Elder Howard W. Hunter has been set apart as president of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The position is held by the apostle next in line to be LDS Church president.President Hunter was set apart Thursday by Church President Ezra Taft Benson during a meeting of general authorities in the Salt Lake Temple.

He succeeds President Marion G. Romney, who died May 20 after a lengthy illness. President Hunter had been the acting president of the Council of the Twelve since October 1985.

Members of the Council of the Twelve officiate under the direction of the First Presidency, helping build and regulate the affairs of the church in all nations. Church membership now totals 6.5 million, with congregations organized in 97 nations and 25 territories, colonies and possessions.

The new council president has served as an apostle since Oct. 10, 1959.

He was born Nov. 14, 1907, in Boise. After graduation with high honors from Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles, he practiced law in Southern California until his call to full-time church service.