New Apostles Testify of Jesus Christ during Press Conference

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor

  • 3 October 2015

Speaking publicly for the first time since being sustained as new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund participated in a press conference October 3.  Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Speaking publicly for the first time since being sustained as new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund participated in a press conference Saturday afternoon.

“This afternoon, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assembled all over the world in dozens of nations raised their hands in a traditional show of support for new leaders,” said Michael Otterson, director of Church public affairs as he opened the press conference. “As you all know, three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve arose through the passing of three really beloved leaders of the Church—President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry, and, just two weeks ago, Elder Richard G. Scott.”

He noted that Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund become the 98th, 99th, and 100th Apostles to be called since the organization of the Church in 1830.

During the press conference, held in the lobby of the Church Office Building after the Saturday afternoon session of conference, each was given an opportunity to introduce himself before answering questions.

Newly named Apostles Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund with their wives, Sister Melanie Rasband, Sister Lesa Jean Stevenson, and Sister Ruth Renlund, arrive at a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Newly named Apostles Elder Ronald A. Rasband, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund talk with members of the media at a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Rasband opened his remarks by expressing appreciation and love to the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and worldwide Church membership who “raised their arms to sustain us in this holy and sacred calling.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband talks to the media during a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

“I, of course, know with all my heart—and my wife and I have it confirmed to us—that this calling comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He then shared a simple message: “I want you all to know I love the Lord. I love this Church. I am a sixth-generation Latter-day Saint. My pioneer ancestors who came from England and Denmark paid a heavy price that someone in their posterity would receive this call.“

Elder Stevenson said receiving his new call had been a “knee-buckling experience” that was completely unexpected. “In the past three and a half years I have been serving as the Presiding Bishop, and, in that capacity, I have had a particular focus in caring for the poor and the needy, which is one of the divinely appointed responsibilities of Christ’s Church.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson talks to the media during a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

He said he is humbled now to be called to the Quorum of the Twelve and take on a greater ecclesiastical role. But, he added, his new responsibilities are very similar to caring for the poor and needy.

“There is a scriptural charge that says that we succor the weak, we lift up the hands that hang down, and we strengthen the feeble knees,” he said. “And in that comes the charge that we feel as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in providing service that would be Christlike service and Christlike behavior.”

Elder Renlund said after he received the call he discovered for himself that the call came from God.

Elder Dale G. Renlund talks to the media during a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

“I don’t feel qualified, with the exception that I do know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world,” said Elder Renlund. “I can witness of His living reality, that He is my Savior and your Savior. I know that that’s true.”

Then the three new leaders answered questions from the media.

Newly named Apostles Elder Ronald A. Rasband, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund talk with members of the media at a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3. Michael Otterson, director of public affairs for the Church, is at far left. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Responding to a question about the apostleship, Elder Rasband said members of the Quorum of the Twelve, from the time of Christ to this very day, have been witnesses of His name in all the world.

“We bear His witness of Him everywhere to members and nonmembers and friends and neighbors. To be a special witness of the name of Christ, I think, is our premier and foremost calling. That hasn’t changed from the days that Christ sent those with Him in the meridian of time.”

Elder Renlund added that to be a witness of His name in all the world is not just to be a witness of His living reality. “It’s to be a witness of His name—Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah—His mission, His Atonement, and His work and everything that He did.”

When asked about the greatest challenges in the Church today, Elder Rasband said a great blessing is prophets, seers, and revelators in the world today. Placing emphasis on the word “seer,” he said, “They’re able to look into the future,” and because of that “we are going to hear the answer to that question spoken from the pulpit at general conference.”

Bishop Stevenson said many people are concerned about the challenge of maintaining families, raising children, and keeping children anchored in righteous principles.

When asked how members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles avoid adulation, Bishop Stevenson said, “As I think about this sacred call, I think that it is more leading by serving, not serving by leading. Jesus Christ considered Himself a servant, and we too consider ourselves servants.”

Elder Rasband said he and the other new Apostles will avoid adulation by remembering their roots. “In my case, I was born of a Wonder Bread truck driver and a dear mother who tried her very hardest to … raise a family as a stay-at-home mother. These days I have a wife who’s going to keep me well grounded.”

Newly named Apostles Elder Ronald A. Rasband, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund talk with members of the media at a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Renlund said the Brethren will stay grounded by seeing people in different circumstances and “really seeing them through Heavenly Father’s eyes.”

Elder Renlund said he recently served in the Africa Southeast Area—which consists of 34 countries, 25 of which have a Church presence.

He said on one memorable occasion he was in Central Congo asking Latter-day Saints in the country what their challenges were. He asked three times before a gentleman stood and said, “Elder Renlund, how can we have challenges? We have the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The man had no running water and no electricity, but “I realized that they had the gospel of Jesus Christ. And my wife and I felt we would like to grow up and be like those Congolese Saints, … just like them, because they inspired us. They look like they have nothing, but they have everything. And that keeps us grounded.”

When asked how the three new leaders from Utah could serve an international Church, Elder Rasband said, “Jesus Christ loves everyone. And we’re going to be Apostles to everyone. We’ve had opportunity to travel through the Church. We love the Latter-day Saints everywhere.”

Elder Renlund said even though the Savior’s mortal life was confined to a very narrow geographic area, He paid the price so He could understand how everybody feels. “The Holy Ghost,” he said, “can bless us with the Savior’s compassion.”

When asked what he will look forward to, Elder Stevenson said one of the great blessings and responsibilities of the Twelve is to travel to the ends of the earth. Being able to connect with the members of the Church everywhere in the world is something he will enjoy. “It is a global church, and the opportunity to see and feel and associate and testify to the four corners of the world would be one of those things.”

Elder Renlund said that the whole purpose of the Church is to deliver the Atonement of Jesus Christ to people. “And the greatest joy that comes is helping to bring the Atonement of Christ into the lives of people anywhere. I think this gives the opportunity to do that in a bigger scale, in more places, and being a witness of Christ in His name in all the world. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like.”

Each of the Brethren then responded to a question regarding their professional backgrounds and how those experiences will help them serve the needs of an ever-more diverse Church.

Elder Rasband said he had the great honor of working for Jon M. Huntsman Sr. “I learned in my profession the value of every person and that people are more important than anything else we can do.”

Elder Stevenson said traveling the world—beginning as a missionary—will help him in his new assignment. “Seeing the goodness of people everywhere—of a factory worker in China or a sales manager in Europe—the people are really the blessing.”

Elder Renlund said his work as a heart surgeon ”led me to see the worth of an individual soul.”

Conference goers raise their hands in a sustaining vote as President Henry B. Eyring announces three new Apostles and presents the leadership of the Church at the beginning of the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015, in the Conference Center. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Members of the Primary choir join leaders of the Church in showing their sustaining votes for new and existing General Authorities at the beginning of the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015, in the Conference Center. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Dale G. Renlund, left, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband take their seats among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after they were sustained during the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband holds a young family member after a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson is hugged by young family members during a press conference following the Saturday afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Dale G. Renlund is hugged by a family member during a press conference following the afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.