Boyd K. Packer

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President Boyd K. Packer was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until his death on July 3, 2015. He was formerly Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Boyd K. Packer, Mormon Apostle
Apostle Boyd K. Packer


Boyd Kenneth Packer was born on September 10, 1924, in Brigham City, Utah. Although he was the tenth of eleven children born to Ira and Emma Packer, he was the first to be born in a hospital. He grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized into the Church as a child. As a young boy, Boyd K. Packer witnessed his sister Adele die from the measles [1]. While still a young boy, Packer suffered from what the doctors believed to be pneumonia. However, after he became well again, he found he was initially unable to walk. It was not until he reached adulthood that he learned that he had actually had polio.

Military Service

As he reached the age to go on a full-time mission for the Church, World War II began. Unable to serve a full-time mission, President Packer served in the U.S. Army as a fighter pilot. It was during this time, that Packer read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover for the first time. He described his experience as follows:

"When I first read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, I read the promise that if I "would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if [the things I had read were] true; and if [I would] ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he [would] manifest the truth of it unto [me], by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 10:4). I tried to follow those instructions, as I understood them.

"If I expected a glorious manifestation to come at once as an overpowering experience, it did not happen. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I began to believe." [2].

Speaking of the same experience, he stated,

"When I was about 10, I made my first attempt to read the Book of Mormon. The first part was easy-flowing New Testament language. Then I came to the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. I could not understand them; I found them difficult to read. I laid the book aside.

I made other attempts to read the Book of Mormon. I did not read it all until I was on a troop ship with other bomber crew members, headed for the war in the Pacific. I determined that I would read the Book of Mormon and find out for myself whether it is true or not. Carefully I read and reread the book. I tested the promise that it contained. That was a life-changing event. After that, I never set the book aside." [3]

Over time Packer's testimony of the restored gospel and his understanding of the process of revelation began to develop more fully.

As a young soldier, Packer struggled to reconcile military service with his faith. The Book of Mormon helped him answer this question of the soul.

I mention another plain and precious insight that did not come with the first reading in the Book of Mormon. When I was 18 years old, I was inducted into the military. While I had no reason to wonder about it before, I became very concerned if it was right for me to go to war. In time, I found my answer in the Book of Mormon:

"They [the Nephites] were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

"And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.

"And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion" (Alma 43:45–47).

Knowing this, I could serve willingly and with honor [4].

It was while he was on one of his military missions that he decided that he wanted to pursue a career as a teacher. While in Japan, Boyd K. Packer performed the baptism for the first person baptized in Japan after World War II.

Post War

When the war ended, President Packer attended Weber State University and later Utah State University. One Sunday, President Packer was asked to give a talk in a ward that he did not attend. A young woman named Donna Edith Smith was at the meeting and later said that when upon hearing him speak she thought “Now, this is the type of man I would wish to marry.” On July 28, 1947, Boyd K. Packer and Donna Smith were married; together they had 10 children.

CES Employment

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Packer taught Seminary in Brigham City for six years. At the same time, he also worked on getting his master’s degree from Utah State University. He later went on to earn a PhD from Brigham Young University. While working with the Seminary, Packer helped to open the first Seminary for Native Americans. He is well known for his knowledge of the scriptures and for his quick wit.

In addition to serving in the Church, Packer has actively served in the community. He has been a city councilman, and has received awards for his efforts in educational and civic affairs.

Artistic Talents

Pair of Lazuli Buntings with Iris, 1983, Basswood, copper foliage; 18 x 11 x 10 in. by Boyd K. Packer

Packer developed talents as an artist and learned how to carve and paint beautifully. At one point he even considered becoming a professional artist. Packer continued to exercise these talents throughout his life; he has even illustrated a few books. One such book, published in 1977, was entitled Mothers. Packer wrote the book and created the beautiful pictures of birds that are shown every couple of pages. Some of his carvings of birds, and a 'Noah's Ark' with carved animals he made for his grandchildren, were displayed in an exhibition at the Church Museum of History and Art in Salt Lake City.

Church Service

On October 1, 1961, Boyd K. Packer was called to be an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The calling was a surprise and given to him only about an hour before it was to be announced in General Conference. His wife and family learned about the calling as it was being announced to the rest of the members of the Church. Packer was only 37 at the time and the youngest of the General Authorities. In 1965 he was given an additional calling, to be the president for the New England States Mission, where he served until 1968. On April 9, 1970, he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In 1971, Elder Packer, along with Elders Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, assisted President Joseph Fielding Smith in establishing The Genesis Group, a support organization for Black members of the Church [5].

In 1972, Elder Boyd K. Packer, along with Elders Thomas S. Monson and Bruce R. McConkie were commissioned by the First Presidency to oversee a project to publish a new edition of the Standard Works (books of scripture) of the Church, which would included extensive study aids[6].This project lasted nine years and culminated in the publication of the 1981 LDS Edition of the Standard Works. During Elder Packer's tenure on the Scripture Committee, the Church also released the first computerized edition of the standard works in 1988 [7].

President Boyd K. Packer served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from June 5, 1994, to February 2, 2008 [8], which means it was his duty to preside over the other apostles. President Packer then served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008, when a new First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were constituted.

In the April 2008, President Packer summarized his worldwide travels in church service:

"I am no different from the Brethren of the Twelve and the Seventy and the Bishopric with whom I have served for these 47 years when I tell you that the records show I have been in Mexico and Central and South America more than 75 times, in Europe over 50 times, Canada 25 times, the islands of the Pacific 10 times, Asia 10 times, and Africa 4 times; also China twice; to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Dominican Republic, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and many, many other places around the globe." (April 2008 General Conference)

President Packer did not keep a formal journal. Much of his experiences and testimony have been documented in talks and sermons given over the years.

