93-year-old, former heart surgeon Russell M. Nelson has been officially announced as the next president of the LDS Church. The new leadership change comes after the death of former president Thomas S. Monson on Jan. 2nd.
Eric Hawkins with the church’s media department facilitated a press conference in the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City Tuesday with members of the new presidency.
“President Nelson is the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its 187-year history, and comes to this position after nearly 34 years as an apostle. He now presides over a church of more than 16 million members in virtually every nation of the world. President Dallin H. Oaks has been called as first counselor and President Henry B. Eyring as second counselor in the First Presidency," Hawkins said."
President M. Russel Ballard will now be president of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.
During a broadcast announcing the change, church leader Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained how new leadership changes are made.
“When the president of the church passes away," he said, "the First Presidency is automatically dissolved. The men previously serving as counselors assume their places in the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and that quorum assumes leadership of the church with the senior apostle at its head. Soon after the death of the president of the church, members of the quorum of the 12 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.”
Christofferson says this system is in place to eliminate campaigning for the position and to ensure the next president is a seasoned leader of the church.
During a press conference, President Nelson answered questions about the faith’s plan to address LGBTQ, racial and gender issues; as well as how to help countries hit hard with social and economic problems.
“We live in a most-vibrant era in the history of the world," he said. "I wake up every morning eager for the adventures of the day, and I hope you feel that same exuberant for the gift of life. Though our world is filled with serious challenges, I am optimistic about the future and feel confident about the fundamental goodness of humankind.”
A link to the announcement and full press conference can be found here.