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President Russell M. Nelson created a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that matches a church history record when he called Elder Patrick Kearon last week as the newest apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Kearon’s calling and ordination marks the first time in 117 years that three members of the quorum have been from outside the United States.

Elder Kearon is a British-Irish national. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was born in Czechoslovakia and Elder Ulisses Soares is a native of Brazil.

Together, the three of them make the quorum as international as it ever has been in its 188-year history.

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New apostle called: Elder Patrick Kearon joins Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Newest apostle, Elder Patrick Kearon, to BYU-Hawaii grads: ‘Put your hand into the hand of God’

Since it’s only the third time this has happened in church history, let’s explore the two previous instances:

  • In October 1889, Elders Marriner W. Merrill, who was born in Canada, and Anthon H. Lund, who was from Denmark, joined a quorum that already included Elder George Teasdale, who was born in England. They served together for 12 years, until Elder Lund was called into the First Presidency in October 1901.
  • In July 1904, Elder Charles W. Penrose of England was called to join Elders Merrill and Teasdale in the Quorum of the Twelve. Those three served together for 17 months, until February 1906, when Elder Merrill died.

No iteration of the Quorum of the Twelve previous to those two periods or since them has had more than two members born outside the United States.

Until now.

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Elders Gong, Soares share experiences from first 3 months as LDS apostles

President Nelson called Elder Kearon, who was born in Carlisle, Cumberland, England, from his role as senior president of Presidency of the Seventy on Thursday.

Shortly afterward, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve ordained Elder Kearon as an apostle. He boarded a plane later in the day, and on Friday, he made his first public appearance as the quorum’s new junior apostle by speaking at BYU-Hawaii’s fall commencement.

Now, the rest of the story is that there have been two periods in church history where four apostles born outside the United States were serving in senior church leadership across the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

  • President George Q. Cannon, who was born in England, served as a counselor in the First Presidency during that same 1889-1901 period where Elders Teasdale, Merrill and Lund were in the Quorum of the Twelve.
  • Then, by the time of that same 17-month period from 1904-06 where Elders Teasdale, Merrill and Penrose were in the Twelve, President Lund had left the quorum and was serving in the First Presidency as second counselor.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was first organized in 1835. The first member of the quorum born outside the United States was John Taylor, who was ordained an apostle in December 1838.

Latter-day Saint scripture says apostles are called with the same calling as Jesus Christ’s ancient apostles, to be “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world.”

(Wilburn Talbot’s 1985 book “The Acts of the Modern Apostles” and ChurchofJesusChrist.org were indispensable resources for this research.)

My recent stories

‘I’m planning on eternity’: President Holland rededicates historic St. George Utah Temple (Dec. 10)

Newest apostle, Elder Patrick Kearon: ‘Put your hand into the hand of God’ (Dec. 8)

New apostle called: Elder Patrick Kearon joins Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Dec. 8)

About the church

Sheri Dew attended the St. George Utah Temple dedication and shares thoughts about the dedicatory session and President Jeffrey R. Holland’s miraculous recovery. Read President Holland’s dedicatory prayer here.

The Church News also published a video of President Holland talking about what he has learned personally about the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Plan of Salvation since his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, died in July. Watch the video here.

The church published an eight-minute conversation with Elder Kearon about his calling as an apostle.

The Washington Times did a story in which President Holland responded to reports of youth leaving religious faith. Make sure to read his comments.

The church will open 10th Missionary Training Center next month in Thailand.

Major change for the “Music & the Spoken Word” and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Lloyd Newell is retiring next summer after 33 years as the program’s announcer to serve as a mission president.

Similarly, a teen-aged professional bull rider is stepping away from his sport to serve a mission.

The First Presidency announced the exact site location for the Antananarivo Madagascar Temple.

The First Presidency announced the date of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Knoxville Tennessee Temple.

The First Presidency announced the dedication and open house dates for the Layton Utah Temple, the Puebla Mexico Temple and the Urdaneta Philippines Temple.

Police arrested a man they say vandalized the Provo Utah Temple with a hammer. The temple will close later this winter for a major renovation that includes a brand-new exterior.

A Des Moines newspaper published a story about how the Light the World Giving Machines offer a new sense of giving in Iowa.

What I’m reading

Shohei Ohtani signed the biggest contract in the history of North American sports, $700 million to play the next 10 years for the Los Angeles Dodgers. There’s a big but...but it’s really worth more like $460 million. Here’s how.

A church member, Denver Broncos lineman Garett Bolles, was nominated for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

A BYU study shows how repentance strengthens families.

Behind the Scenes

The St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland.
The tower of the St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland after a major renovation intended to strengthen it for future decades and restore it to look like the original pioneer construction that took from 1871 to 1877. | Tad Walch/Deseret News
The St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland,
The St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland after a major renovation. | Tad Walch/Deseret News
The St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland.
The St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, the day before it was rededicated by President Jeffrey R. Holland after a major renovation. | Tad Walch/Deseret News
The exterior of the St. George Utah Temple is shown during the first of two rededicatory sessions on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023.
The exterior of the St. George Utah Temple is shown during the first of two dedicatory sessions on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. President Jeffrey R. Holland rededicated the 146-year-old temple after a major renovation. | Tad Walch/Deseret News
People wait outside the east doors of the St. George Utah Temple near the end of a rrdedicatory sessions on Dec. 10, 2023.
People wait outside the east doors of the St. George Utah Temple near the end of the first of two dedicatory sessions on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. President Jeffrey R. Holland rededicated the 146-year-old temple after a major renovation. | Tad Walch/Deseret News