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How Is the New Prophet Chosen?

Have you ever wondered how the Lord calls His prophets?

President Russell M. Nelson will serve as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—with President Dallin H. Oaks as First Counselor and President Henry B. Eyring as Second Counselor. President M. Russell Ballard will serve as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

But have you ever wondered how the new prophet is chosen? Since the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Church has used the same process to choose and sustain its new President. In a special announcement on January 16, 2018, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles answered a few questions you might have about this process.

What Happens When the Prophet Dies?

“When the President of the Church passes away, the First Presidency is automatically dissolved. The men previously serving as counselors assume their places in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And that quorum assumes leadership of the Church, with the senior Apostle at its head.”

How Is the Next President of the Church Chosen?

“Soon after the death of the President of the Church, members of the Quorum of the Twelve meet in the temple to consider reconstituting the First Presidency. Throughout our history, the senior Apostle has always become the successor President of the Church. This system precludes any posturing or campaigning for position and provides continuity, seasoned maturity, experience, and extensive preparation for the one who becomes President. As Elder John A. Widtsoe observed: ‘This is a wise procedure. It places at the head of the Church the apostle who has been longest in service. He is known well [by] the people and trusted by them. He himself knows the procedure of Church affairs. He is no novice to be trained for the position’ (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 [1960], 264).”

How Is the New President Set Apart?

“The new President is set apart by the Apostle next in seniority, joined by all the other quorum members by the laying on of hands. Guided by the divine inspiration he receives, the President selects his counselors and then, with the other Apostles, sets them apart.”

Who Becomes the Next President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

“Following the reorganization of the First Presidency, the Apostle who has served the second longest is set apart as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. If the second-longest serving Apostle is called into the First Presidency, the Apostle next in seniority is appointed as Acting President of the Twelve.”

First presidency

“The Man for the Hour”

It can be hard to say goodbye to someone who has been the prophet for a big part of your life. But we can be reassured that each prophet is called of God. Throughout Church history, “it has been most evident that the man who is chosen as the president of the Church was foreordained and was the man for the hour” (N. Eldon Tanner, “Chosen of the Lord,” Apr. 1974 general conference). President Nelson has been called by God to be the man for this hour on the earth, and he will act and speak as God would have him act and speak.

“I express my deep love for you,” said President Nelson in a special worldwide broadcast on January 16, 2018. “Love that has grown over decades of meeting with you, worshipping with you, and serving you. … I encourage each of us to go forward with faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that He is in charge. This is His work and it’s His Church. We are His servants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to go forward, to bless every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. I declare my devotion to God our Eternal Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ. I know Them, love Them, and pledge to serve Them—and you—with every remaining breath of my life.”

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