The Office of Patriarch

Boyd K. Packer

January 2005 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting

The calling of a patriarch is unique. There is nothing like it in all the world; there is nothing like it in the Church.


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When you say the word patriarch, there come into the minds of the members of the Church, particularly the young people, the words wisdom, maturity, dignity, spirituality, worthiness.

The work of the patriarch draws near to the very central purpose of the Lord’s work.

…The revelations state, “it is the duty of the Twelve…to ordain evangelical ministers, as…shall be designated unto them by revelation” (D&C 107:39). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “An Evangelist is a Patriarch…Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth [organized into stakes], there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 151.

…The sixth article of faith states, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church [in the days of the Savior], namely, apostles, prophets,…evangelists [or patriarchs]” (Articles of Faith 1:6).

Patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek, or higher, Priesthood. The offices are Apostle, Seventy, patriarch, high priest, and elder.

A patriarch is ordained, not set apart. If a man is set apart to an office in the Church, he will one day be released. But an ordination to an office in the priesthood is permanent unless it is lost through transgression.

A man is not released from the office of patriarch. Age or illness may require the patriarch to be placed on nonfunctioning status.

This office has been an essential part of the priesthood from ancient times—“from [even before] the foundation of the world” (Alma 13:3; see also verses 4-5).

If a patriarch moves to another stake, he may not give patriarchal blessings in that stake unless he is approved by the Quorum of the Twelve to be sustained as a patriarch in a conference of that stake. He need not be set apart or ordained again.

…A number of years ago I ordained a patriarch in a distant stake. Three months later he came to my office and told this experience.

After he was ordained, he was overwhelmed. He brooded over the awesome responsibility of giving blessings which must include a declaration of lineage and prophetic insights personal to each individual. He was weighed down with a feeling of inadequacy and could not get himself to attempt to give his first patriarchal blessing.

The stake president would ask if he was ready to give blessings. Each time he would say he did not feel up to the great responsibility.

Finally he realized that he must prepare himself. He talked to a revered Church leader in the community and asked, “Could I write out two or three brief paragraphs that could be an appropriate introduction to any patriarchal blessing? I could memorize these paragraphs as a beginning with the expectation that the Spirit would then provide the inspiration that I needed.”

It was agreed that it would be all right. So he prepared a short introduction. He wrote and rewrote the paragraphs until he was satisfied that it was worthy of an introduction to a patriarchal blessing. Then he informed the stake president he was ready.

Soon the first young person came with his recommend to receive a blessing. Confident that his memorized introduction would get him started, he placed his hands on the young person’s head and did not use a word of it!

“That day,” he said, “I found out whose blessings they are. The are not my blessings; they are the blessings of the Lord, and He will, through His Spirit, dictate what should be said.”