Quotes from President Boyd K. Packer

  • "We may one day stand alone, but we will not change or lower our standards or change our course."
"On the Shoulders of Giants," BYU J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional, February 2004
  • "We need not fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. I have been in the councils of the Church and seen many things, I have seen disappointment and shock and concern. Never once have I seen any fear."
"The One Pure Defense," Address to CES Religious Educators, February 2004
  • "Often, however, the things we carry are petty, even stupid. If you are still upset after all these years because Aunt Clara didn't come to your wedding reception, why don't you grow up? Forget it. If you brood constantly over some past mistake, settle it—look ahead. If the bishop didn't call you right—or release you right—forget it. If you resent someone for something he has done—or failed to do—forget it. We call that forgiveness. It is powerful, spiritual medicine. The instructions for its use are found in the scriptures.
"The Balm of Gilead," Ensign, November 1977, 59-61; November 1987, 16-18
  • "Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil." (November 1994 General Conference)

Stories from Boyd K. Packer's Life

Experiences with the Scriptures

  • Boyd K. Packer learns to reconcile his faith with his military service while studying The Book of Mormon. [9]
  • President Hinckley jokes at a conference that he cannot use Elder Packer's scriptures, because after years of study and markings, "You have everything crossed out!" [10]
  • Elder Packer explains how, as a seminary teacher, he would use the concordance to help people find scriptures they were looking for. [11]
  • Elder Packer explains how the counsel in his patriarchal blessing to "guard and protect your body" has blessed his life. [12]

Experiences with Prayer

  • As his combat plane is running out of fuel, Airman Boyd K. Packer tests his brother's lesson about the power of prayer and a favorite hymn to bring peace and assurance. [13]

Service to Others

  • Shortly after being released from the Air Force following World War II, Boyd K. Packer helps fill bags of wheat at a Church welfware mill to help starving people in Europe. [14]

Family Experiences

  • The Holy Ghost teaches President Packer not to fear for the future that his grandchildren will face. [15]
  • A spiritually sensitive grandmother quietly helps sister Packer tend to ten small children in sacrament meeting while Elder Packer was away on church business [16]
  • A bedridden grandfather (Sister Packer's father) blesses the Packer children with his presence and the opportunity for service. [17].
  • Boyd K. Packer's brother, Leon, jokes with him first on the air strip and then upon receiving a call as a general authority "See you upstairs if you think you can make it." [18]
  • Harold B. Lee's wife teaches Elder Packer's son about tithing (the story with the shiny and dirty pennies). [19]
  • Elder Packer's young son reminds him that he is a child of God "I not a monkey, Daddy, I a person." [20]

Experiences as a General Authority

  • Elder Packer recounts feelings of inadequacy when called as a general authority. [22]
  • Elder Packer bears his testimony to the First Presidency during his call to the apostleship. [23]
  • Elder Packer learns, while listening to the tabernacle organist, of the assurance of the Holy Ghost in his ministry. [24]
  • At a symposium, Elder Packer uses humor to respond to preposterous claims about members of the Church. [25]
  • Elder Packer receives an impression of the strength and future of the church while watching faitful saints in the Philippines who serve well despite their poverty. [26]
  • Elder Packer learns to trust the missionary work in a province in Canada to young missionaries who hold "the priesthood of the Almighty God." [27]
  • President Packer attends a missionary zone conference to which the mission president couldn't attend due to a gale. "The young zone leaders conducted that meeting with as much inspiration and dignity as their mission president might have done." [28]
  • Elder Packer teaches a stake president the importance of valuing grandparents for what they are and not just what they do in the Church. [29]
  • Elder Packer calls an unassuming man to be patriarch of a stake [30]
  • Elder Packer rescues a Peruvian orphan from being banished from a Sacrament Meeting service. [31]
  • Elder Packer is carried off in a train before he can help an orphaned begger in Japan. [32]
  • Elder Packer helps a sick first grader in a hospital open a Christmas package from his Navajo mother. [33]
  • Elder Packer attends a Sacrament Meeting presentation by special needs children. [34]
  • Elder and Sister Packer meet with Relief Society members in Czeckoslovakia, behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. [35]
  • Belle Spafford, General President of the Relief Society, teaches Elder Packer of the importance of accepting calls to serve. [36]
  • As an airman in the air force, Boyd K. Packer experiences the humiliation of being unclean after a week-long trip through the desert without being able to wash. That experience later helped him understand the principle of being washed clean spiritually. [37]
  • Elder Packer learns from President Harold B. Lee of the infinite nature of the atonement. [38]


  • The Holy Temple (ISBN 9780884944119)
  • Teach Ye Diligently (ISBN 9781590384251)
  • That All May Be Edified (ISBN 9781590386668)
  • The Shield of Faith (ISBN 9781570085826)


To see a video of Boyd K. Packer bearing testimony of Christ and the Restoration, click here.

RSC, "President Packer's Teachings: An Interview with Clyde J. Williams"

Newsroom "President Boyd K. Packer: The Artistry of an Apostle"

PBS Interview Transcript with President Packer, July 2007

"Elder Boyd K. Packer: Disciple of the Master Teacher" June 1986 Ensign magazine

Biographical page on Grandpa Bill's GA Pages (Includes links to all of Elder Packer's sermons from General Conference)

Church News, "President Packer is at half-century milestone of service"

Boyd K. Packer's life has been chronicled in a biography by Lucile C. Tate, entitled Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower ([39]).


Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Jeffrey R. Holland | Dieter F. Uchtdorf | David A. Bednar | Quentin L. Cook | D. Todd Christofferson | Neil L. Andersen | Ronald A. Rasband | Gary E. Stevenson | Dale G. Renlund | Gerrit W. Gong | Ulisses Soares | Patrick Kearon