“5. Stake Leadership,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“5. Stake Leadership,” General Handbook.
Isaiah described latter-day Zion as a tent or a tabernacle secured by stakes (see Isaiah 33:20; 54:2). Today the Church is organized into stakes. Each stake is composed of multiple wards and is led by a stake president.
The Lord establishes stakes for “the gathering together” of His people and “for a defense, and … a refuge” from the world (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6). Members and leaders in a stake work together to accomplish the work of salvation and exaltation (see 1.2).
The stake president holds the priesthood keys to lead the work of the Church in the stake (see 3.4.1). He and his counselors form a stake presidency. They care for stake members with love, helping them become true followers of Jesus Christ.
The stake president has four principal responsibilities:
He is the presiding high priest in the stake.
He leads the work of salvation and exaltation in the stake.
He is a common judge.
He oversees records, finances, and properties.
Because the stake president holds priesthood keys, some responsibilities are his alone. If he is unable to perform them, a counselor may act in his place except as noted in this handbook. The stake president or his counselor consults with the Area Presidency if he has questions about the counselor acting for the stake president.
The stake president delegates many assignments to others. These include his counselors, high councilors, stake organization leaders, the stake executive secretary, and the stake clerk and assistant stake clerks.
The stake president is the stake’s primary spiritual leader. He sets an example for the stake by doing the Lord’s work “with holiness of heart” (Mosiah 18:12). He teaches and uplifts.
A stake president is a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. He is true to his covenants. He is loyal to his wife and family. He sets an example of righteousness for his family, the stake, and the community. His counselors are men of similar character.
The stake president provides guidance to bishops and other leaders in the stake.
The stake presidency presides over all who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood in the stake.
Stake High Priests Quorum. The stake president is the president of the stake high priests quorum. He and his counselors are the presidency of that quorum. The stake high priests quorum consists of the following additional high priests:
Bishops and their counselors
Members of the high priests quorum attend elders quorum meetings in their ward if they are not assigned elsewhere. See 29.3.4 for information about the stake high priests quorum meeting.
Elders Quorums. The stake presidency has responsibility for elders quorums (see 126.96.36.199).
Melchizedek Priesthood Ordinations. The stake president oversees the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood. He also oversees ordinations to the offices of elder and high priest (see 188.8.131.52).
The stake president meets with new bishoprics to instruct them soon after they are called. He continues to instruct and encourage bishops in regular interviews, meetings, and other settings.
Members of the stake presidency instruct bishoprics in their responsibilities for Aaronic Priesthood holders and young women.
The stake president supervises the work of the stake patriarch. He develops a close relationship with him. For information about calling and supervising the stake patriarch, see 5.6.
The stake president leads the high council and the stake council. He also leads the stake adult leadership committee (see 29.3.9). He assigns his counselors to oversee the following:
Stake youth leadership committee (see 29.3.10)
Stake young single adult committee
Stake single adult committee (where organized)
Each stake president is a member of a coordinating council (see 29.11).
The stake presidency plans the stake meetings listed in 29.3. The stake president presides at stake meetings unless a General Authority or Area Seventy attends. His counselors may conduct these meetings. They may also 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 personally extends the following callings. For some, he must first receive approval as noted.
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). He may interview, call, and set apart a counselor—or release a counselor—after receiving approval from the First Presidency.
Stake Patriarch. The stake president may interview, call, and ordain a patriarch after receiving approval from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. See 5.6.1.
Bishops. The stake president recommends brethren to be called as bishops. He also recommends their release. He submits recommendations through LCR. He may call, ordain, and set apart a bishop—or release a bishop—after receiving approval from the First Presidency. He also bestows the priesthood keys associated with this calling. See 30.6.
Elders Quorum Presidents. The stake president calls and sets apart elders quorum presidents. He first consults with bishops. He also bestows the priesthood keys associated with this calling. See 184.108.40.206.
Stake Relief Society President. The stake president calls and sets apart the stake Relief Society president.
Stake Clerk. The stake president calls and sets apart the stake clerk.
Stake presidents who are not able to use LCR should contact the area office to make recommendations when needed.
The stake president has responsibility for the stake Relief Society. He assigns his counselors responsibility for the stake Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School organizations.
Members of the stake presidency meet regularly with the presidencies of the organizations to which they are assigned. In these meetings, they:
Ensure that presidencies understand their responsibilities.
Counsel together about the needs of leaders in the organizations.
The stake president also assigns his counselors to oversee stake programs as needed. These may include:
Seminary and institute.
