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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson Celebrates His 74th Birthday Today

Hello again, everyone! I am back as promised in the early-morning hours of January 24 with my tribute to Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who is celebrating his 74th birthday. As with the posts I have written for every other apostle, I will be sharing a biography herein with highlights about his life. Let's get right into 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 period of time, he would serve as a bishop, stake president, and in the now-defunct calling of regional representative to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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 (which have since been split into two departments), 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 be relieved of responsibility for the Church Departments and would instead oversee areas in the United States and Canada. 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, then, as we know, he was 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 was serving as the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigned to oversee the Church Public Affairs Committee, in which capacity, he was asked by President Nelson to introduce the new First Presidency in a worldwide broadcast on January 16, 2018. He has had 28 opportunities to speak in General Conference so far, 1 of which was given in the conference following his call as a General Authority, with 5 others given during his near decade in the Presidency of the Seventy. You can review any of these addresses here.

Elder Christofferson currently ranks as the fifth most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and he is also the fifth oldest. He remains the ninth in overall apostolic seniority and is now the seventh oldest among the apostles. I am grateful for the life and ministry of Elder Christofferson. I had a couple of choice opportunities to meet him. His niece and her family lived in my parent's ward, so when their newest baby was blessed, Elder Christofferson presided at our Sacrament Meeting. A few years later, our paths crossed again while I was a temple worker, and he was the speaker at our yearly devotional. As one who has had the opportunity to chat informally with him on these two occasions, I testify that his call as one of the Savior's special witnesses is divinely inspired. I appreciate the chance to share these thoughts with you. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. 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.