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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Some Observations Regarding First Presidency Members Retained by Prophetic Successors

Hello again, everyone! As I observed in another post earlier today, since President Monson's funeral has been set for Friday January 12, the First Presidency will not be reorganized until the following Sunday, January 14. That said, I thought it might be helpful for some of you if I posted some observations about retained members of the First Presidency after a new Church President is called.

So let's get into that. I don't know how many of you might have been aware of this, but President Monson received his apostolic call because the next most junior apostle at that time, Elder N. Eldon Tanner, had been called as a counselor to President David O. McKay after only having served in that Quorum for a year. He served with President McKay until the 9th Church President passed away.

When Joseph Fielding Smith was subsequently ordained as the 10th Church President, he retained President Tanner as Second Counselor and called President Lee as his First Counselor, with the three serving together for roughly 2.5 years. When President Lee became Church President, he again retained President Tanner, but selected him as his First Counselor, and chose President Marion G. Romney as his Second Counselor. Presidents Tanner and Romney were retained by President Kimball when he became Church President in 1973.

During President Kimball's administration (in the early 80s), all three men were older, not feeling well, and not able to function fully. That brought President Gordon B. Hinckley into the First Presidency as an additional counselor in July 1981. Roughly 1.5 years later, President Tanner passed away, at which point President Kimball designated Presidents Romney and Hinckley as his new First and Second Counselors respectively. During the 4 years President HInckley served as President Kimball's counselor, he was the only actively functioning member of the First Presidency.

For that reason, when President Benson became Church President, he did not retain President Romney in the First Presidency, but designated Presidents Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson as his First and Second Counselors respectively. When President Hunter became Church President, he retained the two men in the same positions. Following President Hunter's passing, President Hinckley selected Presidents Monson and James E. Faust as his First and Second Counselors.

More recently, upon President Faust's death in August 2007, President Hinckley selected President Henry B. Eyring to fill the vacancy in the First Presidency. And as we all know, when President Hinckley himself passed away just under 10 years ago, President Monson retained President Eyring, making him his First Counselor, and he called President Uchtdorf to serve as Second Counselor.

This brings me to my point in mentioning all of this background information. While there are no set rules that would require President Nelson to retain one or both of President Monson's counselors, since the two sat in councils with President Monson, they would likely be aware of anything that President Monson indicated he wanted done, which would factor into the potential things that President Nelson will be accomplishing during however long he serves as Church President.

So I think it would be safe to assume that President Nelson will retain both Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf, though nothing is stopping him from doing otherwise, if he feels so inclined. The amazing thing with those two counselors to President Monson is that, as I have previously noted, they were the 11th and 12th most senior apostles at the time they were called to serve with President Monson almost 10 years ago, and the apostles that have passed away within that decade has resulted in the two now being the 5th and 6th in seniority respectively. If President Nelson discerns that the Lord needs it to be otherwise, it will, of course, be so, but it seems to be a safe conclusion for now.

Whomever his counselors wind up being, we do know that Elder Oaks will ordain and set apart President Nelson in his new calling, and that President Nelson, after setting apart his counselors (assuming Elder Oaks is not one of them), will then set apart Elder Oaks as the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  And, as I already noted, since President Monson's funeral services have been set for January 12, we will likely see President Nelson officially take the mantle of Church leadership on the following Sunday (which will be the 14th), and the press conference introducing the new First Presidency on the following day.

Hope these thoughts are helpful to at least some of you. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Some Thoughts Regarding the April 2018 General Conference

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post right now with some thoughts that I have had about the April General Conference. First, while the tradition of having the Solemn Assembly Sustaining of Church Officers conducted as the first item of business in the Saturday Morning Session has held true for the last three Church Presidents (Monson, Hinckley, and Hunter), that Solemn Assembly can happen at any point designated by the new Church President, which in the case of the Solemn Assembly for Ezra Taft Benson was held during the Sunday Afternoon Session after three addresses, one from Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the other two from General Authority Seventies James M. Paramore (who would be called to the Presidency of the Seventy in August of the following year) and Jacob de Jager. That appears to be the one exception in recent years.

