“5. Stake Leadership,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“5. Stake Leadership,” General Handbook.
The stakes of the Church are established “for a defense, and for a refuge” for the Saints in the latter days (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6). The term stake comes from the prophecies of Isaiah, who described latter-day Zion as a tent or a tabernacle that would be secured by stakes (see Isaiah 33:20; 54:2).
The stake president holds the priesthood keys to direct the work of the Church within the stake. He and his counselors form a stake presidency. They care for stake members with love and concern, helping them become true followers of Jesus Christ.
The stake president has four principal responsibilities in presiding over a stake:
He is the presiding high priest.
He is a common judge.
He oversees welfare matters.
He oversees records, finances, and properties.
Because the stake president holds priesthood keys, he has some responsibilities that are his alone. To enable him to concentrate on these duties, he delegates many other assignments to his counselors, high councilors, the stake clerk, the stake executive secretary, and assistant stake clerks.
If the stake president is absent, ill, or otherwise unable to perform his duties, a counselor may act in his place temporarily except as noted in this handbook. The counselor consults with the Area President if he has questions about acting for the stake president.
The stake clerk and stake executive secretary work closely with the stake presidency, but they are not members of the presidency and do not need to be released when the presidency is reorganized. Responsibilities of the stake clerk and executive secretary are outlined in 33.3.2 and 33.3.4.
This section outlines the stake president’s responsibilities as the presiding high priest in the stake.
Church members look to their stake president as the primary spiritual leader in the stake. He sets the spiritual tone for the stake by doing the Lord’s work “with holiness of heart” (Mosiah 18:12). He teaches and uplifts members after the example of the Savior.
A stake president is a faithful disciple and witness of Jesus Christ. He is true to his covenants. He is loyal to his wife and considerate of her. He sets an example of righteousness for his children, the stake, and the community. His counselors are men of the same character.
The stake president provides guidance and counsel to bishops and other leaders in the stake. He meets with new bishoprics as soon as reasonable after their callings to instruct them. Thereafter, he instructs and encourages bishops in regular priesthood interviews, in meetings with bishoprics, and in other settings.
The stake president helps members increase their spiritual strength. He teaches them to pray, study the scriptures, and prepare to make covenants as they receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.
In addition to strengthening individuals, the stake president strengthens families. He teaches that the family is the most important organization in time and eternity. He encourages them to participate in regular prayer and gospel instruction, including scripture study and home evening. He also encourages families to be considerate of one another. He ensures that Church callings do not unduly infringe on family responsibilities. He also ensures that Church activities support parents’ efforts to raise righteous children.
The stake president emphasizes the importance of members having and accessing the scriptures and the Church magazines in their homes.
Melchizedek Priesthood. Members of the stake presidency preside over those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood in the stake.
The stake president is the stake high priests quorum president. He and his counselors comprise the presidency of the stake high priests quorum. That quorum consists of the high priests who currently serve in the following callings: the stake president and his counselors, all bishops and their counselors in the stake, high councilors, and functioning patriarchs.
The stake presidency oversees elders quorums (see 8.3.1).
The stake president oversees the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordinations to the offices of elder and high priest (see 18.104.22.168).
Aaronic Priesthood. Members of the stake presidency instruct bishoprics in their responsibilities for Aaronic Priesthood holders and young women.
The stake president assigns one of his counselors to preside over the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee (see 29.3.9). This counselor also has responsibility for the work of the stake Young Men and Young Women presidencies.
The stake president presides over the stake patriarch and should develop a close relationship with him. For information about calling and supervising the stake patriarch, see 38.9.
Councils and Committees. The stake president presides over the high council and the stake council. He assigns his counselors to preside over the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee, the stake young single adult committee, and the stake single adult committee (where organized).
Each stake president is a member of a coordinating council. An Area Seventy chairs the council. The Area Seventy may invite stake Relief Society presidents and other stake officers to attend these meetings. For more information, see 29.11.
Meetings. The stake presidency plans the stake meetings listed in chapter 29. The stake president presides at stake meetings unless an Area Seventy or General Authority attends. The stake president’s counselors may conduct these meetings and may preside if the stake president is absent.
The stake president’s responsibilities for callings and releases are outlined in chapter 30. He may assign his counselors and high councilors to extend callings and releases as outlined in the Chart of Callings (30.7). The stake president, or a person with higher authority, personally extends the following callings:
Counselors in the stake presidency. The stake president recommends brethren to be called or released as his counselors. He submits recommendations through Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR). The stake president may interview, call, and set apart a counselor or release a counselor after receiving approval from the First Presidency.
Stake 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 through LCR. The stake president may interview, call, and ordain a patriarch after receiving approval from the Quorum of the Twelve (see 38.9).
Bishops. The stake presidency recommends brethren to be called or released as bishops. Recommendations should be submitted through LCR. The stake president may call, ordain, and set apart a bishop or release a bishop after receiving approval from the First Presidency (see 30.6).
Elders quorum presidents. The stake president calls and sets apart elders quorum presidents because he is the person who is authorized to bestow the priesthood keys associated with their callings.
