Clear President Monson’s calendar.
The recent passing of three apostles means the Church President will likely call three replacements this week, and depending on where they come from, he might just need to call replacements for the replacements as well.
Who will they be? I’m glad you asked.
Today’s guest post is by Ken C, husband to Angela C.
Six years ago, I researched the selection of recent apostles, using the trends I saw to determine who might be under consideration as the next apostle. My sample included all apostles called since Pres. Monson entered in the First Presidency (FP). He wasn’t in charge in most of these situations, but I assumed he was involved to a greater extent in the decision-making process, if not the revelatory process, as he counseled with then Presidents Benson, Hunter and Hinckley.
Since Pres. Monson joined the FP in November 1985, ten apostles have been called to the Quorum of the Twelve (Q12). I reviewed their pre-apostolic resumes to see if I could identify common factors that may have led to their selection, and for what it’s worth, Pres. Monson’s first two selections have fit in perfectly with the other eight.
The last ten apostles called have all been between 52 and 69 years of age, but we can drill down a little further than that:
- 6 of the 10 were clustered together in the center, aged between 57 and 63 when called.
- 2 of the 10 were younger than the norm: Holland (53) and Bednar (52).
- 2 of the 10 were older than the norm: Wirthlin (69) and Cook (67).
- Beyond these nine I found that new apostles are seldom called once they reach the age of 70; it has happened only 5 times in the history of the Church, and the most recent, Hugh B. Brown, was over 50 years ago.
Based on recent history, I’ve placed the “target range” for apostolic callings in the late 50s or early 60s. Pres. Monson’s first picks were right in the target range, at ages 63 and 57.
The last 10 apostles came from 3 different pools:
- 6 of the 10 were called directly from the Presidency of the Seventy (P70), which makes sense organizationally
- 2 of the 10 served in the First Quorum of Seventy (1Q70), but served in the Presiding Bishopric (PB) rather than the P70.
- 2 of the 10 were current or former presidents of Church-owned universities. E. Holland had also subsequently served in the 1Q70, but not the P70. E. Bednar had only served as an Area Authority/Area Seventy in addition to his time as president of BYU-Idaho. I found it interesting that these 2 had such different paths to the Q12 because I had already considered them outliers based on their age when called.
Another way to state this is that 9 out of 10 new apostles had served in the 1Q70, plus had spent time in the P70, PB, or as president of a Church university.
LENGTH OF SERVICE
I was surprised to find little correlation to length of service in the P70 and an apostolic calling, at least for the sample as a whole. Of the 6 who served in the P70, the time they spent there varied widely from 5 weeks (Wirthlin) to 10 years (Christofferson). Others served 2 months, 2 years, 4 years, and 5 years. That may have changed a bit with Pres. Monson, whose first two apostolic callings have been to Presidents of the Seventy who were right at or near the top of seniority within those groups.
More interesting is the correlation between total time served in the 70 (any quorum), PB, as university president, or Assistant to the 12. 9 of the 10 newly called apostles had at least 10 years combined service in these groups. Only Bednar (always the outlier) fell short of this mark.
Apostles are generally viewed as successful men, but I had never really looked at what that meant for the recent apostles in my sample. Careers were varied, but the vast majority had impressive educational pedigrees. Think Harvard (3 times), Purdue, Yale, Duke, and Stanford, mixed with several educational abbreviations (Ph.D., MBA, J.D.).
It occurred to me that the bar may have been raised from “accomplished” to “educated and accomplished”. This realization caused me to dig a little deeper before making my final predictions.
Most members I know would be excited by a non-American apostle, but I doubt that’s a box that Pres. Monson feels he has to check off, affirmative action style. Still, a new apostle from outside the U.S. is exciting, validating the idea of a global Church, and it would bring a new perspective to the Q12. It’s certainly not a data-driven conclusion, but I think it will happen this time, especially with three openings.
For evidence, look no further than the change in the 1Q70 over time. When Spencer W. Kimball first formed it in 1976, nearly 80% of the original members had been born in Utah or Idaho. Now, it’s a very different story:
- In 1976, 79% of the first quorum of the 70 came from Utah or Idaho. Today only 37%.
- In 1976, 13% came from other US states. Now 19% do.
- In 1976, 8% were from Europe. Now 10% are Europeans (not much change).
- The biggest shift is in membership from other regions of the world. In 1976, there were no members of the 1Q70 from Latin America, Asia / Pacific or Africa. Today there are 22% from Latin America, 8% from Asia / Pacific and 5% from Africa.
New apostles primarily come from the pool of Seventies called 10-20 years ago, so it’s easy to see why the shift hasn’t happened yet. It will happen more and more (on a delay) as the Church and 1Q70 become less Utah- and U.S.-centric.
