Mormon Church appoints Russell M. Nelson as new president

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 16, 2018 at 8:25 PM
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Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The Mormon Church appointed 93-year-old former surgeon Russell M. Nelson as its new president Tuesday.

Nelson, a member of the Mormon Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke during a live stream as it was announced he will replace former President Thomas S. Monson, who died earlier this month.

"Two days ago, my brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles laid hands upon my hands, ordained me, set me apart as president of the church. It was a sacred and humbling experience," Nelson said. "We live in the most vibrant era in the history of the world."

Nelson is the second-oldest apostle in Mormon history to be named president and the first physician to lead the church.

He is expected to continue in the leadership tradition of Monson, including abiding by a 2015 policy that forbids the children of same-sex couples from participating in religious rites until they are 18.

A number of members left the church in response to the policy, along with many millennials and other young people.

Nelson also addressed the lack of inclusivity and diversity in the church's leadership stating "we are white and we are American," while adding he believes other races and ethnicities may serve in leadership roles in the future.

"The Twelve and the Seventy are not a representative assembly of any kind [but they are called by the Lord,]" he said. "I think we will live to see the day when there will be other flavors in the mix ... but we respond because we've been called by the Lord. Not one of us asked to be here."

He also discussed the role of women in the church and the all-male priesthood that prohibits women from holding governing offices.

"We have women in our councils, women administering ordinances in the temples," he said. "We depend on their voices."

Nelson named two other church leaders, 85-year-old Dallin H. Oaks and 84-year-old Henry B. Eyring, to serve as his counselors.

"We will work hand in hand to perceive the will of the Lord and move his sacred work forward," said Nelson.

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