President Nelson and Elder Oaks Sustained as Apostles 31 Years Ago
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
- President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oaks were sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 31 years ago.
- Then Elder Nelson spoke of God’s eternal and unchanging law in his first conference address.
- Elder Oaks had to wait until the following conference to address the Church as he finished duties in the Utah Supreme Court.
“I rejoice in the opportunity to devote my full energies for the rest of my life to the service of the Lord. I will do my best.” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Each man brings to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles years of experience as a General Authority. Their respective tenures of global leadership ensure they’re well prepared for their new callings.
Thirty-one years ago, on April 7, 1984, members assembled for the 154th Annual General Conference and sustained two new Apostles from outside the rosters of general priesthood leadership. One was a surgeon, the other a jurist. Both had distinguished themselves in their respective professions—but their names might not have been immediately familiar to the general Church membership: Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks.
Since that day, these two men have become, for members, as synonymous with the apostleship as the Bible’s Peter and Paul. Today, President Russell M. Nelson serves as the quorum’s senior and presiding Apostle. His colleague to his immediate left, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, has become one the Church’s most oft-quoted and respected leaders.
In his first general conference address as an Apostle, then Elder Nelson chose to speak of the divine Creator’s eternal and unchanging law.
“The surgeon soon learns the inconvertibility of divine law,” he said. “He knows that hopes and wishes are sometimes simply powerless sham. Desired blessings come only by obedience to divine law, and in no other way.”
He continued: “My life thus far has been focused on learning those laws. Only as the laws are known, and then obeyed, can the blessings we desire be earned. To this extent, there will be little difference in the activities of the past for me and those of the future. The endless laws of the Lord are the doctrines of His Apostles.”
Members would wait six months to hear Elder Oaks deliver his first general conference address. His ordination was delayed a few weeks until he concluded professional obligations as a Utah State Supreme Court Justice.
But he shared his thoughts on his new calling to the Twelve with the Church News a few days after that general conference.
“I feel like a man who stands at the foot of a mountain so high he cannot see its peak but knows he must climb it,” he said humbly. “I feel inadequate in every spiritual aspect of this calling. No newly called General Authority ever had more to learn than I.
“At the same time, I am thrilled to be called, and my wife, June, and I rejoice in the opportunity to devote my full energies for the rest of my life to the service of the Lord. I will do my best.”
Portrait of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in June 1984. Seated left to right are Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Thomas S. Monson, and Boyd K. Packer. Standing, left to right: Marvin J. Ashton, Bruce R. McConkie, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, James E. Faust, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, and Dallin H. Oaks.