people with disabilities, leaders carefully consider the circumstances of the individuals and their families.
Leaders and teachers should include members with disabilities in meetings, classes, and activities as fully as possible. Lessons, talks, and teaching methods should be adapted to meet each person’s needs. For information about adapting lessons, see disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The bishopric may call an assistant teacher to help a person in a class. The bishopric may also ask someone to help a person in a meeting or activity.
If a person cannot participate in a meeting, class, or activity, leaders and teachers may consult with the family about how to meet his or her needs. The stake president or bishop may approve organizing special classes or programs for members with disabilities (see 184.108.40.206). If a person is not able to attend Church meetings, printed materials or recordings of lessons and talks may be provided.
Priesthood leaders encourage males who hold the priesthood to participate in ordinances when appropriate. Beginning in January of the year they turn 12, priesthood holders and young women who have been baptized and confirmed and who are worthy may be baptized and confirmed for the dead in a temple. Guidelines about members with disabilities receiving their own temple ordinances are provided in 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
Members who have disabilities and special needs are encouraged to attend Sunday meetings in their home wards unless they live in a care facility where Church programs are organized.
When members who have similar disabilities live in a ward, group of wards, stake, or group of stakes, leaders may organize special activity programs or Primary classes for them. Leaders may also organize special Sunday School classes or other classes. These classes or programs supplement a person’s home ward program.
To organize a special class or program on a multistake level, approval is required from the Area Presidency. These leaders appoint an agent stake president to oversee the initial organization and the continuing operation of a class or program for a specified time.
To organize a special class or program on a multiward level, the stake presidency’s approval is required. The stake president assigns an agent bishop to oversee the initial organization and the continuing operation of a class or program for a specified time.
The agent stake president or bishop consults with other participating stake presidents or bishops to establish a policy for financial support for these classes or programs. Parents or caregivers are responsible for transportation.
If a multistake class or program is organized, the president of each participating stake may appoint a high councilor to help coordinate efforts to enroll members who want to participate, provide leaders and teachers, and administer the financial policy established by the agent stake president.
Members who serve in a special class or program are called and set apart by or under the direction of the agent stake president or bishop. These leaders follow normal Church procedures for extending callings and releases. Leaders and teachers of a special class or program share information about members’ activities and accomplishments with leaders of home wards, where permanent records are kept and recognition can be given.
As invited by the agent stake president or bishop, leaders of a special class or program may attend stake or ward leadership meetings. They may also conduct their own meetings to plan the activities of the class or program.
Leaders may contact Seminaries and Institutes of Religion administrators to learn about classes for members with disabilities that can be established within the Church Educational System.
Wards or branches may be created for members who are deaf or hearing impaired. Or a ward may be asked to host a group for those who are deaf or hearing impaired within a specified geographic area. Such wards, branches, or groups help these members participate fully in service and gospel learning. Instructions for organizing these units are provided in 37.7.
Members who use sign language, and their families, may choose to have their Church membership records in one of the following places: (1) their home ward, (2) a ward that is designated to host a group for members who are deaf or hearing impaired, or (3) a ward or branch that is organized for members who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Members who are deaf or hearing impaired face communication obstacles in learning gospel doctrine and principles. If they use sign language, they need interpreters to help them participate fully in Church meetings, priesthood ordinances, temple work, testimony bearing, interviews, and activities.
Members who are deaf or hearing impaired are encouraged to be self-reliant and take the initiative to work with their priesthood leaders in coordinating the interpreting services they need. In preparation for sensitive situations such as personal interviews or Church membership councils, priesthood leaders consult with the member to determine whether to use an interpreter. In these circumstances, leaders should seek an interpreter who is not a family member (if possible) and emphasize confidentiality.
