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Friday, January 26, 2018

Ensign Supplement Pays Tribute to President Monson

Hello again, everyone! This is just a brief post to inform all who are interested that the Church has released this supplement to pay tribute to President Monson, including the text of the addresses given at his funeral by Ann M. Dibb, then-President Uchtdorf, and Presidents Eyring and Nelson. I hope all of you enjoy reading it as much as I did. 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.

Major Church News Update

Hello again, everyone! Having put my recent focus on more pressing matters, there were major Church news stories which I missed reporting on. The Church reported one week ago today that a new full-time organist had been appointed to assist the Tabernacle Choir. Dr. Brian Mathias joins the other three full-time organists (Richard Elliott, Clay Christiansen, and Andrew Unsworth) and two part-time organists (Linda Margetts and Bonnie Goodliffe), where he will rotate duties with the others in playing during General Conference, Music & the Spoken Word, other Choir concerts and events (including tours, daily organ recitals, and other public appearances. You can read more about Dr. Mathias here.

Meanwhile, the Philippines Mormon Newsroom has published an article about how the China Conference on Religion and Peace (CCRP) sent a delegation to the Philippines Area Office to promote understanding between that organization and the Church. Representing the Church at that gathering were Elders Evan A. Schmutz, who serves in the Philippines Area presidency, and Elder Randy D. Funk, who serves as the president of the Church's Asia Area. A summary of the CCRP delegates present and the Church buildings and grounds they toured can be found here.

As my US readers may be aware, there has been a lot of talk about how President Trump is choosing to approach the so-called "Dreamers", who remain in the US under the DACA program which was established by his predecessor, President Obama. The First Presidency released this statement earlier today, which speaks for itself.

Turning now to the Church News website, Sister Sharon Eubank gave a forum address at BYU, a report of which can be found here. Meanwhile, Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke at a BYU-Idaho devotional recently, during which he shared his first-hand experience that occurred in the Salt Lake Temple on January 14 to reorganize the First Presidency. You can find the summary of his address here.

The Primary General Presidency and Board released this article to share guidelines for planning the newly-announced Temple and Priesthood Preparation Meeting for 11-year-old Primary children. The Church has also announced a new style of temple garments for women. Gerry Avant, the retired editor of the Church news, has continued her series of articles about her many experiences covering the Church and its' leaders, and she shared this account of riding horses with President Spencer W. Kimball.

And rounding out the Church news coverage are some articles about President Dallin H. Oaks, this one to highlight how he and his wife are speaking at the annual Family Discovery Day for the RootsTech Annual Family History Conference, and this one for Church members wanting to learn more about the new First Counselor in the First Presidency.

Sorry about the length of this post. 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.

Potential Candidates For the 2018 Vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Hello again, everyone! I am back as promised, with the list I have compiled of potential candidates for the 2018 vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. You can find some preliminary observations and that list below. 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.

Preliminary Note: Some have said that, in terms of the current vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, there are a number of strong candidates to fill them. Among the many I have heard mentioned is Elder L. Whitney Clayton, the Senior President of the Seventy. The rationale in favor of his being called appears to be mostly (if not entirely) based on the fact that both Elders Andersen and Rasband had been serving as the Senior President of the Seventy at the time of their calls. While it would not be completely out of the question for him to be called to the apostleship, it seems unlikely primarily in view of his age, which is 67.8. Some apostles have received their calls when they were older than that. Two examples of older apostles are Joseph B. Wirthlin, who was called at the age of 69. And George Q. Morris (who was 80 years old) was the oldest man in Church history at the time of his call to the apostleship.

Of the 13 current apostles, Elder Cook ranks as the oldest one called, as his decimal age was 67.1 years at the time of his call in October 2007, so, if he were called, Elder Clayton would replace Elder Cook as the oldest one of the current group. Additionally, the death of President Monson (who was 36 at the time of his apostolic call) left President Oaks as the new “youngest apostle” at the time of his call, as he was 51.7. So there is now a 15.4 year range between the youngest and oldest current apostles at the time of their calls to the apostleship.
                                                                                                                                           
With that in mind, I also wanted to note that, for the five apostles appointed during President Monson’s prophetic administration, their ages ranged from 57.7 years for the youngest (Elder Andersen) and 64.7 at the oldest (Elder Rasband). It therefore seems far more likely to estimate that the two newest apostles called will be of an age between their early 50s to mid-60s.