Quick sidenote here, because I tend to go off on tangents a lot. At the time of that Solemn Assembly for President Benson, whatever the reason may have been for it, the apostolic vacancy was not filled, nor would it be until the following October, when President Benson called Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. As an additional interesting note, in addition to Elder Wirthlin, the other two apostles called by President Benson were Elders Richard G. Scott and Robert D. Hales, and the three have all died, oddly enough, in that same order, with Elder Wirthlin having passed away on December 1, 2008, Elder Scott doing so on September 22, 2015, and Elder Hales on October 1, 2017, which, as noted repeatedly in other posts, occurred between the Sunday Sessions of General Conference.

But getting back to the topic of Solemn Assemblies, since this was in the time when General Conference was held for three days, the April 1974 Solemn Assembly for President Spencer W. Kimball was held at the beginning of the Saturday Morning Session. The one peculiar anomaly about that is that two sessions of that conference were held the previous day, Harold B. Lee was also mostly an exception to the rule: although that sustaining occurred at the beginning of the first session of General Conference, that session was held Friday morning. I could go further back into history, but I wanted to get to my other points.

Since there have only been two of the last six Presidents of the Church that have had their Solemn Assembly held at other times than the beginning of the Saturday Morning Session, it is more than likely that the Solemn Assembly which will be held in April for President Nelson will be during that Saturday Morning Session.

Next, I wanted to note that Presidents Monson and Hinckley both gave their first addresses as Church president during the Priesthood Session of the General Conferences in which they were sustained, and their first address to the Church as a whole the following morning.  Presidents Hunter, Benson, Kimball, and Lee all gave their first addresses during the first session of General Conference (which was the Saturday Morning Session for the first two and the Friday Morning Session for the other two).

While there are no hard and fast rules about when a new Church President will first address Church membership, since the most recent two prophets both opted to wait to give their first addresses during the Priesthood and Sunday Morning Sessions, I think it likely that could occr again for President Nelson.

Also, there are not any set rules, as I'm sure most of you know, about who leads such Solemn Assemblies.We have had the First Counselor in the First Presidency lead them for Presidents Lee and Kimball (both of those times, that counselor was President N. Eldon Tanner), and for Presidents Benson and Hunter (both by President Gordon B. Hinckley), and President Thomas S. Monson (for President Hinckley). The one exception to the seeming precedence of the First Counselor leading out in that Solemn Assembly was for President Thomas S. Monson, for which President Dieter F. Uchtdorf led out as the prophet's Second Counselor. This may have mostly been due to the fact that President Eyring was in recovery from an ankle injury.

So, with that in mind, I feel confident that President Nelson could ask either of his counselors to lead out in April, and that President Nelson's first opportunity to speak as Church President will likely be during the Priesthood Session, with his first opportunity to speak to the entire Church membership occurring during the Sunday Morning Session (at which time he may also announce any new temple locations).

Additionally, while predicting how many addresses President Nelson might give, in addition to those of his counselors, may be hard to accomplish, it has been a long-standing custom for the Presidents of the Church to speak at both the beginning of each conference in the Saturday Morning Session and the end of each conference at the Sunday Afternoon Session. There have been some exceptions to that, such as when a new Church President is sustained in a Solemn Assembly during such conferences, or, as we saw more recently, in the last 5 General Conferences in which President Monson spoke, as his age and health did not allow him to speak in either of those sessions.

Finally, I wanted to talk a bit about how many members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles might speak to us in each of the 5 General Conference Sessions this April. As I have previously noted, during most General Conferences, we typically hear from 2 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during both the Saturday and Sunday Morning Sessions, with 4 others speaking Saturday Afternoon, 1 during the Priesthood Session, and the remaining 3 during the Sunday Afternoon Session.

That general pattern of speaking has been altered somewhat at times when there were two or more vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. Both in October 2004 (when Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar were sustained) and again in October 2015, when our three newest apostles (Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund) were sustained,, the typical patterns were slightly altered.

During both of those conferences, 2 of the Quorum members spoke during both the Saturday Morning and Sunday Afternoon Sessions, with 3 in the Saturday Afternoon Session, 1 during the Priesthood Session, and the other 4 during the Sunday Morning Session. I think we will likely see that happen again as well, which means that if this order is used, the entire two hours of the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference will be comprised of talks from 6 apostles, 4 from the Quorum of the Twelve, along with President Nelson and whichever of his counselors does not speak during the Saturday Morning Session.

