Russell M. Nelson Called as 17th President of the Church

If you missed this morning’s announcement about the newly organized First Presidency, you can watch the video below. The First Presidency announcement starts at the 52 minute mark and the press conference, which began at 10am this morning starts at the 1:51 (one hour, fifty-one) minute mark.

President Russell M. Nelson was called and set apart on Sunday as the 17th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dallin H. Oaks has been called as the First Councelor and Henry B. Eyring has been called as the Second Councelor. Elder M. Russell Ballard has been called to be the acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Elder Christofferson conducted the meeting and took a few minutes to explain the process of how the new president is chosen and how things are organized, he also bore his testimony of the meeting, “As a participant, it was sweet, sacred experience in which the Lord’s will was clearly manifest and all were in full accord. This experience confirmed once again that Jesus Christ directs His church.”

He also explained that by choosing the senior most apostle to be the president of the church, posturing or campaigning for position is eliminated, that this process provides continuity and that the one who becomes the new president has been prepared for this calling. He also quoted Elder John A. Widtsoe, “This is a wise procedure. It places at the head of the church the apostle who has been the longest in service. He is known well to the people and trusted by them. He himself knows the procedure of church affairs. He is no novice to be trained for the position.”

My thoughts…

I think we all knew that Pres. Monson’s days on the earth were drawing to a close as 2017 ended. I was not surprised to hear that Pres. Monson passed away on January 2nd. I knew that his reunion with his wife, Francis, must have been joyous and sweet, and that he was welcomed into heaven with love and anticipation. I have young children (all under 10 years old). They understand about prophets and apostles — Pres. Nelson called that righteous, intentional parenting. The morning I found out about Pres. Monson’s passing my nine year old son, matter of factly said, “He died, right?” “Yes, and that means we get to have a new president of the church. Dad and I are going to teach you kids about how this happens over the next few days.”

I looked forward to this morning with some anticipation but mostly thankfulness that the Lord has outlined a very clear pattern to follow in choosing who leads the church and that if we have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to receive we would have a witness of that choice immediately as it was announced. My husband and I watched the announcement “together” (he as his desk at work, me at my desk at home on the phone to each other). He described his feelings as “a mighty rushing wind”. I felt very sincere gratitude and peace for Pres. Nelson and his new councilors.

President Nelson’s first message to members of the church and to the world was very hopeful and joyful (as a side note, the first Conference talk I remember him giving was titled, “Joy Cometh in the Morning“). This was a joyful morning, indeed. He stressed the positive message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and that the gospel has answers for all of life’s problems. He stated that the gospel can give us knowledge, perspective and hope and asked if we could add these to your life? He gave us a prophetic promise too, that is that making and keeping covenants opens the doors to every spiritual blessing such as, increased personal revelation, peace, and the fortification of our resolve to stay on the covenant path. He invited us to stay on that covenant path and invited those who have left the path to come back. I think the covenant path is going to be a theme of his presidency.

That invitation was particularly meaningful to me. I’m sure many of you have friends and family who have left the church or are at odds with the church in some way — I know I do and I want nothing more than for them to come back into full fellowship with the church. I’m sure you, as I did, had in mind someone that this invitation could benefit.

President Oaks also had good council for us. He encouraged us to avoid labeling ourselves with worldy labels. And that when we do that we impose a quota system on ourselves that the Lord does not recognize. The only label we ever need to wear is that of “Child of God”. Pres. Oaks also spoke to the millennial generation of the church and stated that men and women are stronger when they are married and encouraged young people to marry. Pres. Nelson added that 1+1 is always more than 2.

A member of the press asked about the place of women in the church — and accused the men of being “old, white, and American” and asked how were they going to be more inclusive. I kind of rolled my eyes at this question because it was a typical “social justice” question, which honestly I think has no place in the church, if you really understand that God is no respecter of persons. I’m sure the reporter thought she was throwing out a “gotcha”. But, Presidents. Nelson, Oaks and Eyring answered this reporter with love and kindness. I think we all should re-watch that exchange over and over and apply it to our own social media interactions — they didn’t skip a beat.

Pres. Eyring made a very important distinction between position and influence. He re-emphasized that influence has already been given to women, and that women do sit on and participate in the highest councils of the church, and in their wards and stakes as well. President Nelson encouraged the women to go back and read his talk “A Plea to My Sisters“. Pres. Eyring also emphasized that “the best is yet to come”! I believe that. There is a lot of bad out in the world, but there is also an abundance of good and the Lord is very eager to bless us and to abide with us as we follow the prophets and apostles.