If sufficient interpreters are not available, leaders may organize ward or stake classes to teach the sign language that is used in their area. Leaders may call qualified members to teach these classes. Members who are deaf or hearing impaired and use sign language as their native language should be considered first to teach the classes. A helpful resource is Dictionary of Sign Language Terms for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Only worthy members should interpret during sacrament meetings, priesthood meetings, and interviews. If a priesthood holder is not available to interpret during priesthood meeting, a presiding officer may ask a woman to do the interpretation. Nonmember interpreters may be used temporarily as volunteers in activities and most other meetings until members develop the skills to interpret.
A presiding officer may ask a priesthood holder to interpret an ordinance or blessing if the recipient is deaf or hearing impaired. If a priesthood holder is not available, a presiding officer may ask a woman to do the interpretation.
During a class or meeting, interpreters should be at the front of the classroom or chapel but not on the stand. They should also be to the side of the speaker so they do not create a visual distraction. Because understanding is enhanced by seeing the lips and body language of the person who is speaking, the deaf or hearing-impaired members should be able to see the interpreter and also be able to see the speaker or teacher peripherally. If enough interpreters are available, leaders ask them to rotate approximately every 30 minutes to avoid fatigue.
During a priesthood ordinance or an interview, the interpreter should be close to the person who performs the ordinance or conducts the interview.
If deaf or hearing-impaired members do not use sign language and need an oral interpreter to help them read lips, leaders use the same procedures they follow to find an interpreter who uses sign language.
Leaders should respect the privacy of members with disabilities during and after leadership meetings where individual needs may be discussed.
Resources for members with disabilities, for their families and caregivers, and for leaders and teachers are available at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. This website provides:
Information to help increase understanding of the challenges faced by those who have disabilities.
Sections on specific disabilities and answers to frequently asked questions.
Comfort for members who have disabilities and for their families through scriptures, quotations, and links to helpful information.
Listings of materials that will help members with disabilities as they strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve in the Church.
Questions about materials for members with disabilities may be addressed to:
Members with Disabilities
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0024
Much that is inspiring, noble, and worthy of the highest respect is found in many other faiths. Missionaries and other members must be sensitive and respectful toward the beliefs of others and avoid giving offense. Stake and mission presidents who have questions about relationships with other faiths should contact the Area Presidency. Other local leaders who have such questions should contact the stake or mission president.
As citizens, Church members are encouraged to participate in political and governmental affairs, including involvement in the political party of their choice. Members are also urged to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities and make them wholesome places in which to live and rear families.
In accordance with the laws of their respective governments, members are encouraged to register to vote, to study issues and candidates carefully, and to vote for individuals whom they believe will act with integrity and sound judgment. Latter-day Saints have a special obligation to seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:10).
While affirming the right of expression on political and social issues, the Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote. However, in some exceptional instances the Church will take a position on specific legislation, particularly when it concludes that moral issues are involved. Only the First Presidency can speak for the Church or commit the Church to support or oppose specific legislation or to seek to intervene in judicial matters. Otherwise, stake presidents and other local leaders should not organize members to participate in political matters or attempt to influence how they participate.
Church members are encouraged to consider serving in elected or appointed public offices in local and national government. Candidates for public office should not imply that their candidacy is endorsed by the Church or its leaders. Church leaders and members should also avoid statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, platform, policy, or candidate.
Members are encouraged to support measures that strengthen the moral fabric of society, particularly those designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
Church records, directories, and similar materials may not be used for political purposes.
Church facilities may not be used for political purposes. However, facilities may be used for voter registration or polling where there is not a reasonable alternative (see 35.4).
In the United States and some other countries, it is a violation of postal regulations to place any material without postage in or on mailboxes. This restriction applies to ward or stake newsletters, announcements, flyers, and other Church-related materials. Church leaders should instruct members and missionaries not to place such items in or on mailboxes.
Church leaders are obligated to protect the privacy of members. Church records, directories, and similar materials may not be used for personal, commercial, or political purposes (see also 38.8.16).
Members should not ask General Authorities or Area Seventies to coauthor or endorse Church books or other Church writings.
Church members should not record the talks or addresses that General Authorities and Area Seventies give at stake conferences, missionary meetings, or other meetings. However, members may record broadcasts of general conference on home equipment for personal, noncommercial use.
