SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson is the 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the church’s Public Affairs Committee made the announcement during an unprecedented live broadcast from the Salt Lake Temple on historical Temple Square.
“I declare my devotion to God our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said during the broadcast. “I pledge to serve them with every remaining breath of my life.”
LDS apostles serve for life and are considered “special witnesses” of Jesus Christ to the world. Three apostles form the First Presidency. Twelve more make up the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Christofferson said the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met Sunday morning in the Salt Lake Temple and voted to reconstitute the First Presidency, which had dissolved automatically upon the death of President Thomas S. Monson on Jan. 2.
They voted to make the senior apostle, President Nelson, 93, the church’s new president.
President Nelson then selected President Dallin H. Oaks as his first counselor and President Henry B. Eyring as his second counselor in the First Presidency.
“It was a sacred and humbling experience,” President Nelson said. “How could I choose only two of the 12 apostles, each of whom I love dearly.”
He said he was grateful to Elder Oaks and Elder Eyring for accepting their new roles in the First Presidency.
President Oaks, as apostle second in seniority, also became the president of the Quorum of the Twelve. However, because he is now in the First Presidency, the apostle who is third in seniority, President M. Russell Ballard, became acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve.
President Oaks ordained and set apart President Nelson as the church’s new leader.
Those actions ended the 12-day apostolic interregnum since President Monson’s death. During these periods, the Quorum of the Twelve administers the church until a new president is set apart.
This apostolic administration was the longest since 1889, when 20 months passed during the transition from President John Taylor to President Woodruff.
President Monson’s First Presidency included President Eyring as first counselor and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf as second counselor. President Nelson said now-Elder Uchtdorf had returned to his place in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and had accepted new assignments unique to his capabilities.
President Nelson expressed appreciation to church members for their service and for their prayers on behalf of church leaders. He encouraged them to stay on the convenant path and qualify for, receive and live temple covenants.
“For each one of you, I’m most humbly grateful,” he said.
He also invited those who have left the path to return saying, “Whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this church.”
President Nelson also said the church’s system of leadership is divinely mandated and wise.
“Each day of an apostle’s service is a day of learning and preparing for more service in the future,” he said, adding that “during that time he gains insight into each facet of the church.”
President Oaks was called as an apostle at the same time as President Nelson in 1984, but ordained several weeks afterward because a work assignment outside Utah kept him from attending the general conference where he was called.
He expressed gratitude and love for President Nelson, whom he has sat next to in the quorum for 34 years.
President Eyring mentioned church growth saying, “what will accelerate is the growth of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
At 10 a.m. MST, President Nelson will address the media at a press conference that also will be streamed live by the Deseret News.