In the press conference where the new First Presidency was introduced, President Nelson noted that while he sees a day where there will be “more flavors in the mix” among those of the apostleship, those called to serve as special witnesses of Christ have the obligation of representing the Lord’s will to the Church, rather than being representatives of the racially-diverse Church membership.

In regards to that declaration, it has often struck me that the Lord keeps opting to inspire the appointment of American-born men who have experience serving in foreign areas of the Church primarily to test the way His people will support such calls. For anyone who has taken time to gain a testimony of the process by which such calls come, whomever He, through His prophet, calls should not be a problem for the Church, either such individuals are American- or foreign-born.
                                                                                               
The Lord reminds us in Isaiah that his ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. Because of this, the nation in which any future apostle was born should not be anywhere near as important to us as it should be for each of us to gain a testimony of the divine process by which such calls occur, and for us to use that testimony as a reason to gladly and without hesitation sustain any apostle called at any time.

This sets the preliminary background for this latest list of prospective candidates which I have complied. The basis for this list are the metrics of those who are in their early 50s-early 60s, either American-born individuals who have had extensive international experience or those international picks with a strong case, and finally, those who have been General Authorities for at least the last five years. The Lord could (and very well might) inspire calls from outside these metrics, but those on this list are within that criteria. So let’s get started.

Currently in the Presiding Bishopric:

Presiding Bishop Gerald Causee: 54.7; sustained as a general authority seventy in April 2008; called to the Presiding Bishopric during the April 2012 General Conference; became presiding bishop in October 2015; would be another international European-born apostle (though 7 of the 11 apostles born outside the US were born in Europe, he would be the first French-born one); in 2015, I had a feeling he might be called to fill one of the three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, so that could happen this time.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric: 58.5; sustained as a General Authority Seventy in April 2011; called to the Presiding Bishopric in October 2015; born in California; served a mission in Barcelona Spain; was president of the same mission from 2006-2009; served as a counselor in the California Carlsbad Mission Presidency for a year; called as an area seventy in April 2010, serving for a year prior to his call as a General Authority.


Currently in the Presidency of the Seventy:

Craig C. Christensen: 61.8; second most senior member (which was Elder Christofferson’s status at the time of his April 2008 call to the apostleship); born in Salt Lake City; served a full-time mission in Santiago Chile; mission president in Mexico City from 1995-1998; served as a temple ordinance worker (which may give him a unique perspective on temple-related matters); called as a General Authority Seventy in October 2002 (serving in the Second Quorum); was called to the First Quorum in April 2008; has served in both the Mexico South and Mexico Area presidencies; called to the Presidency of the Seventy in August 2012.

Gerrit W. Gong: just turned 64 last month; fifth most senior member (which was Elder Uchtdorf’s status at the time of his call to the apostleship in 2004, and Elder Cook’s status at the time of his call to the apostleship 3 years later); has Asian ancestry; born in California; served a full-time mission in Taiwan; father-in-law was a general authority; called as a general authority seventy in April 2010; served in the Asia Area Presidency; called to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015 (following Elder Rasband’s call to the Quorum of the Twelve); formally began that assignment the following January.

Patrick Kearon: 56.5; junior member of the Presidency (which was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s status at the time of his October 1986 call to the apostleship); sustained as a General Authority Seventy in April 2010; called to the Presidency of the Seventy in August 2017; born in England (would therefore be the 6th apostle called from that nation): converted to the Church and was baptized in 1987; was a stake president and area seventy prior to his call as a General Authority; has simultaneously served as Assistant Executive Director of both the Priesthood and Media Services Department; served from 2012-2017 as a counselor then president for the Church’s Europe Area.

General Authority Seventies

Paul V. Johnson: 63.6; born in Florida; served a full-time mission in Norway; has served as a counselor in a stake presidency; called as an area seventy to the Fifth Quorum in June 2003; called as a general authority seventy in April 2005; served as Commissioner of Church Education from June 2008-August 2015, at which time he was called to serve as a counselor (and later the president) of the Church’s Europe Area.

