President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Upon the death of the President of the Church, the First Presidency automatically dissolves, the counselors take their places of seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (expanding the number of Apostles from twelve). The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are then the highest governing quorum of the Church and the President of the Quorum is the senior Apostle.
- The period of time between the death of a prophet and the reorganization of the First Presidency is referred to as an “apostolic interregnum.” During this period, the Quorum of the Twelve, under the leadership of the quorum president, jointly holds the keys to administer the leadership of the Church. President Joseph F. Smith taught, “There is always a head in the Church, and if the Presidency of the Church are removed by death or other cause, then the next head of the Church is the Twelve Apostles, until a presidency is again organized.”
- The most recent interregnum period began when President Monson passed away on January 2 and ended 12 days later on Sunday, January 14. On that Sabbath morning, the Quorum of the Twelve met in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple in a spirit of fasting and prayer, under the presiding direction of President Russell M. Nelson, the senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve.
- In this sacred and memorable meeting, following a well-established precedent in unity and unanimity, the Brethren were seated by seniority in a semicircle of 13 chairs and raised their hands first to sustain the organization of a First Presidency and then to sustain President Russell Marion Nelson as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This sustaining was followed by the Quorum of the Twelve gathering in a circle and placing hands upon the head of President Nelson to ordain and set him apart, with the next most-senior Apostle acting as voice.
- President Nelson then named his counselors, President Dallin Harris Oaks, President Henry Bennion Eyring, with President Oaks as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and President Melvin Russell Ballard as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following similar sustaining votes, each of these Brethren was set apart to his respective office by President Nelson. This was a deeply sacred experience, with an outpouring of the Spirit. I offer to you my absolute witness that the will of the Lord, for which we fervently prayed, was powerfully manifest in the activities and events of that day.
- With the ordination of President Nelson and the reorganization of the First Presidency, the apostolic interregnum ended, and the newly constituted First Presidency began to operate without, remarkably, even one second of interruption in governing the Lord’s kingdom on the earth.
Elder Stevenson noted that the “divine process is culminated in accordance with scriptural mandate” with the Solemn Assembly where the members of the Church sustain the new prophet and President of the Church.
Elder Neil L. Andersen said, “The selection of a prophet is made by the Lord Himself. There is no campaigning, no debates, no posturing for position, no dissension, distrust, confusion, or commotion. I too confirm that the power of heaven was with us in the upper room of the temple as we prayerfully encircled President Nelson and felt the undeniable approval of the Lord upon him. President Nelson’s selection to serve as God’s prophet was made long ago. The Lord’s words to Jeremiah also apply to President Nelson: ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.’ Only three years ago, Elder Nelson, at age 90, was fourth in seniority, with two of the three senior Apostles being younger in age than he was. The Lord, who controls life and death, selects His prophet.”
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “In the early years of his newly established dispensation, the Lord set his divine law of succession, and prophets have followed each other and will continue to follow each other in never-ending, divinely appointed succession.”
It is the duty of the president of the Twelve to preside over the Quorum and to direct the ministry of its members under the leadership of the First Presidency. “We are responsible to shepherd the Church under the direction of the First Presidency,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder [[David A. Bednar said of the Apostles, “At all times, first and foremost, we are witnesses of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ.” “We are not administrators but ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve
- Thomas B. Marsh, February 14, 1835–March 17, 1839 (excommunicated)
- Brigham Young, March 17, 1839–December 27, 1847 (became Church president)
- Orson Hyde, December 27, 1847–April 10, 1875 (change in seniority to ordination and length of continuous service)
- John Taylor, April 10, 1875–October 10, 1880 (became Church president)
- Wilford Woodruff, October 10, 1880–April 7, 1889 (became Church president)
- Lorenzo Snow, April 7, 1889–September 13, 1898 (became Church president)
- Franklin D. Richards, September 13, 1898–December 9, 1899 (died)
- Brigham Young, Jr., December 9, 1899–October 10, 1901 (called as Quorum President, but in current practice, he would have served as Acting President of the Quorum)
- Joseph F. Smith, October 10, 1901–October 17, 1901 (became Church president)
- Brigham Young, Jr., October 17, 1901–April 11, 1903 (died)
- Francis M. Lyman, April 11, 1903–November 18, 1916 (died)
- Heber J. Grant, November 18, 1916–November 23, 1918 (became Church president)
- Anthon H. Lund, November 23, 1918–March 2, 1921 (died)
- Rudger Clawson, March 2, 1921–June 21, 1943 (died)
- George Albert Smith, June 21, 1943–May 21, 1945 (became Church president)
- George F. Richards, May 21, 1945–August 8, 1950 (died)
- David O. McKay, August 8, 1950–April 9, 1951 (became Church president)
- Joseph Fielding Smith, April 9, 1951–January 23, 1970 (became Church president)
- Harold B. Lee, January 23, 1970–July 7, 1972 (became Church president)
- Spencer W. Kimball, July 7, 1972–December 30, 1973 (became Church president)
- Ezra Taft Benson, December 30, 1973–November 10, 1985 (became Church president)
- Marion G. Romney, November 10, 1985–May 20, 1988 (died)
- Howard W. Hunter, May 20, 1988–June 5, 1994 (became Church president)
- Gordon B. Hinckley, June 5, 1994–March 12, 1995 (became Church president)
- Thomas S. Monson, March 12, 1995–February 3, 2008 (became Church president)
- Boyd K. Packer, February 3, 2008–July 3, 2015 (died)
- Russell M. Nelson, July 3, 2015–January 14, 2018 (became Church president)
- Dallin H. Oaks, January 14–present