Elder Neil Linden Andersen underscored the deep personal feelings of weightiness and responsibility following his call as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve, being sustained in Saturday morning's opening session of the 179th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I'm very humbled by this day, very overwhelmed at what is ahead of me and the great honor and responsibility that has come to me," said Elder Andersen, 57, at a news conference held in the Church Office Building between Saturday's conference sessions.
Expressing appreciation to church members who sustained him, church leaders, his wife and family, he added: "I pray that I can become what I must become in the years ahead."
Other newly called leaders sustained Saturday include Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Quorums of the Seventy to take Elder Andersen's place in the Presidency in the Seventy, the call of 12 new members of the Quorums of the Seventy, the reorganization of the Sunday School and Young Men general presidencies and the call of 40 new Area Seventies.
Sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 3, 1993, at age 41, Elder Andersen had been serving since 2005 as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, the most tenured of the seven presidents.
Filling the vacancy created by the December passing of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Elder Andersen said he hopes to serve as effectively as did the late apostle.
He is the latest to join the 15 men who constitute the First Presidency — which has three members — and Quorum of the Twelve, all of whom serve in lifetime callings and are believed by church members to be prophets, seers and revelators.
Elder Andersen spoke to Saturday's media gathering about those titles he now carries — terms that he said easily fall off the lips of church members but that once ingrained in one's soul can lift the purpose and feelings of those terms.
"First of all, it means that I know that Jesus is the Christ, with a sure and certain witness — and this I do," he said. "I have that solace that perhaps in that one category that must be fulfilled, I can say I fulfill that part. I know that he lives. I know that he's resurrected. … Of course, I'm hopeful that by way of ordination, certain gifts come to me that I anxiously await."
An apostle gains understanding, testimony and spiritual gifts in the same way as any church member does — through prayer, supplication, scripture study, pondering, obedience "and living a life that makes it such that the Lord can communicate with him," he added. "So I take it as a very heavy responsibility to live up to what those words (apostle, prophet, seer and revelator) mean — more so than I have ever thought of it before."
Born Aug. 9, 1951, in Logan as the third of five children of Lyle P. and Kathryn Andersen, Elder Andersen grew up on a Pocatello dairy farm, quipping Saturday, "most of my time on the farm was spent thinking how to get off the farm."
While studying at Brigham Young University, Elder Andersen met and later married Kathy Sue Williams in the Salt Lake Temple on March 20, 1975; they are the parents of four children and have 12 grandchildren. He received a bachelor's degree from BYU in 1975 and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1977.
Elder Andersen's business interests have included advertising, real estate development and health care, all while residing in Tampa, Fla.
When called to the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Andersen — who also speaks French, Portuguese and Spanish — was president of the Brazil South Area, having served previously as executive director in the church's audiovisual department and counselor in several Sunday School general presidencies. Also during his time in the First Quorum of the Seventy, he served in area presidencies in the Utah North, Utah South, North America Southwest, North America Northeast and Europe West areas.
He also presided over the France Bordeaux Mission from 1989 to 1992, having served in France as a missionary from 1970 to 1972.