LDS Church names Russell M. Nelson as new president

Tuesday , January 16, 2018 - 9:07 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson, 93, officially will take over as the 17th leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approved Nelson’s appointment to the post at a special meeting Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.

Nelson’s appointment follows a tradition of appointing the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as president of the church that has existed since Brigham Young was appointed as the second church president in 1847. Nelson replaces President Thomas S. Monson, who died Jan. 2.

The change was announced in a special broadcast Tuesday morning from the Salt Lake Temple.

RELATED: Longtime church leader Russell M. Nelson, 93, expected to be next LDS president

Nelson appointed Dallin H. Oaks, 85, as his first counselor and Henry B. Eyring, 84, as second counselor. Eyring was previously the first counselor to Monson. 

Also announced was the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. M. Russell Ballard will serve as acting president of the quorum, since Oaks, who would otherwise be the president of the quorum as the longest serving apostle, is a counselor in the First Presidency. Oaks remains next in line to be president of the church if he lives longer than Nelson.

Monson’s other counselor, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, returns to his place in the Quorum of the Twelve, and has already been given new assignments, Nelson said in Tuesday’s announcement. 

RELATED: LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson's family tells of his service

Nelson said all of the living apostles were at the Sunday meeting and participated in setting him apart as president of the church. 

“The lord always has and always will instruct and inspire his prophets; the lord is at the helm,” Nelson said in the Tuesday broadcast. “We who have been ordained to bear witness of his holy name throughout the world will continue to seek to know his will and follow it.”

During a January 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, Nelson challenged those watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by taking time each week to study Jesus Christ’s actions as recorded in scripture.

In the devotional and in a blog post that followed, Nelson said he studied 2,200 scriptures about the Savior in six weeks and the learning he received as a result changed his life for the better.

RELATED: Locals remember Mormon prophet as a kind man who stressed service to others 

In his most recent General Conference address in October, Nelson asked members to think about the value of the Book of Mormon in their lives.

He told the story of giving an African king a copy of the book. The king replied: “You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nelson urged members to see the similar value the book offered them.

Story continues below photo gallery.

Nelson also addressed the women of the church in an October 2015 talk titled “A Plea to My Sisters." Stressing the importance of the role women play in the church, he said, “We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.”

Before his calling as a general authority in the church, Nelson was noted as an “internationally renowned surgeon and medical researcher,” according to Nelson’s church-issued biography.

He received his bachelor of arts and master’s degrees from University of Utah and did his residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at the University of Minnesota, where he received his doctorate degree in 1954.

Nelson’s professional work included positions of research professor of surgery and director of thoracic surgery residency at the University of Utah. He was chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.

He is the author of numerous chapters in medical textbooks and other publications, and he lectured at and visited many organizations throughout the United States and other nations prior to his call as a church leader, according to his biography.

His leadership roles included president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association and president of the Utah State Medical Association, according to his biography.

Before his full-time church service, he served as stake president of the Bonneville Stake from 1964 until 1971, when he was called as general president of the Sunday School, according to his biography.

Nelson and his late wife, Dantzel White Nelson, have 10 children, 57 grandchildren and more than 100 great-grandchildren. Following Dantzel’s death in February of 2005, Nelson married Wendy L. Watson in April 2006.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at


Sign up for e-mail news updates.