Programs for young single adults and single adults.
Members of the stake presidency meet regularly with committees, high councilors, and specialists in the 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 seek to build good relationships with civic and community leaders.
The stake president is the primary Church spokesman to the news media on matters that pertain to the stake. He may delegate this role as needed.
There is also a communication council at the coordinating council level (see 29.11). It operates under the direction of an Area Seventy and is led by a communication director. This communication council helps coordinate relationships, events, and issues that cross stake boundaries. The director of this council offers support and training to stake communication councils.
The communication council structure differs in the Utah Area. Area Seventies in the Utah Area can provide stake presidents with details about this structure.
For information about communication callings, see GCN.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The stake president presides over the work of salvation and exaltation in the stake (see chapter 1). He instructs and encourages stake and ward leaders and members in this work. His counselors and other leaders assist him.
He helps members live the gospel and increase their spiritual strength. He teaches them to pray and study the scriptures. He also teaches them about the covenants they will make as they receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. He encourages them to honor their covenants.
The stake president strengthens families. He encourages them to pray and learn the gospel together, including in home evening. He teaches by word and example that Church callings can be fulfilled without detracting from family responsibilities. He also ensures that Church activities support parents’ efforts to raise their children in righteousness.
In addition to helping members live the gospel, the stake president oversees other aspects of the work of salvation and exaltation. For example, he:
Helps brethren prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood (see 220.127.116.11).
Leads efforts to care for those in need in the stake (see 22.9.1).
Oversees missionary work in the stake and encourages members to share the gospel (see 18.104.22.168).
Oversees efforts to strengthen new members in the stake (see 22.214.171.124).
Interviews candidates for missionary service (see 24.5.1).
Oversees temple and family history work in the stake (see 25.3.1).
Helps members prepare to receive temple ordinances (see 27.1).
With the stake Relief Society presidency, instructs and supports elders quorum and ward Relief Society presidencies in their responsibilities for missionary work (see 23.1.1) and temple and family history work (see 25.3.1).
The stake president is the common judge in the stake (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:71–74). In this role, he has the following responsibilities:
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.
Hold membership councils when members have committed serious sins (see chapter 32).
The stake president oversees records, finances, and properties in the stake. He may assign much of the work with records and finances to his counselors and clerks. He assigns a high councilor to be the stake physical facilities representative and to help oversee properties.
See the following chapters for more information:
In each member district, a Melchizedek Priesthood holder is called as the district president. He holds the priesthood keys needed to preside (see 126.96.36.199). He serves much like a stake president but with the following differences:
He is called and set apart by the mission president, after approval by the Area Presidency (see 30.7.8). A stake president is called and set apart by an assigned General Authority or Area Seventy (see 30.7.1).
He may be an elder or a high priest. A stake president must be a high priest.
He is not the president of a high priests quorum. Such quorums are organized only in stakes.
The district president presides over all priesthood holders in the district. However, the mission president is the presiding high priest.
He does not recommend or set apart full-time missionaries.
He does not release full-time missionaries. However, he may participate with a member of the mission presidency in the release interview. If travel or time constraints make it very difficult for a member of the mission presidency to release a specific missionary, the mission president may authorize the district president to do so (see 188.8.131.52).
He does not conduct temple recommend interviews or sign temple recommends (see 26.3.1).
He does not convene a membership council unless authorized by the mission president (see 32.9.5).
He does not usually deal directly with the Area Presidency. Instead, he works through the mission presidency.
In special circumstances, a district president can be authorized to recommend, set apart, and release missionaries. He can also be authorized to conduct temple recommend interviews and sign the recommends. If the Area Presidency feels that a district president should have this expanded authority, they recommend him to the First Presidency. If approval is given, it is for that person, not the position. When a new district president is called, this expanded authority does not transfer to him.
The stake president or an assigned counselor calls and sets apart a stake executive secretary. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and be worthy to have a temple recommend.
The executive secretary has the following responsibilities:
Meet with the stake presidency and prepare agendas as assigned.
Serve as a member of the stake council and attend high council meetings. As directed by the stake presidency, follow up on assignments made in these meetings.
Coordinate stake business between the stake presidency, high council, and other stake leaders.
Schedule appointments for the stake presidency.
Advise the stake presidency of members who are entering the military or are already in military service. Under the direction of the stake presidency, help coordinate Church orientation for stake members who are entering the military (see 38.9.1 and 38.9.3).
Orient new ward executive secretaries soon after they are called. Provide ongoing instruction as needed.
