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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Elder D. Todd Christofferson Celebrates His 73rd Birthday Today

Hello again, everyone! I am back as promised on this 24th day of January to pay tribute on this blog to Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who today is celebrating his 73rd birthday. Elder Christofferson has been uniquely prepared by the Lord, both in those events that led up to his apostolic call, and also in the assignments he has since received. Let's talk about all of that.

David Todd Christofferson was born on January 24, 1945 in American Fork, Utah (a place I proudly claim as my hometown) to Paul Vickery and Jeanne Swenson Christofferson. He spent his years growing up in Pleasant Grove and Lindon, and his family subsequently relocated to Somerset New Jersey. While there, he participated in the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant, and, having been urged by his bishop to do so, he earnestly sought a personal testimony of the gospel. Although he felt for a while that his prayer at that time had not been answered, the witness he was seeking came about a month later.

At around this same time, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery for it. While his father learned later that he had gathered his brothers to pray for their mom, it would be years later before Elder Christofferson learned about his father's personal sacrifices to supply what his wife needed to help her with the housework.

Young Todd Christofferson also stepped in to help his mom by making homemade bread for his family, after having learned how to do so from his grandmother. After relocating to New Jersey and graduating from high school, he studied for a year at BYU prior to serving full-time in the Argentina North Mission, where he had two mission presidents, Ronald V. Stone, and his future colleague in the Quorum of the Twelve, Richard G. Scott.

Following the conclusion of his missionary service, Elder Christofferson returned to BYU, and there he met Kathy Jacob, whom he married in May 1968. He earned his bachelor's degree from BYU, and went on to get a doctor of law degree from the School of Law at Duke University. During his years as a young attorney, he clerked for Judge John J. Sirica at the time the Watergate hearings were occurring.

When his clerkship ended, he took active duty with the US Army for a year, after which he served in the Army reserves for 8 years, by which time, he had achieved the rank of Captain. His professional career took his family to Washington DC, Nashville Tennesee, and Charlotte North Carolina. During that same time, he would serve as a bishop, stake president, and in the now-defunct calling of regional representative.

Called as a general authority in April 1993, he served in a variety of capacities (including as a member of area presidencies outside the US( until his call to the Presidency of the Seventy in August 1998. During his service in that presidency, he first served as the executive director for the Church's Family and Church History Department, where he worked to negotiate with Jewish religious leaders on the matter of performing temple ordinances for Holocaust victims, which in turn shaped the policy of Church members only being allowed to perform such ordinances for direct-line family members.

In 2004, the First Presidency announced that the Presidency of the Seventy would oversee areas in the United States and Canada, and Elder Christofferson was given responsibility for the North America Southeast Area of the Church, holding that assignment from August 2004-August 2007, at which time he was reassigned to oversee the North America Northwest and North America West Areas. He continued that assignment for 8 months, and was, as we know, the first apostle called by President Thomas S. Monson in April 2008.

During his time as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as noted, Elder Christofferson served alongside his former mission president, Richard G. Scott. Since his ordination as an apostle, Elder Christofferson has filled a wide variety of assignments, and he is currently the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigned to oversee the Church Public Affairs Committee, which is why he was asked to conduct the meeting introducing President Nelson as the new Church President on January 16 of this year.

He has had 26 opportunities to speak in General Conference so far, and 6 of those addresses were given either as a General Authority Seventy or while serving in the Presidency of the Seventy. You can review any of these addresses here.

Additionally, KSL aired this special highlighting how Elder Christofferson and his brothers extended unconditional love and support to their brother Tom as he dealt with same-sex attraction that caused a distance between him and the Church for a time. The unconditional love the brothers showed for Tom, and the efforts leaders of the local congregation went to was in line with President Monson's prophetic counsel to "reach out and rescue", and Tom has since come back to full activity in the Church.

This is but one example demonstrating how "in tune" with the issues members face the Brethren actually are. Their decades of life experience, including adapting to changing technologies and climates, qualifies all of them, in a unique way, to understand the issues members of the Church face, and to give counsel that will enable those issues to be properly dealt with.

A few last notes on Elder Christofferson. He currently ranks as the most junior  of the six most senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and he is the 5th oldest of the 10 current members of that Quorum. He is also the 9th in overall apostolic seniority and the 8th oldest in terms of his age. He is also the oldest of the five that were called by President Monson.

I am grateful for the opportunity to, in this very small way, pay tribute to Elder Christofferson on his birthday. Whatever Church or temple or apostolic news crosses my radar, you can count on my bringing that to you as soon as I can after learning of it.

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.