The name of the Church was given by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).
Accordingly, references to the Church should include its full name whenever possible. Following an initial reference to the full name, if a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged. The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.
When referring to Church members, the terms “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” “Latter-day Saints,” and “members of the Church of Jesus Christ” are accurate and preferred. The title “Latter-day Saint” is a name given by the Lord to His covenant people in the latter days. Referring to members of the Church in these ways identifies a connection between Jesus Christ and members of His Church. Referring to Church members by other titles, such as “Mormons” or “LDS,” is discouraged.
Mormon is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail.”
The term Mormonism is inaccurate and is discouraged. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture, and lifestyle unique to the Church, the phrase “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.
The only authorized research agency of the Church is the Correlation Research Division of the Correlation Department. Representatives of this division use questionnaires and interviews to obtain information on issues of concern to General Authorities. When Church-authorized researchers contact members, they provide the Church’s toll-free number and a contact name at headquarters. In addition, they always allow the respondent the option of not answering any or all of the questions on a survey.
Church meetings may not be used for collecting information by unauthorized persons or agencies. Nor should the names of Church members be made available to such persons or agencies. If local leaders want to verify the authorization of questionnaires or interviews, they should contact the Correlation Research Division (1-801-240-2727 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2727).
Many Church welfare operations have equipment and machinery that can cause injury if it is not used properly. Agent stake operating committees and managers of welfare operations should ensure the safety of employees and volunteers. Workers should be instructed regularly in safety practices. The work environment should be inspected periodically, with health and safety hazards corrected. Adequate supervision should always be provided to ensure that workers follow instructions, use tools and equipment properly, and avoid hazardous behavior.
Normally those who work at welfare operations should be 16 or older. Those who operate equipment should be mature, adequately trained, and experienced in using the equipment. Only adults may operate power equipment.
The operations manager reports accidents to Welfare Services (1-801-240-3001 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3001) and the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (see 35.3.6 for contact information).
Local leaders should not accept the claims of sales agents that the Church or a Church leader has authorized them to call on local leaders or members to sell their products.
Church satellite and video equipment may be used only for noncommercial, Church-related purposes as authorized by the stake presidency or bishopric. This equipment may not be used to record television, cable, or satellite programs that are not sponsored by the Church. Nor may Church satellite equipment be used to view non-Church programs. Members may not direct the antenna from one satellite or transponder to another without authorization from Church headquarters.
Only people who are trained to operate the equipment may do so. Youth may help operate it only if they are supervised.
All equipment is to be locked securely when not in use. It may not be removed from the building for home or personal use.
The established programs of the Church provide financial assistance for worthy individuals and appropriate causes. Church assistance is administered by bishops, who are familiar with the circumstances and can prevent duplicate assistance and abuses. Therefore, members should not solicit additional financial assistance from Church headquarters or from local leaders or members.
If members receive such a request for funds, they could respond by saying that they have contributed in their own wards to provide funds for assistance according to established principles of Church welfare.
From time to time, statements are circulated that are inaccurately attributed to leaders of the Church. Many such statements distort current Church teachings and are based on rumors and innuendos. They are never transmitted officially but by word of mouth, email, or other informal means. Church members should not teach or pass on such statements without verifying that they are from approved Church sources, such as official statements, communications, and publications.
Any notes made when General Authorities, Area Seventies, or other general Church officers speak at stake conferences or other meetings should not be distributed without the consent of the speaker. Personal notes are for individual use only.
Stake presidents are encouraged to provide support to members in prisons, hospitals, and other institutions within their boundaries. They should do so within priesthood channels and according to the guidelines established by the Church and the institutions.
The stake president determines the support that is to be provided at each institution. He also supervises the support, assisted by other local priesthood leaders. If the stake needs help providing service to institutions within its boundaries, the Area Presidency may assign one or more nearby stakes to assist.