I could go on further about this, but I will forebear for the moment. I hope this post has provided helpful information to at least some of you. That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: President Monson Funeral Arrangements Announced

Hello again, everyone! I have some additional breaking news to report. With the announcement having already been made that the First Presidency will not be reorganized until after the funeral services are held for President Monson, the Church has released this article, which states that the funeral has been set for Friday January 12 at 12 noon, which is 9 days from now. With that in mind, it seems likely that the First Presidency will likely be reorganized on the following Sunday, which would be January 14, and a press conference will be held the following day to introduce the new First Presidency. This also means that the Church will be under the leadership of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the 11 days between today and that second Sunday in January, which is longer than it has been in recent years, but still not too lengthy.

In recent times of transition, President Ezra Taft Benson passed away on May 30, 1994, and President Howard W. Hunter was ordained to succeeded him 6 days later (on June 5). Then President Hunter died the following March 3, and President Gordon B. Hinckley became Church President 12 days later. Only 7 days passed between President Hinckley's January 27 death, and President Monson's February 3 ordination has his successor.

So a 10-day period is not unprecedented, though it will be a longer time than we have seen in recent years. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Some Personal Thoughts About President Monson's Passing

Hello again, everyone! With the busy day of news coverage as a result of President Monson's death just short of 18 hours ago, I haven't really had time to collect or process my thoughts about the personal impact this man had on my life. When I was born in December 1986, President Monson had been in the First Presidency for just over a year. So there was never a time in my life where I could not remember him in that capacity. In the course of his valiant service as a counselor to Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley, I grew to appreciate his candor, his tell-it-like-it-is approach, and his willingness to ever encourage and lift those around him, wherever his ministry took him. There are so many memories I could share of times when his counsel and service personally impacted me at pivotal moments. I would just like to address a few that mean the most.

First, I remember the shock we all felt when President Hinckley's death was announced. It was not unexpected, but we all knew that he had truly worn out his life in the service of Church members. I remember that on the Monday following the funeral services for President Monson, I was stuck at the office of my physical therapist. As he worked on my treatment, I was not making it easy for him to do so, since I wanted to hear every word I could of the press conference in which President Monson was introduced as Church President. I wound up having to watch the whole thing again after my appointment, which didn't bother me.

I was in attendance with my dad at our Stake Center a few months later for the memorable first conference over which President Monson presided, and I still remember to this day how delighted we all were to see this giant of a man with a huge heart tell his story, wiggle his ears in front of the entire priesthood body, and then impishly follow that up with his trademark humorous statement, "My wife told me not to say that."

In addition to the many policies and major announcements of his prophetic administration, I remember that in one General Conference shortly after he became the prophet, it felt like he was speaking directly to me as he mentioned that, for those who were unable to serve a full-time mission due to health constraints, the service such individuals render is just as acceptable to the Lord as it would be if they had been able to serve full time. This was a direct answer to the prayers I had offered prior to that General Conference to ask the Lord if my part-time efforts had been acceptable to him.

Then came another General Conference, where he and a couple of other leaders mentioned in the priesthood session that young men should earnestly be looking for an eternal companion following their missionary labors. That was a talking point in my family for a while. And just less than three full years after he took the mantle of Church leadership, I was able to follow that counsel and get married.

But I want to backtrack a little. Through many institute classes which I had over the years I attended, my favorite course of study was Teachings of the Living Prophets, as it offered me and my classmates the chance to study the latest talks from our apostles in more depth. At one point, one of those courses originated from a classroom on the BYU-Provo campus. In our study on President Monson in that class, we were asked to memorize our choice of one quote and one poem President Monson had shared in his talks previously. I can still remember to this day the ones I selected.

First, the quote: "Time marches on. Duty keeps cadence with that march. Duty does not dim or diminish. Catastrophic conflicts come and go, but the war waged for the souls of men continues without abatement."

