LDS Leadership Hierarchy

Over 2 years ago I asked for Sunday post topics (this was before Formspring obviously, as I now have a practically limitless question queue to pull from!) and I thought it might be nice to revisit that post and see which questions have gone unanswered. Some of them are really involved and difficult, and I might not ever have the time to dive into them. Christiana’s question about church hierarchy involved not much more than a little googling to find some pictures to help explain things.

Most positions related to working in the church are not paid (we call those callings), but there are some like the auditing department, media department, budgeting, etc, are jobs that people work to support their family, and some callings like being in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that means you devote your life to the church and receive a living stipend in return. Tithing is not used for these stipends, it comes out of the church’s investments.


Here is a basic pictorial representation of the chart above (at least the higher positions).  I was actually able to meet the current prophet once, during my time working for BYU Catering. We served the then-current prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, and his two counselors, one of which is now prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. He was very kind, shook my hand and asked me where I was from. When I said the area he told me a funny story about the Moses Lake airport, making me realize how well-traveled he is, since there aren’t very many people who have ever flown in and out of that airport!


Women in the LDS church do not hold the priesthood, but this does not mean they don’t serve in the leadership of the church. This is the current presidency of the women’s organization in the church (The Relief Society).


There is also an organization for the young women which is led by women.


And one for the children, also led by women.


I think my post on callings will help you understand how people end up serving in these positions. All of this feels pretty familiar to me because I’ve grownn up in the church. Does this post bring up any questions?

8 thoughts on “LDS Leadership Hierarchy

  1. Great post. Thank you! I always get confused with this stuff as an investigator. I’ve heard different things about the quarum of the 12 getting paid. Some say they are and some say they aren’t. Not that it matters, but glad you cleared it up!

  2. Good post, very thorough.
    I just realized with your comment on Moses Lake that you might know my family – Loye and Vaughn Hunsaker. Loye is my grandma’s sister. That would be so random!

    Jenna Reply:

    Maybe I’ve heard the name, but Moses Lake is actually pretty big so I don’t know everyone there, even if they are members. 🙂

  3. Do you ever struggle with reconciling that only men can hold the priesthood and current beliefs about gender equality? When I see posts like this that really make evident just how male-dominated the church is I wonder about how LDS (and other other religions) women personally work through these contradictions, or whether its something they don’t really think about.

    Jenna Reply:

    No. As I’ve written elsewhere, to me, the priesthood = responsiblity. Why would I desire more of that? I already feel like I heap a lot on my plate as is! Though we certainly live in a culture that undervalues mothers, the Church certainly does not. I feel like the Church helps us see that the men working in the priesthood and the women working raising the children can be separate but equal in stature.

    There are entire blogs hashing this out though, including this one:

  4. Hm, I love that you post about your church (I have learned so much) but after this particular post my first thought was “that is a LOT of white men.” I know you tried to counter that by including pictures of a few women, but I can’t help but feel put off by the lack of diversity (both gendered and otherwise). How is the church addressing this? I imagine it will have to be top of mind as the church grows…

    Jenna Reply:

    The church is still relatively young, and started in the US, so this is to be expected. Think of how the tables would be turned if it started in Africa, or the Middle East, or South America! President Monson has served in the Church in different ‘higher up’ leadership callings for almost 50 years! Although the Church now has more member outside of the US than in (largely in South America) it’s going to take some time for that to catch up. Pushing people up through the leadership just to have different “colors” in the higher callings sounds like an icky thing to do.

    The system of “calling” someone to serve in the church is a fairly organic process that we believe is led by God. He will call up those who He needs!

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