The stake president or an assigned bishop may call a priesthood holder to oversee the support that is given to members at these institutions. In prisons, men should normally be called to work with male inmates. However, a husband and wife may also be called to work with male inmates. At least two men, two women, or a husband and wife should be called to work with female inmates. Men and women who work with inmates should not be alone with them.
Worship services for members in prisons, hospitals, and other institutions may be simplified as needed to meet the needs of those involved. These services usually follow the same format as sacrament meeting except that the sacrament is not administered to inmates in prisons. As an exception to Church policy, when worship services are held in prisons, inmates may participate by offering prayers or giving talks regardless of their religious affiliation or standing in the Church.
Other support that may be given to members in these institutions includes counseling; support from ministering brothers and sisters; Sunday School classes, home evening, and seminary or institute classes; and other special programs.
In collaboration with the Priesthood Department at Church headquarters, Welfare Services is responsible for materials and professional resources to assist those in correctional institutions and their families. For assistance, priesthood leaders may contact Welfare Services at 1-801-240-2644 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2644.
For assistance with welfare matters in prisons, hospitals, and other institutions, the stake president may contact the Area Presidency. The stake president may also contact Welfare Services directly at the telephone numbers in the previous paragraph.
The Church warns its members against symposia and similar gatherings that include presentations that (1) disparage, ridicule, make light of, or are otherwise inappropriate in their treatment of sacred matters or (2) could injure the Church, detract from its mission, or jeopardize its members’ well-being. Members should not allow their position or standing in the Church to be used to promote or imply endorsement of such gatherings.
Ward and stake leaders ensure that local Church activities do not jeopardize the Church’s tax-exempt status. For guidelines, see 34.10.1.
Local leaders encourage endowed members to purchase their own temple clothing for use when performing temple ordinances. This sacred clothing may be purchased through Church Distribution Services. Some temples also have temple clothing available for rent. If a temple does not have rental clothing, members need to bring temple clothing with them.
Members may make their own temple aprons only if they use the approved apron embroidery and sewing kit. This kit is available from Church Distribution Services. Other temple ceremonial clothing and temple garments may not be made.
Church members who have received the endowment have made a covenant to wear the garment according to the instructions given in the temple. When issuing temple recommends, priesthood leaders should read aloud the First Presidency statement on wearing the garment.
It is a sacred privilege to wear the temple garment. Doing so is an outward expression of an inner commitment to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.
The garment is a reminder of covenants made in the temple. When worn properly throughout life, it will serve as a protection against temptation and evil.
The garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. It is a matter of personal preference whether other undergarments are worn beneath the temple garment.
The garment should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment. It should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing.
The garment is sacred and should be treated with respect. Endowed members should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to answer personal questions about wearing the garment.
To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment.
To dispose of worn-out temple ceremonial clothing, members should destroy the clothing by cutting it up so the original use cannot be recognized.
Members may give garments and temple clothing that are in good condition to other worthy endowed members. The bishop can identify those who might need such clothing. Members should not donate garments or temple ceremonial clothing to the temple or charities.
Information about ordering temple clothing or ordering garments for those in special circumstances (such as members serving in the military, members who are bedfast, or members with disabilities) is provided in 38.10.8 and 27.3.6.
A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single. For other travel policies, see 20.6.24.
This section outlines the stake president’s responsibilities for the stake patriarch. It includes guidelines for calling, ordaining, instructing, and overseeing the stake patriarch. For information about patriarchal blessings, see the following sources:
Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs
Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles directs the calling of stake patriarchs (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:39). The stake president may recommend whom to call. Recommendations should be submitted online through LCR. In making this recommendation, the stake president should fast and pray for the Spirit to direct him. The recommendation should be approved by his counselors.
A man whom the stake president recommends as stake patriarch should be a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder. He should be mature in the gospel and the Church, a worthy husband and patriarch in his own home, and sensitive to guidance from the Spirit. He should have received his own patriarchal blessing, and normally he should be age 55 or older. He must be married.
