President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In general, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is the most senior apostle in the church, aside from the President of the Church. When the President of the Church dies, it is the President of the Quorum of the Twelve who becomes the new church president. The calling of President of the Twelve has been held by 26 men (one of whom served two non-consecutive terms), 15 of whom have gone on to become President of the Church. The current President of the Quorum of the Twelve is Dallin H. Oaks. Since Oaks is a counselor in the First Presidency, M. Russell Ballard is currently serving as acting president.
History of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Twelve
Upon the death of the President of the Church, the First Presidency automatically dissolves, leaving the Twelve Apostles as the highest leadership body and their President as the highest official in the church. On the death of church president Joseph Smith in 1844, this position was held by Brigham Young, and he persuaded the majority of church members that Smith's death left him and not Sidney Rigdon, who had been Smith's First Counselor in the First Presidency, as the senior leader. Smith had reportedly taught the apostles, "Where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve."
In 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve reconstituted the First Presidency, with Young as church president. During Young's presidency, seniority within the Quorum of the Twelve was formalized to mean "continuous service as an Apostle since being ordained as one of the Twelve". The original apostles of 1835 had been ranked by age, and two of them had been excommunicated and later restored to fellowship. With this rule in place, it was John Taylor who led the church after Young's death in 1877, first as President of the Twelve and after 1880 as President of the Church with Wilford Woodruff as President of the Twelve.
After Taylor died in 1887, Woodruff did not reorganize the First Presidency until 1889. But before his own death in 1898, he advised the Quorum of the Twelve that "in all future time, when the President of the Church should die and thereby the First Presidency become disorganized, it would be the duty of the proper authorities of the Church to proceed at once without any unnecessary delay, to reorganize the First Presidency." Snow followed this advice and since then every interval between the death of the President of the Church and the ordination of a new president has been less than two weeks, long enough to complete the funeral services and allow for the Quorum of the Twelve to nominate and sustain the President of the Twelve as the new church president. When the President of the Twelve becomes the President of the Church, the next apostle in seniority becomes the new President of the Twelve.
The President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the priesthood leader of the members of the Quorum. As such, all members of the Quorum report directly to him. The president's other duties consist of presiding at and conducting weekly meetings of the Quorum in the Salt Lake Temple; making decisions about the particular assignments to be made to the members of the Quorum; speaking on behalf of the Quorum to members of the church and the media; scheduling twice-annual conferences for each stake and district in the church; and acting as a liaison in coordinating the work of the Quorum with the First Presidency, the Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.
If the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is asked to become a counselor in the First Presidency, the President of the Quorum retains that title but is not numbered among the Twelve, and the most senior apostle who is not in the First Presidency is named as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Acting President assumes all of the duties that would normally rest upon the President of the Quorum. The title of Acting President was first used in 1918 for Rudger Clawson. The position has also been used during times of infirmity of a President of the Twelve: for example, Howard W. Hunter was Acting President for the infirm Marion G. Romney from 1985 to 1988.
Boyd K. Packer was the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1994 to 2008 when Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson were presidents of the Quorum but also in the First Presidency.
On January 16, 2018, the church announced that due to the call of Dallin H. Oaks as a counselor in the First Presidency, M. Russell Ballard would serve as Acting President.
List of Presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve
|No.||Portrait||President of the Quorum||Dates of Tenure||Why Tenure Ended||Notes|
|1||Thomas B. Marsh||14 February 1835 – 17 March 1839||Excommunicated for apostasy.|
|2||Brigham Young||17 March 1839 – 27 December 1847||Became second President of the Church.||Was not formally set apart as President of the Quorum until 14 April 1840.|
|3||Orson Hyde||27 December 1847 – 10 April 1875||In 1875 Church President Brigham Young adjusted the rule of seniority in the Quorum: the senior member was to be the person with the longest uninterrupted service in the Quorum, as opposed to the person who entered the Quorum at the earliest date. Hyde's seniority in the Quorum was reduced to reflect the fact that he had been disfellowshipped and therefore removed from the Quorum for brief periods of time in 1839 and 1846.||From 1847 to 1868, Hyde was actually the third most senior apostle. The second most senior apostle was Heber C. Kimball, a member of the First Presidency. If current practice were followed, Kimball would have been President of the Quorum and Hyde would have served as Acting President during this time period. However, Kimball was never called as President of the Quorum of the Twelve.|
|4||John Taylor||10 April 1875 – 10 October 1880||Became third President of the Church.||Became the President of the Quorum when Church President Brigham Young adjusted the rule of seniority in the Quorum; see Notes on Orson Hyde, above; was not formally set apart as President of the Quorum until after the death of Brigham Young. That sustaining took place on 6 October 1877, about a month after Young's death.|
