New LDS First Presidency describes leadership, church policy

Tuesday , January 16, 2018 - 1:38 PM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — In public addresses Tuesday, the new First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about how the church’s leaders are chosen and answered a number of questions about the church’s practices.

Below are some of the statements by President Russell M. Nelson, First Counselor Dallin H. Oaks and Second Counselor Henry B. Eyring during the broadcast annoucing their callings and a press conference that followed.

RELATED: LDS Church names Russell M. Nelson as new president


The broadcasts were shared in 29 languages announcing Nelson was named the 17th president of the 187-year-old church with 16 million members.

What are your thoughts as you are newly called?

Nelson: “Now we must look forward to the future with complete faith in the lord Jesus Christ and what he says. ... It was a sacred and humbling experience to be set apart by the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.”

“To each member of the church, I say keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants and keeping those covenants will open the path for others.”

Oaks: “I have sat beside President Nelson for 34 years in the Quorum of the Twelve. I know of his love of the lord Jesus Christ and his commitment to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. I know of his love of the people and his counsel.”

Eyring: “We are becoming ever more nearly as one in love through the gospel of Jesus Christ working in our lives. ... Yes. The best is still to come because of our faith in the lord whose church this is.”

What does the future hold for the church?

Nelson: “We live in a most vibrant era in the history of the world. ... Though our world is filled with serious challenges, I am optimistic about the future.”

Nelson said the church will continue to contribute humanitarian aid throughout the world and to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

“You can face the future with optimism and joy if you have faith in the lord Jesus Christ and his gospel. I invite you (to) come and see if we can add knowledge, light and joy to your life.”

Oaks: “I am thrilled to participate in the leadership of this worldwide church. ... Our savior Jesus Christ has called each of us and will guide each of us.”

Eyring: “This is an important day in the history of the church as President Nelson takes the leadership of this church under the hand of Jesus Christ.”

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How will you approach LGBT issues?

Nelson: “God loves his children and he wants them to have joy. We know that there are challenges with the commandments of God, challenges to be worthy to enter his holy presence when we are through with this mortal experience. And we’re trying to help people find happiness and joy in this life and prepare (them) for their great possibilities in the world ahead ... God loves his children, and we love them, and there is a place for everyone who wishes to, regardless of challenges, be with us in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Oaks: “There is a balance between the love of the Lord and the law of the Lord.”

How will you reach out to the people in Mexico who have experienced disasters?

Nelson: “Our hearts go out to the victims of natural disasters like we’ve had in Mexico with earthquakes, and in other parts of the world, hurricanes and tornadoes and floods. That’s going to be a fact of life; we have to live with danger around us. Now how do you do that? I think the most important thing is to prepare our people, with a faith in God and the knowldge that he has a plan for us.”

Eyring: “We can’t solve all the problems, but we are trying with all our hearts to build faith in people and a desire to serve.”

Story continues below photo.

How will you bring people of color into the decision making process of the church?

Nelson: “We are white and we are American, but look at our Quorums of the Seventy and look at our leaders locally. Wherever we go, the leadership of the church is from the local community, and those are the real leaders.”

Nelson said the church is in 188 countries of the world and said if leaders tried to represent them all, someone would be left out.

“The Twelve and Seventy are not a representative assembly of any kind,” he said. “But the lord is in charge. We will live to see the day when there will be other flavors in the mix. We respond because we are called of the lord. Not one of us asked to be here.”

Oaks: “The most important thing about us is that we are all children of God. If we keep that in mind, we are better suited to relate to one another and avoid a kind of quota system as if God applied his blessings and extended his goodness and his love on the basis of quotas that I think he does not recognize, so we shouldn’t.”

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How can women have a place in church leadership?

Nelson: “I have a special place in my heart about the women. I am the father of nine beautiful daughters.”

Nelson spoke of his daughters becoming strong mothers and grandmothers as they took after their mother.

“We have women on our councils. We have women administer ordinances in the temple. We have women auxiliaries. We depend on their voices.”

Eyring: In terms of influence, Eyring said the lord has already given women much power. “There is no greater influence than the women of the church.”

How can the church retain and draw millennials to a belief in God and the church?

Eyring: “There is a power coming in this ‘millennial’ generation. There is greater faith than I can remember. I am seeing some 18- and 20-year-olds that have a rock-solid faith that are willing to do anything to serve God.”

What is your message to the next generation of the church?

Nelson: “How can young people follow the leadership of an old man? ... Age is a good thing.”

“I hope you can all live to be old people. A well-educated person never stops learning.”

Nelson added up the experience of serving as general authorities of himself and his counselors.

“You are talking about 90 years. That can’t help but be helpful to young people in the church.”

RELATED: Photos — LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson’s service

How healthy is Nelson?

Oaks: “I have seen him going down great, long circular staircases at great, ramp speed. Don’t underestimate the vitality, knowledge and capacity to relate to youth and physical things like skiing of a man who is 93-years-old.”

Nelson: “Keeping the Word of Wisdom will allow you to run and not be weary and run and not faint and to ski with your grandchildren,quoting Section 89 of the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, known as the Word of Wisdom.

What can you say to those who have problems with early church leadership?

Nelson: “Give your leaders a little leeway to make mistakes as you hope your leaders will give you a little leeway to profit by your errors.”

“Make sure you are square with your Heavenly Father. The way to happiness is by keeping his commandments.”

Oaks: “We don’t believe in infallibility of our leaders. What we believe in is in the organization the Lord has put in place.”

What do you say to those who question the transparency of the church?

Nelson: “If we weren’t interested in transparency, we wouldn’t be publishing all the papers of the Prophet Joseph Smith. ... The longer I live, the more I appreciate the accomplishments of that prophet of that dispensation.”

Watch the full announcement and press conference below:

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at

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