Laying on of hands 

Summary

A practice in which individuals place their hands upon a person to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost; ordain to an office or calling; or confer other power, authority, or blessings, often as part of an ordinance.1 The Book of Mormon explained that ecclesiastical authority was to be conferred through this practice.2 JS stated that on 15 May 1829, John the Baptist appeared to him and Oliver Cowdery to confer this authority upon them through the laying on of hands.3 The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed elders to confirm individuals as members of the church and give them the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.4 Members of the church could also have their children blessed “before the church” in this manner.5 Similarly, blessings of counsel, comfort, and healing were given by the laying on of hands.6 By 1842, some women were laying hands on the sick for healing.7 JS stated that it was “no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be healed by the administration.”8 Beginning in the 1840s, JS directed church members to perform vicarious confirmations through the laying on of hands on behalf of the deceased.9 See also “Confirmation” and “Ordain.”