Elders Ronald A Rasband, 64; Gary E. Stevenson, 62; and Dale G. Renlund, 60; were sustained as new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the church's Saturday afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference.
Elder Russell M. Nelson, 90, was set apart by President Thomas S. Monson as the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in July, following the death of President Boyd K. Packer.
The new apostles will fill the vacancies left by the death of Elder L. Tom Perry earlier this year and the recent death of Elder Richard G. Scott, and the change of President Nelson as the quorum leader.
During a press conference following the afternoon session, the new apostles fielded questions from media.
All three of the men had their calls extended to them Tuesday. Other than their wives, their families and friends found out they had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve the same time the body of the church did.
"This has been a rather knee buckling experience," Stevenson said. "I feel a duty to serve. I'm now humbled to be called into the Twelve with a great ecclesiastical duty. I offer my deep feelings of my heart in sustaining the First Presidency and President Thomas Monson in this calling."
Rasband said it was the first moment he'd been able to comment since being sustained and wanted to give his love and appreciation to the First Presidency and President Monson.
Rasband is a six-generation member with ancestors coming from the British Isles and Denmark.
Elder Renlund said his call to come to the Church board room was totally unexpected. He didn't even know where the board room was.
"I was stunned speechless," Renlund said. "I think I felt apoplectic and catatonic."
After he left the board room he went back to his office and fell on his knees in prayer. He then called his wife.
When asked when they felt the biggest challenge facing the church is Rasband didn't hesitate.
"We're seers, we look into the future. For the past two sessions we have been hearing the response to your questions."
Stevenson said the challenge of holding and maintaining families is the greatest challenge.
All of the men said their mission is to take the Savior, his message and the knowledge of his atonement to the world.
According to the church, Elder Ronald A. Rasband served as the senior president in the Presidency of the Seventy and was called to be a general authority April 2000. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 6, 1951 and served a mission at age 19 in the Eastern States Mission headquartered in New York City. He married Melanie Twitchell and previously worked in the business sector as President and Chief Operating Officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation in 1987.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson has served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church since March 2012 and previously served in the First Quorum of the Seventy, to which he was called in 2008. In a press release, the church said Elder Stevenson will continue in his position as Presiding Bishop until his replacement is named.
As a young man he served in the Japan Fukuoka Mission, and has lived in Asia for nearly a combined 10 years while working as a businessman, mission president and Area President of the Church’s Asia North Area from 2008–12. He is married to Lesa Jean Higley, both of whom studied at Utah State University, and he grew up in Cache Valley, Utah.
Elder Dale G. Renlund had served in the First Quorum of the Seventy since April 2009 prior to being named to the Quorum of the Twelve. A former cardiologist specializing in heart failure and heart transplantation, he earned BA and MD degrees from the University of Utah, with further training in medicine and research at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His wife is Ruth Lybbert Renlund, who was formerly the president of a law firm and is an ovarian cancer survivor.
“When I was called as a General Authority and asked to serve in the Africa Southeast Area presidency, she made the greater sacrifice," Renlund said in a press release.
Since May, one-quarter of the Quorum of the Twelve have died.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the second-highest presiding body in the government of the church. Its members serve under the direction of the First Presidency, a governing unit of three men — the president and two counselors.
In addition to their primary responsibility to be special witnesses of the name of Christ throughout the world, the apostles have heavy administrative responsibilities as they oversee the orderly progress and development of the global church.
Seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve is determined by the date an apostle is called rather than by age. Their calling is for the remainder of their life.
According to the church, the process of selecting a new apostle is the responsibility of the president of the church, currently Pres. Thomas S. Monson.
"Apostles are chosen through inspiration by the President of the Church, sustained by the general membership of the Church, and ordained by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by the laying on of hands."