Paul B. Pieper: 60.3; born in Pocatello Idaho; served a full-time mission in Monterrey Mexico; moved his family to Kazakhstan in the late 1990s, where he became the first president of the first branch established in that nation; served as president of the Church’s Russia St. Petersburg Mission; called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2005; served in the Europe East Area Presidency from 2005-2009; during which time, among other things, he presided over the 2007 groundbreaking for the Kyiv Ukraine Temple; from 2009-2012, he was assigned supervision of the Middle East/Africa North Area (which is administered from Church headquarters, and to which he was likely assigned in view of his previous personal experiences living in Kazakhstan); has served in the Mexico Area Presidency (as a counselor then president from August 2014-present.

NOTE: David S. Baxter may be on several individual’s lists of apostolic possibilities as he is the right age and was called in April 2006 as a General Authority, but since the Church’s biography of him states he is on medical leave, he is unlikely to be called.

Shayne M. Bowen: 63.3; born in Rigby Idaho; served a full-time mission in Santiago Chile, during which time he was temporarily incarcerated on espionage charges until the government realized he was a missionary, not a spy; has been a stake president twice; served as president of the Spain Barcelona mission from 2000-2003; also served as an area seventy prior to his call as a General Authority in April 2006; has served as a counselor and president in both the South America South and Philippines Areas; has served in a wide variety of other capacities at Church headquarters as well.

Marcus B. Nash: 60.8; born in Seattle Washington; served a full-time mission in San Salvador El Salvador; was part of the crew that worked on the construction of the Seattle Washington Temple; served as president of the Lynnwood Washington Stake from 1991-2001; served as an area seventy from 2001-2006; called as a General Authority in April 2006; served from 2007-2009 as the president of the South America West Area; as president of the South America Northwest Area from 2009-2011; served in variety of capacities at Church headquarters; from 2016-present, he has been serving as First Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency.

Anthony D. Perkins: 57.5; born in Cortez Colorado; served a full-time mission in Taiwan; when employment took him and his family to China, he served as president of the Beijing branch; he returned to Taiwan as a mission president from 2003-2006; called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2006; served as a counselor then president in the Asia Area from 2007-2012; he was then reassigned to Church headquarters, where he is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Correlation Department and serves on the Correlation Executive Committee; as of August 2017, he is also assigned as the junior administrator of the Middle East/Africa North Area, which is administered from Church headquarters.

Michael John U. Teh: 52.5: born in Davao Philippines (making him the second Filipino called as a General Authority); his parents joined the Church when he was 3; his family moved to Manila several years later; served full-time in the Church’s Davao mission; he was a mail clerk in the Philippines area office; later worked full-time as a recorder in the Manila Philippines Temple and managed the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division in the Philippines area office; has served as a bishop, counselor in a stake presidency; counselor in a mission presidency; and area seventy; he served in the Philippines Area Presidency as an area seventy beginning in 2006; following his call as a General Authority the following year, he continued as a counselor then president of that area between 2007-2013;  he has also served as an area assistant in the North America Southwest Area and an Assistant Executive Director of the Temple Department; has been serving as president of the Taiwan Taichung mission since 2016; is on this list because I felt in April 2008 that he would be called as the newest apostle, and that could occur this time.

Kevin W. Pearson: 60.8: born in Salt Lake City; served a full-time mission in Helsinki Finland; worked in the health care industry; served from 2005-2008 as president of the Washington Tacoma Mission; called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2008; he has been an assistant executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department; has been a counselor in the Europe East Area presidency and a counselor and president of the Church’s Pacific Area.

NOTE: While Michael T. Ringwood was at one point on this list, given that his father-in-law, President Nelson, has become the Church president, it doesn’t seem likely that he would be called, since the Church is very careful about matters of nepotism, so it seems wise to eliminate him as a possibility.

