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I have had a question that has been plagueing me over the last couple of weeks and it pertains to keys and presiding authority that maybe someone can give me some insight. I attended a convert baptism a couple of weeks ago and the Mission President was in attendance at the baptismal service. The Bishop conducted the meeting and stated that he was presiding. Shouldn’t the Mission President been the presiding authority since it was a convert baptism? Handbook 2 is quiet on the matter. Does anyone have any insight on this issue?

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I could be totally wrong on this..but I would think that the Mission President would not be the presiding authority as he doesn't fall within line of authority for that ward.

Edited by pam

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As I understood it, the Mission President has authority over a mission, while the bishop has authority over a ward. While the Mission President has the authority over the missionary effort and over the missionaries, at a ward function I think the bishop still presides, especially the person being baptized is now part of the ward and not part of the mission.

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When my husband was WML we had a discussion with the Bishop and the Mission President in our area. We were told that once the missionaries get finished with teaching and interviewing everything is turned over to the ward. The Bishop always presides over ward functions (or someone he assigns) unless there is someone from the Stake Presidency or a Seventy present.

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Thanks all for this discussion. What is interesting is that the Mission President holds the keys to the Melchizedek Priesthood, similiar to the Stake President, however in a Stake he does not exercise those keys. He does however hold the keys to Confirmition into the Church as defined in the General Handbook book 2,and authorizes the Bishop to oversee the confirmation process. Given that the Bishop does not have a right to interview a new convert prior to confirmation and that the Mission President has to interview the new convert in the event there has been something in their life, then why would the Bishop be the presiding authority. I agree if the Stake President or a General Authority is present they would preside, but why wouldn't the Mission President preside when there is a Bishop present. I initially thought it was because the Bishop held the keys to the Aaronic Priesthood, but that doesn't seem right because the Mission President holds the keys to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which includes the keys to the Aaronic Priesthood along with the keys to conversion and confirmation.

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Thanks all for this discussion. What is interesting is that the Mission President holds the keys to the Melchizedek Priesthood, similiar to the Stake President, however in a Stake he does not exercise those keys. He does however hold the keys to Confirmition into the Church as defined in the General Handbook book 2,and authorizes the Bishop to oversee the confirmation process. Given that the Bishop does not have a right to interview a new convert prior to confirmation and that the Mission President has to interview the new convert in the event there has been something in their life, then why would the Bishop be the presiding authority. I agree if the Stake President or a General Authority is present they would preside, but why wouldn't the Mission President preside when there is a Bishop present. I initially thought it was because the Bishop held the keys to the Aaronic Priesthood, but that doesn't seem right because the Mission President holds the keys to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which includes the keys to the Aaronic Priesthood along with the keys to conversion and confirmation.

A stake president may hold the keys to the exercise of the Melchizedek Priesthood in his stake, but when he crosses the street into another stake, he is JAMPH (just another Melchizedek Priesthood holder). Similarly, within his assigned duties, a mission president holds the keys of the Priesthood, but outside of those duties, he is JAMPH.

It appears that the ordinance of baptism in a stake is a function of the local congregation who accept the new member into their ranks. Thus, it is the bishop who presides, and not the mission president, who at that point is JAMPH.

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I agree completely, however if the Baptism of the new convert is the responsibility of the Ward, then why doesn't the Bishop interview th enew convert, just like he does for a child of record and then why does Handbook 2 state that confirmation is under the Mission Presidents direction? That is what is so odd and to me doesn't follow the logic of other lines of authority within the Church.

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This is a fair question. The only answer I have is from the handbook, but I admit up front that this begs the question.

Services That Involve Only One Ward

[...]

For Converts. If possible, a member of the bishopric attends each convert baptismal service. When the services involve only one ward, he presides unless a member of the stake presidency attends.

[...]

Services That Involve More Than One Ward

[...]

For Converts. A member of the stake presidency usually presides over baptismal services for converts when the services involve more than one ward. However, the stake presidency may authorize a high councilor to preside. A member of the bishopric from each of the wards involved should attend.

The stake presidency may assign a high councilor or a bishop to oversee planning of the services and to conduct them.

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When would a service involve more than 1 ward? Wouldn't the convert only be a member of 1 ward? What services are we talking about?

When I was baptized, missionaries from other wards were there, but the only 'official' who spoke was the bishop of my ward.

