The three men who were called as the newest apostles of the LDS Church — Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund — did not receive their formal callings until last Tuesday, much to the surprise and anticipation of church members throughout the world.
“I was stunned. Speechless. I think, I murmured my acceptance of the calling. I was somewhere between apoplectic and catatonic,” Elder Renlund said in a press conference Saturday afternoon. The three were sustained as new apostles in the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 3.
Elder Rasband and Elder Stevenson echoed similar sentiments of surprise. Each also testified that their callings came from Jesus Christ.
After expressing their thoughts about receiving their calls, the new members of the Quorum answered questions from the media.
The apostles were first asked what they thought was the greatest challenge that the LDS Church faces today.
Elder Rasband responded by emphasizing that the main role of the Quorum of the Twelve is to be “seers,” which is why the talks that were heard in Saturday’s session and in future addresses continue to address issues facing the church.
“Throughout this weekend, through prophets, seers and revelators and others called, we are going to hear the answer to that question, spoken from the pulpit at General Conference,” Elder Rasband said.
Elder Stevenson added that the church is also facing the challenge of keeping family units together as the most fundamental unit of society and preserving the sanctity of marriage.
One question addressed how many members had anticipated an apostle being called from out of the United States, asking how the apostles were going to make members outside of the states feel valued as members. Coincidentally, the three new apostles are all from the state of Utah.
Elder Rasband explained that each of them didn’t know the other two brethren would be called today, but he knows they were each called by Christ and that Christ loves everyone. He also described how they will get the chance to go throughout the world and meet the Saints that they love in a manner that is pleasing to Christ.
Elder Renlund explained that because Christ paid the price for all of us, he understands how everyone feels. By the power of the Holy Ghost the apostles can learn things that will bless them with the Savior’s compassion and empathy.
The new apostles were asked more questions that involved their service worldwide.
Elder Stevenson said he was excited to keep visiting with Saints around the world and to feel the strength of their testimonies of Jesus Christ.
The apostles also said their careers have helped them appreciate the value and blessing of other people.
The new members of the Quorum of the Twelve were also asked to explain what they do as apostles for those who are not members of the church or are not clear of their purpose.
Elder Rasband explained that the Quorum of the Twelve, since the time of Christ and through today, have been witnesses of Christ to the world, to both members and non-members alike.
“It is absolutely baffling. That’s the complete answer. To be a witness of his name around the world is not just to be a witness of his living reality, it’s to be a witness of his name. The Christ, The Anointed One. The Messiah. His mission is the Atonement,” Elder Renlund said.
Next, the apostles were asked how they would fight adulation, or the excessive admiration or praise from the members, in their positions as servants rather than CEOs.
Elder Stevenson said it was all about service — their role is to lead by service, not to serve by leading.
Elder Rasband said it was about sticking to their roots, which from him is having a father who was a Wonder Bread truck driver, a loving stay-at-home mother and his wife.
“The thing that keeps us grounded is seeing people in different circumstances and really seeing them through Heavenly Father’s eyes,” Elder Renlund said. “When we see that, it changes us to want to help the way the Savior helps.”
Elder Renlund then described how he had seen Saints in the Congo whom he believed to have nothing, until he discovered that they believed they had everything because they had the gospel.
At the closing of the press conference, the families of the new apostles were invited to greet their fathers and grandfathers for the first time since they had been called.
While their wives knew of their new calls, the families of newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve learned about the new callings of their fathers and grandfathers at the same time as all other church members.
The families embraced each other with tears of excitement and hugs and smiles before leaving the press conference together.
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