Stake clerk. Because of the importance of the stake clerk’s responsibilities and the need for him to be a man of unquestionable integrity, the stake president personally calls him and sets him apart.
Units that are not able to use LCR should contact the area office.
The stake president personally has responsibility for the stake Relief Society. He assigns his counselors responsibility for the other stake organizations: Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School. These counselors ensure that members of organization presidencies are instructed in their duties.
The stake president also assigns his counselors to oversee efforts with stake activities, young single adults, single adults (as needed), Church magazines (as needed), communication (as needed), music, seminary and institute, and physical facilities.
Members of the stake presidency meet regularly with the presidencies of the organizations to which they are assigned. In these meetings, participants counsel together about the progress and needs of members in the organizations.
Members of the stake presidency also meet regularly with committees and specialists in the other programs to which they are assigned.
The stake presidency directs communication efforts in the stake. Members of the stake presidency have primary responsibility for the Church’s good standing in the community. They also have the main responsibility for relationships with civic and community leaders.
The stake president serves as the primary Church spokesman to the news media on matters that pertain to the stake. He may delegate this as needed.
The stake president or an assigned counselor may organize and oversee a stake communication council. This council helps priesthood leaders build relationships with civic and community leaders. It also helps these leaders communicate effectively with Church members and the public.
The stake presidency may call and set apart a stake communication director, assistant directors, and specialists as needed.
The stake communication council receives support and training from a communication director at the coordinating council level. This communication council is under the direction of the Area Seventy. It helps coordinate relationships, events, and issues that go beyond stake boundaries (see 29.11).
For information about communication callings, see GCN.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The stake president has the following responsibilities as the common judge in the stake:
As needed or requested by the bishop, counsel stake members who seek spiritual guidance, who have weighty personal problems, or who have committed serious sins. For guidelines on counseling, see 31.2.
Provide personal counseling and hold membership councils when members have committed serious sins, as outlined in chapter 32.
The stake president has the following responsibilities for welfare in the stake:
Provide welfare leadership by teaching the doctrine and principles relating to welfare, instructing bishops and other leaders in their welfare responsibilities, directing the welfare work of the stake council, and serving as the agent stake president for Church welfare operations when assigned.
Oversee welfare assistance (1) when a bishop or members of his immediate family need assistance and (2) in special circumstances that go beyond what the bishop is authorized to provide (see 22.5.2).
Direct the stake’s efforts to prepare for and respond to emergencies (see 22.5.3).
For information about welfare responsibilities and principles, see chapter 22.
The stake president oversees records, reports, finances, and properties in the stake. He may assign much of the work with records, reports, and finances to his counselors and clerks. He assigns a high councilor to be the stake physical facilities representative and to help oversee properties.
The stake presidency calls 12 high priests to form the stake high council (see Doctrine and Covenants 102:1). If an elder is called to serve on the high council, he must be ordained a high priest before he is set apart.
Under the direction of the stake presidency, high councilors help oversee the work of the Church in the stake. They have advisory and administrative responsibilities as described in the following sections.
High councilors counsel about and sustain the stake presidency’s decisions to ordain brethren to the offices of elder and high priest. The stake president may authorize high councilors to represent him when men are ordained to the offices of elder and high priest.
High councilors also counsel about and sustain the stake presidency’s decisions to issue callings to members. For some callings, the stake presidency may authorize high councilors to represent them in issuing the callings, presenting members to be sustained, and setting members apart as indicated in chapter 30.
The stake presidency assigns a high councilor to represent them in each elders quorum, ward, and branch in the stake. In this role, high councilors orient newly called elders quorum presidencies. They also provide ongoing encouragement, support, and instruction for these leaders, including instruction based on chapters 1–4 and 7 of this handbook. They meet with these leaders regularly to learn of their needs, teach them their duties, and communicate information from the stake presidency. They periodically attend elders quorum meetings and quorum presidency meetings. They also attend bishopric and ward council meetings if invited or assigned.
The stake presidency assigns high councilors to work with the stake Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. When a member of the stake presidency meets with the stake Relief Society, Young Women, or Primary presidency, the assigned high councilor attends this meeting. Assigned high councilors also attend the stake leadership meetings for these organizations.
The stake presidency assigns high councilors to work with the programs listed in 22.214.171.124.
The stake presidency may assign high councilors to represent them by speaking in sacrament meetings and other settings. The stake presidency determines the frequency of these speaking assignments. It is not necessary for high councilors to speak in sacrament meeting every month.
All high councilors serve on the stake council.
In limited situations, high councilors participate in stake membership councils (see 32.9.2).
The stake presidency may assign high councilors to serve on other committees as needed. For example, high councilors who are assigned to work with elders quorums may meet as a Melchizedek Priesthood committee.
High councilors with assignments relating to Aaronic Priesthood quorums, the Young Women organization, the Primary, and, when invited, the Sunday School, serve on the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee (see 29.3.9).
The high council does not meet unless a member of the stake presidency is present.
