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- The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles holds all of the priesthood keys, power, and authority needed to guide the Church (see D&C 107:23–24; 112:14–15). Each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is given the keys of the priesthood at the time of his ordination as an Apostle and calling to the Quorum. Only the President of the Church has the authority to exercise all of the keys of the priesthood, but, as President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained, each member of the Quorum of the Twelve “holds the keys of this dispensation in latent reserve. Inherent in that divine residual is the assured ongoing leadership of the Church” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 4; or Ensign, May 1983, 6; emphasis added).
The President of the Church serves as such until death, after which the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet, pray, and under the leadership of the senior apostle, receive revelation as to whom the Lord chooses as His next prophet. Although not specified by revelation, the senior apostle has historically become the new President of the Church. (This seniority is based on the date when the individual was called as an apostle, not his calendar age.)