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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Russell M. Nelson: The Man Expected To Lead The LDS Church

Intellectual Reserve, Inc
Nelson speaking to church members in 2014.

The death of President Thomas S. Monson leaves a vacancy at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If tradition holds, the next leader of the church will be senior apostle Russell M. Nelson.

Before he was an apostle, Nelson was a world renowned heart surgeon. During his career he led thoracic surgery departments at both the University of Utah and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.


Speaking during a General Conference session in 2003, Nelson shared an experience of receiving heavenly help in the operating room, calling it an "answer to prayer." 


"A picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective," Nelson said, "I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed."


Nelson was called as an apostle, a member of the second highest governing body of the church, back in 1984. One of his first assignments was overseeing church operations in the former Soviet Union. Since then he’s traveled all over the world on church business, including Africa, Central Asia, and China. He can even speak a little Mandarin.



Nelson has served as the president of the Quorum of the Twelve since 2015. From that position he has defended the church policy which prohibits the children of gay members from being baptized without special permission. Calling it “the will of the Lord.”


He's also spoken recently about the need for more involvement from women in the church


"My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration," Nelson said. "We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils.


At age 93, Nelson is expected to be the oldest man ever called to be the president and prophet of the LDS Church. But as of now he seems to be in good health and still keep a very active schedules.


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