RELIGION

President Russell M. Nelson becomes oldest Church president

Apr 14, 2022, 1:39 PM | Updated: Jun 29, 2022, 1:31 pm
President Russell M. Nelson at his office in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City o...
President Russell M. Nelson at his office in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on April 13, 2022. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

SALT LAKE CITY — At 97 years, seven months and six days old, President Russell M. Nelson has become the oldest President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Thursday, President Nelson surpassed President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died on Jan. 27, 2008, at the age of 97 years, seven months and five days.

President Nelson was set apart as the 17th President of the Church on Jan. 14, 2018, after serving 34 years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He became only the second prophet called to serve at over the age of 90 — the first being President Joseph Fielding Smith.

“He has more love for people, I think, than almost anybody I’ve ever been around in my life,” reflected President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. “He not only loves us; he sees the best in us. … He sees good in people to a degree that’s really quite remarkable.”

President Nelson was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from July 2015 until becoming Church President, and he served as chairman of each of the Church’s three governing committees — the Missionary Executive Council, the Temple and Family History Executive Council and the Priesthood and Family Executive Council.

During a 2019 event marking his 95th birthday, President Nelson shared his testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored Church.

“If I have learned anything certain in (my life), it’s that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God. His Church has been restored in these latter days to prepare the world for His Second Coming,” President Nelson said. “He is the light and life of the world. Only through Him can we reach our divine destiny and eventual exaltation.”

In addition to his service as an Apostle, President Nelson is known for his esteemed medical career, in which he helped pioneer the development of the artificial heart-lung machine, a means of supporting a patient’s circulation during open-heart surgery.

President Nelson graduated from medical school at the age of 22 and received doctoral degrees from the University of Utah and University of Minnesota.

He married Dantzel White in 1945 and they are the parents of 10 children. She died in 2005, just shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. In 2006, President Nelson married Wendy L. Watson, who has been at his side since then.

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President Russell M. Nelson becomes oldest Church president