President Russell M. Nelson was introduced as the 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
During his 33 years as an apostle, President Nelson has touched the lives of many while carrying out church affairs and ministering to individuals worldwide. Below is a list of some of our favorite stories about President Nelson.
President Nelson was born in Salt Lake City in 1924 and was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 7, 1984. A father to 10 children, he is a man of many musical talents, enjoys the outdoors and is fluent in Mandarin.
He became a physician in 1947 at age 22 and later performed an open-heart surgery on President Spencer W. Kimball, then serving as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in 1972.
In an article published in 2015, the Deseret News compiled a list of 21 LDS Church leaders' descriptions of their calls to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
President Nelson's call as an apostle was an experience he will never forget. According to his biography, “Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle,” then-Brother Nelson was at a regional representatives seminar on Friday, April 6, 1984, when he was told President Hinckley, then second counselor in the First Presidency, wanted to meet him.
President Hinckley asked him “if everything in his life was in order” as he entered his office.
Following Brother Nelson’s affirmative response, President Hinckley said, “Good! Tomorrow we will sustain you as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!”
Brother Nelson was shocked but accepted. He and Elder Dallin H. Oaks were sustained the following day to fill the vacancies of Elder LeGrand Richards and Elder Mark E. Petersen.
A number of articles have been published by the Deseret News and LDS Church News detailing President Nelson's visits to Latter-day Saints around the world. Below are a few of our favorites:
In 2014, Deseret News reporter Tad Walch addressed concerns about the age of LDS Church leaders. At 93, President Nelson is among senior church leaders with experienced eyes and a formidable base, constantly traveling to minister to individual church members, lead church conferences and meet with government leaders around the world.
President Nelson has ministered to individuals from Asia to Europe and helped build the church through the dedication of temples.
One such experience was in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in February 2009, when an LDS widow shared one of her most prized possessions with then-Elder Nelson — a framed certificate of her sealing to her husband in the Hong Kong China Temple.
President Nelson rededicated the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple on Nov. 4, 2007. “We reaped the harvest today of seeds that had been sown by the king of Tonga, who gave the land to the Lord in the first place,” Elder Nelson told the Church News after the dedication.
“We watched the hand of the Lord stay the elements in answer to our prayers that the dedication might be held under favorable circumstances,” President Nelson said. The temple was a literal fulfillment of a repeated prophecy for the faithful LDS pioneers in Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island.
President Nelson visited seven countries in 10 days during a trip to Eastern Europe in October 2017. While visiting Belarus, he reconnected with President Mikhail Davydik, president of the Minsk Belarus District and former mission president. Davydik was baptized with his wife and family after an address President Nelson gave in Minsk in May 1993 while there to dedicate the land of Belarus.
In 1985, then-Elder Nelson, who had retired from his medical career the year before, performed a coronary artery bypass graft operation to save the life of Chinese opera star Fang Rongxiang. It was the last operation he ever did. On Oct. 23, 2015, Fang’s son and grandson presented President Nelson, an “Old Friend of China,” with a painting done by Fang's grandson at the Shangdong University School of Medicine in Jinan, Shangdong.
Notable talks and addresses
President Nelson's testimony, shared in talks and addresses, of the Book of Mormon, the Atonement of Jesus Christ and family history have impacted many. Here is a look back at several of these addresses.
On Jan. 8, 2017, President Nelson spoke during a worldwide devotional for young adults and challenged those listening to study “everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament, his laws as recorded in the New Testament, his doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon, and his words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.”
President Nelson was in the middle of completing the very same assignment at the time of his talk. In February of the same year, President Nelson reported that he had completed his own challenge, reading more than 2,200 scriptures in six weeks.
President Nelson’s desire to follow the prophet's counsel was evident in his general conference talk given during the afternoon session on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. He said he had spent the previous six months following the counsel of President Monson by studying and pondering the Book of Mormon daily. He later shared these lists publicly.
“I’ve made lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals,” he said.
Among his findings, President Nelson said the Book of Mormon affirms individual identity of Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, refutes the idea that happiness can be found in wickedness and clarifies understanding about death and post-mortal existence. The Book of Mormon also reveals information previously unknown about plain and precious parts of the Bible that were lost.
In an address to mission presidents and their wives on June 24, 2014, President Nelson said “missionary work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple.” The idea of “beginning with the end in mind” of eternal life and immortality was also referenced in his first address as president of the church Tuesday morning.
On Nov. 18, 2005, then-Elder Nelson spoke at a devotional at the Orem Institute of Religion and encouraged listeners to focus on the Savior during the holiday season. He spoke of his late wife, Dantzel Nelson, who had died just 10 months before, and the significance of the Atonement as a connecting link between her life and the life of his family.
“Because of him, we can and will be together forever. We live in Thanksgiving daily for him whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Wise men still adore him. So do wise women,” he said.
During the 2017 RootsTech’s Family Discovery Day, President Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, challenged attendees to sacrifice time to do family history work.
“I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice — and preferably a sacrifice of time — you can make to do more family history and temple work this year,” President Nelson said.
On Sept. 9, 2017, President Nelson turned 93-years-old and shared a look into a day in his life with LDS Church News. His birthday was an “ordinary day of work” spent with local priesthood leaders and missionaries as he was on assignment in New York City. He spent the evening in the Manhattan New York Temple.