All are called in Community of Christ to engage in the mission of Christ. Some are called by God to priesthood, in specific offices or roles, each of which represents a different part of Jesus’ ministry.
Priesthood is a sacred covenant with God and the church. Priesthood members are dedicated to creating sacred communities that prepare, equip, and send disciples in Christ’s mission.
In Community of Christ, we recognize the office of Member or Disciple as having duties and responsibilities essential to the mission of the church. In addition, we have two orders of priesthood, Aaronic and Melchisedec.
- High Priest
The Melchisedec priesthood may best be understood as being composed of two primary offices—elder and high priest. Some elders are also called to the specialized office of seventy. Some high priests are also called to the specialized offices of evangelist, bishop, apostle, and president.
Church Structure: Local, Mission, and World Church
World Church: At the general level known as the World Church, Community of Christ is led by the First Presidency. The general or World Church is divided into large geographic areas known as Fields, overseen by the Apostles.
Mission: Each field includes several Mission Centers. Like a combined stake and mission, and having several congregations, Mission Centers are presided over by a Mission Center President.
Local: Churches are known as congregations. They are presided over by pastors who are usually elders, and usually assisted by two counselors. Bishops do not preside over congregations, but are typically assigned to Mission Centers or Fields. Bishops mentor the Aaronic priesthood, encourage the church to give generously especially in response to poverty, and oversee the finances of the church.
World Church Leadership
Community of Christ is led by a Prophet. Currently, President Stephen M. Veazey serves as Prophet-President of the Church. In the First Presidency, he is assisted by two counselors, Becky Savage and Scott Murphy. The First Presidency presides over the Melchisedec priesthood and World Church.
Members of the Council of Twelve Apostles are high priests called and ordained to be special witnesses of Christ’s peace. The Twelve oversee the missionary work of the church. Assigned by the First Presidency, they carry major responsibility for church expansion, and serve as supervisors over field jurisdictions, assisted by the Presidents of Seventy.
The Seventy are specifically charged with carrying out missionary work for the church, working closely with and under the direction of the Apostles and Presidents of Seventy. There are ten Presidents of Seventy, one for each quorum, or group of missionaries. Each quorum has a specific geographical emphasis. Seventy are ministers specifically focused on inviting and witnessing to people seeking to commit their lives to Christ. The priesthood office and its function are modeled after the tenth chapter of Luke in the New Testament: “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1 NRSV).
The Presiding Evangelist (formerly “Presiding Patriarch”) serves as a spiritual companion, counselor and guide to the church and its leaders. He or she also guides the Order of Evangelists, made up of the several Evangelists throughout the church. Evangelists are High Priests ordained to give special blessings which offer guidance and peace. These blessings, mirroring the calling of the Evangelist in general, testify of Christ and affirm and invite the influence of the Holy Spirit. Any interested and spiritually-prepared person may receive an Evangelist's Blessing on multiple occasions throughout their life. Evangelists also give blessings to congregations, families, and other groups of people engaged in the mission of Christ.
The Presiding Bishopric consists of the Presiding Bishop and two counselors. They preside over the Aaronic priesthood, and all other bishops in the church known as the Order of Bishops. Together they are responsible for looking after the finances and properties of the church. They are advocates of economic justice for all and teach the principles of stewardship and generosity.