One of the last things that Pres. Nelson said was that, “The way to joy is to stay on the covenant path”. There is that path again … see, it’s a theme!

In April we will hopefully have new new apostles called and we will hear more great counsel from Pres. Nelson and the other leaders of the church. As Joseph Smith taught,

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

I know these men are the chosen leaders of our church. I have a testimony of that. I am excited to see where we go as a church in the next months and years.

9 thoughts on “Russell M. Nelson Called as 17th President of the Church

  1. In the news conference President Oaks presented a contrast to the style of previous counselors to the President of the Church. Without in any way displaying disrespect, he had no hesitation in adding his comments to President Nelson’s responses. There is clearly a deep bond between the two of them. President Eyring seemed more diffident in contrast. The stories of President Nelson’s physical stamina were marked. Of the three, President Eyring almost seems the older man. This is a wondetful combination of spirit and intellect. Both President Nelson and President Oaks were eminent in their professions before being called as apostles. You could say they have intimate knowledge of the mind and heart.

  2. Good points Pat. I would assume that President Nelson said something to the effect of, feel free to chime in and add your thoughts to my own in the news conference. They approached it more as a face to face discussion about the question rather than what you might expect in a press conference

  3. We’ve had fun discussing today’s events at dinner (at a local Wendy’s). Bryan mentioned J. Reuben Clark’s experience, then we had a good laugh when Bryan listed off the new presidency and absently mentioned J. Reuben Clark as second counselor in lieu of Henry B. Eyring. I listened to the Broadcast, but despite the privilege of listening to that, my memory keyed in on the slightly antagonistic setting of the Press Conference. I guess I’m an example of Lehi’s observation that “there must be an opposition in all things.”

    I look forward to seeing the genial interplay between President Nelson and President Oaks. And I particularly welcome more exposure to President Oaks’s legal wisdom and historical knowledge.

    Many years ago President Oaks’s daughter (Jenny Oaks Baker) moved into our ward (she’s long-since moved along, now back to Utah). In those days then-Elder Oaks would visit from time to time. I remember one Sunday when we were a bit late (young kids, one autistic). When we got there, everyone was sitting quietly and Elder Oaks was sitting on the stand. Turns out that was the one and only Sunday in my memory when the person(s) responsible for bringing the Sacramental bread had forgotten it. So we all waited in quiet contemplation until the bread arrived. That was a nice Sunday.

    It’s so funny to think that apostles who were newly minted when I was an adult are now senior enough to lead the Church. I don’t feel that old… 🙂

  4. I think Pres. Eyring was tired more than anything. I think he’s also very sad and that has contributed to his haggard look.

  5. President Eyring was very optimistic, saying, “This is a great time of history in the church. The Lord watches over all his children. The growth in members is a great miracle. We are becoming one in love. The best is yet to come.” He didn’t appear sad or tired to me, and while he is 84, I find the term haggard (i.e. looking exhausted and unwell, especially from fatigue, worry, or suffering) both inappropriate as to his appearance and oblivious of his demonstrated keen engagement and mental acuity.

  6. Sister Eyring has suffered with serious health issues for years. President Eyring is an attentive husband. Add that to being in his 80’s and leadership duties and the man will certainly feel fatigued. What I saw at the press conference was Pres. Eyring reading the Teleprompter while others spoke. He looked blank as he read it, as many of us do. But he demonstrated his mental acuity when it was his turn to speak.

    IMO, the media questions were not really negative or critical. Peggy Fletcher Stack of the SLTrib is well-known by the Brethren, and she asked questions which were on the minds of many Utahns and Americans who watched the proceedings.

    There is some angst amongst the Millennials regarding President Uctdorf’s release. His assignments will hopefully include many opportunities to serve that demographic. He is deservedly loved by many across the LDS spectrum.

  7. Meg, First you’re older than your EQ/RS pres. Then you’re older than your bishop. Then you’re older than your stake president. Then you’re older than some of the area authority 70’s. Then you’re older than some of the GA (1st/2nd Quorum) 70’s.

    So far, I’m not older than any apostles.

    But I am old enough to check the obituaries to see how many decedents are younger than I am.

  8. Our society is carefully tuned to catch any hint of racism or sexism, yet is oblivious to its ageism.

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