If the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approves the recommendation, the stake president may be authorized to interview and call the patriarch, present his name for a sustaining vote in the general session of the next stake conference or in the next stake general priesthood meeting, and ordain him. Because the calling of patriarch is an office of the Melchizedek Priesthood, a new patriarch is first ordained to that office and then set apart to serve in a specific stake.
A stake president may not assign a counselor to ordain a patriarch. Nor should he invite others to stand with him during the ordination of a patriarch.
After a patriarch has been ordained, this information must be recorded in LCR before he is given access to the online tools for patriarchs.
The Quorum of the Twelve normally does not approve calling a second patriarch for a stake unless the present functioning patriarch is unable to give the number of blessings requested. Nor does the Quorum of the Twelve normally approve an additional patriarch simply because a stake is geographically large or includes members who do not speak the majority language. If a stake includes members who speak different languages, bishops and stake presidencies may authorize them to go to a patriarch in a nearby stake who can give the blessing in the member’s own language.
The stake president instructs a newly called patriarch in the sacred, revelatory nature of the office before the patriarch begins giving blessings. The stake president carefully reviews with him the instructions in Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs and Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch.
The stake president presides over the stake patriarch and supervises his work as outlined in Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs. He should not delegate this responsibility to one of his counselors. A patriarch benefits from a close relationship with his stake president.
The stake president interviews the patriarch at least twice a year. He also reviews the blessings the patriarch has given at least twice a year. As needed, the stake president may make general suggestions about the content of the patriarch’s blessings. The stake president also discusses the patriarch’s feelings about the work, the health and welfare of his family, and any other matters on which the patriarch seeks or needs counsel.
The stake president ensures that copies of transcribed blessings are given promptly to recipients. He also ensures that all blessings are submitted to Church headquarters. Blessings should be submitted through the Patriarchal Blessing System on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Where this system is not accessible, blessings should be mailed to headquarters at least once every six months at the following address:
Church History Library
Attn: Patriarchal Blessings
15 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-1600
A functioning patriarch is a member of the high priests quorum and participates in annual quorum meetings.
The ordination of a patriarch is for a lifetime, so he is not released. However, he may be given nonfunctioning status, excusing him from giving blessings.
If a patriarch is incapacitated by age or illness, as determined by the stake president or the patriarch, the stake president recommends to the Quorum of the Twelve that the patriarch be given nonfunctioning status. He submits this recommendation through LCR. If the recommendation for nonfunctioning status is approved, the patriarch’s name is no longer presented for a sustaining vote in stake conferences when Church officers are sustained. The stake president notifies bishops not to send members to that patriarch. The stake president also ensures that all blessings the patriarch has given are sent promptly to the recipients and to Church headquarters as noted in 38.9.4.
A patriarch is also given nonfunctioning status if he leaves to serve a mission, is absent from his home for other reasons, moves to a different stake, or is approved to be called to a position of Church administration (see 38.9.7 and 38.9.8). In such circumstances, the stake president notifies the Quorum of the Twelve through LCR and follows the instructions in the previous paragraph. A patriarch is not automatically returned to functioning status when he completes his missionary service or other Church assignments (see 38.9.6).
A patriarch who is given nonfunctioning status may continue to give patriarchal blessings to his lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) if the stake president determines that he is able to do so. The stake president reviews these blessings and ensures they are submitted to Church headquarters as noted in 38.9.4.
To return a patriarch to functioning status, the stake president interviews him carefully and submits a recommendation to the Quorum of the Twelve through LCR. If the recommendation is approved, the patriarch’s name is presented for a sustaining vote in the general session of the next stake conference or in the next stake general priesthood meeting. Once sustained, he should be set apart to serve in that stake.
If a patriarch moves to a different stake, his status automatically becomes nonfunctioning. He contacts the president of the new stake as a courtesy to inform him of his residence there. If the stake president wants him to serve as a patriarch in the new stake, he contacts the patriarch’s former stake president to confirm the patriarch’s worthiness and past service. The new stake president then follows the procedure in 38.9.6.