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dahlia, in the areas where there are larger numbers of Mormons (like Utah), they will have stake days for baptisms. Since most children get baptized at age 8, they will hold baptisms on a specified day to have all the kids get baptized. So, it's possible in those areas that kids from multiple wards, in the same stake, would get baptized in one meeting for the whole stake.

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Technically the mission president would have been the presiding authority. However, I'm sure he wasn't too big on making any corrections on something so minor. Right after the baptism, the bishop becomes the presiding authority, after all.

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The Mission President sat their quietly and said nothing which you would expect from a good leader. What I am being told is that the Mission President defers his keys to the authorized priesthood holder at the meeting which was the Bishop. This is strange to me as the Handbook in section 5.1.6 clearly defines that the Mission President holds the keys to Baptism and confirmation. I can appreciate that the Bishop is the authorized key holder for his ward, but does theat usurpt the keys the Mission President holds? I guess a part of the fundemental question is: Are convert baptisms a ward or stake event or are they technicaly a Mission event? If they are a ward event then I can possibly see the Bishop being an authorized key holder, but if convert baptisms are a mission event, which I think makes logical sense to me, since a person getting baptized is not being baptized into the ward but rather into the Church and it is not until after confirmation is the convert welcomed into the ward, then under that assumption the Mission President should preside

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Technically the mission president would have been the presiding authority. However, I'm sure he wasn't too big on making any corrections on something so minor. Right after the baptism, the bishop becomes the presiding authority, after all.

According to the handbook excerpt cited in my previous post, the bishop or stake president member officiates at convert baptisms.

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Vort, Thanks! While the handbook does say that, it is almost in the sense that there is not another presiding authority in attendance. If a General Authority were in attendance it wouldn't be the Bishop or the Stake President ,or for that matter a Mision President that would presiding rather it would be the General Authority, so I don't know if that technically answers the question.

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My understanding is that missions (including missionaries and mission presidents) are extensions of the Quorums of the Seventy. Stakes, however, are extensions of the Quorum of the Twelve.

In areas where there are is no stake, the mission president presides. However, that presiding authority is removed when a stake is formed and a stake president is established.

What's more, a bishop can do a great deal to prevent a baptism from taking place if he so chooses. He can't disallow the baptism altogether, but he can refuse to allow any member of the ward to conduct the baptism; he can refuse to allow the missionaries to use the building; and he can refuse to authorize any member to perform the confirmation (including the missionaries).

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This is a beautiful example of the extraordinary seamlessness of the priesthood. When a convert joins the Church, as was already mentioned, he moves into the jurisdiction of the key-holders in the stake/ward.

I served my mission in an area that had no stakes or wards, just branches under the mission's jurisdiction. Our mission president presided over the missionaries AND the members in the mission. Interestingly, a mission president in a mission signs all three blanks on his own temple recommend. That's an interesting situation!

Another interesting "transfer of power" I saw occurred when they moved a singles branch in our area from one stake to another. I was in a bishopric at the time and I received the call to be in the singles branch presidency with two other high priests. We were instructed to meet at a chapel in the other stake. The area authority president was there and both stake presidencies. The outgoing presidency from the branch was also there for the meeting. The area president presided. The stake president of the first stake released the branch presidency. The unit was then reassigned by the keys of the area authority to the second stake. The stake president of the receiving stake organized the unit and then called us to the presidency of the new branch.

As soon as the "Amen" of the closing prayer was said, the new presidency swooped off the stand and pulled people into classrooms to interview and extend callings. The receiving stake presidency called an elders' quorum president, clerk, and executive secretary (which were stake callings). The branch president set apart the Relief Society and Sunday School presidents. We counselors took care of setting apart counselors, teachers, and various committee members.

It was an education on how to set up a church unit from scratch in a day!

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So the mission president holds the key to convert baptisms in the sense of approving all convert baptisms. 

But the baptism service held in the ward is under the presiding authority of the geographical key holder. As is typical in the church the key holder is the stake president who  sanctions bishops in his absence to be the acting presiding high priest/Melchizedek priesthood in their respective areas. Hence when a stake president shows up in an area he automatically becomes the presiding authority. 

The mission president is presides of the missionaries and their work and therefore presided over convert baptisms as in people but the Stake President and Bishop by proxy in stake President absence presided over the meetings in that area including baptism services.

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Guest MormonGator
1 hour ago, zil said:

 

On MormonHub, the presiding authority is @pam!

And may God have mercy on all of us! 

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