Do you want to chat with a missionary?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Start a chat or call us at 1-888-537-6600.


How is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized?



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized by geographic areas as well as by the people it teaches and serves. The Church has more than 30,000 congregations worldwide; all of these congregations operate under the same leadership model. And as the restored Church of Jesus Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the same basic organizational pattern that was found in Jesus Christ’s Church during His ministry.


  • General Church Leadership

As the name suggests, Jesus is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under Christ’s direction and authority, a prophet and two counselors (known as the First Presidency), the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and General Auxiliary Presidencies for women, young people, and children organize to share the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

  • Area Leadership

The First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and General Presidencies provide global direction from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Similar to what Peter, James, John, and other Apostles did in New Testament times, they organize groups of Seventy to teach and provide leadership in the various geographic areas around the world.

  • Local Church Organization and Leadership

In local communities, congregations are divided into stakes, a term that comes from Isaiah’s prophetic imagery of the Lord’s latter-day Church. He described the gospel being spread throughout the earth like a tent secured by stakes (see Isaiah 54:2). Stakes consist of five to twelve congregations called branches (consisting of smaller congregations) and wards (consisting of larger congregations) in a defined geographic area.

Each stake, ward, and branch has its own priesthood, Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Sunday School, and Primary leaders. These leaders are members of the local congregation; like the General (worldwide) leaders, they receive no pay for their ministry and service. The leaders within the different organizations in the Church teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, making it applicable to individual situations and stages of life. 


  • The Priesthood Organization

The priesthood is the power and authority of God on earth; it exists to redeem and bless all of God’s children. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all worthy men may receive priesthood authority.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are priesthood offices held at a global level. They direct a quorum of Seventy to administer the affairs of the Church in various geographic regions. In local stakes, wards, and branches, priesthood roles include high priests, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons.

  • High priests are responsible to oversee much of the work of the Church. They often serve as leaders of their local congregation. Stake presidents, high councilors, bishops, branch presidents and bishopric counselors (in most cases), and mission presidents are ordained as high priests.
  • Elders have the authority to perform important ordinances such as baptism and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost. They help watch over people in their ward and stake. The young men you see serving as Church missionaries are elders.
  • Priests perform the ordinances of the sacrament (similar to the Communion) during Sunday worship services and assist other Church leaders in their responsibilities. They may also baptize. A priest may be as young as 16 years old.
  • Teachers and deacons are often very young men (ages 14–15 and 12–13, respectively) who help prepare the sacrament. They also assist other priesthood holders as they serve people in their local congregations and prepare for future priesthood responsibilities.


  • The Relief Society

The Relief Society is the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It’s also one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world.

The purpose of the Relief Society is to help women increase their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; strengthen individuals, families, and homes through gospel ordinances and covenants; and work in unity to help those in need.

  • The Young Women

To support young people and help them find answers and direction in their lives, the Church has organizations specifically for youth. The Young Women program helps girls ages 12 to 18 gain knowledge and a testimony of Jesus Christ. Through weekly activities, Sunday lessons, and their own leadership opportunities, these young women gain knowledge and skills to help them contribute both as members of society and in the Church.

  • The Young Men

Similar to the Young Women program, the Young Men organization is for boys ages 12 to 18. Young men in the Church also participate in Sunday lessons, weekly group activities, and leadership opportunities. Many of these leadership positions are held within the priesthood organization.

  • The Primary

Even children have a specific organization in the Church where they can learn and serve. Primary leaders teach children ages 18 months to 11 years old about Jesus and His gospel and that they are each one of God’s children. The Primary holds its own Sunday meetings as well as group weekday activities for fun and for service.

  • Sunday School

Sunday School provides age-specific gospel instruction for Church members. Classes are grouped by age for children and teens; they are typically grouped by subject of study for adults. Sunday School teachers and leaders, like those of other church organizations, are members of the local congregation.

Related Articles