The stake clerk is called and set apart by the stake president. Assistant stake clerks may also be called. The stake president or an assigned counselor calls and sets them apart. The responsibilities of the stake clerk and assistant stake clerks are described in 33.3.2 and 33.3.3.
The stake presidency calls 12 high priests to form the stake high council (see Doctrine and Covenants 102:1; 124:131). If an elder is called to serve on the high council, he is ordained a high priest before he is set apart.
Under the direction of the stake presidency, high councilors help with the work of salvation and exaltation in the stake. Their responsibilities are described in the following sections.
The high council does not meet as a group unless a member of the stake presidency is there to preside.
The stake presidency assigns a high councilor to each ward in the stake.
The stake presidency also assigns a high councilor to each elders quorum in the stake. In this role, high councilors instruct newly called elders quorum presidencies. This includes providing instruction from chapters 1–4 and 7–8 of this handbook.
High councilors who are assigned to elders quorums meet regularly with quorum leaders to do the following:
Learn of their needs.
Communicate information from the stake presidency.
Discuss how to help members of the quorum who need their next ordinance. This information is available to elders quorum leaders on LCR.
As needed or invited, they attend elders quorum meetings and quorum presidency meetings. On occasion, the quorum presidency may invite the high councilor to accompany them as they minister to ward members.
As invited or assigned, high councilors attend bishopric and ward council meetings.
The stake presidency may assign high councilors to instruct the following people in their responsibilities for temple and family history work and missionary work:
Elders quorum presidencies
Ward mission leaders
Ward temple and family history leaders
One or more high councilors may be assigned to lead these efforts in the stake. However, all high councilors have these responsibilities for the wards and elders quorums to which they are assigned.
High councilors counsel with the stake presidency and sustain their 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 these offices. These high councilors ensure that the ordinance is performed properly.
High councilors also counsel with the stake presidency and sustain their decisions to issue callings to members. The stake presidency may authorize high councilors to issue some callings, present some members to be sustained, and set some members apart. (See the Chart of Callings in chapter 30.)
The stake presidency assigns high councilors to work with the stake Young Women and Primary organizations. When a member of the stake presidency meets with one of these presidencies, the high councilor also attends. Assigned high councilors also attend stake leadership meetings for these organizations.
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 assigns high councilors to serve on other committees. For example, high councilors who are assigned to work with elders quorums serve on the stake adult leadership committee (see 29.3.9).
High councilors with assignments relating to Aaronic Priesthood quorums, the Young Women, and the Primary serve on the stake youth leadership committee (see 29.3.10). The high councilor who serves as the stake Sunday School president may also serve on this committee.
A patriarch is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Patriarchs are called and ordained to give patriarchal blessings to worthy members of the Church. This section outlines the stake president’s responsibilities for the stake patriarch. For information about patriarchal blessings, see the following sources:
Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs
Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch
Patriarchs who are given nonfunctioning status.
Patriarchs who move to another stake.
A patriarch must be a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder. He should be mature in his understanding of the gospel and sensitive to the Spirit. He should have received his own patriarchal blessing. Normally he should be age 55 or older. He must be married.
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. He submits recommendations through LCR. When making a recommendation, the stake president should fast and pray for the Spirit to direct him. His counselors should agree with the recommendation.
If the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approves the recommendation, the stake president may be authorized to interview and call the patriarch. He then presents the patriarch’s name for a sustaining vote in the general session of the next stake conference.
The stake president ordains the patriarch. He does not delegate this responsibility to a counselor. No others should stand with him during the ordination. A new patriarch is first ordained to that office and then set apart to serve in a specific stake. A previously ordained patriarch who is being returned to functioning status is not ordained again. However, he is set apart.
The ordination must be recorded in LCR before the patriarch can access the online tools for patriarchs.
A functioning patriarch is a member of the high priests quorum and participates in quorum meetings (see 29.3.4).
The Quorum of the Twelve normally does not approve calling a second patriarch for a stake unless one patriarch is unable to give the number of blessings requested. Nor does the Quorum of the Twelve normally approve an additional patriarch because a stake:
Is geographically large.
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 before he begins giving blessings. He teaches the patriarch about the sacred, revelatory nature of his office. He carefully reviews with the patriarch the instructions in:
Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs
Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch
The stake president supervises the patriarch’s work as outlined in Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs. He does 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. They discuss the patriarch’s feelings about the work, the health and welfare of his family, and any other matters on which he needs counsel.
