Counselor 

Summary

An assistant appointed next to the presiding authority in an organization in the church.1 Assistants, or counselors, were first appointed to assist the bishop.2 They were expected to “understand the laws of the kingdom” in order to assist “in all things pertaining to” the bishop’s office.3 In November 1831, a revelation directed the president of the high priesthood to call twelve high priests as needed to be temporary counselors to hear the “most important business of the church, & the most difficult cases.”4 Later, a standing group of twelve high priests was formally organized as the Kirtland high council, with its members referred to as counselors.5 After JS’s ordination as president of the high priesthood in January 1832, he chose and ordained Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon as permanent “counselors of the ministry of the presidency of the high Priesthood.”6 These counselors were to assist JS in presiding “over all the Concerns of the church.”7 By 1836, presidents over priesthood quorums and other organizations, such as stakes, also had counselors.8 Sometimes the term assistant president, rather than counselor, was applied to those serving in the presidency with JS.9 Counselors in presidencies were sometimes referred to as presidents.10 In March 1842, the Nauvoo Female Relief Society presidency, following the same pattern as other presidencies, was organized with Emma Smith as president and Sarah Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as her chosen counselors.11 See also “Bishopric,” “Presidency,” and “Presidency of the high priesthood.”