Requesting Priesthood Lines of Authority

jesus-ordains-apostles1In the course of an interesting email exchange today, I learned that a good friend and I had had similar experiences in trying to track down our priesthood lines of authority. After being ordained Elders, we both asked our fathers if they had copies of their lines of authority, both said they thought they did somewhere, but both ultimately could never come up with them.

My friend then approached his uncle, figuring that he might have the same line as my friend’s father, but without success. Fast forward ten years. His uncle randomly found his line of authority and remembered my friend asking for it. They were both surprised to learn though that the uncle had been ordained an Elder by his Bishop, not by his father as is the current custom. Unfortunately this Bishop was not Bishop when my friend’s father would have been ordained, so my friend was still no closer to tracking down his own line of authority.

Or at least it initially appeared. At the bottom of his uncle’s line of authority, however, was a phone number and extension at the Church office building. After braving a series of automated messages, my friend was given an email address and a set of instructions for requesting his line of authority. He received a copy of his line of authority the next day.

If you (like me) have never managed to get a hold of a copy of your line of authority, here’s how you do it.  Email lineofauthority (at) ldschurch (dot) org with the subjection line “Request [your name]” and include the following information in the text of the email:

Requester Information

Your Name:
Street Address:
Postal Code:

Who Priesthood Line of Authority is Being Requested For

Full Name (on Church Records):
Birth Date:
Membership Record Number (if Known):
Relationship to Requester:

As I was preparing to post this, it was pointed out to me that Ardis Parshall had a great post on the subject a few years back. I figured it was still worth revisiting the topic, however, as many (like myself) may have missed her write-up.

19 comments for “Requesting Priesthood Lines of Authority

  1. April 30, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Just sent off my request! Thank you. I had never received my line after being ordained an elder. I don’t believe my father has his at the hip, so to speak. Looking forward to an understanding of my past and connections.

  2. Derek
    May 1, 2010 at 12:20 am

    “Request [your name]”

    Are you sure it isn’t “Request [who priesthood line of authority is being requested for]”?

  3. Mark D.
    May 1, 2010 at 12:28 am

    For a while, the Church wasn’t tracking who ordained whom in the membership information systems. Then a few years back they decided this was theologically important information to keep track of. I am not sure how (or if) they filled in the gaps on those priesthood ordinations that were recorded in the interim.

    I don’t think the Church keeps track of more than one ordination. That could raise interesting temporal issues when determining a line of authority if the ordainer was ordained to a higher office after the ordination was originally performed. Or perhaps priesthood lines of authority are a temporal, i.e. migrate to the most recent ordination of the ordainer / conferrer.

    Speaking of which, should a priesthood line of authority be traced according to the conferral lines, or the ordination lines. Because in the case of ordinations of ordainers to higher offices, even those temporally preceding the subsequent ordination / conferral of the recipient, that line would be different than if the line followed who originally conferred the priesthood on whom. The case of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, for example. If the ordination line is followed, I believe Oliver Cowdery appears in between Joseph Smith and Peter, James, and John. But if the conferral line is followed, he does not.

    Does anyone familiar with the more recent systems know which one the Church tracks, conferral or most recent ordination, and conferrer or most recent ordainer to higher office (within the same priesthood)?

  4. Cameron Nielsen
    May 1, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I’m not sure about the details, but this reminds me that I need to find mine. i have no clue where it is.

  5. May 1, 2010 at 6:48 am

    My line of authority was stolen with my tracting bag whilst on my mission. I’d given up all hope of ever getting it back. Thank you posting this information.

  6. el oso
    May 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

    My new line of authority includes Gordon B. Hinckley, but he was a High Priest at the time and the line of authority shows this.

  7. queuno
    May 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I don’t think the Church keeps track of more than one ordination. That could raise interesting temporal issues when determining a line of authority if the ordainer was ordained to a higher office after the ordination was originally performed. Or perhaps priesthood lines of authority are a temporal, i.e. migrate to the most recent ordination of the ordainer / conferrer.

    Actually, they do. If you are a high priest, SLC will send you your line of authority for being ordained and elder and for being a high priest.

    A man’s membership record shows *all* MP ordinations (ask your clerk for a copy of your IOS record; you’re entitled to it).