At least twice a year, the stake president reviews the blessings the patriarch has given. As needed, he may make general suggestions about the content of the patriarch’s blessings.
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 are submitted through the Patriarchal Blessing System on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Where this system is not accessible, blessings should be mailed to the following address at least once every six months:
Church History Library
Attn: Patriarchal Blessings
15 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-1600
The stake president ensures that after the patriarch has given the recipient a copy of the patriarchal blessing and submitted it to Church headquarters, all other paper and electronic copies are destroyed or deleted. The patriarch ensures that blessings deleted from his computer cannot be recovered.
A patriarch may not be called to a position of Church administration (such as a bishop, high councilor, or stake president) unless the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approves the call in advance. If approval is given, the patriarch is given nonfunctioning status.
A patriarch may be called to serve in other callings without approval from the Quorum of the Twelve. He may also serve as a sealer or temple ordinance worker.
The stake president or one of his counselors may call and set apart a worthy, skilled member of the stake to transcribe the patriarchal blessings, unless the patriarch can transcribe them himself and prefers to do so. More than one scribe may be called if needed.
The scribe should be cautioned that every blessing is sacred and confidential. No copy of any blessing may be retained by the scribe or patriarch. (See 5.6.5.)
The stake Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, Sunday School, and Young Men organizations are each led by a president. These presidents serve under the direction of the stake presidency.
The main 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 at the ward or family level. They also do not create additional responsibilities for ward organization presidencies.
The stake president calls and sets apart a sister to be the stake Relief Society president. He or an assigned counselor calls and sets apart sisters to be the stake Young Women and Primary presidents. If counselors and secretaries are called, a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor calls and sets them apart.
The stake presidency assigns a high councilor to be the stake Sunday School president.
Members of these presidencies have the following responsibilities:
Serve on the stake council (presidents only). Participate in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families in the stake.
Offer ongoing support and instruction. Communicate 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. Arrange with ward leaders to visit their meetings and classes periodically.
Instruct ward organization presidencies during stake leadership meetings (see 29.3.11). These are generally held once a year. The stake presidency may authorize a second meeting if it would not create a burden for participants. Bishops may request additional instruction for ward organization presidencies.
Counsel together regularly in their own presidency meetings (if counselors are called). Communicate regularly with the member of the stake presidency responsible for their service.
Attend coordinating council meetings when invited by the Area Seventy (see 29.11).
Speak in sacrament meetings and other settings as invited by the stake presidency.
The stake Relief Society presidency has the following additional responsibilities:
Serve on the stake adult leadership committee (see 29.3.9). If a secretary is called, she is also invited.
Teach ward Relief Society presidents the principles of ministering and caring for those in need. Help them understand their role in helping bishops with temporal and self-reliance matters.
Strengthen young single adult sisters in the stake. If the stake has a young single adult committee, a member of the presidency serves on it (see 14.3.2).
Coordinate stake Relief Society efforts during emergencies.
The stake Young Women presidency has the following additional responsibilities:
Serve on the stake youth leadership committee (see 29.3.10). If a secretary is called, she is also invited.
Under the direction of the stake presidency, plan and coordinate stake Young Women activities and camps.
The stake Sunday School presidency has the following additional responsibilities:
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.
The stake Young Men presidency has the following responsibilities:
Serve on the stake council (president only, unless his counselors are high councilors). Participate in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families in the stake.
Serve as a resource to bishoprics in their responsibilities for Aaronic Priesthood brethren. This could include helping them understand their duties for Aaronic Priesthood quorums, as directed by the stake president.
Counsel together regularly in their own presidency meetings. Communicate regularly with the member of the stake presidency who has responsibility for their service.
Serve on the stake youth leadership committee (see 29.3.10). If a secretary is called, he is also invited.
Under the direction of the stake presidency, plan and coordinate stake Aaronic Priesthood activities and camps.
Speak in sacrament meetings and other settings as invited by the stake presidency.
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. Instruction for those who have responsibilities for Aaronic Priesthood quorums is given in stake priesthood leadership meetings (see 29.3.3).
Stake organization secretaries are usually called only in large stakes. A member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor calls and sets them apart. Under the direction of stake organization presidents, they may have the following responsibilities:
Prepare agendas for presidency meetings.
Take notes in presidency meetings and keep track of assignments.
Keep other records and prepare reports as the presidency requests.
Help the presidency prepare the annual budget for their organization. Account for expenses.
Provide training for ward organization secretaries as assigned. This may include instruction on recording and reporting attendance.
The stake presidency may call and set apart specialists as needed for purposes such as: