This Thursday or Friday, someone at the Church Office building will get a phone call and make the long walk to President Monson’s office. By the time he leaves, he will have traded in his current position for a lifetime calling as an apostle. We’ll find out Saturday who he is, but why “stand idly, looking on” when we can spend four days speculating?
It’s tough to guess when Pres. Monson has only extended one apostolic calling thus far. To get past this sample size of one, I expanded the field to include all apostles called since Monson has been in the First Presidency. He wasn’t in charge in most of these situations, but I assumed he was involved to some extent as he counseled with then Presidents Benson, Hunter and Hinckley.
Since Pres. Monson joined the FP in November 1985, nine apostles have been called to the Quorum of the Twelve (Q12). I reviewed their pre-apostolic resumes to see if I could identify common factors that may have led to their selection. Presumably Pres. Monson will use a similar thought process as he considers the next apostle.
It’s tough to draw a compelling histogram with a sample size of 9, but I didn’t let that stop me:
- 5 of the last 9 apostles were clustered together in the center, aged between 59 and 63 when called.
- 2 of the 9 were younger than the norm: Holland (53) and Bednar (52).
- 2 of the 9 were older than the norm: Wirthlin (69) and Cook (67)
- Beyond these nine I found that new apostles are seldom called once they reach the age of 70; it has happened only 5 times in the history of the Church, and the most recent, Hugh B. Brown, was over 50 years ago.
Based on recent history, it appears that the “target range” for apostolic callings is in the late 50s or early 60s. Pres. Monson’s first pick was right in the target range, age 63 (Christofferson).
The last 9 apostles came from 3 different pools:
- 5 of the 9 were called directly from the Presidency of the Seventy (P70), which makes sense organizationally.
- 2 of the 9 served in the First Quorum of Seventy (1Q70), but served in the Presiding Bishopric (PB) rather than the P70.
- 2 of the 9 were current or former presidents of Church-owned universities. E. Holland had also subsequently served in the 1Q70, but not the P70. E. Bednar had only served as an Area Authority/Area Seventy in addition to his time as president of BYU-Idaho. I found it interesting that these 2 had such different paths to the Q12 because I had already considered them outliers based on their age when called.
Any discussion of potential apostles should obviously begin with the current P70, and possibly consider former members of the P70. Service in the PB and leading a Church university are also potential paths to the Q12. True to these patterns, E. Christofferson was serving in the P70 when called one year ago.
LENGTH OF SERVICE
I was surprised to find little correlation to length of service in the P70 and an apostolic calling. Of the 5 who served in the P70, the time they spent there varied widely from 5 weeks (Wirthlin) to 10 years (Christofferson). Others served 2 months, 2 years, and 5 years.
More interesting is the correlation between total time served in the 70 (any quorum), PB, as university president, or Assistant to the 12. 8 of the 9 newly called apostles had at least 10 years combined service in these groups. Only Bednar (always the outlier) fell short of this mark. His combined service in the 5Q70 and Pres. of BYU-Idaho totaled only 9.5 years.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION APOSTLE?
When E. Cook was called in 2007, he and Pres. Eyring (new member of FP) held a press conference. One of the first questions centered around the calling of yet another American as a high-ranking leader in a global Church. Apparently they were expecting something different, perhaps because E. Uchtdorf had been called (along with Bednar) to fill one of the last vacancies.
Does the Church worry about apostolic demographics? Probably not, but a new apostle from a country besides the U.S. is somehow exciting. It seems to validate the growth of the global Church, and I’m sure it will happen again eventually.
Based on all these criteria, I identified the 9 individuals I see as the most likely candidates for the open spot in the 12. Any of these men could be selected to join the Q12, and there are doubtless others who are well-qualified. My picks are divided into 3 tiers:
Claudio R. M. Costa. Currently serving in the P70 and his age (60) is about perfect. Served in the 70 for 15 years, with 20 months of that in the P70. I gave him bonus points for being Brazilian and his work as a professional diamond cutter (totally irrelevant but more interesting than just another attorney, businessman or Church employee).
Neil L. Anderson. Currently serving in the P70, plus he’s on the young end of the target range (57). He has served in the 70 for 16 years, and he and E. Rasband have the highest tenure in the P70 (nearing 4 years, although this hasn’t necessarily mattered in the past). Bonus points (from me) for speaking French, Spanish and Portuguese, and I liked his last conference address.
Jay E. Jensen. After 17 years in the 70, he has the odd distinction of being both the junior member of the P70 (8 months tenure) and the senior member of the P70 (67 years old). That puts him out of the target range, but I can’t shake him specifically because he was just put in the P70. Years ago, E. Wirthlin was called to the P70 and served only 5 weeks before joining the 12. More recently, E. Cook spent only 2 months in the P70 before becoming an apostle. In both cases, the same President who put them in the P70 moved them rapidly into the Q12. Could Jensen be ticketed for a similar path? My wife (Sister Hall?) gives him bonus points for looking like Pres. Faust around the eyes.
Cecil O. Samuelson. Has served 14 years in the 70, including a term in the P70 (although not currently) and several years as President of BYU. He climbs this high on the list (despite being a little older than the apparent target at 67) because of the BYU job. It worked for Oaks, Holland, Eyring, and Bednar.
Marlin K. Jensen. Leading the field as far as GA tenure goes, Jensen has logged 20 years in the 70, including 3 years of past service in the P70. At 66, he’s a little older than the target, but tenure gets him this high.
Ronald A. Rasband, Steven E. Snow, Walter F. Gonzalez, and L. Whitney Clayton: The rest of the current P70 are all in their upper 50s but haven’t been around for quite 10 years (9 for Rasband, 8 for the others). For that reason alone they drop to Tier 3. More apostles have been called over 65 (see Tier 2) than have been called with less than 10 years of service (as defined above).
Still, they are on the list and could be called.
I briefly considered several others, including Dennis B. Neuenschwander (former P70, 18 yrs in 70, but at 69 years old, less likely), Keith B. McMullin (only member of PB under age 70), and Glenn L. Pace (former PB who at 69 probably won’t reunite with Hales and Eyring as apostles). Bruce C. Hafen is also a former Ricks/BYU-Idaho president currently in the 1Q70, but not the P70.
All others in previous P70s, Presiding Bishopric or presidents of universities are either over age 70 or have been given emeritus status.
To wrap it all up, I find it interesting that although all of these men have led the third highest quorum in the Church, our interaction with them is fairly limited. They speak every three or four conferences, and you might see them once in a lifetime at your Stake or Regional Conference, but they aren’t nearly as well known as the 12. All that will soon change for someone.
Is there a dark horse I have missed? Have any of their conference talks or other messages been particularly meaningful to you? Who do you think will fill the empty seat?