I recently listened to a discussion between a couple of LDS leaders in which there was a clear distinction drawn between "priesthood ordinances" and "temple ordinances". Baptism, at least, seemed to be of the former sort, but it wasn't clear what the other ordinances were or why there were two types.

What is the difference between these two types of ordinances and where did the distinction originate?

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    Matt is correct. Incidentally what discussion were you listening to? I may be able to expound a little more on the discussion as related to your question if I am able to listen to it.
    – Ryan
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Priesthood ordinances are any ordinances performed by the Priesthood authority. Temple ordinances are only those ordinances performed in the temples. All ordinances are performed by the authority of the Priesthood, though, so I think the phrase "priesthood ordinances" is just used for emphasis or clarity. Either that, or "priesthood ordinances" might also refer to those ordinances directly involving the priesthood, such as conferring it to another man or ordaining to a particular office.

In the general sense, temple ordinances are a subset of priesthood ordinances.

There are many ordinances in the LDS Church performed by this authority, here are a few:

  • Baptism
  • Laying on of hands to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost (known as "confirmation")
  • Laying on of hands to confer the priesthood
  • Temple ordinances, which includes, among several, endowments and sealings (eternal marriages)
  • The Sacrament (administered every Sunday in church)
  • Consecrating oil used for...
  • ...laying on of hands to bless the sick and afflicted
  • Giving blessings of comfort/counsel
  • Setting apart church members for their respective callings in the Church, including missionaries
  • Dedicating/consecrating buildings
  • Dedicating graves
  • Giving new babies in the church a name and a blessing (like a typical Christening in other churches)
  • Patriarchal blessings

This may naturally lead to the question, are there any ordinances performed not by the priesthood? No, not in the LDS Church. Maybe the word has different meanings elsewhere, but most commonly among the Latter-day Saints, it is a term referring directly to exercising the priesthood authority.

From lds.org:

"Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present."

—President Boyd K. Packer

Here is a more comprehensive summary of the most common ordinances in the LDS church.

  • Do blessings count as ordinances? I know it's a little knit-picky, but I thought they were separate categories. (Not that you should remove them from the answer, but maybe you should note the distinction, if I'm correct.) Mar 25, 2018 at 0:33
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    @PyRulez, The word "ordinance" is sometimes used in ways that are a bit blurry. You are correct that generally blessings (for any purpose) are not ordinances. However (for example), the "ordinance" of giving a baby a name and a blessing is officially identified as a blessing in Handbook 2:20.2 and identified as an ordinance (via Matt's link) in the Family Guidebook. Officially, we need to favor the Handbook, but you can see the problem. Blurry. Generally, an ordinance is something required for salvation, everything else is a blessing - but don't worry much about it.
    – JBH
    Jun 26, 2018 at 8:35

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