Roles of a Bishop

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Father of the Ward

Mormon Bishop Interview
Bishops in the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are the ward (congregation) leaders. The leaders of the Church, including bishops, are lay ministers, or men who are not paid for the service that they render. A bishop has many responsibilities. He is sometimes referred to as the “father of the ward” because he is responsible for seeing that the needs of the individuals in his ward, both temporal and spiritual, are met. Two other men, the first and second counselors, are called to assist the bishop in his duties. The duties of a bishop are numerous and varied but may be broken down into five areas of responsibility; President of the Aaronic Priesthood, Presiding High Priest, Judge in Israel, Coordinating the Work of Salvation and Exaltation, and Records, Finances, and the Meetinghouse.

President of the Aaronic Priesthood

This is probably the foremost responsibility of the bishop. He is the president of the priests quorum. His first counselor has responsibility for the teachers quorum and his second counselor has responsibility for the deacons quorum. The bishop, assisted by his counselors, supports parents in teaching youth. He helps youth serve faithfully, make and keep sacred covenants, and prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple. He helps young men prepare to be ordained to priesthood offices and to serve full-time missions. If young women desire to serve full-time missions, he helps them prepare. He oversees the Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes. He also meets regularly with each youth.[1]

Presiding High Priest

In this capacity the bishop is given the keys to spiritually lead his ward. He is the ward’s primary spiritual leader. His authority remains within the bounds of his ward. He has no presiding authority over any other part of the Church. He teaches, uplifts, and inspires. He is a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. The bishop provides guidance and counsel to other leaders in the ward. He encourages them in their responsibilities.

The bishop has responsibility for the ward Relief Society and Young Women organizations. He guides the ministering efforts of the Relief Society and the elders quorum.

He directs the administration of the sacrament, naming and blessing of children, baptisms and confirmations of eight-year-old children, and ordination of deacons, teachers, and priests.

He leads the ward council and ward youth council. He plans sacrament meetings and presides over ward meetings unless a member of the stake presidency, an Area Seventy in his area, or a General Authority attends. He is responsible for callings and releases in the ward.

Judge In Israel

The bishop is the common judge in the ward. In Doctrine and Covenants 107:73-74 it says,

This is the duty of a bishop who is not a literal descendant of Aaron, but has been ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a stake of Zion, or in any branch of the church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry, until the borders of Zion are enlarged and it becomes necessary to have other bishops or judges in Zion or elsewhere.

He helps youth and adults qualify for and be worthy of a temple recommend. He conducts interviews and meets with ward members who seek spiritual guidance, who have weighty personal problems, or who have committed serious sins, helping them draw on the healing power of Jesus Christ.

Coordinating the Work of Salvation and Exaltation

The bishop coordinates the work of salvation and exaltation in the ward.

The bishop helps members live the gospel. He helps them strengthen their faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:29).

In addition, he helps men prepare to be ordained to priesthood offices, helps members prepare to receive a temple recommend and temple ordinances, and guides the elders quorum and Relief Society in their responsibilities.

The bishop has a divine mandate to seek out and care for those with temporal needs (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:112). He delegates much of this work to the Relief Society and elders quorum presidencies.

Record Keeping

The bishop oversees ward records, ward finances, and the meetinghouse. He may assign much of the work with records and finances to his counselors and clerks. Doctrine and Covenants 107:68 reads, “For the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things.” In this area, the bishop is responsible for the ward's finances and records. He receives members tithes and offerings, and coordinates the ward's budget. (See also Doctrine & Covenants 85:1)