  8. May 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I wasn’t aware this was possible, but am glad to know it is.

    I have copies of mine printed on a card (because when I was ordained a HP, a friend who worked as a printer made about 1,000 copies for me…I should be good forever!)

    My mother, about 15 years ago, did a cross-stitch version of my line of authority that hangs on my bedroom wall. She also did one for my dad and for my brother…a painstaking gift of love and remembrance.

  9. May 2, 2010 at 1:39 am

    That’s so cool!

  10. Mark D.
    May 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    If you are a high priest, SLC will send you your line of authority for being ordained and elder and for being a high priest.

    That is good to know. The next question is what rules they use to trace these respective lines. i.e. does the “high priest” line follow the line of ordinations to high priest as far back as they will go, and more particularly does the “elder” line follow the line of ordinations to elder (which would be equivalent to a conferral line)?

    Because if the latter convention is not followed, one could have an arbitrary number of lines of authority, some following when the person in the line had the Melchizedek priesthood conferred upon him, and some following some ordination to higher office, and any arbitrary combination thereof. A pure conferral line, or a pure ordination to high priest line, on the other hand, are unambiguous.

  11. Researcher
    May 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I imagine my husband could answer this question, but I’ll ask it anyway since I don’t tend to know some of the details about such things. Is having a Priesthood Line of Authority something just for Elders and High Priests? Or is it also kept for the Aaronic Priesthood?

  12. deb
    May 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Several of us made a nice Father’s Day gift of these last year. Ordered them, absconded with the mail first (they are mailed direstly to the guy whose line it is), then retyped the lines on nice paper. In a dollar store wooden frame under vellum with a postcard-sized image of the Savior, it was a pretty nice gift. I can’t say the men actually hung them up…but they were pretty!

  13. Jared
    May 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Remember, your Membership Record Number is on your Temple Recommend!

  14. Bryan J
    May 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    @Tod: I’d be interested to know how soon you receive your request, just for curiosity’s sake.

  15. Cameron Steinbusch
    May 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I submitted my request last friday and it just came today so 5 days and it was a three page thing with one page being the record of ordination. It was very nice!

  16. Craig M.
    May 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I also got mine after requesting it when this was posted. I suppose they got the request on Monday. To elaborate on what Cameron said, the three pages were (1) a short letter saying what was enclosed, (2) the line of authority with names, dates of birth, dates of ordination, and office, and (3) “Information Concerning Priesthood Line of Authority,” which tells general information on what records the church keeps (don’t keep Aaronic Priesthood lines or those for office of seventy — just elder and high priest; bishops and patriarch lines follow through their ordination as high priests; if your line is incomplete your priesthood is still valid). The church (Member Services) really did a great job on this.

    I wrote in because I realized after reading the post that the line I had was mistaken – it followed the setting apart of an Assistant to the Twelve rather than his high priest ordination. My new line has this corrected. Thanks for the info!

  17. Taylor
    May 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Wow. Nicely formatted PDF back from “Member and Statistical Records” in **seventeen minutes**. Most impressive.

    Regarding the method of determining the line, the statement at the bottom of the second page (as described by Craig M. above) states:

    “Priesthood lines of authority are determined by the Melchizedek Priesthood office (elder, seventy, high priest, or apostle) the officiator held at the time he performed the ordination.”

    Based on this statement and the date next to my father’s name, they’re using the date of his ordination as a High Priest (as opposed to Elder.) Two more steps back, and we’re in “Apostle” territory where, again, (with a little big of Googling to confirm) the dates reflect the ordination of each individual as an Apostle, rather than the date on which they had the Melchizedek priesthood conferred upon them.


  18. Hans in California
    May 6, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I received my information yesterday. Mine was 4 pages long because it included the line when I was ordained an Elder and the other line when I was ordained a High Priest. My father performed both ordinances but he was an Elder when I was made an Elder, and he was a High Priest when I was made a High Priest.

  19. Bear
    May 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I e-mailed last night around 10:30 and it was in my inbox before 6:30 this morning! I’m embarrassed to say that in my years in the church, I’d never heard anything about this. Perhaps due to an inactive father and my choosing to serve in the military instead of on a mission? Guess I had enough loopholes that no one ever had cause to mention it before. Thanks for the info. Definitely cool to have.

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