Kevin R. Duncan: 57.3; born in West Point, Utah; served a full-time mission in Chile; his first wife died when their daughter was less than a year old; he subsequently remarried; spent his professional career as an attorney; served as president of the Church’s Santiago Chile mission; simultaneously serving as the Church’s associate general counsel in South America; has served as an area seventy; called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2010; has served as a counselor then president of the Church’s Central America Area; currently serves as Assistant Executive Director of the Temple Department and an area assistant for the Church’s three Utah areas; was the first General Authority Seventy to speak during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional last year.

Ian S. Ardern: 63.8: second General Authority born in New Zealand; converted to the Church at age 8; served full-time in the France-Belgium mission; was an educator by profession (including time serving as president of the Church’s College of New Zealand; after being a bishop, high councilor, and stake presidency counselor, he served as president of the Fiji Suva mission; subsequently rejoined the CES in New Zealand as an institute director and seminary coordinator; called as an area seventy in 2011; became a General Authority one year later; has served as a counselor, then president of the Church’s Philippines Area; currently serving in the presidency of the Pacific Area; while the Church has not yet had an apostle from the Pacific, his background with the CES would fit in nicely with that of current apostles President Eyring and Elders Holland and Bednar.

Randall K. Bennett: 62.6: born in Canada; would be the second Canadian apostle (the first was Marriner W. Merrill); served full-time in the France Paris and France Toulouse Mission; spent his professional career as an orthodontist; served as president of the Russia Samara Mission; called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2011; served in the Europe East Area presidency from 2011-2015; has been serving since 2015 as an Assistant Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department and an area assistant for the Church’s North America Northeast Area.

Carl B. Cook: 60.3: born in Ogden, Utah; served a full-time mission in Hamburg Germany; worked as a businessman; has been a bishop; stake president; and mission president in Auckland New Zealand; served as an area seventy; called as a General Authority in April 2011; has served in the presidency of the Africa Southeast Area (from 2011-2015); has also served in various capacities at Church headquarters.

LeGrand R. Curtis Jr: 65.4; born in Ogden Utah; is the son of an emeritus general authority (who served in the Second Quorum) served a full-time mission in northern Italy; spent his professional career as an attorney; has been a bishop; high councilor; counselor in a stake presidency and stake president; returned to Italy as president of the Padova Mission; was an area seventy; called as a General Authority in April 2011l; has served as a counselor then president of the Africa West Area; has been serving at Church headquarters since July 2016.


Scott D. Whiting: 56.8; born in Salt Lake City Utah; served a full-time mission in Tokyo Japan; spent his professional career as a vice president and in-house counsel for the Molokai Ranch in Hawaii; he subsequently served became the ranch’s president and CEO; has been a bishop; stake president; and area seventy; called as a General Authority Seventy in the April 2012 General Conference; has served as a counselor then the president of the Church’s Asia Area; as of August 2017, he has been reassigned to Church headquarters.

Preliminary Note on Future Apostles

Hello again, everyone! Now that there has been (at least for the moment) a slight slowing of Church and temple news to report (though there have been a few developments I may mention this weekend), I wanted to follow through on my promise to post some updated thoughts about the current apostolic vacancies and who might be called to fill them.

Before I get into all of that, I need to offer a couple of disclaimers to absolve myself of potential trouble: Firstly, I do not have any kind of "inside track" into who might be called, so the thoughts presented here are no more and no less than my own personal thoughts about why each individual on this list would be a strong choice, based on patterns I have observed in those called in recent years.

Second, some may be uncomfortable or have a problem with my posting about this, seeing it as speculation. I have no objections to those who see these thoughts in that way. With that said, I do not see any problem in offering my thoughts about those that could potentially be called based on the observed patterns that have formed this list; the question of whether or not any of this individuals will be called, either to fill the two existing vacancies or any others that may occur in the near future is entirely up to the Lord.

Third, I want it absolutely understood that I have a deep and abiding testimony in the process by which such calls come (which I acquired at a very early age), and that whether or not any of the men on this list are called at this or other times, anyone called as a special witness of Christ will always have my respect, sustaining vote, loyalty, and support, and it will be so until my last breath.

With that said, the thoughts I have compiled on this subject will follow in a subsequent post. So as not to disrupt the flow of these thoughts, I have felt it wise to close this post before I do. 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.