Mormons Pick Former Surgeon, 93, as New Leader

Russell Nelson is appointed to top post in church
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2018 1:15 PM CST
Russell M. Nelson is the new leader of Mormons.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
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(Newser) – The Mormon church appointed a 93-year-old former heart surgeon Tuesday as its new president, following a longstanding succession plan that aims to keep the faith on course with a minimum of upheaval. The selection of Russell M. Nelson was announced by high-ranking Mormon D. Todd Christofferson during an address broadcast from Salt Lake City to Mormons around the world, per the AP. Nelson then spoke to Mormons, calling on them to "keep the covenant path." Nelson was chosen as the religion's 17th president during a private meeting of the Quorum on Sunday, per church tradition that makes the longest-tenured member of the Quorum the new president. Nelson is now considered a "prophet, seer and revelator" by Mormons. He succeeds Thomas Monson, who died Jan. 2 at age 90.

Nelson is the second-oldest man to assume leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Utah and counts nearly 16 million members worldwide. He will oversee the religious and business interests of the faith in collaboration with two top counselors and members of the Quorum, one of the faith's top governing bodies. Nelson's record during his three decades in church leadership suggests he will make few changes as he upholds church teaching and seeks to draw new members. Among the challenges he faces is adapting to the increasingly global nature of the church, which was founded in 1830 in the United States and now has nearly six in 10 members living in other countries.


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