Elders and High Priests

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When and how did elders quorum become a group of 20/30 somethings and high priests group become a group of everyone else?

I was having my first PPI as elders quorum president with my bishop last night, and we were discussing all the older members of our ward who are assigned to elders quorum in the computer. They are not active and hold the priesthood office of elder, so the computer assigns them to our quorum. The oldest is 92.

At first, we discussed how some of them need to be assigned to the high priests, such as those in their 80s and 90s. As we started to get toward those in their 40s and 50s, however, things started to become less clear cut.

So we chatted some more about it. At the end we had determined that the tendency to send older brethren to high priests group based on age has developed some problems. It destroys quorum unity, it makes it difficult to staff quorum positions, it removes training opportunities for new home teachers, etc.

We concluded that we would leave things as they are now (all those brethren remaining in elders quorum) and that the bishop would discuss it in bishopric meeting and PEC.

After the meeting, I gained a different perspective on the two groups. I really think that high priests group should be reserved for past bishopric members, high councilmen, stake presidency members, etc and for those who are more spiritually mature. Elders quorum is for people who are still struggling with the basics and need to learn things on a more fundamental level.

If the Relief Society is not split based on age, why should the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums be?

237 thoughts on “Elders and High Priests

  1. I have noted from the onset that Kim stated it was his very first PPI as a new EQ president. Perhaps that explains his naive approach to this inappropriately framed question and thread.

    Instead of asking the world, perhaps he would have been better off taking his question to (guess who?) on his knees. I hope over the months he has had time to season in his calling and can see the folly in this thread and so many contentious contributions.

    In his own mind Martin Harris was sure he was doing the right thing when he begged Joseph for the transcripts. He quickly saw the folly of it after bitter emotions and sorrow had beset him and the Prophet Joseph.

    Speculating out load and in a public way is a sure way to invite opposition from dissidents, apostates and the like. Let’s be more spiritually discreet.

    1. I can appreciate what this brother is saying but it’s a bit heavyhanded. This is not a discussion of temple ordinances or anything that can’t be discussed in a public forum…besides, most of those interested at all would be generally LDS anyway.
      My take is, situations can be very fluid. In a small ward vs. a large ward, with a large population of priesthood or just a few, the dynamics change accordingly. There is no hard or fast “set rule” in the church as far as when Elders can join with the High Priests meeting. My deal is, at 51, I’m feeling a little old in Elder’s Quorum now (I am the oldest actually). Informal discussions with my leaders have pointed to “do what I feel I should do”–either stay with the Elders or move on to High Priests. Other wards and stakes may have different dynamics and needs in leadership. That’s it!

  2. >I have noted from the onset that Kim stated it was his very first PPI as a new EQ president.

    But not the first PPI ever as an elders quorum president. For the record, I served for two years as an elders quorum president in another ward previous to this post.

    >Instead of asking the world, perhaps he would have been better off taking his question to (guess who?) on his knees.

    Who’s to say I didn’t? Even so, if I had done only that, then how would other elders quorum presidents dealing with the same issue be able to see how others deal with the issue?

  3. “Speculating out load and in a public way is a sure way to invite opposition from dissidents, apostates and the like.”

    …so let’s all suffer in silence and continue to screw up in the same ways in different locations.

  4. >so let’s all suffer in silence and continue to screw up in the same ways in different locations.

    Or rather, let’s all suffer *unloaded*.

  5. “…so let’s all suffer in silence and continue to screw up in the same ways in different locations.”

    What do you mean by “screw up in the same ways in different locations”?

    Are you suggesting that each congregation does things the same way?

  6. “Are you suggesting that each congregation does things the same way?”

    I’m suggesting that similar mistakes are made by different individuals in multiple locations, yes.

  7. Alma 13 has bee mentioned a couple of times as setting for requirements for being a “high priest”. What is not being recognized is that the modern office of “high priest” did not exist at the time this was translated. As in the rest of ancient Israel, the “high priest” was the man who held the “high Priesthood” — that is to say, the Melchizedek Priesthood. A latter-day elder is as much a “high priest” in the Alma 13 sense as is a latter-day high priest, or for that matter a latter-day apostle.

  8. Kim, I’m curious about your thoughts on my situation, and I’d appreciate your insight.

    I am 45 years old. I served a full-time mission honorably. I married at 25 and have six children. My wife and I were virgins at the time of our marriage and have been strictly faithful to each other. We have always been active, have always payed a full tithe (even when we were starving grad students), have always participated in our wards, have never refused any callings, and have always held current temple recommends. We have our problems, certainly, but we are reasonably friendly people, well-liked by our fellow ward members. Neither of us has ever been subject to Church discipline.

