Ordinances Are the Sacred Sealing of Covenants Made With God

Find Out How, When and by Whom Ordinances Are Performed

Instruction room in the Fiji Temple
Instruction room in the Suva Fiji Temple. Latter-day Saints learn about the creation of the world and God’s plan for His children. Photo courtesy of © 2016 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Definition: In the Church, an ordinance is a physical act received by LDS members which demonstrates their willingness to formally seal a sacred covenant with Heavenly Father. Ordinances are performed by priesthood authority. Ordinances include baptism, blessings of healing, as well as ordinances performed in the temple.

Pronounciation: ˈȯrd-nən(t)s

The guidance that follows assumes you know the following:

Ordinances, Level of Priesthood Authority and Instructions

Church policy and procedure for how to administer ordinances and blessings is contained in the Handbook of Instructions. There are two. Handbook 2 is online. Handbook 1 is only accessible to current leaders.

General guidance on how to administer ordinances and blessings begins in Chapter 20 of Handbook 2. There is additional guidance online:

Explanation of Table Detailing Ordinances and Blessings

The following table can help you understand the typical ordinances that are commonly done in the Church.

  • Name of the ordinance or blessing
  • Type of Ordinance: Saving (S) or Non-Saving (N)
  • Minimum priesthood level of authority necessary for performing this ordinance. All priesthood holders above this level can also perform this ordinance.
    1. Aaronic Priesthood (Levitical or lesser priesthood): Deacon, Teacher, Priest
    2. Melchizedek Priesthood (higher priesthood) : Elder, High Priest
    • Link to Handbook 2 guidance for performing this ordinance
    • Minimum number of priesthood holders necessary to perform this ordinance. Keep in mind that some ordinances should have more than one priesthood holder, like in administering to the sick. In others, like in naming and blessing children, the one priesthood holder can be assisted by several priesthood holders.
    • Whether the individual priesthood leader can perform this ordinance at his discretion: Yes or No. If the answer is no, then the priesthood holder must receive approval and authority from a specific church leader.
    Ordinance or BlessingTypePriesthoodHandbookMinimumDiscretion
    Name and Bless ChildrenNElder20.21+No
    BaptismSPriest20.31No
    ConfirmationSElder20.32No
    Sacrament: PassSDeacon20.41+No
    Sacrament: PrepareSTeacher20.41+No
    Sacrament: AdministerSPriest20.42No
    Consecrating OilSElder20.51Yes
    Anointing the SickNElder20.61, preferably 2+Yes
    Conferring the PriesthoodSPriest20.71+No
    Father's BlessingNElder20.81Yes
    Blessing of Comfort/CounselNElder20.81Yes
    Dedicate GraveNElder20.81No
    Set Apart Officers/TeachersNElder20.1019.41+No
    Dedicate HomesNElder20.111Yes
    Patriarchal BlessingNHigh Priest20.121No

    A priesthood holder has to already hold a particular level of priesthood authority before he can confer that priesthood authority on others. For example, only High Priests can confer the office of High Priest. Only High Priests and Elder can confer the Melchizedek priesthood on others.

    Temple Ordinances and Temple Blessings

    Temple ordinances include ordinances for the living and the dead. What goes on in the temple is sacred.

    The details are not shared. However, the following can be disclosed.

    The following ordinances and blessings are available for living persons:

    1. Initiatory
    2. Endowment
    3. Marriage/Sealing

    Once these ordinances and blessings are received by LDS members, they can return to the temple and receive these ordinances and blessing on behalf of deceased persons.

    The following ordinances and blessing are available for deceased persons:

    1. Baptism
    2. Confirmation
    3. Initiatory
    4. Endowment
    5. Sealing

    All of these ordinances and blessings are saving ordinances. This means they are all necessary for salvation. All temple ordinances and blessings are administered through the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood.

    Everyone who has lived on the earth, who is living on the earth or will yet live on the earth must receive these ordinances for themselves, either personally or vicariously.

    LDS members do not expect this goal to be achieved until the Millennium.