|5||Wilford Woodruff||10 October 1880 – 7 April 1889||Became fourth President of the Church.||Unclear if he was ever formally set apart as President of the Quorum.|
|6||Lorenzo Snow||7 April 1889 – 13 September 1898||Became fifth President of the Church.|
|7||Franklin D. Richards||13 September 1898 – 9 December 1899.||Death.|
|8||Brigham Young, Jr.||9 December 1899 – 10 October 1901||Death of Lorenzo Snow; First Presidency dissolved and Joseph F. Smith joins Quorum of the Twelve as senior Apostle and President of the Quorum.||Not officially sustained or set apart as Quorum President until 17 October 1901, when Joseph F. Smith became Church President. At the beginning of Young's tenure, George Q. Cannon was the second most senior Apostle in the Church. However, Cannon was a counselor in the First Presidency and was never called as President of the Quorum. (If today's practices had been followed, Cannon would have been called as Quorum President and Young as Acting Quorum President.) When Cannon died in April 1901, Young remained the President of the Quorum despite the fact that First Presidency member Joseph F. Smith was then the second most senior Apostle. For a similar anomalous situation, see Orson Hyde's 1847 to 1868 tenure, above. Young also served as Quorum President between 17 October 1901 and 11 April 1903.|
|9||Joseph F. Smith||10 October 1901 – 17 October 1901||Became sixth President of the Church.||Shortest tenure as Quorum President; unclear if he was ever formally set apart as such.|
|10||Brigham Young, Jr.||17 October 1901 – 11 April 1903||Death.||Also served as Quorum President between 9 December 1899 and 10 October 1901, though he was not officially recognized as Quorum President until his sustaining and setting apart on 17 October 1901 when Joseph F. Smith became the 6th president of the Church. He is recognized as the only Quorum President to serve two nonconsecutive terms.|
|11||Francis M. Lyman||11 April 1903 – 18 November 1916||Death.||Lyman was not officially sustained or set apart as Quorum President until 6 October 1903.|
|12||Heber J. Grant||18 November 1916 – 23 November 1918||Became seventh President of the Church.|
|13||Anthon H. Lund||23 November 1918 – 2 March 1921||Death.||Was a member of the First Presidency during the entirety of his tenure as Quorum President. Rudger Clawson was Acting President during this time.|
|14||Rudger Clawson||2 March 1921 – 21 June 1943||Death.||Longest tenure as Quorum President; was also Acting President between 23 November 1918 and 2 March 1921.|
|15||George Albert Smith||21 June 1943 – 21 May 1945||Became eighth President of the Church.|
|16||George F. Richards||21 May 1945 – 8 August 1950||Death.|
|17||David O. McKay||8 August 1950 – 9 April 1951||Became ninth President of the Church.||During his tenure as Quorum President, he was a member of the First Presidency between 8 August 1950 and 4 April 1951. Joseph Fielding Smith was Acting President during this time.|
|18||Joseph Fielding Smith||9 April 1951 – 23 January 1970||Became tenth President of the Church.||Was also Acting President between 8 August 1950 and 4 April 1951. During his tenure as Quorum President, he was a member of the First Presidency between 29 October 1965 and 8 January 1970, but remained a member of the Quorum during this time.|
|19||Harold B. Lee||23 January 1970 – 7 July 1972||Became eleventh President of the Church.||During his tenure as Quorum President, he was a member of the First Presidency between 23 January 1970 and 2 July 1972. Spencer W. Kimball was Acting President during this time.|
|20||Spencer W. Kimball||7 July 1972 – 30 December 1973||Became twelfth President of the Church.||Was also Acting President between 23 January 1970 and 2 July 1972 .|
|21||Ezra Taft Benson||30 December 1973 – 10 November 1985||Became thirteenth President of the Church.|
|22||Marion G. Romney||10 November 1985 – 20 May 1988||Death.||Due to Romney's ill health, Howard W. Hunter served as Acting President for the entirety of his tenure as Quorum President.|
|23||Howard W. Hunter||20 May 1988 – 5 June 1994||Became fourteenth President of the Church.||Was also Acting President between 10 November 1985 and 20 May 1988. Became the de facto Quorum President upon Romney's death but wasn't set apart in that position until almost two weeks later, on 2 June.|
|24||Gordon B. Hinckley||5 June 1994 – 12 March 1995||Became fifteenth President of the Church.||During his tenure as Quorum President, he was a member of the First Presidency between 5 June 1994 and 3 March 1995. Boyd K. Packer was Acting President during this time.|
|25||Thomas S. Monson||12 March 1995 – 3 February 2008||Became sixteenth President of the Church.||Was a member of the First Presidency for the entirety of his tenure until Gordon B. Hinckley's death on 27 January 2008. Boyd K. Packer was Acting President during this time.|
|26||Boyd K. Packer||3 February 2008 – 3 July 2015||Death.||Was the most senior member of the Quorum not in the First Presidency and served as Acting President from 5 June 1994 to 3 March 1995, when the more senior apostles, Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson were members of the First Presidency, and from 12 March 1995 to 27 January 2008, when Monson, the second most senior apostle, was a member of the First Presidency.|
|27||Russell M. Nelson||3 July 2015 – 14 January 2018||Became seventeenth President of the Church.||Became the de facto Quorum President when Boyd K. Packer died on 3 July 2015, by virtue of his status as the second most senior apostle. He was formally set apart as Quorum President on 15 July 2015 by Thomas S. Monson.|
|28||Dallin H. Oaks||14 January 2018 – Present||During his tenure as Quorum President, he's a member of the First Presidency starting 14 January 2018. M. Russell Ballard is Acting President during this time.|
- Joseph Smith, B.H. Roberts (ed.), History of the Church, 2:374 (16 January 1836); Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Fielding Smith (ed.) (1938) Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, p. 106.
- Millennial Star, vol. 63, p. 787.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temples
- Russell M. Nelson: New President of the Quorum of the Twelve Aposltes, Mormon Newsroom, 15 July 2015.