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In Mormonism, the First Presidency (or the Quorum of the Presidency of the Church) is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy of several Latter Day Saint denominations. A First Presidency was organized by Joseph Smith, Jr., who was its presiding member until his death in 1844. Some time later, First Presidencies were organized by Brigham Young and Joseph Smith III.
The First Presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the First Presidency is the presiding or governing authority of the church. It usually consists of the President of the Church and two counselors, although up to six counselors have on occasion been included in the presidency.
The counselors are customarily chosen from among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and work closely with the Church President in guiding the entire church. In the case of an infirm president they may be called upon to perform his duties in his absence, and if needed additional counselors, who are not numbered, are called to assist them. Like the Church President and President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counselors in the First Presidency are known as "President" (thus the current First Presidency are referred to as President Gordon B. Hinckley, President Thomas S. Monson, and President James E. Faust).
Counselors serve until either their own deaths, the death of the Church President who called them, or until they are released. The death of a Church President dissolves the First Presidency, and leaves the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the senior leader of the church. See President of the Church (Mormonism) for information on succession in the church.
Customarily the counselors of the late president are retained, but a notably infirm counselor may revert to his place among the Twelve Apostles with a healthier man called as counselor in his place. On the death or release of a First Counselor, the Second Counselor usually succeeds and a new Second Counselor is named.
The present membership of the First Presidency is as follows:
- President Gordon B. Hinckley
- President Thomas S. Monson — First Counselor
- President James E. Faust — Second Counselor
The First Presidency in the Community of Christ
The First Presidency is the highest leadership or priesthood quorum of the Community of Christ church. Normally the First Presidency consists of the Prophet-President of the church and two counselors.
In 1860 with the reorganization of the First Presidency, Joseph Smith III became the second Prophet-President of this church and also President of a new First Presidency. William Marks became Smith's First Counselor.
The First Presidency of the Community of Christ differs from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where the church president is always the senior-most member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (of which there are usually 14 following the death of the Prophet). In the Community of Christ, by contrast, each new church president has generally been "designated" as the successor by the preceding church president. The Counselors in the First Presidency were then chosen by the church president and are also not former members of the Council of Twelve Apostles. In addition, the death of the Prophet-President does not dissolve the First Presidency, which continues on as the church's executive council in the persons of the remaining presidents until a Prophet-President is called. The two members who were counselors to the prophet-president, cease to be counselors during this time.
Prior to 1996, church presidents happened to designate their successors according to a cocept of "lineal succession," and were descendents of the movement's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr.. This pattern was broken by Wallace B. Smith, who designated W. Grant McMurray church president. McMurray, in turn, resigned the church presidency in 2004 without designating a successor. Stephen M. Veazey has been presented to the Community of Christ as the one whom the leading Councils, Quorums, and indivduals, of Community of Christ feel is called to be the next prophet-president. The new church president, be it Veazey or another, will be sustained at a special World Conference to be held in June 2005. Presently, the office of church president is vacant; however The First Presidency of the Community of Christ currently consists of two members:
- President Kenneth N. Robinson
- President Peter A. Judd
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