Which Priesthood Line to Use

One of the most common questions we receive is regarding which priesthood line of authority should be used.

The answer is very simple:

Use the priesthood line of authority of the current priesthood office held.

This is obtained by using the priesthood line of the person who ordained you to office. Simply add your name, date of ordination, and the office to which you are ordained to the line given you.

While we definitely recommend recording all priesthood lines as part of your family history, men are instructed not use lines of authority from former offices they have held. Each new ordination replaces the previous one so that there is only one active line at a time.

Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Patriarchs will use their High Priest line of authority while members of the Quorum of the Twelve are ordained as Apostles and will use that line from then going forward.

Here is an example:

John was ordained an Elder by Mark in 1980.
John ordains Peter as an Elder in 1995. Peter uses Mark and John’s Elder line.

John was ordained a High Priest by Ben in 2000.
John ordains Greg as an Elder in 2005. Greg uses Ben and John’s High Priest line.

John ordains Peter as a High Priest in 2014. Peter now uses Ben and John’s High Priest line.
Allen ordains Greg as a High Priest in 2014. Greg now uses Allen’s High Priest line.

This information is documented in a previous General Handbook:

“I have a question about my personal priesthood line of authority. Should the line of authority change from when a person is ordained an Elder, when he receives the Melchizedek Priesthood,and change again when he ordained to the office of a High Priest by a different person? I have looked everywhere and there is no reference to it in any Church publications. My father ordained me to all of the offices of the priesthood. But he was ordained an Elder by his father, a Seventy by another person, and yet a High Priest by another. Which line of authority do I follow?” Your actual line of authority goes back through the person who last ordained you to whatever office you now hold. Here is a statement from the First Presidency:

“ If a priesthood bearer desires to trace his own line of authority, he should pursue his current office in the priesthood — not former offices. Bishops and patriarchs should trace their line of authority as high priests. In completing an authority line, each step should go back through the office held by the person at the time he performed the ordination. It is not appropriate to trace the line of authority in cases of setting apart or for other ordinances. ” (General Handbook Supplement, Number 1, July 1, 1976)

Contact us if you have any questions, or you may contact Church Membership as well.