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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Choosing A New Mormon Apostle: An Explainer

Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
The current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with Elder Hales included.

The death of Mormon apostle Robert D. Hales over the weekend leaves a vacancy in one of the top councils of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is what we know about how a successor is chosen.

Elder Hales served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a group patterned after Jesus Christ’s original disciples. It’s the second highest governing body of the LDS church, just below the three members of the First Presidency. Together, they oversee the nearly 16 million-member church worldwide.


Apostles serve for life, so it’s not until one dies that another is called. And they're called by the president of the church. But that’s kind of complicated right now. Thomas S. Monson, the current president,is in poor health and no longer attends meetings. So his two counselors are currently filling in.


If they follow precedent established by Monson, they’ll ask the remaining 11 apostles to submit names of men who they would recommend to fill the opening. But it’s not a discussion after that. Names are submitted and then someone is chosen.


As far as timeline, that’s a little tricky too. Typically a new apostle is announcedduring the twice-a-year general conference. But Hales died during General Conference last weekend, which is a first.


So, either they wait a entire six months to announce a successor, or they do it earlier. It’s rare, but it’s happened before.



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