Thursday, January 4, 2018

On the Lord's Errand

Since February of 2008, Thomas S. Monson served as Prophet, Seer and Revelator and also in the administrative role of President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He passed away Tuesday night. And while his wit and leadership will be missed, the feeling is happy.  We are happy that he's with his much-loved wife again and imagining the grand reunions with her and other family and friends.  There is surely a celebration in Heaven!

Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles before I was even born, he lived a life of service that is a reminder to me and countless fellow members to think of others in all the situations life throws our way.  We treasured his stories about the lessons life taught him and his living example to seek out 'the one' who needs us most.  We laughed with undying affection when he would wiggle his ears at Conference.  And we all felt a little more confident that all was really going to be alright in this scary world when he told us to take heart.  I met him once.  It was a chance passing on a downtown Salt Lake City sidewalk but he had a sincere greeting and what I remember as the kindest eyes I've ever looked into.  They bespoke pure love and then the corners crinkled up in accompaniment to his smile.  Simple, uneventful... yet, an experience I remember.  I also credit him with my own desire to teach principles by sharing stories. I loved it when he used stories of people he'd known to teach us how to be better people.

Some might wonder what's going to happen to the Church now faced with a change in leadership.  It's actually fairly simple.  We'll celebrate President Monson's life with a beautiful funeral service in the coming days, listen with tears in our eyes as the last rendition of "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet" is played just for him, and then move forward with the work of spreading the gospel.  Succession is described well on  They explain that the First Presidency, the highest ranking administrative body in the Church, is dissolved on the President's death and the Counselors (similar to advisors) resume their place in the seniority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest presiding body.  The Twelve (now numbering 14 with the Counselors) have the responsibility to oversee the progress and advancement of the Church worldwide under the leadership of the Senior Apostle.

The Senior Apostle calls a meeting of the entire Quorum where they discuss two questions:  Should the First Presidency be reorganized at this time? Or should the Church continue to function under the leadership of the Twelve?  A motion is made and accepted.  If the motion is to reorganize the First Presidency, a President is unanimously chosen and he selects two Counselors.  Tradition, throughout the entire history of the Church, sees the longest-serving Apostle chosen as President.  The second-longest-serving Apostle then becomes President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (or third-longest-serving if the second-longest-serving Apostle is chosen as a Counselor).  At the next General Conference, a sustaining vote is taken across the entire membership of the Church where we pledge to support these leaders in doing their work.  Because of this process, we Mormon's are ready and able to move forward immediately.  Russell M. Nelson is currently the longest-serving Apostle and we anticipate welcoming him as the new President sometime in the next few weeks and raising our arm to the square to sustain him at April General Conference.

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