Between the Sunday sessions of the most recent general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beloved apostle Elder Robert D. Hales died.
His death left a hole in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in the hearts of his fellow brethren. When President Thomas S. Monson, also technically an apostle, died just three months later, two seats were left to be filled in the quorum.
It is anticipated that during this April’s general conference, members of the church will see the calling and sustaining of two new men to apostleship.
The process by which an apostle is called is considered a spiritual experience for those involved. Each church president has the right to determine how that selection will happen.
Most typically, the prophet will ask members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to privately select some names he feels would be who the Lord would like to serve in that capacity. This is the method Monson used.
The prophet takes the names into consideration. Through consultation, with much prayer, fasting and meditation, the prophet chooses the name or names of who to call. He then seeks approval of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Apostles are called to minister to the world and to testify of Jesus Christ. Apostles are called to be special witnesses of Christ and proclaim his name throughout the world, according to church information.
“We are very ordinary men that are shouldering an extraordinary responsibility,” said Elder David Bednar, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in an online video made for church topics. “There are endowments of spiritual power that attends the office of the apostleship.”
It was at the April 1994 general conference when Hales was called to the apostleship. At that time, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of the church, spoke on how an apostle is called in his talk, “God is at the Helm.”
“We have sustained, this afternoon, a number of newly-called officers. We welcome each with love and respect. Among these is brother Robert D. Hales, to become a member of the [Quorum] of the Twelve Apostles,” Hinckley said.
“He fills a vacancy made by the passing of our beloved friend and associate, Elder Marvin J. Ashton,” Hinckley continued. “In filling that vacancy, each member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve was at liberty to make suggestions. I am confident that in every case, there was solemn and earnest prayer. A choice was then made by the First Presidency, again after solemn and serious prayer. This choice was sustained by the Council of the Twelve. Today, the membership of the Church in conference assembled has sustained that choice.”
According to the church, “The new member of the Twelve may be called from one of the Quorums of the Seventy (which are made up of general authorities who are senior leaders in the church) or from general church membership around the world. Seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve is determined by the date an apostle is called, rather than by age.”
When the general membership of the church will be called to sustain the new apostles, they will have already been accepted by the hierarchy of the church. As in all callings, it will take an amount of time for these men to grow into their positions of leadership.