Pres. Eyring is new counselor

And Elder Quentin Cook fills vacancy in Quorum of Twelve

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

President Gordon B. Hinckley reaches out with his cane and appears to "knight" President Henry B. Eyring to his new position in the First Presidency.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

The chair next to LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on the Conference Center dais was vacant only a few minutes Saturday morning before he called Elder Henry B. Eyring to fill the seat and serve as his counselor in the First Presidency.

The call was sustained by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the first session of the church's 177th Semiannual General Conference, which concludes today in Salt Lake City. It ended more than a month of speculation by church members about who would replace President James E. Faust as second counselor in the First Presidency.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, who had been serving in the Presidency of the Quorums of the Seventy, was named as the newest apostle to fill President Eyring's spot.

President Faust died Aug. 10 from causes incident to age. President Eyring, who at age 74 was a junior apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve, now joins President Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson to form the First Presidency of the church.

President Hinckley noted the death of President Faust and described his former counselor as "a man of great faith and capacity who contributed much to our meetings" and who is "greatly missed." But as President Eyring took his seat next to President Hinckley, the 97-year-old church leader reached out with his cane and tapped him on the head.

It was almost a "knighting" of sorts for President Eyring, who smiled widely and ducked as more than 20,000 Conference Center spectators laughed in stride with President Hinckley, who is known for using his trademark sense of humor to lighten solemn moments.

During a noon news conference, President Eyring said the emotions he felt after receiving his call included joy, inadequacy and love from the Lord.

"It's a great, great feeling of opportunity, and I think an opportunity to serve the people whom I love," he said.

Both President Eyring and Elder Cook were notified of their new assignments on Thursday. Elder Cook, 67, had been overseeing the church's missionary program.

Elder Cook said later of his call: "We all started out doing other things and accepted these calls because we believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior ... and we try to fill these calls in the best ways that we can."

Session topics

During the remainder of Saturday's conference sessions, including an evening priesthood session, speakers touched on a variety of topics, including church service, the faith's belief in Jesus Christ, moral standards, missionary work, basic beliefs and death.

President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, described how church members are called to leadership positions, and said top leaders in the church are "just the same" as ordinary members.

"You have the same access to the powers of revelation for your families and your work and your callings as we do," he said.

President Monson was the last speaker during the morning session of Saturday's conference. He talked about the death of a friend during World War II and recounted words from a talk he gave 38 years ago titled: "Mrs. Patton, Arthur Lives."

In that talk, President Monson said he told Mrs. Patton that he knew her son would live again.

"With all the strength of my soul I testify that our Heavenly Father loves each one of us," he said. "He hears the prayers of humble hearts, he hears our cries for help, as he heard Mrs. Patton."

During the evening session for men, President Hinckley talked about anger — an "unusual" but timely topic, he said. He followed speakers who talked about procrastination, pornography and "raising the bar" in missionary work.

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