Michael Otterson, 67, the retiring managing director of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has accepted a call to serve as president of the London England Temple. Otterson, a native of Liverpool, England, was one of eight temple presidents whose names were released in an LDS Church News article last week. His wife, Catherine Berry Otterson, will serve as temple matron.
During his time as managing director, Otterson, whose replacement was announced in April, appeared frequently in the media and his British accent became recognizable to members of the LDS Church as he helped navigate through the “Mormon Moment,” the popularity of “The Book of Mormon” musical and the attention surrounding Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president of the United States in 2012. He also contributed to The Washington Post’s On Faith blog, where he addressed timely issues such as BYU’s suspension of basketball player Brandon Davies in 2011 and the Boy Scouts of America policy changes in 2013. He also wrote posts that answered questions surrounding Mormon doctrines, such as baptisms for the dead and the law of tithing.
A convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Otterson joined when he was 19. His patriarchal blessing later stated that he would be “given opportunities to defend the gospel,” according to Mormon Newsroom. He found the word choice intriguing and one month later when he was sealed to his wife in the temple, a temple worker identified him as a journalist.
"'You’re a journalist, aren’t you?’ he asked,” Otterson recounted in a speech at the FairMormon Conference last August. “The question surprised me because I wasn’t aware I had mentioned that to anyone. He then directed me, rather forcefully, to listen very carefully to the language of the male initiatory ordinance that had to do with defending truth. I won’t mention them here, but I think of those words every time I do initiatory ordinances.”
Four years later, Otterson was asked by President Royden Derrick — then the president of the England Leeds Mission — to assist in responding to a critical letter about the church in a local newspaper. Otterson would spend the next 40-plus years, including eight years as managing director of the Public Affairs Department, taking the opportunity to “defend the gospel.” He will now devote his time to presiding over the ordinances that reminded him of the importance in so doing.
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