The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' newest apostles say they are humbled and overwhelmed with their unexpected assignments.
Elder David A. Bednar said he recalled a "Sesame Street" song as he sat alongside his fellow apostles in the Conference Center for the first time Saturday morning.
"As the names were presented (for sustaining vote) today and I Iistened to Hinckley, Monson, Faust, Packer and Perry . . . Those all seemed to fit together until they got to Bednar. And that's the name that seems like was the one 'not like the others.' "
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 63, said he is sobered by the immense responsibility. "It's been a roller coaster of feelings and emotions today," he said. "I'm struggling with what is coming down the line for us."
Accompanied by their wives, they addressed the media and answered questions during a press conference Saturday afternoon in the Church Office Building. They fill vacancies in the church's Quorum of the Twelve created by the deaths of Elders David B. Haight and Neal A. Maxwell several weeks ago.
Each said he doesn't see himself filling the shoes of those beloved leaders but trying to fill the gaps in their departure.
A native German, Elder Uchtdorf is only the 11th member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve born outside the United States in the church's history, and the first in 53 years. Five previous apostles came from England and one each from Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico and Norway.
"It's an indication that the church is growing," he said. "This is not an American church. This is not just a church in a geographic locality."
Elder Uchtdorf, a former pilot and executive with Lufthansa Airlines in Germany, has served in the Quorums of the Seventy since 1994, the last five years living in Salt Lake City. He and his wife Harriet, joked that it was their "overseas" assignment.
"This will be a little more lasting," he said of the apostleship, which is a full-time, lifelong position.
At 52, Elder Bednar is the youngest man named to the Quorum of the Twelve since Elder Dallin H. Oaks became an apostle in April 1984 at age 51. He has served as an area authority seventy since 1997.
He has been president of BYU-Idaho the past seven years, overseeing its transition from what was once Ricks College to its current stature as a four-year university. He previously worked as a business management professor at the University of Arkansas and Texas Tech University.
Elder Bednar, a native of San Leandro, Calif., said there are hundreds of thousands of men in the church better qualified to serve as an apostle than himself. "But I do know from whence the call has come."Comment on this story
During his tenure at BYU-Idaho, he said, he and his wife, Susan, hosted some 200 students each Monday night for Family Home Evening. He said they'll miss the students from whom they received much more than they gave.
Details about his departure from the Rexburg campus have not been worked out.
"I'm sure I'll be around for a while," he said. "I don't know exactly how long."
The men told reporters they only learned of their new assignments on Friday, literally hours before President Hinckley's Saturday morning announcement.Elders Bednar and Uchtdorf are the first apostles to join the Quorum of the Twelve since Elder Henry B. Eyring in April 1995.