The stake Young Men, Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School organizations are each led by a president or presidency that serves under the direction of the stake presidency. The stake presidency may call only a president for each organization, or they may also call one or two counselors and a secretary. Counselors and a secretary are usually called if a stake is large enough.
The principal responsibilities of these leaders are to assist the stake presidency and to instruct and support ward organization presidencies. They do not fulfill assignments that should be fulfilled on the ward or family level.
Members of the stake Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School presidencies have the following responsibilities:
They orient newly called ward organization presidencies. They also provide ongoing encouragement, support, and instruction for presidencies and teachers. They base some of their instruction on chapters 1–4 and 7 in this handbook and the chapter for their organization.
They meet with ward organization presidencies regularly to learn of their needs, discuss the needs of the members they serve, and communicate information from the stake presidency. Periodically they visit ward meetings and classes as arranged with ward leaders.
They instruct ward organization leaders in stake leadership meetings. These are generally held once a year. If local circumstances and travel time do not put undue burdens on leaders, the stake presidency may authorize a second leadership meeting each year. (See 29.3.11.) Bishops may request additional instruction for ward organization presidencies.
They counsel together regularly in their own presidency meetings. They also meet regularly with the member of the stake presidency who has responsibility for their service. Additionally, the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies each meet with the high councilor assigned to their organization as needed.
The organization presidents serve on the stake council. As members of this council, they participate in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families in the stake.
The stake Relief Society presidency identifies the needs of local sisters and considers whether stake or multistake activities would help meet those needs. These leaders then recommend activities to the stake presidency. Occasionally stake or multistake activities for women may include young women and girls ages 8 and older. The stake Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies counsel together to recommend such activities to the stake presidency (see 20.3.1). Other responsibilities that are unique to the stake Relief Society presidency are outlined in 9.5.
The stake Young Women presidency and secretary serve on the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee (see 29.3.9).
Under the direction of the stake presidency, the stake Young Women presidency may plan and coordinate stake Young Women activities and camps.
Presidents submit recommendations to the stake presidency about counselors and other members who may be called to serve in their organizations. They follow the guidelines in 30.1.1 and 30.1.2. The Chart of Callings (30.7) indicates who may call and set apart members to serve.
Presidents attend coordinating council meetings when invited by the Area Seventy (see 29.11).
Only women serve in the stake Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies. Only men serve in the stake Sunday School presidency.
The stake presidency assigns a high councilor to be the stake Young Men president. The high council members assigned to the Young Women and Primary may serve as his counselors. Or, if a stake is large enough, other Melchizedek Priesthood holders from the stake may be called as counselors. In this case, the stake Young Men president recommends whom to call. These counselors are called and set apart by a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor.
A brother from the membership of the stake may be called as the stake Young Men secretary.
Members of the stake Young Men presidency have the following responsibilities:
They help bishoprics by teaching them their duties for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. They serve as a resource to the bishopric and the Aaronic Priesthood quorums in much the same way that other high councilors serve as a resource to elders quorums.
They counsel together regularly in their own presidency meetings. They also meet regularly with the member of the stake presidency who has responsibility for their service.
The president serves on the stake council. As a member of this council, he participates in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families in the stake.
The presidency and secretary serve on the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee (see 29.3.9).
Under the direction of the stake presidency, they may plan and coordinate stake Aaronic Priesthood activities and camps.
Presidents attend coordinating council meetings when invited by the Area Seventy (see 29.11).
The stake Young Men presidency does not hold a stake leadership meeting. Instead, bishoprics attend stake priesthood leadership meetings (see 29.3.3). Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and specialists also attend as needed.
The stake presidency assigns a high councilor to be the stake Sunday School president. He can serve with or without counselors. In a large stake, the stake presidency may decide that counselors are needed. In that case, the stake Sunday School president may recommend one or two priesthood holders from the membership of the stake. If possible, counselors should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. They should not be members of the high council. The stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor calls them and sets them apart.
The stake presidency may invite the stake Sunday School president to serve on the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee (see 29.3.9).
In addition to the responsibilities outlined in 5.4.1, the stake Sunday School presidency has the responsibilities outlined in 13.6.2.
Under the direction of stake organization presidents, stake organization secretaries have the following responsibilities:
They prepare agendas for presidency meetings.
They attend presidency meetings, take notes, and keep track of assignments.
They keep other records and prepare reports as the presidency requests.
They help prepare the annual budget for their organization and account for expenses.
They provide training for ward organization secretaries as assigned. This training may include instruction on recording and reporting attendance.
The stake presidency may also call and set apart communication specialists to help increase positive awareness of the Church and to build bridges of friendship and understanding in the community. Information for communication specialists is available at PublicAffairs.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. These specialists serve under the direction of the stake communication director (see 126.96.36.199).
If distances, travel costs, communication resources, or leadership resources make the administration of stake programs challenging, the stake presidency may adapt the guidelines in this chapter. In doing so, they ensure that ward leaders receive the instruction and support they need.
Instructions for adapting to local needs are provided in each organization’s chapter.