as long as im posting about church stuff

I might as well mention that LDS Church Administration handbook 2 (a new edition just came out yesterday I believe) is now online (thank you T&S).  The content can be boring or interesting, depending on who you are and what you care about, but regardless, I think it marks progress: a greater subset of policies are now accessible to everyone, or at least those with access to a computer.  This is especially important because we're a lay church.  It's also important that the document is online, which means that (though unlikely) the Church can evolve policies and distribute the evolutions more easily instead of waiting to print a new set of books.

Handbook 1 is online as well, but you have to have a bishop/stake pres login.  I think I see reasons for keeping access to handbook 1 restricted, but I'm still curious about it.

My father, a member who has been in involved in church administration since I can remember, said that compared to the previous edition (which was never public), the new handbook is a lot shorter and more focused on following the spirit, allowing individuals to more easily tailor programs to local needs.  I definitely support that direction.


Lucas Sanders said...

Okay, I've got a tangential and potentially obscure technical question: is the LDS church truly a lay church, or are all full members clergy?

ajb said...

The short answer is that I would say we're a lay church.

We claim no "dedicated clergy" and internally we judge the distinction in that our leadership is unpaid. We are organized under priesthood authority, though, which complicates the distinction.

All full members of the LDS church are ministers to some extent as they can all teach, preach, and perform ordinances. Women do not receive a formal priesthood but they can perform certain ordinances for other women in the temple. Legally, I think only Bishops and temple-workers can perform marriages.

Technically, one could argue that all priesthood holders are clergy, but that would only rub salt in the wound for progressive LDS members who think that women should receive the priesthood--it isn't worth it to emphasize the inequality.

In this matter, I think it all comes down to what a church declares itself to be. We're all members of a religious order in a way, but we're still considered laity, much like nuns. It's confusing, and I think that's partially why we use the term "saint" to distinguish that religious order.

Lucas Sanders said...

Okay, thanks. I agree that these things are mostly matters of self-definition. I vaguely knew about the LDS priesthood authority stuff but don't really know how it works out in practice, hence the question. And I have to say, that "dedicated clergy" phrase is still a bit odd, as it feels like it's trying to call the LDS arrangement both ways (not really clergy, but presumably the priesthood is still seen as a clerical authority... if there isn't another clear referent for the implied "non-dedicated clergy"). Anyway. The paid/unpaid distinction is certainly interesting; I hadn't thought of the labels through that lens before (partly because it doesn't always hold in other traditions).

In any event, moving past the terminology the idea of a lay church is not confusing at all. In fact, Episcopalians also believe that every member of the church is called to a ministry (by virtue of their baptism), even though we have a formally hierarchical ministerial authority structure.