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Ecclesiastical Leader Resources and General Information

  • The student ecclesiastical endorsement has historically emphasized the CES Honor Code and dress and grooming policies. This change better aligns the topics addressed by Church leaders in their interviews with their core ecclesiastical responsibilities. Thus, as an ecclesiastical interview, it will focus on a student’s efforts to grow spiritually and meet ecclesiastical expectations, which is an important part of accomplishing the religious mission of CES institutions. The administration of internal university policies, including the Honor Code and Dress and Grooming, will now more fully reside with the CES institutions.

  • There is a difference in the standard of worthiness to receive saving ordinances in the House of the Lord and being eligible to attend a CES institution as a student. The questions for temple recommend interviews and ecclesiastical endorsements are appropriate for their different purposes.

  • CES recognizes that students are striving to deepen their faith and testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Recognizing that we sometimes fall short of perfectly realizing these aspirations, and in order to encourage continued growth, students are invited to strive toward certain ideals while upholding foundational standards of conduct. As has happened prior to these changes, this allows ecclesiastical leaders to work with students who are trying but may sometimes struggle. It does not mean Church leaders should ignore clear violations of ecclesiastical standards, but it does allow them room to counsel with and help individuals progress.

  • Please refer to the Church Handbook 31.2.2 for a designation on who is able to complete an ecclesiastical endorsement.

    Students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be endorsed only by the bishop of the ward (1) in which they live and (2) that holds their current Church membership record.

    Students who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be endorsed by (1) a Latter-day Saint bishop, or (2) the nondenominational BYU chaplain.

  • A student needs to have an active endorsement in order to apply to, continue enrollment at, and graduate from BYU. Endorsements are active for one year

    Level 1 Endorsements – Bishop Only

    • Continuing students, which is any student that has been enrolled at BYU within the last academic year. These students should initiate their endorsement as a Continuing Student when they are registering for new classes or applying for graduation.

    Level 2 Endorsements – Bishop and Stake Presidency

    • Newly applying students (this includes new freshmen, transfer students, and students applying to a BYU graduate school program)
    • Students who have attended BYU in the past, but not within the past academic year. These students should initiate their endorsement as an Applicant if they are returning to the university or applying for graduation.
    • Students who are on Mission Deferment. Once a Mission Deferment is placed on a student’s account, the student needs to complete the Level 2 endorsement, regardless of the amount of time that has transpired since the deferment was placed. Mission Presidents have the ability to complete the endorsement for both the Bishop and Stake Presidency levels.
  • Ecclesiastical leaders are NOT permitted to reveal confessional conversations to the HCO unless the student has voluntarily signed a privacy waiver. A bishop does not share any information with the HCO, and the HCO does not share any information with a bishop or other ecclesiastical leader without a student’s prior written consent.

  • A student’s actions may violate both the Honor Code and standards established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, although the student’s actions may be the same, the HCO and ecclesiastical leaders will address behaviors differently. The bishops’ process addresses repentance, sin, forgiveness and worthiness. The HCO’s process addresses principles, integrity, recommitment and good Honor Code standing. The HCO does not evaluate sins or determine worthiness and forgiveness. It certainly incorporates God, spirituality, and the Church into conversations it has with students, but it is not with the intent to help students seek forgiveness or become worthy. Rather, it is to help students reflect and evaluate their behavior within the framework of the Honor Code commitment that they have made as members of the BYU community.

  • The Church as provided the following guidance:

    At the ward or branch level, interviews should be conducted by bishops or branch presidents (See Handbook 15.3). In reviewing the ecclesiastical endorsement questions with students, priesthood leaders should not seek to minimize or excuse sin. New student candidates who are not living the requirements, are less active, or who have had formal membership restrictions or withdrawal, should not be endorsed until the issues have been fully resolved and the requirements met. When continuing students are repentant and willing to change, the seriousness of the violation should still be considered, but priesthood leaders have discretion as they consider the individual student’s attitude, commitment, and sincere repentance.

    Individuals who have resigned their Church membership are not eligible for an ecclesiastical endorsement.

    The decision to endorse or not endorse a student is completely determined by ecclesiastical leaders. Ecclesiastical leaders who are considering a decision to endorse or not endorse may reach out the Church’s endorsement office with questions. The HCO will not weigh in or give opinions on whether or not a student should be endorsed.

  • The ecclesiastical endorsement reflects a student’s current standing and can be withdrawn at any time. Questions regarding this process should be directed to the Church’s office that handles ecclesiastical endorsements.