Church auxiliaries are established under priesthood authority to support the Church and the family, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve.
He began by listing three fundamental doctrinal principles:
"First, both the Church and the eternal family are presided over by priesthood authority. . . .
"Second, the Church organization and the family organization support one another. . . .
"Third, the Latter-day Saint family and the Church both draw their nourishment and their direction from our Lord Jesus Christ."
Elder Oaks, currently serving as president of the Philippines Area, briefly reviewed the history of the organization of the auxiliaries and then stated that they operate under priesthood authority.
"This means that all who work in the auxiliary organizations must have hands placed upon their heads to give them the authority to lead and teach in the kingdom of God," he said. "It also means that the priesthood authorities who preside over the auxiliary organizations must direct and supervise their work. Stake presidents and bishops and branch presidents must not just turn the work of the auxiliaries over to auxiliary leaders and teachers to do whatever they choose to do."
To carry out this responsibility, Elder Oaks noted that the Church Handbook of Instructions directs priesthood leaders to meet regularly with auxiliary leaders.
"Brethren, the duty to meet regularly means more that meeting once a year," he emphasized.
He then stated, "If priesthood leaders do not meet with auxiliary leaders, or if priesthood leaders do not adequately direct and supervise auxiliary programs, the teachings or activities of the auxiliaries can depart from what the Lord has commanded. The same deviations can occur if auxiliary leaders are not faithful in following the direction of their priesthood leaders."
Elder Oaks cited several examples of such deviations. For one, he said, "Without firm and inspired priesthood direction, any Church organization (or activity) can be turned into a personal possession to fill the needs or gratify the pride or vain ambition (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:37) of its officers and teachers."
The worldwide Church includes various needs and circumstances among its members, Elder Oaks said. Then he pointed out that priesthood organizations have little flexibility.
"In contrast," he continued, "the auxiliaries that support these priesthood organizations are more flexible in how they are organized and in which activities they carry out to provide their support. Their flexibility, of course, must be exercised under the direction of their priesthood leaders."
Concluding, Elder Oaks encouraged a united effort in the Church and family, under the authority of the priesthood, "in the great mission of our Heavenly Father, to bring to pass the eternal life of man."