And the poem was The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a cavern, vast, and deep, and wide
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim:
The sullen stream held no fear for him,
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your strength with building here:
"Your journey will end with the ending day,
"You never again may cross this way.
"You have crossed the chasm deep and wide,
"Why build you a bridge at the eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head,
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
"A youth whose feet must cross this way.
"He too must cross in the twilight dim:
"Good friend, I am building a bridge for him."

I feel that both the quote and the poem are excellent summaries of the principles to which President Monson devoted himself, and by which he governed his life. Wherever duty took him, he was willing to go. And he constantly reminded us, in both word and continued deed to the very end of his life, that we should make every effort to reach out and rescue those we see that are troubled or suffering. Such was the legacy of our dear prophet. And such was his impact on me, even though I never met him personally. I share these thoughts in grateful memory of the life and teachings of our beloved prophet, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Where to find continuing coverage of President Monson's Passing

Hello again, everyone! This will just be a very brief post, but since there have been so many resources released within the last 24 hours since President Monson's passing, rather than flooding this blog with every update, I will instead direct any reading this to the following sources, the Church News, the News & Events page from the Church's official website, and Mormon Newsroom. I will be sure to post again when funeral arrangements are officially announced, whenever that may be, but other than that, these are far better resources for the Church's coverage than anything I offer here. If you would like to do so, I also refer you to KSL's website, which, as many of you may be aware, is owned by Bonneville Communications, which in turn is owned and operated by the Church. There will be much more to talk about in the coming days ahead, but that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

More News Stories Released in Honor of the Life and Ministry of Thomas S. Monson

Hello again, everyone! In continuing my coverage of resources released in tribute to President Thomas S. Monson. this article is the Church News coverage of the statements released by his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This article contains highlights of his teachings, this one reiterates the news release from Mormon Newsroom about the process of prophetic succession, this article is a compilation of photos of the prophet from a wide variety of settings and gatherings, and this one describes a mantra he often voiced, about how when people are suffering, he likes to be there to assist them.

This is a man who practiced what he preached, and who literally wore out his body, mind, and spirit with the extent of his ministry. We Church members were blessed to have him at the helm of the Church for almost the last decade. I will continue to keep an eye out for any additional coverage (and will catch up on reading it all myself ASAP), and will continue to post updates as I become aware of them.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

1000th Blog Post Some Thoughts About Prophetic Succession and Upcoming Scheduled Church Events

Hello again, everyone! I am back (with my 1000th post on this blog) to pass along some thoughts about prophetic succession and upcoming scheduled Church events. In doing so, I begin by sharing something that first occurred to me early on last night following the breaking news of President Monson's passing. When he became President of the Church, at that February 3, 2008 meeting in the temple, there were four apostles appointed during the presidency of his predecessor that were participating in that process for the first time, Elders Eyring, Uchtdorf, Bednar and Cook, and the reorganization that will likely occur in the next little while will be their second such opportunity.

Whenever the First Presidency is reorganized again, the five apostles appointed during President Monson's almost-10-year administration (Elders Christofferson, Andersen, Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund) will be part of that process for the first time. That means that 9 of the 13 have had their calls to the apostleship within the last 10 years alone. That is pretty significant.

Again, while I am not sure at all (with official information still pending, as this occurred over the last 15 hours or so) how soon the funeral arrangements for President Monson may be announced, I am thinking, if the precedent of the past holds that we could see the funeral be set for either Saturday this week or the following Monday.

If the funeral is held this Saturday, I feel safe in assuming that, as was the case when President Hinckley died just about 10 years ago, then the reorganization of the First Presidency will likely take place this Sunday, January 7, with the newly constituted First Presidency meeting the press the following day, in company with the 10 remaining members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

I also wanted to mention a couple of other things: As I previously posted on this blog when these events were first announced, President Uchtdorf and his wife had been announced as the speakers for the January 2018 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, which was scheduled to occur on Sunday January 14.

The Church also recently announced that Elder Christofferson has been asked to represent the Brethren at the annual broadcast for religious instructors serving in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion on Friday January 26, and President Nelson and his wife had been asked to represent the First Presidency in the worldwide Face-to-Face event for the youth of the Church that has been set for Saturday February 3.