    I have served in several (three, I believe) elder’s quorum presidencies, but have never been the president. With my urging and some very specific suggestions as his counselor, our quorum president pushed to improve our home teaching, such that we had almost twelve consecutive months of 100% home teaching and a concomittant improvement in quorum brotherhood. I have not been in the presidency for several years now, but the home teaching efforts have lived on and subsequent presidents have maintained the high home teaching standards, so that we typically enjoy >95% home teaching completed each month (though I confess I don’t know how such stats are handled, and have occasionally had doubts as to exactly how accurate that is). I have also served for very many years as an elder’s quorum instructor.

    I have served for many years in various teaching positions in Primary and Sunday school, including several years as gospel doctrine instructor. Fwiw, I received numerous compliments while an instructor; the bishop actually complimented me on my “scriptural knowledge”. I have been asked in private to comment on scriptural exegeses by several members, including high priests. As far as I can tell, my leaders do not consider me deficient in any remarkable way. I am currently the president of the Sunday school, having been specifically asked to help improve the teaching efficacy of several of my Sunday school teachers.

    At 45, I am one of the oldest elders in my ward, with many of my friends (including several younger than I) having been ordained as high priests. The two elders in our ward that I know of who are older than I both attend the high priest group.

    If I understand your statements correctly, I must assume that my (relatively) advanced age and current status as an elder indicate that I am less mature in my gospel knowledge and understanding than are the high priests, including those of my younger friends who are currently in that group. Is this correct?

  9. If I understand your statements correctly, I must assume that my (relatively) advanced age and current status as an elder indicate that I am less mature in my gospel knowledge and understanding than are the high priests, including those of my younger friends who are currently in that group. Is this correct?

    Beats me. I have no familarty whatsoever regarding your spiritual maturity. I have three comments, however.

    First, what I said is that I think high priests should be reserved for those who are spiritually mature and those who at one point had callings requiring them to be high priests.

    Second, I do not think any elders should attend high priest meetings. In my opinion, anyone who is an elder or prospective elder should be attending elders quorum meetings.

    Third, just because I think the organisation should be one way does not mean it is that way in practise. For example, I have no idea if your stake presidency reserve high priests groups in your stake for the spiritual mature. In my experience, many elders are advanced simply because of age.

  10. Thanks for the response, Kim.

    “I have no familarty whatsoever regarding your spiritual maturity.”

    Well, you have the background I have given you, which should constitute at least a rough guide.

    “First, what I said is that I think high priests should be reserved for those who are spiritually mature and those who at one point had callings requiring them to be high priests.”

    Not exactly. You wrote: “[H]igh priests group should be reserved for past bishopric members, high councilmen, stake presidency members, etc and for those who are more spiritually mature.” This wording clearly indicates a belief that “those who are more spiritually mature” should be in the high priest group, regardless of calling. This is further emphasized by your next sentence: “Elders quorum is for people who are still struggling with the basics and need to learn things on a more fundamental level.” Clearly, your wording indicates that those who are not “struggling with the basics and need[ing] to learn on a more fundamental level” should not be in elder’s quorum, which pretty much leaves high priest group.

    (My own feelings are parallel to what others have written: Elder’s quorum is for elders, and high priest group is for high priests. No other distinction is necessary or even desirable.)

    “Second, I do not think any elders should attend high priest meetings. In my opinion, anyone who is an elder or prospective elder should be attending elders quorum meetings.”

    Perhaps I misinterpreted your initial comments. Do you now believe that the 92-year-old elder ought not meet with the high priests?

    (I happen to agree with the idea that an elder, whatever his age, should meet with the elder’s quorum. But I see nothing wrong with the stake president inviting a calenderically-enhanced elder to meet with the high priest group.)

    “Third, just because I think the organisation should be one way does not mean it is that way in practise. For example, I have no idea if your stake presidency reserve high priests groups in your stake for the spiritual mature. In my experience, many elders are advanced simply because of age.”

    A friend from Utah who is a few years older than me was called into his stake president’s office shortly after turning 45 and abruptly told, “You are too old to be in the elder’s quorum, so we’re going to make you a high priest.” Apparently, that is almost a verbatim quote of what he was told. I kept my distaste of such an occurrence to myself, since I could see no benefit in voicing it to my friend.

  11. Clearly, your wording indicates that those who are not “struggling with the basics and need[ing] to learn on a more fundamental level” should not be in elder’s quorum, which pretty much leaves high priest group.

    To clarify, by “be in high priest group”, I mean they should be ordained high priests. I was not simply referring to the Sunday meeting.

    Do you now believe that the 92-year-old elder ought not meet with the high priests?

    Absolutely. In my opinion, he should only attend if he is ordained a high priest.

  12. “To clarify, by “be in high priest group”, I mean they should be ordained high priests. I was not simply referring to the Sunday meeting.”

    So then, if a man is sufficiently “spiritually mature”, he should be ordained a high priest, regardless of calling?

