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Funeral services set for President M. Russell Ballard, a leader in LDS Church

By Genelle Pugmire - | Nov 14, 2023
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President M. Russell Ballard waves to conferencegoers at the conclusion of the Sunday morning session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 1, 2023.
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President M. Russell Ballard speaks at a memorial for former Sen. Harry Reid on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
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President M. Russell Ballard honors Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, on Saturday night, June 2, 2018, for his commitment to religious liberty.
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President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shares a message of inspiration during the morning session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.
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President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gets a COVID-19 vaccination Jan. 19, 2021.

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be eulogized and celebrated during funeral services Friday.

The funeral will be held from 11 a.m. to noon in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. It is open to the public for those 8 years old and older. The doors will open at 9:30 a.m. and those wishing to attend must be in their seats no later than 10:30 a.m., according to the church’s newsroom.

Ballard, 95, died Sunday. He had recently been in the hospital for a short time but had returned to his church duties. His family was with him at the time of his death, according to the church.

The church campus buildings will be closed at 10:30 a.m. and will reopen following the funeral at 1 p.m.

Ballard was a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ballard had a personal fondness for history, particularly church and family history.

The Ballard family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to This is the Place Heritage Park. Ellis Ivory, Ballard’s longtime friend and a fellow history buff, is the executive director of the park.

According to the church, the funeral services will be streamed live on the church’s online Broadcasts page and Inspiration and Events YouTube channel. Both locations will provide the services in English as well as in Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. It will also be aired live on BYUtv.

The Ballard family will hold a private burial service at the Salt Lake City Cemetery immediately following the funeral. There will be no public viewing, according to the church.

Memories of Ballard and sympathy notes may be posted on Ballard’s official Facebook and Instagram accounts.

When Ballard noted his eyes were failing and he could no longer read the prompter during last month’s general conference, he said he still wanted to leave a message to the body of the church.

The famous Osmond family has been friends of Ballard’s for decades. Marie Osmond, after hearing of his death, left this message on his official Facebook page:

“M. Russell Ballard, a great man and leader in my church, died last night. I was blessed to know him throughout my life. When I heard him speak at last month’s General Conference, because of age, it felt like he was saying goodbye. His final words in that talk went to my heart and I won’t soon forget them, ‘I leave you my witness and testimony that I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. He is our best friend.’ Thank you Elder Ballard for your years of service. RIP.”

Osmond is not the only one to send condolences. Political leaders, leaders from other church communities and friends throughout the world have paid tribute to Ballard, who served 47 years in the leadership of the church.

With his passing, the question on the minds of many both within and outside church membership is what will happen next, and when?

If protocol is observed, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland will be in line to be acting president of the Twelve. In a Facebook post in mid-October, Holland talked about how he was coping with the recent death of his wife, Pat. He said he is drawing strength from his family and his faith in the savior during this difficult time.

Holland has also been in the hospital and is slowly returning to his calling and duties.

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency is also the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, but his First Presidency duties takes him away from Quorum leadership.

With Ballard’s death, Holland is next in line to be acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve. If he cannot fulfill those duties because of health, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf would get the opportunity.

A new apostle is expected to be called by President Russell M. Nelson. That would typically happen around next April’s general conference or before and their identity is considered revelation to Nelson from the Lord.

Speculation by church members tends to rise during these times and questions as to who might be called as the new apostle. The most recently called were Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares, the first apostle called from Brazil.


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