SALT LAKE CITY -- After the recent deaths of three apostles, leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Saturday three men were chosen to fill those seats.
Elders L. Tom Perry, Richard G. Scott and President Boyd K. Packer died within three months of each other. The men were members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Their successors were announced during the church’s semi-annual General Conference meeting.
Elders Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund and Ronald A. Rasband will join the Quorum. Elder Russell M. Nelson was announced as the new president of the Quorum, succeeding the late President Packer.
“We’re saddened by the sight of three empty places on the stand,” said Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.
According the LDS Church, The Quorum of the Twelve is, "the second-highest presiding body in the government of the Church. In addition to their primary responsibility to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ throughout the world, apostles have administrative responsibilities as they oversee the programs and development of the global Church."
During the Saturday morning session of conference, President Uchtdorf said church members will have the privilege of sustaining three new apostles to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Your prayers, our prayers on their behalf will strengthen them as they bear the sacred mantle of apostleship,” Pres. Uchtdorf said.
The conference runs through Sunday.
FOX 13 News’ Kiersten Nunez is at general conference and will have more on this story during our Live at Four newscast.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
According to Mormonnewsroom.org, Rasband was the first to be called to fill one of the vacancies, and since seniority in the quorum is based on time of service rather than age, he will be the most senior of the newly appointed apostles.
“I had a spiritual impression that there’s nothing about this that was politically motivated, nothing about it that was an election, nothing about it that was a vote, nothing about it was my desire," Rasband stated in a press release. "It was the Lord’s decision and that I needed to understand that and have it confirmed to me just like President Monson told me. And Sister Rasband and I received that (witness) in our first prayer through that very verse."
Rasband, 64, was previously serving as a senior president in the LDS Church's Presidency of the Seventy. He became a general authority in the LDS Church in April of 2000.
Rasband was born in Salt Lake City, and he has been married to Melanie Twitchell since 1973. The couple have five children, all of whom are married, and 25 grandchildren.
“My wife has taken me like potter’s clay and molded me into something that really matters,” he said. “She knows when to draw me back, slow me down, and get it right. In large measure it’s her spiritual influence that has led to not only this beautiful and special calling but to everything that I’ve done spiritually. She’s kept me spiritually grounded.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Stevenson said he, "knew it!" when he received a call from the Office of the First Presidency Tuesday, because he was certain one of his counselors would be called to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve.
When he learned the call was for him, he said it was, "a knee-buckling moment for me... It was a very sweet, short experience with the First Presidency. It was not something that I had expected.”
Stevenson was previously serving as the Presiding Bishop of the Church, a position he'd held since March of 2012. Prior to that, he served in the First Quorum of the Seventy, a calling he received in 2008. Mormonnewsroom.org notes Stevenson will continue in his capacity as Presiding Bishop for "what is expected to be a short period until his replacement is named."
Stevenson has been married to Lesa Jean Higley since 1979, and the couple met in a religious course at Utah State University.
When a large earthquake struck Japan in 2011, Stevenson was serving as an Area President in the region, and he describes that time of his life as being a "defining moment."
“We knew immediately that this portended to something really big somewhere on the island," Stevenson said. "To see the destruction, to see the loss of life, to walk the streets and see it and feel it and be with people who were affected with family members that were gone. And to be able to see a response and to help shape a response. That was a manifestation of the Church of Jesus Christ filling one of its divinely appointed responsibilities of caring for the poor and needy. If there were people that were needy, this was them.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund
Renlund is the 12th in seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve, and prior to this calling he served in the First Quorum of the Seventy since April of 2009.
Renlund is a former cardiologist who specialized in heart failure and heart transplantation, and his medical training showed through when he described his reaction to receiving the call.
“Wherever the sweet spot is between apoplectic and catatonic, that’s where I was," he said. Adding that once he was back in his office he, "...closed the door, and fell to my knees."
He has been married to Ruth Lybbert Renlund since 1977, who he said has been a great source of strength for him, noting that when he was called to serve as a General Authority in the past she gave up her place as the president of a law firm to travel with him and serve.
“She was all in," he said of her support for his most recent call to serve. "When I called her, her life changed too.”
Renlund has a BA and MD from the University of Utah, and he had further medical training and research opportunities at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was a professor of Medicine at the University of Utah and a Medical Director for a cardiac transplant program.