The two newest members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke publicly at a news conference yesterday of their personal feelings on being asked to serve in the highest governing bodies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Henry B. Eyring was named Saturday as a member of the three-man First Presidency by President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 97-year-old leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Eyring will occupy the position known as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. The First Counselor is President Thomas S. Monson, who has served as an apostle for 44 years.
President Hinckley also presented for the traditional "sustaining vote" of the Church membership the name of Quentin L. Cook as a new apostle. The new responsibilities - usually referred to within the Church as "callings" - were presented to the assembled membership at the first of five sessions of a General Conference of the Church Saturday morning.
The twice-yearly General Conference attracts more than 100,000 people to the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Millions more tune in to broadcasts around the world.
A vacancy in the First Presidency had arisen with the death last month of President James E. Faust, who had served as counselor to President Hinckley for 12 years. President Eyring's new appointment to the First Presidency then created a vacancy in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
Both men have rich experience in secular fields - President Eyring holds a B.S. degree in Physics from the University of Utah and Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Business Administration degrees from Harvard University. Elder Cook has a background in business and the law, including top executive positions in the health care industry and managing partner in a California law firm. He holds a Bachelor's degree in political science from Utah State University and a juris doctorate degree from Stanford University.
Nevertheless, both men talked yesterday of the different requirements for service in the Church. The full news conference including their remarks can be viewed on Newsroom.
Elder Cook said it would be a "great mistake" to think that there was some educational or occupational qualification necessary for service. "People come from all kinds of backgrounds. People who love the Lord and have spiritual maturity are called in to positions. There is certainly no educational or occupational requirement of any kind," Elder Cook said.
In fact, both men have spent many years in their ministry within the Church. President Eyring has twice served as Church Commissioner of Education and in several leading councils of the Church before becoming an apostle in 1995.
Elder Cook has been overseeing the Church's worldwide missionary program, responsible directly to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He also served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and as a member of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy. Both organizations help the First Presidency and the Twelve in administering the global Church.
Elder Cook has also provided leadership for the Church in the Philippines, throughout the Pacific and in the north-western United States. He has at various times served in virtually every level of Church leadership, from bishop to his present position.