If the stake president decides not to recommend having the patriarch serve in the new stake, the patriarch remains on nonfunctioning status as explained in 38.9.5.
A patriarch may not be called to a position of Church administration, such as bishop, high councilor, or stake president, unless the Quorum of the Twelve approves the call in advance. If it is approved, the patriarch is given nonfunctioning status as explained in 38.9.5.
To protect the confidentiality of patriarchal blessings, the stake president ensures that after the patriarch has given the final copy to the recipient and submitted it to Church headquarters and he has received confirmation that the submission has been received, all audio, electronic, and paper copies are deleted or destroyed. This includes copies stored on computers and portable storage devices.
If the patriarch’s computer is to be turned over to anyone else, either by sale, for salvage, or for other use, the patriarch should ensure that previously deleted blessings cannot be recovered through any technical means. This should be done by either reformatting the hard drive or running a cleaning utility that will eliminate the possibility of recovering the text.
Stake presidents and bishops help make the blessings of Church participation available to members who serve in the military. As outlined in this chapter, the Church’s military relations and chaplain services program consists of:
Support from stakes and wards.
Church orientation for members who enter military service.
Organization of wards, branches, or Latter-day Saint service member groups.
Endorsement of and support from Latter-day Saint chaplains.
Wearing the garment in the military.
Support from senior missionary couples assigned to selected military installations.
If military installations or members who serve in the military are in a stake, the stake presidency has the responsibilities outlined in this section. If such installations are located in a mission rather than a stake, the mission president fulfills these responsibilities.
A member of the stake presidency oversees the pre–military service Church orientation in the stake. He makes sure the orientation is offered to all members entering military service. The stake executive secretary may coordinate this orientation.
If Church services are held on the military installation, the president of a stake where a military installation is located organizes a ward, branch, or service member group for military personnel and their families (see 38.10.4). For each of these units, the stake president calls, sets apart, and oversees a bishopric (when authorized by the First Presidency), branch presidency, or service member group leader and assistants. The stake president gives contact information for these leaders to the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division. He may designate a ward to support each service member group.
Where one or more Church units are established for military personnel, the stake president coordinates with the Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to provide each bishop, branch president, or group leader a letter of appointment. This letter outlines his responsibilities and authorizes him to preside over the unit and conduct meetings. A copy of the letter should be given to the installation chaplain.
A member of the stake presidency develops a working relationship with the senior chaplain at each military installation in the stake. He ensures that bishops of wards whose boundaries encompass a military installation do the same. These leaders inform the chaplain of the ward’s meeting schedule, meeting location, and contact person so the chaplain can give this information to members at the installation.
The stake president conducts an annual interview with each Latter-day Saint chaplain who lives within his stake boundaries. The purpose of this interview is to determine the chaplain’s well-being and worthiness to serve. The stake president also separately interviews the spouse of each chaplain annually.
Latter-day Saint chaplains and their spouses should have ward or stake callings. A Latter-day Saint chaplain who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may serve in leadership callings, such as on the high council or presiding over a military ward, branch, or service member group as long as this calling does not conflict with his military duties. However, chaplains should not be called to serve in positions that require proselyting.
The stake president may consider inviting a chaplain to attend stake council meetings to report on the activities of Church units and activation efforts at the installation. The chaplain may also serve as the liaison between military leaders and the stake president. Chaplains may also help the stake president identify members in the military to call as service member group leaders and may assist with activation efforts among Church members in the military.
The military requires that a chaplain provide administrative oversight to any religious service held on a military installation. If there is a Latter-day Saint chaplain on the installation, the military normally assigns the chaplain to provide such oversight to a Church unit that meets there. Unless called as bishop, branch president, or service member group leader, the chaplain does not preside at the worship services but is expected to attend and participate.
A member of the bishopric interviews ward members before they leave for military service. He makes sure they have an opportunity to attend the pre–military service Church orientation.
When a member enters military service or is transferred to a new location, a member of the bishopric helps him or her identify the Church unit nearest the new duty station. Information on meeting times and locations for Church services on military installations is available on “Find a Meetinghouse or Ward” or from the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division.
