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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Interesting Tidbits from the November 2017 Ensign (PDF version not yet available, though text is)

Hello, everyone! Even though the PDF version of the November 2017 Ensign is not yet available, the text of it is, and it appears that there are a couple of surprises in store for this issue. First, as observed previously, the latest editions of the Conference Ensigns have featured 144 pages (for the May edition and 128 for the November edition. However, given the new curriculum, the Church noted in the instructions for curriculum for next year that the conference Ensign (both the November and May editions) would contain the instructions for the next six month's curriculum on pp. 137-144. So it appears that every Conference Ensign for as long as this new curriculum is used will contain 144 pages. That is something we have not previously seen before.

Additionally, while the PDF version has yet to be made available, I also learned that the General Authorities Chart will be a four-page spread from pages 71-75. Additionally, there will be something very unique about this Ensign that we have not seen for a while. In view of the death of Elder Robert D. Hales, and because the resulting vacancy in the apostleship has not yet been filled, there will obviously only be 11 apostles pictured on the General Authorities chart. If the Church keeps to its tradition of previous times when this has happened, the six senior apostles (from Nelson to Cook) will be pictured on the top row, and the remaining 5 (from Christofferson to Renlund; which also comprise the apostolic picks of President Monson's presidency, on the bottom row).

As I always do, I want to put this development into its proper historical context. The last time we saw 11 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a General Authorities chart was in the May 1986 Ensign. President Kimball had died about a month after the previous General Conference, and the First Presidency had been reorganized 5 days following that death, on November 10, 1985 (with Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson). Whatever the reason, the resulting vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was not filled until the following General Conference, in that May 1986 Ensign, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles only contained 11 members.

As previously noted, we live in an interesting time. President Monson is the only current apostle remaining who was called during President McKay's presidency. All others senior to him, and the eight junior to him, who were called by other prophets, have passed away. President Nelson and Elders Oaks and Ballard were called during President Kimball's administration (with Elder Ballard's apostolic appointment coming 1 short month before President Kimball passed away). The three apostles appointed during President Benson's presidency have all passed away as well.

Elder Holland was the only apostle appointed during President Hunter's brief administration. Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf, and Elders Bednar and Cook received their calls to the apostleship during President Hinckley's presidency. And with the death of Elder Hales, whomever is called to fill the current vacancy will be President Monson's sixth apostolic appointment, which is significant when we consider that President Monson will have filled six such vacancies in the same amount of time that President Hinckley filled four.

I will, in the coming days, as more details become available, provide the results of how my projected table of contents for the November 2017 Ensign compares to what it actually looks like. In the meantime, any comments are welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each of you all the best.