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SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church reorganized its First Presidency this week as President Russell M. Nelson was called to lead the church as its 17th president. Some members of the church were saddened to learn that Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf would no longer serve in the First Presidency.
In a Facebook post, Elder Uchtdorf said he’s had “countless comments on social media” about no longer being in the First Presidency. He said that he appreciated the concern from individuals for “my welfare, but I assure you, I’m just fine.”
“I love and support the First Presidency, and I am thrilled to again more closely associate with the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” he added.
Elder Uchtdorf referenced a talk he gave at the church’s general conference in 2008, saying that “the importance of seeing every calling we receive — no matter what it is — as an opportunity to strengthen and bless others and become what Heavenly Father wants us to become.”
“I know that God is in charge,” he concludes. “HE is at the helm. HE wants us to serve wherever we are in this beautiful worldwide church. No matter where we are on this planet and to whichever we are assigned, let us do our best to serve God and our fellowman.”
President Nelson, who previously served as the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, departed from recent precedent by calling President Dallin H. Oaks as his first counselor and President Henry B. Eyring as his second counselor, which meant Elder Uchtdorf, who served as President Thomas S. Monson’s second counselor, went back to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In recent history, counselors serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ First Presidency would continue to serve in the First Presidency when a new president was called, but there is no church policy to mandate this. Once a president dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the new president can choose any two individuals to serve as counselors in the newly organized First Presidency.
The last time a member of the First Presidency was not retained was with President Marion G. Romney in 1985 when President Ezra Taft Benson was called as the president of the church. President Romney had served as President Spencer W. Kimball’s first counselor, but due to health problems, President Benson retained President Gordon B. Hinckley and added President Monson as counselors.
Prior to that, there were several instances in which the First Presidency changed, with individuals moving in and out of the First Presidency and back into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or other church positions.