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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 byMonson, 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.



Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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