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KEN - Why was the office of Presiding Patriarch discontinued?
JOEL - In the history of the LDS Church, there have been eight Presiding Patriarchs, three Acting Presiding Patriarchs (not direct descendants of Joseph Smith Sr), and one Patriarch Emeritus (Eldred G. Smith). The Presiding Patriarch sometimes appointed local patriarchs in the stakes of the church and presided over them as a loose "Quorum of Patriarchs." During the early days of the Church, the main duty of the Church Patriarch was to give patriarchal blessings to those members who did not have convenient access to a stake patriarch. In 1979 the office of Church Patriarch was "retired" because the church had grown large enough to have stake patriarchs available to most all members.
At this time, Eldred G. Smith was placed on emeritus status and no longer held the position of "Presiding" Patriarch. However, he was still an ordained patriarch and could therefore continue to give blessings when asked to do so just like any other stake patriarch.
Adjustments can be and have on other occasions been made in the organization of the Church to accommodate its rapid growth without changing any of the gospel, doctrine or ordinances that are necessary for our salvation.
For example, in 1989 the stake Seventies quorums were discontinued because the full-time missionary force had grown to such great numbers that the local Seventies quorums were no longer needed for the missionary effort.
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