Based on all these criteria, here is my updated list of individuals I see as the most likely candidates for the open spots in the 12. In reality, any of these men could be selected to join the Q12, and there are doubtless others who are well-qualified; these are simply those who best fit the profile that I can construct based on recent trends. My picks are divided into 3 tiers:
- Ronald A. Rasband. Currently the senior member of the P70, and his age (64) is in the target range, although at the high end. Has served in the 1Q70 over 15 years, 10 of which he’s been in the P70. In his two picks so far, Pres. Monson has shown a leaning toward the senior members of the P70. Maybe it’s just me, but I also feel like Rasband been a little more visible in the media recently.
- Walter F. González. Currently a member of the 1Q70 (over 14 years) and President of the South America South Area, but was previously in the P70 (5 years). While it’s true that nobody has ever been released from P70 and later called to Q12, only 15 apostles have been called since the 1Q70 was organized in 1976. There’s just enough history to surmise that it could never happen. González was originally in my Tier Two, but I reconsidered when I looked at his age (62) and the four area presidencies in which he’s served.
- Ulisses Soares. Currently a member of the P70 (3 years), with 10½ years of total service as a GA. That puts him a little on the lighter side compared to the other presidents, but he was also a church employee for years before that. I may be unintentionally giving him extra credit because he’s fairly well regarded in our ward, having visited here for stake conference a few years back when we were living overseas.
- < Surprise! > This pick harks back to the calling of President Nelson, Elder Oaks, and Elder Bednar. Few of us would have guessed President Kimball’s heart surgeon, a judge, or the youthful former President of BYU-I would be the next apostle, each with exactly zero experience as a GA. While three names from these lists could be called, I rather think that there will be one surprise pick that I could never predict in a million years, whether it’s a Seventy who hasn’t served in P70, someone from an auxiliary presidency, or Pres. Monson’s doctor.
- L. Whitney Clayton
- Donald L. Hallstrom
- Richard J. Maynes
- Craig C. Christensen
- Lynn G. Robbins
I found it very hard to distinguish between the remaining P70, because each seems to have strengths and weaknesses in regards to the criteria I used. For example, Clayton and Hallstrom are older than the target range, but they have more tenure in the P70 (this hasn’t mattered historically, but may be more important to Pres. Monson). If I had to pick, I might prioritize Christensen and Robbins based on the age range, but it’s a tough call. I also doubt all three vacancies get filled from the P70, so if Rasband and Soares have already been called, for example, I think Pres. Monson will look elsewhere for the third vacancy.
- Claudio R. M. Costa Like González, Costa is a former P70 who remains in the 1Q70 (21+ years total), serving as an area president. He was in my top tier last time, but now he’s above the target age range at 66 years old. Additionally, when I started looking at the educational background (something I wouldn’t have thought imperative, but which has seemingly been valued recently), his profile only mentions that he “studied marketing” before shifting to his CES career.
- Steven E. Snow Another former P70 who remains in the 1Q70 (14+ years total), serving as Church Historian since 2012. The Church was careful to have a lengthy transition between Marlin Jensen and Snow, so I have a hard time believing that Snow will be called to the Q12 without warning unless he has quietly been grooming his successor.
- Kim B. Clark. Just released as President of BYU-I this year and called to the 1Q70, I had an early eye on him for a Bednar-like run from Rexburg to the Q12. However, he was just named Commissioner of Church Education in August, so he probably stays put. CCEs have historically served for at least three years, but by then Clark will be 69½ years old.
- Gary E. Stevenson. Currently serving as PB (3½ years), but spent time in the 1Q70 previously. With only one exception in the modern era, Presiding Bishops serve for a long time (11, 13, 9, 1.5, and 7 years), so I don’t expect a change yet. Stevenson is only 60, and could still have another chance after serving 3-5 more years as PB.
- Gérald Caussé. Currently Bishop Stevenson’s First Counselor (3½ years), and also served in the 1Q70. I also expect him to stay put, but PB counselors have moved more frequently than PBs, so I’m less certain Caussé stays than Stevenson. Caussé is only 52 years old, so I fully expect him to move up this chart in future versions.
- All three BYU schools have new presidents in the last 18 months, so I didn’t consider Kevin J. Worthen (BYU), Clark Gilbert (BYUI), or John S. Tanner (BYUH).
All others in previous P70s, Presiding Bishopric or presidents of universities are either over age 70 or have been released or given emeritus status.
Is there a dark horse I have missed? Have any of their conference talks or other messages been particularly meaningful to you? Who do you think will fill the empty seats?