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Monday, January 8, 2018

Some Observations About Recent Times When Two (or more) New Apostles Were Appointed

Hello again, everyone! I have not had much to blog about today, but I am posting now with some observations about times when two or more new apostles were appointed, and how that changed the way General Conference looked.

As many of you may recall, the Church noted prior to the October 2015 General Conference that there had not been three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1906. So let's start there. The appointment of three new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles became necessary in April 1906 due to the resignation of John W. Taylor (son of 3rd Church President John Taylor) and Matthias F. Cowley (from whose family line Matthew Cowley would later be called as an apostle as well) in late October 1905.

Their resignation came in protest of the Church (then led by Joseph F. Smith) reemphasizing the importance of the manifesto, originally issued by Wilford Woodruff, although a second manifesto to validate and clarify the intent behind the first was issued under President Smith. So that left two vacancies in the Quorum. The following February, another member of the Quorum Marriner W. Merrill, passed away. Since the other two vacancies had not yet been filled, that left the Quorum with 9 members, which resulted in the April appointment of George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, and David O. McKay.

The next time two apostles were ordained on the same day was when the 1943 deaths of Sylvester Q. Cannon and Rudger Clawson left two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. As some of you may know, Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson, who would both serve as Presidents of the Church, were appointed to fill those vacancies during the October Conference of that year.

Then, in January 1983, the death of Mark E. Petersen left a vacancy in the Quorum that was not filled for over a year, by which time fellow apostle LeGrand Richards had also passed away (with the deaths of the two, oddly enough, coming exactly a year apart, as both occurred on January 11).

To fill those vacancies, the Church in April 1984 sustained Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks, although the latter was not able to be formally ordained and assume his new role until more than a month later. For that reason, while then-Elder Nelson gave his response to the call in the conference in which the two were sustained, Elder Oaks would have to wait until the following October to do so.

The Church did not see more than one vacancy in the apostleship again until Elders Neal A. Maxwell and David B. Haight passed away 10 days apart in July 2004 (with the passing of the former on July 21 coinciding with his 23rd anniversary as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. and the latter passing away on July 31).

As we all remember, Elders Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar were called to fill the resulting vacancies. Another 11 years would pass before the next time when more than one apostle was called at the same time.

By that time (in 2015), we had seen the deaths of Elders L. Tom Perry and Richard G. Scott (on May 30 and September 22 respectively), and also the death of Quorum President Boyd K. Packer (on July 3). So the Church called 3 apostles at the same time for the first time since 1906, and those 3, as we know, were Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson, and Dale G. Renlund.

For both the October 2004 & 2015 General Conferences, the Church did things a little differently in General Conference. Typically, as I have previously noted, we see 2 apostles each speak in the Saturday & Sunday Morning Sessions, 4 during Saturday Afternoon, 1 during the Priesthood Session, and the final 3 during the Sunday Afternoon Session.

But for the two conferences above, while we saw 2  members of the Quorum of the Twelve each speak during the Saturday Morning and Sunday Afternoon Sessions, there were 3 in the Saturday Afternoon Session, 1 more in the Priesthood Session, and the remaining 4 during the Sunday Morning Session, which meant that the entire Sunday Morning Session of the October 2004 General Conference comprised of talks from apostles, the two new members, two other veteran apostles (Elders Nelson and Hales) and two First Presidency members (Presidents Monson and Hinckley).

By slight contrast,  by the time the October 2015 General Conference had rolled around, the three newest apostles opted to do short addresses (speaking for 5-7 minutes each), and President Monson also gave very brief remarks. The remaining time went to the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (President Nelson), President Henry B. Eyring, and General Authority Seventies Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer & Claudio R. M. Costa.

So in addition to what I have posted about how the General Conference layout changes with a new Church president having his call sustained in a Solemn Assembly, we also will have a situation where the new Church President (President Nelson) will have his first opportunity to address the Church as a whole. Since he is in much better health than his predecessor, I would anticipate that the pattern for apostolic speaking that held for the October 2004 and October 2015 General Conferences will be true here, and also that the layout of the Sunday Morning Session will likely look more like it did for the former conference than it wound up being for the October 2015 General Conference.

One interesting thing struck me: President Nelson has been (or will be) involved in all three of those Sunday Morning Sessions that were exceptions to the general rule. He was the veteran apostle that was asked to speak after Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar's first addresses in October 2004, and after new apostles Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund gave their first talks in October 2015, he had his first opportunity to address the Church as the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And now, as President of the Church, he will likely be the last speaker in the Sunday Morning Session of the April 2018 General Conference.

As I have previously noted, I have adjusted my predictions according to what I have felt most likely will happen. But if the reorganization of the First Presidency does not follow in either the timing or the manner that I think it will, that will change the layout of those predictions yet again.

Thanks for wading through these thoughts. 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.