    If this is correct, can you provide some doctrinal backing for this opinion — I don’t know what form that might take — or is it merely your own personal feeling about how things ought to be run?

  13. In that case, while I agree with much of what you’ve written, I disagree with your assignment of high priests as the “spiritually mature group,” even in principle. I see two major flaws:

    1. Attempting to remove the “spiritually mature” from the elder’s quorum would, if successful, impoverish the elder’s quorum and hurt those men, the very ones who most need mentoring. If unsuccessful, it would act as unjust judgment condemning as “spiritually immature” men who ought not to be so condemned.

    2. Who could possibly make such a determination? How could a bishop or stake president decide if a man were “spiritually mature” enough to make the grade? I do not believe that God has given to man any such insight as to be able to judge the spiritual progress or maturity of another in such detail. If this were a doctrinally-directed commandment, then I could certainly believe, at least in principle, that the Spirit would inform the leader when that point was reached; but as we’ve already agreed that no such doctrine exists, I don’t believe the Spirit will (or perhaps can) make any such thing known to a man, be he a bishop or the president of the Church.

    Elders and high priests fulfill different functions. As long as young men receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood are not immediately called to leadership positions at the ward or stake level — which is to say, as long as this dispensation lasts — those young men will be ordained elders, and so the high priest group will on average consist of older, more mature men than the elder’s quorum. But this is far from saying that all of the older, more mature men are (or should be) high priests.

    My feedback, fwiw.

    1. I don’t see why. It’s not like someone wakes up one day and is all of a sudden spiritually mature. In my opinion, spiritual maturity is a spectrum, and everyone is on a point of that spectrum. There is always someone in elders quorum who is less spiritually mature than someone else and more mature than some other person. Advancing someone to the office of high priest because of spiritual maturity does not mean there will no longer be anyone in elders quorum more advanced in spiritual maturity. It’s an ongoing cycle. Spiritually immature elders/priests come in and spiritually mature high priests move out. Everyone is the spiritually immature elder at some point, and (theoretically) will be the spiritually mature high priest at some point. Any given quorum would have everyone in all sorts of stages of spiritual maturity.

    2. The stake presidency ultimately since they decide on Melchizedek priesthood advancement. Since I have never been in a stake presidency, I have no idea what criteria they use to determine if someone has reached that point.

    as we’ve already agreed that no such doctrine exists

    I never agreed to such a premise. What I said was the opinion I created was not based on doctrine. This is not to say one does not exist.

  14. I’m 32 and was just called to be High Priests Group Leader in my Ward. I am very concerned about my ability to lead a group of men who are more mature in the gospel than I am. Should be interesting.

  15. I was the youngest in our quorum when I was called as EQP the first time. Brethren in the quorum were twice my age and had children as old as I was.

    You’ll do great, Justin.

  16. I am a 60 year-old HPG leader and believe me the concerns are the same at any age! When you lead and teach by the spirit, age is not a factor. Read Bro. Fred Babbel’s book On Wings of Faith. You will learn much from it.

  17. To update:

    I have been instructed to attend HP group. I am an elder, not a high priest, and privately, I have no desire to attend the HP group (even though it is a truly excellent group of amazing men).

    But this was very clearly NOT phrased as an invitation. It was an instruction. I will obey the instruction given, even if I don’t like it.

    But for the record, I don’t like it.

    1. I am surprised your leadership is going at it that way. Unless you are a 70 year old Elder or something…but frankly, you should just go when YOU feel ready to go, or, if you get a leadership calling in the ward or stake in which you must be ordained a High Priest, then, of course, it’s time to go. The church has a policy in place of letting the “older men” meet with the High priests if they desire and of course talk with the Bishop or HP group leader and their Elder’s quorum president. Depending on ward and priesthood populations of course and what is determined is needed priesthood wise…

  18. I have been instructed by my stake president (through my bishopric) to attend the high priest group. I will not disobey a direct request from my Priesthood leader. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, just that I’m committed to obeying it.

    1. I think you are quite right just obeying what your leaders have asked you to do. I think it might have been handled a little better by them, I know there are a number of 40 somethings who don’t feel “that old” while others take it (even as Elders not ordained as high priests) as somewhat a badge of honor to be in High Priests group associated with those who have held leadership positions.
      In my own case, I’m 51 and talked with both my EQ pres and HP group leader, they indicated for me to just do what my heart directs me to do–I’m welcome either place. That feels nice! and I’m ready to move on to HP

  19. Nope. Not sure what would be accomplished by doing so. Seems like a tacit way of saying, “You screwed up.” The bishopric member who talked to me made it clear that the stake president thought I was “too old” to be meeting with the elders quorum.

