Stake (Mormonism)

From Academic Kids

In Mormonism, a Stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregrations. A stake is comparable to a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church. The name "stake" derives from the phrase "stake in the tent of Zion" and is a reference to the stakes that upheld the Biblical tabernacle housing the Ark of the Covenant.

A stake is led by a Stake President, assisted by two counselors in a Stake Presidency. In addition to a stake presidency, each stake also has a body of twelve members called a Stake High Council. The stake presidency and high council are priesthood positions that handle the administrative and judicial business of the Stake.


History of Stakes

The first Latter Day Saint stake was organized at church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio, on February 17, 1834, with Joseph Smith, Jr. as stake president. The second stake was organized in Clay County, Missouri later that year on July 3, with David Whitmer as stake president. The Missouri stake was relocated to Far West, Missouri in 1836 and the Kirtland Stake dissolved in 1838. A stake was organized at Adam-ondi-Ahman in 1838 and abandoned later that year due to the events of the Mormon War. In 1839, the church's central stake was established at Nauvoo, Illinois and William Marks became stake president.

Stakes in Latter Day Saint Denominations

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stakes are composed of a number of congregations, known as wards or branches. A stake must be composed of at least three wards, and up to a total of sixteen congregations. Most stakes are composed of five to eight wards, but larger stakes often exist in areas where there are too few active Melchizedek Priesthood holders to fill leadership positions within the boundaries of a proposed new stake. (Within the United States, such a situation is very common in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, rare on the West Coast, and virtually unheard-of in the Intermountain West.) The geographical area encompassed by a stake varies between countries and regions based on membership density. In densely Latter-day Saint Utah, a stake might be a few square miles in area. A stake in the eastern United States might take up thousands of square miles to comprise a sufficient number of members.

In an area where there are insufficient congregations to form a stake, a district (analogous to a stake, but smaller) is formed to oversee the congregations. The leading priesthood leader in a district is called the District President. The district president may or may not have counselors, depending on the number of active members in the district.

Community of Christ

The Community of Christ (previously the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) eliminated the designation of "Stake" as an administrative unit. The church is now organized into "Mission Centers."


Historically, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) maintained stakes in Voree, Wisconsin, Kirtland, Ohio, and on Beaver Island, Michigan, but today the church has only the single stake in Voree.


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