JOLYN - I've written to you before and I found your advice to be very helpful. I have another question for you. Last Sunday I was given an assignment to speak in church in a few weeks. I accepted the assignment and then the member of the bishopbric said that what's important is that a priesthood holder speaks last. Is this true? I realize that if there is a visiting authority that they should speak last but is that written anywhere that a priesthood holder should be the last speaker?
What about a visiting stake RS president, would she be recognized as an authority in any case whatsoever? Would she also be followed by a priesthood holder, even if he wasn't an "authority" priesthood holder?

JOEL - It is out of respect for a person's position of leadership that we let a visiting authority have the last say in a meeting (be they man or woman).

In regards to the priesthood holder speaking last in Sacrament meeting, I have heard some say that in the earlier days of the Church there was the attitude that a priesthood holder should speak last so he could "correct" any false doctrines spoken of by the previous speakers. But today there really is no strict Church policy about this; no directives in the Church Handbook. It is done more out of tradition and a recognition of the patriarchal order within the Church. And then there is of course the "ladies first" courtesy.
A lot of this is up to the Bishops. Some (like your Bishop) strictly follow this tradition, others don't. There have been times when both my wife and I have spoken and I have asked the Bishop to let her speak last, either because I knew that her talk was going to be better than mine, or because it was just more logical according to the subject each of us were going to talk about. If she was talking about forgiveness and I about repentence, it makes more sense for her to speak last.

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