Assistants to the Twelve
Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, usually shortened to Assistants to the Twelve, were called to assist the Quorum of the Twelve with the expanding demands on their callings.
Assistants to the Twelve were general authorities and fulfilled assignments as directed by the Quorum of the Twelve. Their duties included organizing stakes, presiding over and speaking at stake conferences, touring missions, and directing missionary work in various locations throughout the world.
In 1941, five men were called: Marion G. Romney, Thomas E. McKay, Clifford E. Young, Alma Sonne, and Nicholas G. Smith. Eventually a total of thirty-nine men served in this priesthood calling before the position was merged with the Quorum of the Seventy in 1976.
President Spencer W. Kimball explained the change in the October 1976 General Conference:
- In 1941, five high priests were called to assist the Twelve Apostles in their heavy workload, and to fill a role similar to that envisioned by the revelations for the First Quorum of the Seventy. The scope and demands of the work at that time did not justify the reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy. In the intervening years, additional Assistants to the Twelve have been added and today we have twenty-one.
- Commencing a year ago, brethren other than the First Council of the Seventy were called into the First Quorum of the Seventy, and at present there are fourteen in that quorum, including the First Council.
- Since the functions and responsibilities of the Assistants to the Twelve and the Seventy are similar, and since the accelerated, worldwide growth of the Church requires a consolidation of its administrative functions at the general level, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, with the concurrence of the Assistants to the Twelve and the First Quorum of the Seventy, have felt inspired to call all of the Assistants to the Twelve into the First Quorum of the Seventy, to call four new members into that quorum, and to restructure the First Council of the Seventy. . . .
- With this move, the three governing quorums of the Church defined by the revelations—the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First Quorum of the Seventy—have been set in their places as revealed by the Lord. This will make it possible to handle efficiently the present heavy workload and to prepare for the increasing expansion and acceleration of the work, anticipating the day when the Lord will return to take direct charge of His church and kingdom.
A few of the men who served as Assistants to the Twelve were called later to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: George Q. Morris, Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, James E. Faust, Neal A. Maxwell, and Joseph B. Wirthlin. Several others served both in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency: Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, and Gordon B. Hinckley; of these, only Gordon B. Hinckley became president of the Church in 1995.