FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2017, file photo, Dallin H. Oaks, left, and Russell M. Nelson, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, confer during the faith’s semi-annual conference meetings. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
SALT LAKE CITY — A world-renowned heart surgeon is now the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Russell M. Nelson set aside his career as a doctor in 1984 when he received the call as an apostle in the faith. Church officials announced Nelson as the new church leader on Tuesday, calling President Dallin H. Oaks as first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Henry B. Eyring as second counselor.
The three men then convened for a press conference with the media in which reporters asked about various topics such as LGBTQ and women’s role. President Nelson says God loves all of his children and understands the challenges in keeping God’s commandments.
“There’s a place for everyone who wishes to do so, regardless of these challenges, to be with us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Nelson said.
The three men also spoke of women’s influence in the church. This is something Nelson has focused on recently in general conference addresses.
“The most important thing about us is that we are all children of God,” President Oaks said. “If we keep that in mind, we are better suited to relate to one another and to avoid a kind of quota system, as if God applied his blessings and extended his goodness and his love on the basis of quotas, that I think he does not recognize. So we shouldn’t.”
President Eyring also addressed the concern of many millenials today not identifying with a particular religion.
“A lot of youth are discouraged and overwhelmed,” Eyring said. “(President Nelson’s) optimism alone sets an example for them that will get them through all sorts of difficulties.”
Many members of the faith expressed gratefulness for a new First Presidency. There was a feeling of peace on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake once the announcement was made.
“I’m excited to see what President (Dieter F.) Uchtdorf’s role will be, I guess Elder Uchtdorf,” said one member. “But they said he had an important new role.”
President Russell M. Nelson’s biographer says the new LDS church president is a loving man. Spencer Condie related one experience in which the two men were in Europe and a church member approached President Nelson to complain about a local leader. He told Nelson the leader was a bit sharp in dealing with his congregation.
“And after going through the litany of this man’s weaknesses,” says Condie. “Elder Nelson put his hand on his shoulder and said ‘And of course we wouldn’t want him any other way would we?'”
Nelson succeeds former LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, who died earlier this month.
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