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Administration of Ordinances

by Immo Luschin

Ordinances performed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are to "be done in order" (D&C 20:68) by one who is ordained. The common linguistic root of the words "ordinance," "order," and "ordain" implies fixed succession, privilege, right, and solemn responsibility.

The administration of all ordinances presupposes worthiness of the administrator and the recipient. Most are performed by the laying on of hands of one properly ordained. It must be "known to the church that he [the officiator] has authority" (D&C 42:11), which can be traced in a documented line to the source of all authority, Jesus Christ. All ordinances are performed in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, and in the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood or Melchizedek Priesthood. For some ordinances, such as baptism and administration of the Sacrament, the scriptures prescribe exact words. For others, such as administration to the sick, the pronouncement of the recipient's name and a statement of the authority of the officiator are followed by a spontaneous blessing as inspiration directs.

Ordinances that are essential to salvation must be performed under the direction of those who hold the keys to assign the administration (see Heb. 5:4; cf. D&C 132:7). The validity of ordinances performed, and their divine ratification or sealing, require this approval.

In harmony with biblical precedent and latter-day commandment, all saving and exalting ordinances, from baptism to temple marriage, are performed in the presence of witnesses, and a proper and faithful record is made and kept in the archives of the Church (2 Cor. 13:1; cf. D&C 128:2-5). Thus, ordinances become "a law on earth and in heaven" and, unless the covenants are violated, they cannot be annulled, "according to the decrees of the great Jehovah" (D&C 128:6-10).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page; Priesthood Ordinances home page)


Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook. Salt Lake City, 1989.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Ordinances, Administration of

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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