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New apostle called: Elder Patrick Kearon joins Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Kearon, who is from England, fills the vacancy in the quorum created last month by the death of President M. Russell Ballard.

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Elder Patrick Kearon was called and ordained an apostle on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2023.

Elder Patrick Kearon was called and ordained an apostle on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2023.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Patrick Kearon has joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Kearon, 62, was called as an apostle Thursday by President Russell M. Nelson and ordained later in the day by President Nelson and the rest of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

His call adds another international voice to the quorum. He becomes the third member of the current Twelve born and raised outside the United States and the second European serving in the quorum, joining Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of Germany and Ulisses Soares of Brazil.

“This sacred call is so very daunting and humbling to me,” Elder Kearon said. “I will need to place all my trust in the Savior as I seek to become what he needs me to be and share my witness of his love and light. The abundance and grace of Jesus Christ have brought immense joy into my life, as well as healing balm in times of trial. I love him. I will strive to serve him to the best of my ability.”

Elder Kearon, a convert baptized on Christmas Eve 1987, has served as the senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy since August 2020. He fills the vacancy created by the death of President M. Russell Ballard on Nov. 12.

As an apostle, Elder Kearon will serve as “a special witness of the name of Christ in all the world.” That means he will travel the world in a role that is both about ministering and administrative responsibilities for a global church of 17 million members.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, Sister Jennifer Kearon and Elder Patrick Kearon speak to the Right Honorable Lindsay Hoyle in 2017.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, Sister Jennifer Kearon and Elder Patrick Kearon speak to the Right Honorable Lindsay Hoyle, a member of the British Parliament, right, before a performance of the 2017 British Pageant in Chorley, England, on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. Elder Kearon was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Dec. 7, 2023, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of President Ballard, who had been serving as acting president of the quorum.

Simon D. Jones

His calling marks the first time an apostle has been called outside of an international general conference of the church since President Jeffrey R. Holland was called to the Twelve in June 1994 after the death of President Ezra Taft Benson.

Elder Kearon will be sustained at the April 2024 general conference.

In his last general conference address in April 2022, Elder Kearon denounced all forms of abuse. He said survivors of abuse are blameless and declared that Christ loves them perfectly and heals them.

“Jesus specializes in the seemingly impossible,” he said. “He came here to make the impossible possible, the irredeemable redeemable, to heal the unhealable, to right the unrightable, to promise the unpromisable. And he’s really good at it. In fact, he’s perfect at it.”

Elder Kearon will speak today at 12:30 p.m. MST at BYU-Hawaii’s fall commencement ceremony.

Elder Kearon, a British and Irish national, has been a General Authority Seventy since April 3, 2010.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the second-highest leadership body of the church, following the First Presidency.

Apostles serve the church full time and hold the office, which Elder Gary E. Stevenson has described as a “knee-buckling” responsibility, for the duration of their lives. The senior apostle by order of ordination becomes the president of the church, according to the late President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Elders Patrick Kearon Ronald A. Rasband and M. Russell Ballard pose with Sister Aileen and President Douglas Murray and President Russell M. Nelson.

Elder Patrick Kearon, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, President M. Russell Ballard, Sister Aileen and President Douglas Murray and President Russell M. Nelson pose for a photograph.

Courtesy Nelson family

Elder Kearon was raised in the United Kingdom and the Middle East, where his father worked in the defense industry. At age 10, he attended boarding school in England while his parents remained in Saudi Arabia.

When he was 19, his father and his sister’s husband were killed in an auto accident.

He becomes the sixth apostle in church history to be born in England, joining John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, George Teasdale, Charles W. Penrose and James E. Talmage.

He also is the 13th apostle in history born outside the United States, a list that also includes Marriner W. Merrill (Canada), Anthon H. Lund (Denmark), John A. Widtsoe (Norway), Charles A. Callis (Ireland), Marion G. Romney (Mexico), Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Germany) and Ulisses Soares (Brazil).

In his adult life, Elder Kearon lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United States in a range of industries, including running his own communication consultancy.

He is known by many church members for his rousing call to help refugees during a 2016 general conference talk.

“We must take a stand against intolerance and advocate respect and understanding across cultures and traditions,” he said. “Meeting refugee families and hearing their stories with your own ears, and not from a screen or newspaper, will change you. Real friendships will develop, and will foster compassion and successful integration.”

He noted that the Christ child was a refugee in Egypt and that Latter-day Saints were 19th-century refugees in America.

President M. Russell Ballard, Aaron Jenne, Suzanne Drysdale and Elder Patrick Kearon share a laugh on May 12, 2021.

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shares a laugh with Aaron Jenne, Suzanne Drysdale and Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy during a meeting at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“We have found refuge. Let us come out from our safe places and share with them — from our abundance — hope for a brighter future, faith in God and in our fellow man, and love that sees beyond cultural and ideological differences to the glorious truth that we are all children of our Heavenly Father.”

Elder Kearon was born July 18, 1961, in Carlisle, England, to Paddy Kearon and Patricia Wilson Kearon.

He said his parents raised him with Christ-like principles, and he first began to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he lived in California with a Latter-day Saint family while working with the Nestle food company. He said the family “lived a joyful existence founded on service.”

A few years later he met missionaries on the street in London, and told them, “I admire you greatly, but don’t try to convert me.” During subsequent meetings, he began to feel things he couldn’t explain, he told the Church News in 2010.

As he met with both young missionaries and senior couple missionaries, “I learned the church is true, that our Savior lives and that we can live joyfully here and hereafter too,” he said.

Two years after his Christmas Eve 1987 baptism, Elder Kearon met Jennifer Hulme, a BYU student visiting London on a six-month study abroad. They married in the Oakland California Temple in 1991 and then lived in England for 19 years before relocating to Utah when he was called as a General Authority Seventy. They have four children — Sean (who died in infancy), Elizabeth, Susannah and Emma.

Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife Sister Jennifer Carole Hulme Kearon pose for a photo on Monday, April 5, 2010.

Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife Sister Jennifer Carole Hulme Kearon on Monday, April 5, 2010, after Elder Kearon’s call as a General Authority Seventy.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Elder and Sister Kearon owned Kearon Hulme Communications, a public affairs consultancy, and he served as an Area Seventy, stake president and branch president before his call as a general authority.

As a general authority, he served in the Europe Area presidency for five years and as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy for six years. He was the senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy for three years.

President Holland, who succeeded President Ballard last month as the new acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, has said that apostles and general church officers gather a powerful range of information as they travel the world and guide the church.

Left to right, Elder Patrick Kearon is shown with João Doria, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis.

João Doria, second from left, the governor of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, meets with Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, second from right; Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy, left; and Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, right, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Brazil Area; on Feb. 19, 2019 at the Palacio dos Bandeirantes in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Never in my personal or professional life,” President Holland said, “have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth.”

At the time of Elder Kearon’s call on Thursday, he was assisting Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve in supervising the Middle East/North Africa Area and Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the supervising the Utah Area.

Elder Kearon has given three general conference addresses. They are “He is risen with healing in his wings” (2022), “Refuge from the Storm” (2016) and “Come unto Me with Full Purpose of Heart, and I Shall Heal You” (2010).

As an apostle, he now will speak at every general conference.