George Albert Smith, Jul 10, 1947

-- Jul 10, 1947
Patriarchs and patriarchal blessings-- Salt Lake City, Utah.

Instructions on Patriarchs and patriarchal blessings, superseding all previous instructions.

July 10, 1947 To the Presidents of Stakes

Dear Brethren:

This communication will supersede previous letters sent from the office of the First Presidency to both presidents of stakes and to stake patriarchs.

To the end that there may be a clearer and more uniform understanding of the selection, duties and prerogatives of stake patriarchs, we bring to your attention the following considerations:

1. Selection and Installation of Stake Patriarchs:

Stake patriarchs are chosen by members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles representing the First Presidency as they visit the stakes of Zion. The stake president does not nominate the patriarch. It is, however, within his province to suggest to a member of the Council of the Twelve the needs of his stake for patriarchal service. He may then be asked by one of the Twelve for his suggestions as to a man or men to be chosen. His counselors may likewise be called into consultation by a member of the Twelve. The member of the Twelve will then submit his recommendation to the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve. When the recommendation is approved the next visitor from the Twelve to the stake will be authorized to interview the prospective stake patriarch and, if satisfied, the visitor may have him sustained first by the High council and then he will be sustained by the people in conference assembled. After being so sustained the patriarch will be ordained by the vi
siting member of the Council of the Twelve and be instructed as to his duties. He will also be supplied by the one who ordains him with a record book and paper, upon which his blessings are to be recorded. He will likewise receive a copy of these general instructions. Questions arising regarding the service of the stake patriarch should be submitted to the president of the stake and, if necessary, by him transmitted to the Presidency of the Church. Members of the Council of the Twelve may also be consulted by stake patriarchs as they visit the stakes.

2. Nature of the Patriarchal Office and Blessings:

The patriarchal office is one of blessing, not of administration. Patriarchal blessings are the only blessings that patriarchs are specifically ordained and sustained to give. Patriarchal blessings contemplate an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient, and also, where so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life's mission, it being always made clear that the realization of all promised blessings is conditioned upon faithfulness to the Gospel of our Lord, whose servant the patriarch is.

All such blessings are recorded and generally only one such blessing should be adequate for each person's life. The sacred nature of the patriarchal blessing must of necessity urge all patriarchs to most earnest solicitation of divine guidance for their prophetic utterances and superior wisdom for cautions and admonitions.

3. Relation to Administrative Officers:

While under the revelations patriarchs are selected and ordained by members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, they act in the stakes of Zion under the direct supervision of the presidency of the stake whose privilege and duty it is to supervise their work and to make adequate provision for it to be carried forward in an orderly way. The patriarch is not a counselor to the people of the stake and the ward as are the presidency of the stake and the bishoprics. It is the duty of the patriarchs ever to sustain these administrative officers in the policies adopted and the counsels given to the people; and if patriarchs are solicited for counsel and advice relating to the conduct of members of the Church and decisions to be made in both temporal and spiritual matters, they should refer such persons to the administrative officers whose right it is to give attention to such matters. Patriarchs, as all others who hold the proper priesthood, may, when requested so to do, give bl
essings for the healing of the sick, but such blessings for the sick or for the comfort of individuals are of no higher order than, nor are they to be distinguished from, similar blessings by others who hold the proper priesthood.

4. Recording Blessings:

All patriarchal blessings, as hereinbefore defined, should be written in duplicate and one copy of the blessing should be given to the recipient, and one copy should be preserved in the record book. No charge is to be made nor gratuity accepted for the giving or recording of a patriarchal blessing.

The stake patriarch should, with the approval of the stake president, arrange for adequate stenographic service to record blessings. If stenographers are available who will furnish the service gratuitously, their services should be accepted as a worthy Church contribution. If, however, such gratuitous service is not available, the patriarch may arrange for a stenographer to record blessings and for this service a stenographer so employed may submit to the First Presidency of the Church statements of charges, not to exceed $1.00 for each blessing recorded. If and when such service is continuous, monthly bills should be presented.

5. Additional Record Books and Materials:

The office of the Church Historian is the depository for the records of patriarchal blessings and stake patriarchs will receive from the Historian's Office such record books and other materials as may be essential for their use. When record books are ready for filing, they should be safely forwarded to the Historian's Office, 47 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whenever the stake patriarch shall have exhausted the record book and materials furnished to him at the time of his installation, he may make application to the Historian's office for additional materials which will be sent to him without cost.

6. Removal of Stake Patriarch to Another Stake:

In the event a duly ordained stake patriarch moves out of the stake in which he has been sustained into another stake, the president of the stake into which he moves, when advised of the establishment of the patriarch's membership in one of the wards of his stake, should immediately notify the First Presidency of the Church so that consideration may be given by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve to the installation of the patriarch in the stake to which he has moved. No stake patriarch may give blessings in any stake in which he has not been sustained by the people under the direction of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.

In the event of the death of the patriarch, the president of the stake should secure and forward to the Historian's Office the record book containing all the blessings that have been given.

7. Eligibility for Patriarchal Blessings:

Stake patriarchs may give blessings to those only who reside within their respective stakes, and only upon the presentation by the applicant of a recommend duly signed and approved by the bishop of the ward, except under the following conditions:

A. Stake patriarchs may give patriarchal blessings to members of organized missions upon the presentation by the applicant of a recommend duly signed and approved by the branch president and mission president. In such cases the applicant is to come into the stake for the blessing; the patriarch is not to go into the mission for the purpose.

B. Stake patriarchs are permitted to bless their blood relations wherever they may reside, provided, however, that such relations shall be duly recommended by the bishops of wards and presidents of stakes in which such relations reside.

C. In stakes where patriarchs have died or have become incapacitated or are absent from the stake so that patriarchal blessings from the stake patriarch are not available to members of the stake, in such circumstances and until such time as the services of a patriarch in such stakes may be made available to the members by a new appointment or the return of a patriarch on leave, members of such such stakes may, upon proper recommendation of their bishops and the president of their stake, receive patriarchal blessings from a stake patriarch in an adjacent stake to whom they shall have been recommended. In such cases the applicant is to go into the patriarch's stake for the blessing; the patriarch is not to leave his own stake and go into another stake for such purpose.

Sincerely yours, GEO. ALBERT SMITH, J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., DAVID O. MCKAY, First Presidency. {1947-July 10-Original circular letter, L.D.S. Church Archives,} (1)

-- Jul 15, 1947
Establishment of stakes within mission boundaries-- Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Between June 30, 1940, and June 29, 1947, thirty-seven new stakes of the Church had been organized. Many of these were now in the mission fields of the Church such as Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado (June 30, 1940); Reno, Nevada, and San Diego, California, 1941; Palo Alto and Berkeley, California, 1946; Mesa, Arizona, and Florida and Spokane Stakes, 1947. "To Presidents of Missions and Stakes Whose Territorial Boundaries May Overlap or Are of Such Character That the Work of Missions May be Carried Forward Within the General Boundary Line of Stakes." The establishment of stakes in mission territory "shall not be deemed so rigid as to preclude mission work within such boundaries. It being understood, however, that the jurisdiction of stake and ward authorities over units which are set up and maintained in the stake is exclusive." (1)

1 - Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)

LDS History Chronology: George Albert Smith

Mormon History Timeline: The life of George Albert Smith