93-year-old Russell M. Nelson succeeded Thomas S. Monson as the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His election and the selection of Dallin H. Oaks, 85, as first counselor and Henry B. Eyring, 84 as second counselor indicates no change in the church’s controversial LGBT policies and the status of women.
Dieter F Uchtdorf, born in East Germany, 77, who was second counselor, returned to his place in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Former car dealer, M. Russell Ballard, 89, has been named the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
At 93, Nelson, who was a renowned heart surgeon, is the second-oldest apostle in Mormon history to assume the presidency.
During the news conference, new LDS leaders were asked about the 2015 pronouncement that LGBT LDS married couples are “apostates” and forbids their children under the age of 18 from religious rites. Nelson previously said the policy came as a “Revelation from God.”
Both Nelson and Oaks emphasized that LGBT people are welcome, but noted the LDS leaders must preach, the apparently contradictory God’s love and God’s law. “There are commandments of God [and] challenges to enter his holy presence,” Nelson said.
Oaks said God, “Has given us commandments and a plan to achieve the highest blessings. As leaders of the church, we have a responsibility to teach love and also the commandments of God and the high destination he has for his children. … It’s the love of the Lord [balanced with] the law of the Lord.”
Since the church’s all-male priesthood precludes women from its highest governing councils, Nelson noted “we have women on our councils, women administering ordinances in the temples. We depend on their voices. We need their voices, their input and we love their participation with us.”
Eyring conceded that there is concern about women not getting recognition in the church, but “in terms of influence, the Lord has already given it to them. I think [there is] no greater influence [that] exists in the kingdom.”