The membership records for a member entering the military should be retained in the home ward until the member is assigned to his or her first permanent duty station. Do not transfer their membership records to Church units at basic and advanced training bases.
Priesthood leaders in the home ward should correspond regularly with each ward member who is away in military service. They also encourage families to ensure that their family member in the military receives the Ensign or Liahona. The Church News is also available for those who read English.
Each bishop is responsible for Church members assigned to a military installation within his ward boundaries. He establishes a working relationship with the senior chaplain at the installation (see 38.10.1).
At the pre–military service Church orientation, members entering military service learn what to expect regarding Church services and activities in the military. The orientation may be held on a stake or ward level. A member of the stake presidency or bishopric calls an instructor, preferably someone with recent military experience, to provide the orientation.
The orientation may include watching the video recordings Serving Your Country and Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled. The member should receive a military scripture set, a Latter-day Saint identification tag, and the Serving Your Country brochure. If a member did not receive this orientation before arriving at basic training, the bishop, branch president, or service member group leader who is responsible for those in training provides it as soon as possible after the member arrives on the base.
Members in the military normally participate in wards or branches located near their military installations. However, in the following circumstances, the stake or mission president may organize a ward, branch, or service member group for military personnel and their families at the installation:
There is not an organized Church unit within a reasonable distance of a military installation to which Church members are assigned.
Military personnel are in a country where they do not understand the language spoken in the local ward or branch.
Military personnel are unable to leave a military installation because of training requirements or other restrictions.
The Church members’ military unit is deployed or will be deployed for contingency operations to a location where the Church is not organized, where the local Church unit cannot accommodate the members because of a different language, or where attendance at local meetings is not feasible.
Members belong to Reserve or National Guard units and participate in weekend drills or annual training exercises.
Wards and branches at military installations are created using the procedures outlined in chapter 37.
Generally a ward or branch is established, rather than a service member group, if there is a need to support both military members and their families. A ward or branch may also be established for military members without their families if there is a long-term need to provide Church services and programs for members attending basic or advanced training or on a remote assignment. The military does not normally allow Church members who are not associated with the military to belong to a ward or branch that uses installation facilities.
If circumstances do not justify creating a ward or branch at a military installation, the stake or mission president may establish a service member group. A service member group is a small Church unit that holds Church meetings and looks after members. However, the group leader does not have priesthood keys, so he is not authorized to receive tithes and offerings, counsel members about serious sins, restrict membership privileges, or perform other duties that require keys. For information about service member groups, contact the Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division or visit military.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Leaders of service member groups in isolated areas may obtain Church supplies and materials by contacting the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division.
Depending on the needs of service members, Church programs in a ward, branch, or service member group that meets on a military installation may be limited in scope and complexity.
When a Church unit is established at a military installation, coordination with the senior installation chaplain is necessary to arrange for meeting times and use of base facilities. If there is not an installation chaplain assigned to the base, the stake president consults with the commanding officer.
While stake or mission presidents normally call and set apart service member group leaders, this may not be possible in remote areas or war zones. Since a group leader is not given priesthood keys with his calling, it is permissible for him to be appointed without being set apart. The priesthood leader who is responsible for the area can appoint a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder to serve as the group leader after verifying his worthiness with his bishop and stake president. If there is a Latter-day Saint chaplain in the area, the priesthood leader can authorize him to call and set apart a group leader.
If a deployed service member is isolated from other Church members, he may receive authorization from his bishop to administer and partake of the sacrament if he is a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood or holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. If there is more than one member at a deployed location, a group leader should be called to conduct church services and administer the sacrament.
When a group leader is called, the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division should be notified. A letter of appointment will be sent to him. This letter is required by the military before the group leader may hold Church services.
In countries that have mandatory military conscription (draft), stake presidents and bishops must consider how these laws apply to individuals who desire to serve missions. In the United States military, a person who joins the active-duty military before serving a mission must complete his enlistment obligation before serving a mission. Those in Reserve or National Guard units may be able to serve missions after they complete basic and advanced training. For more information, leaders may contact the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division.
The Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division provides centralized endorsement for male and female chaplains who serve in a variety of government and nongovernment settings. These settings include the military, hospitals, hospice organizations, prisons, detention centers, police and fire departments, border patrol, civic and veteran organizations, and colleges and universities. Each organization establishes the educational and ministry requirements for chaplains, but most institutions require Church endorsement before a person may serve as a chaplain.
Chaplains serve people of all faiths, including Latter-day Saints. They ensure that individuals are afforded religious freedom and help facilitate or accommodate the religious needs of those they serve.
The scope and type of ministry a chaplain provides varies greatly depending on the setting. For example, military chaplains are authorized to:
Lead nondenominational Christian services.
Perform civil marriages.
Assist commanders with death notifications.
Conduct funeral and memorial services.
Provide grief and bereavement counseling.
Conduct suicide prevention training.
Provide spiritual care and counseling to service members and their families.
For information about Latter-day Saint chaplains performing civil marriages, see 38.3.
Chaplains may assist Church members in the repentance process under the direction of their priesthood leaders. However, members must resolve serious transgressions with their bishop or stake president.
Military chaplains in a war zone or isolated area may fulfill additional responsibilities under the direction of their Church leaders. For example, chaplains who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may call and set apart service member group leaders. When authorized by Church leaders, they may also interview a service member for baptism, confirmation, and Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood ordination if conditions prevent access to full-time missionaries or to the service member’s bishop or stake president.
If the duties of chaplains prevent them from attending their own ward meetings, they should seek approval from their stake president to attend Church services at another ward.
If members who enter military service have been endowed, bishops make sure they understand the following guidelines.
When possible, endowed members who are in the military should wear the garment the same as any other member. However, members should avoid exposing the garment to the view of those who do not understand its significance. When conditions make this unavoidable, members should seek the guidance of the Spirit and use tact, discretion, and wisdom. It may be best to lay the garment aside temporarily and put it on again when conditions permit. However, mere inconvenience in wearing the garment does not justify laying it aside.
When military regulations prevent a member from wearing the garment, the member’s religious status is not affected, provided he or she remains worthy. If members in military service are unable to wear the garment because of military regulations or circumstances beyond their control, it is their privilege, right, and duty to wear it again as soon as circumstances permit.
Members in the military should consult with their individual services on specific requirements that undergarments must meet, such as color or neckline style. A special military garment that meets the specifications of the Church and the United States Army and Air Force can be obtained through Church Distribution Services. This two-piece garment is coyote tan in color and has a T-shirt top with a crew neck. It should be worn with the combat camouflage uniform when required by military regulations. Since the T-shirt is considered part of the uniform, the marks are stenciled inside so they are not visible to others if the T-shirt is worn without the camouflage uniform shirt.
When military service requires a different color of T-shirt than coyote tan, approved military T-shirts may be purchased and sent to Beehive Clothing to be marked individually. White or coyote tan garment bottoms may be worn with the service-specific colored tops.
Certain synthetic fibers worn next to the skin may create serious hazards for airmen and others who may be exposed to fire. All nylon and some polyester blend materials fall into this category. Military authorities have indicated that cotton is a much safer fabric for these individuals to wear. A 100-percent cotton garment should be worn in these situations.
To place special orders for garments, members may contact Distribution Services or use the Uniform Garment Marking Order Form.
Retired military couples are called to serve as senior missionary couples at selected military bases to assist local priesthood leaders in activation and retention efforts. They also provide support to families of deployed service members during periods of family separation.
For information about membership records of service members, see 33.6.8.
For information about patriarchal blessings for service members, see 22.214.171.124.
For information about ordaining service members in isolated areas, see 126.96.36.199.
For information about giving temple recommends in isolated areas, see 26.2.3.
If Church leaders have questions about military relations, they may contact:
Military Relations Division
50 East North Temple Street, Room 2048
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0020