    I admit I might be playing the drama queen here. I’m rattled by the whole situation. But I do believe it’s my duty to obey my stake president in such matters. He holds the keys to Priesthood in this stake, so if he tells me he wants me to attend the high priest group (or the deacon’s quorum, or Relief Society, or high council meetings), then I will do so.

    So then, why am I whining here? Don’t know. I just remembered this conversation from some time ago and thought I’d look it up and add to it. I do appreciate your feedback, Kim.

  20. Hope your stake president never asks you to jump off a cliff…

    News flash… Stake presidents are fallible.

  21. So, you think “telling a man to jump off a cliff” == “telling a man to meet with a different group”?

    The stake president is responsible for all Melchizedek Priesthood holders in his stake. The elders are organized into ward-level quorums, with the quorum president reporting to the stake president. However, the stake president still has direct responsibility over the individual elders. The high priests, all being a part of the high priest quorum (of which he is the president), report to him; nevertheless, each ward is set up with a group leader for the high priests in that ward, and normally all reporting goes through this channel.

    In other words, functionally speaking, there is little difference in organization between elders quorums and high priest groups. And all Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the stake report to the stake president, anyway. So it’s really not an earthshaking thing for the stake president to request some elders to report up through the high priest group structure instead. And it is very obviously within the stake president’s authority to make such a request.

    I was not happy to be asked to do that, and I’m still not really happy about it. But the suggestion that obeying my stake president in this is equivalent to jumping off a cliff at his command, or that his asking me to do this is somehow equivalent to his asking me to jump off a cliff, is absurd.

    If you believe this to be Christ’s kingdom and the stake president to be operating with the keys of his office, I do not see how you can refuse to acknowledge the stake president’s right to do as he sees fit in this or question his wisdom in doing so. And if you don’t believe him to be acting within authority given him by Christ, then why on earth are you even commenting on the topic? You might as well be criticizing witch doctors that poke voodoo dolls.

  22. Iam 30 years of age I joind the church at 18 and served a mission, and everything. then when I was 24 my bishop called me in to his office and told me that he felt inspired to have me join with the high priest i thought he was joking but no he was not, so i have been there for 8 years and still an elder, i home teach and iam home taught by high priest, should i be ordained as one?just a question

    1. If you’re acting like a high priest, I don’t see why you can’t be made a high priest. It seems odd your bishop would want you to pretend to be one but not make you one.

      1. You should talk with the stake and see what he says about it, also if you have been there since you were 24 iam sure people may think you are a high priest already.

  23. I enjoyed reading the OP and don’t see a problem with the discussion of this topic.

    I’ve been a an EQP for two years and have had the HPG snag Elders from the EQ when we were dwindling to just 4-5 besides myself on Sundays. I had to get pretty vocal about it before things started reversing. A BP change was helpful but one member of the EQ was a 51 yo Priest just baptised and ushered into the HPG without so much as a whisper to me. I’m 52 now and the former EQP is 52. We also have a couple others in their 50’s. It seems to be a hush hush affair, and it seems like “they” have a vote as to who they invite into the HPG. The Priest was returned eventually and I was able to have his HT prepare him for the MP which he received recently. The BP made all the difference to me as he leaned on me for my thoughts about the matter.

    I focus heavily on the aspect we are to act in a manner that gives priority to the Spirit and bless those we are serving for Him. While there is much ambiguity between the Quorums, we are given plenty of “rope” in decision making, but we can only get closer to our God by sustaining our leaders after all we can say/ask of them in private. Our individual “straight and narrow path” demands it of us. In my opinion of course.

  24. Not that this has any basis on what my comment will be: I am 33 years old, and have been my wards EQP for 7 months or so. I have previously served twice as a counselor, most recently under my current Bishop. He & I work well together while discussing such affairs as bantered over here.

    So here’s my comment: My father was asked/instructed many times through his LDS career to begin attending the HPG beginning in his 40’s. His reply was always simply this, “If you want me to attend the HPG, then ordain me a HP.” Other than this, my father never turned down or asked to be released from a calling and always magnified his faithfully, and taught his 6 children to do the same. I will most likely repeat his response if the situation arises. At about the age of 65 he was called as the HPGL in his ward. Finally they were ready to ordain him a HP. He died at the age of 72 of Pancreatic Cancer.

  25. I’m not even a member and some of the comments reveal a lot of people are not “spiritually mature.”

    If the Lord calls you to be a HP then you are a high priest. If the Lord calls you to be an Elder then you are an Elder.

    If you are a visiting non member or. 20 or 40 year old priest…and the bell rings to go to Priesthood meeting you should be welcomed wherever your feet take you. Why should it be different for any elder who wants to go to HP or an HP who wants to hang out in EQ.

    Im not saying that I recommend any Priesthood holder ever to RS…but when my father was an investigator his feet followed my mother to RS and I’m sure it didn’t get in the way of his conversion.

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