In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventy is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Members of the Quorums of the Seventy serve in one of eight quorums. Each quorum may have up to 70 members. As especial witnesses of [Jesus Christ] in all the world, they are called to proclaim the gospel and build up the Church. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that the office of seventy was anciently conferred upon the seventy disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1-2.
In the early days of the restored church, General Authorities were called to be Seventies who had no leadership experience in bishoprics, high councils, or stake presidencies, since high priests had to fill those offices. Some were mission presidents and district presidents, which are callings that can be held by elders. Seventies who never were high priests could not ordain stake presidents or other high priests. Brigham Young was aware of this problem and tried to change it before he died. There is evidence John Taylor did also.
Seventies in the early days of the restored church primarily presided over stake seventies quorums, which were in turn guided by stake seventy quorum presidents. They also accompanied apostles to stake conferences and trained and taught gospel principles.
In 1960 David O. McKay announced that members of the seventies quorum would be high priests. Someone asked if it were contrary to the order of the heaven for seventies to be high priests. Harold B. Lee said what was contrary to the order in heaven in 1840 may not be contrary in 1960. That change was made in order for them to ordain stake leaders and high priests.
Still, only men from stake seventies quorums were called to the seventy and occasionally elders were. In 1975 President Spencer W. Kimball announced the creation of the First Quorum of the Seventy with four additional members. Since 1941, Assistants to the Twelve, who aided the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were high priests. The next year President Kimball said Assistants to the Twelve would be members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, since their duties were very similar. In 1978 some were given emeritus status in order for more brethren to serve and for health reasons.
In 1984 several members of the Quorum of the Seventy were called for a period of years—usually 3 to 5—rather than for life. In 1989 a Second Quorum of the Seventy was created of those called for a period of years. They are presided over now by the Presidency of the Seventy whose membership rotates, as it is not a lifelong calling. In fact, many return to the first Quorum of the Seventy.
For many years Regional Representatives assisted General Authorities in training and conducting stake meetings. In 1995 they were released and replaced with Area Seventies. Two years later, President Hinckley named them "area authority seventies" and installed them in quorums based on geography. They still keep their employment, live at home, and serve for a period of up to five years.
The stake seventy's office between elder and high priest was discontinued by President Ezra Taft Benson in 1986.
Members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy are designated as General Authorities, meaning that they have the authority to serve anywhere in the world. Members of the Third through Eighth Quorums of the Seventy are designated as Area Seventies, meaning that their authority is limited to the area where they serve. Collectively, all members of the eight quorums are referred to simply as “Seventies.” Their work is directed by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presidency of the Seventy. Some are assigned to administrative duties at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, but a majority live within a specific geographic region of the Church. Like the Apostles, they often travel to different locations throughout the Church to visit and teach congregations.
The number of Quorums of Seventy can expand as needed, easing the work of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Increasing the numbers of quorums of seventy has created a seamless way to manage a quickly burgeoning church membership.
Length of Service
Members of the First Quorum of the Seventy are called to serve until the age of 70. At the age of 70, they are given emeritus status, which is similar to being released. However, there has been some flexibility, and many serve for a few years after their 70th birthdays. Many emeritus seventies also become temple presidents.
Members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy typically serve for three to five years and then they are released. They may, however, serve longer or be called into the First Quorum of the Seventy.