President Russell M. Nelson announced significant changes to the structure of LDS Church priesthood quorums Saturday evening, March 31 — capping a day already defined by historic callings to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
High priests and elders will now be combined into one elders quorum in each ward, announced President Nelson during his introductory remarks at the evening priesthood session of the 188th Annual General Conference.
“Tonight, we announce a significant restructuring of our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to accomplish the work of the Lord more effectively,” he said. “In each ward, the high priests and the elders will now be combined into one elders quorum. This adjustment will greatly enhance the capacity and ability of men who bear the priesthood to serve others.”
Prospective elders will be welcome in and fellowshipped by that quorum.
In each stake, he added, the stake presidency will continue to preside over the stake high priests quorum — “but the composition of that quorum will be based on current priesthood callings,” including high priests serving in the stake presidency, in bishoprics, in the stake presidency, on the high council, or as functioning patriarchs.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, called the modification “a revelatory announcement from President Russell M. Nelson.”
President Nelson’s second counselor in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring, said the announcement is an inspired step forward in the Lord’s organized plan for His Church.
“That plan includes a new structure for priesthood quorums in wards and stakes so that we may better fulfill our priesthood responsibilities. Those responsibilities all have to do with our priesthood care of our Father’s children,” he said.
In his talk following President Nelson’s introductory remarks, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered additional details on the quorum changes.
The stake presidency will release current high priests group leaderships and elders quorum presidencies and will call a new elders quorum president and counselors in each ward or branch, he said.
The new elders quorum presidency may include elders and high priests — and either an elder or a high priest may serve as the quorum president or as counselor in the presidency.
“We expect elders and high priests to work together in any combination in the quorum presidency and in quorum service,” added Elder Christofferson. “These quorum adjustments should be implemented as soon as conveniently possible.”
The adjustment in quorum structure will not change the individual priesthood office held by quorum members.
“Elders will continue to be ordained high priests when they are called to a stake presidency, high council, or bishopric — or at other times as determined by the stake president through prayerful consideration and inspiration,” he added. “When their terms of service in a stake presidency, high council, or bishopric are completed, high priests will rejoin the elders quorum in their ward.”
Elder Christofferson echoed President Nelson’s statement that the modifications will allow for greater service, personal development and brotherhood. “It also allows quorum members of all ages and backgrounds to benefit from the perspective and experience of one another and of those in different stages of life.”
The modifications to the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums have been under study for “many months,” said President Nelson.
“We have felt a pressing need to improve the way we care for our members and report our contacts with them,” he said. “To do that better, we need to strengthen our priesthood quorums to give greater direction to the ministering of love and support that the Lord intends for His Saints.”
The adjustments, he declared, are inspired of the Lord. “As we implement them, we will be even more effective than we have ever been previously.”
In his priesthood session talk, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he expects the adjustments to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to unify the “mighty army” of brethren.
“These adjustments will help elders quorums and Relief Societies harmonize their work,” he said. “They will also simplify the quorum’s coordination with the bishopric and ward council. And they allow the bishop to delegate more responsibilities to the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents so the bishop and his counselors can focus on their primary duties — particularly presiding over the young women and the young men who bear the Aaronic Priesthood.”
Elder Rasband also offered additional information on the stake high priests quorums that will continue to function under the direction of stake presidencies. The quorum will now consist of high priests currently serving in the stake presidency, ward bishoprics, stake high councils and the functioning patriarch. Ward and stake clerks and executive secretaries are not members of the stake high priests quorum.
Speaking to the high priests, Elder Rasband said they continue to play an essential role in the work. They may be presided over by an elder as their quorum president, which is already happening in branches in some regions of the world.
“What a joy it will be for all Melchizedek Priesthood holders to have the blessing of teaching, learning and serving shoulder-to-shoulder with all the members in their ward,” he said. “Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances may be, we invite you prayerfully, faithfully, and joyfully to accept new opportunities to lead or be led and to serve unitedly as a body of priesthood brethren.”