My reason for mentioning all of this is to note that new Church presidents almost always honor such arrangements that were originally made by their predecessors. There was, however, one notable exception that occurred in 2008. Because of President Hinckley's death on January 27, the apostles, under the leadership of President Monson as Quorum President, announced that the Rexburg Idaho Temple dedication, which had originally been set for February 3, would be pushed back to the following Sunday to allow the 14 remaining apostles to make funeral arrangements and to reorganize the First Presidency.

That said, while our current 13 apostles under the leadership of President Nelson are certainly at liberty to alter both the sequence and circumstances of these upcoming events, I imagine President Nelson will want to honor those assignments that were given with President Monson's consent. And whether or not the funeral occurs near the end of this week, whenever such arrangements are announced, you can count on my bringing them to you here.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Continuing Coverage of President Thomas S. Monson's Death

Hello again, everyone! Continuing now my coverage of President Monson's passing, the Church News released this story about how President Monson enjoyed the counsel he once heard to take an older person to lunch. and this story in which his counselors have released a statement. That is not, in my recollection, something we have seen with the passing of previous Church presidents, and it is great to hear from them. The First Presidency, as noted last night, is now dissolved. With funeral arrangements still pending, but with the Church generally having a precedent of not waiting too long to announce such arrangements, it will be interesting to see ongoing developments in this regard, and I will do my best to bring all of that to each of you. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Added at 12:40 PM Utah time: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has released this statement, and it is great to hear from them. And it probably goes without saying, but the Church has also released this article outlining the procedure through which the Church presidency passes from a deceased prophet to his successor. It is always amazing to see that occur. I did want to note that, in recent transitions, President Hunter died on March 3, and President Hinckley became Church President 9 days later, on March 12. Then following the passing of President Hinckley on January 27, 2008, the First Presidency was reorganized on February 3, 2008. While it is up to President Monson's family how soon his funeral will be held, 9 days between the passing of one Church president and the ordination of another has been the longest such period in recent years. So we will have to see how soon it all take place. Stay tuned for more here on that as I learn it. Thanks again.

Additional resources on the passing of President Thomas S. Monson

Hello again, everyone! I had originally added a bit to my post about President Monson's passing, as I found a link to an article written about him. But as I found several others as well, I thought I would include them all here in another post. So here goes!

From the Church News; this article is the introduction to the others. This article spoke of his ministry as a bishop to the widows of his ward. this one discusses his love for the people of Germany, this one  pays tribute to his time as a bishop, aside from his care for the widows in his ward, this one talks about his childhood, this one contains tributes from his family members, this one pays tribute to his service in the First Presidency, including his prophetic tenure, this one discusses his work on the Scripture Publication Committee, and this one is a Church news viewpoint containing even more tributes to him.

This is the summary article from the Church News & Events page on LDS.org, in addition to this one about his youth, this one (which may be a duplicate from the Church News about his service to the widows in his ward), and this one, likely a duplicate about his time on the scriptures committee. And this will contain Mormon Newsroom's coverage, which will no doubt be wide-spread in coming days, so you can catch the latest there.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: President Thomas S. Monson Passes Away

Hello again, everyone! I am here with some late-breaking news. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has confirmed a report that President Thomas S. Monson has passed away. With his passing, the First Presidency is now dissolved, and President Nelson and the remaining 12 apostles take over Church leadership, which will more than likely involve a reorganization of the First Presidency, probably within the next week.

Since this is a very late-breaking development, more information about the circumstances of President Monson's passing will be forthcoming. For now, I pass along this article, published by KSL. It appears his passing occurred at 10:01 PM, though the announcement came just barely over the airwaves, and I had just by chance pulled up KSL's website. I am sure more developments will be made known tomorrow, once the Church has a chance to process this news . And we will look for President Nelson to be sustained as the new Church President in General Conference next April. But he will have to act to fill two apostolic vacancies now.

With President Monson's passing, our most senior apostles are those three appointed during President Kimball's administration. How blessed it must be for this wonderful man to be free of his mortal mission to lead the Church, from which he stepped back less than one year ago today. He did not have to suffer long.

I could go on to share my feelings about our beloved prophet's passing, but I want to get this posted. So that does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, but I would ask that we all remain respectful of this man's wonderful life and those Brethren who will now have to carry on without him. May God bless the memory of our prophet dear, and prosper those left to carry on without him, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.