Right to left: Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund sit on the stand for the first time as Apostles.
During the Sunday morning session of general conference October 4, 2015, President Thomas S. Monson extended “a heartfelt welcome” to Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund. “These are men dedicated to the work of the Lord,” he said. “They are well qualified to fill the important positions to which they have been called.”
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.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
Since becoming a General Authority 15 years ago, Elder Ronald A. Rasband has traveled to all corners of the world to be with the members of the Church. He and his wife, Melanie, have filled multiple passports and logged hundreds of thousands of air miles.
And with each assignment, their love and admiration for the Latter-day Saints across the globe has grown stronger and stronger.
“We’ve come to recognize that this really is a worldwide Church,” he told the Church News. “We have had tremendous experiences that have given us a rich perspective of the diverse nature of our members.”
With each new assignment, Elder and Sister Rasband relished their moments with members at stake conferences or during mission tours.
“You can’t be involved with the Saints without being touched by their faith and their desire to serve the Lord,” he said.
Elder Rasband, 64, said that each assignment—be it local or distant—has also taught him lessons that will serve him well in his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Elder Stevenson, who had been serving as the Presiding Bishop, said he is humbled now to be called to the Quorum of the Twelve, adding that 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.”
More than nine years of Elder Stevenson’s life have been spent living in Asia. As a young missionary, he served for two years in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. Later, he would return to Asia many times on business, and then he served alongside his wife, Lesa Jean, as the mission president of the Japan Nagoya Mission (2004–2007) and as Area President of the Church’s Asia North Area (2008–2012). “It’s really my second home,” he said. “I’m very, very comfortable in Asia.”
He looks forward to the responsibility of traveling around the global Church and testifying to the four corners of the earth. “Seeing the goodness of people everywhere—of a factory worker in China or a sales manager in Europe—the people are really the blessing,” he said.
Elder Dale G. Renlund
Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife, Ruth, know what it means to seek, listen for, and then heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
In 1981, Ruth contracted ovarian cancer. For a while, her very survival was in jeopardy.
It was a trial for both. He was serving as a bishop at the time with the added pressure of worry about his wife’s condition. Eventually cured of the cancer, she went on to an eminent legal career, and he had success as a cardiologist.
Then, when he was called as General Authority in 2009, having been an Area Seventy since 2000, both “left the nets” to serve the Lord. He was assigned to the Southeast Africa Area. “The Saints there are among the most faithful in the world,” he said. “I really want to … be like them, because they have such great faith.”
As an Apostle, Elder Renlund now desires to continue the pattern he and his wife have long followed.
“Our choices, paths, and direction have been shaped by seeking for and following the whisperings of the Holy Ghost as we have earnestly sought for personal revelation,” he said. “It is important to look up to heaven for direction rather than across to a neighbor or a friend for guidance. We are all so different. That’s why we all need personal help.”
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.”
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
The new Apostles and their wives arrive at a press conference October 3, 2015. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.