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LDS Church calls new apostle to serve in Quorum of the Twelve

By Nichole Whiteley - Daily Herald | Dec 8, 2023

Scott G Winterton, The Deseret News via AP

Elder Patrick Kearon speaks at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, the newest member of the faith's top governing body, to fill a vacancy when a member died last month, will be a man raised in England who had been previously serving on a middle tier leadership council.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has called Elder Patrick Kearon to become the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He is the first apostle to be announced outside of the church’s general conference since 1995, but he will be sustained during the April 2024 conference.

Kearon was called and ordained Thursday by President Russell M. Nelson, the other members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Born in Carlisle, Cumberland, England, and a British and Irish national, Kearon is the 13th apostle born outside of the United States. He grew up in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. The other apostles that are currently serving in the Quorum of the Twelve who were born outside the U.S. are Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Ulisses Soares.

Kearon was the guest speaker at BYU-Hawaii’s fall commencement ceremony on Friday, the same day his calling as an apostle was announced to the public. He said as he prepared his talk, he had no inkling that he would be speaking as a new apostle, until the day before when he was called.

He said to the students and guests attending the ceremony, “To be an apostle is, amongst other things, to be a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m keenly aware that I will need to grow in every conceivable good way to become the servant the savior needs me to be. My inadequacies, weaknesses and lack are painfully clear to me, but I have faith in the patience of my Father, the grace of Jesus Christ and the tutoring of the Holy Ghost.”

Since August 2020, Kearon has served as the senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy. His previous church callings have included ward Young Men president, Bishopric counselor, Area Seventy, stake president and branch president. The need for a new apostle came in the wake of President M. Russell Ballard’s passing on Nov. 12.

As an apostle, Kearon has the responsibility to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ. He will also work with the other leaders of the church to oversee its development and operation, a news release explained.

“The future no doubt holds challenges and growth opportunities for us as well,” Kearon said to the BYUH graduates. “What the gospel promises us is that if we are led by God with our hand in his, we will be guided through life’s tests and struggles and into His ever increasing light.”

Kearon was baptized and became a member of the church on Christmas Eve in 1987 when he was 26 years old. The gospel was first planted in his mind while he was living in California with a family who were members of the church. The news release said he observed that the family “lived a joyful existence founded on service.” He was later baptized after meeting some Latter-day Saint missionaries on the street in London a few years later.

“Let your mantra be ‘who can I serve?’ Remember that Christ has counseled He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. In the Lord’s eyes, greatness is measured not by our personal achievements but by the charity with which we treat his children,” he said to the BYUH graduates.

His professional career has included a range of industries while living and working in Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the U.S. He also ran his own communications consultancy, according to the church.

He began his address to the BYUH graduates saying, “As I prepared thoughts to share with you, of course, I never imagined that I would be sharing them on the day when I would be named the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It’s staggering to me even just to say that.” He said he slept very little the night before after receiving his call as an apostle.

While he did not prepare to speak as an apostle, he said, “I realize now, in the most extraordinary way, that never have I actually prepared remarks for others that so perfectly fit a moment in my own life.”

He continued speaking to the graduates, “God, who is over all and to whom yesterday’s call is no surprise, however much of a surprise it is to me and certainly to all of those who know me well, directed me to these messages for you. But they are also in this moment very much for me, and I am going to need them, these messages, desperately over the next few weeks, months and even years.”

This address to the BYUH 2023 fall graduates was Kearon’s first public talk as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. His talk focused on Christ as a light when people are reaching out in the darkness. He shared a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, which he continually returned to, connecting each of his sentiments to finding God’s hand in the darkness and being led to the light — something he said those graduating will need to do when they are in the “midst of life’s confusing storms” as they learn and grow.

The poem reads:

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

“And he replied:

“‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

“That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’

“So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

“And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

As he turned his talk toward the students, he said, “I’m also speaking very much, as I said, to myself,” although he did not plan his talk in that way.

“You came here to grow and learn and work towards the achievement of this very day,” he said. “I congratulate you on completing the hard-fought climb to this new threshold that you stand on now — and what a threshold it is. Before you stretches a great unknown, an adventure which I’m sure inspires equal parts excitement and trepidation.”

He shared the poem as he and the students contemplated “the magnitude of this moment” with their heads and hearts; his moment of being called as an apostle, and the students’ moment of graduating and moving onto the next step in their lives.

Kearon’s first public, spoken testimony as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was shared to the graduating students: “I testify of the reality of our loving Father in Heaven who hears your every prayer. His living son, our savior Jesus Christ, and the infinite atoning gift of the redeemer of us all. There has been a restoration of eternal knowledge and truth. It continues now and will continue until that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns. Each of you, each one of you, is loved in ways that you cannot comprehend. How grateful I am as I look at you to know that the future will be shaped by faithful servant leaders such as yourselves. How many numberless ways will you each lift up the hands which hang down? I believe in your ability to serve humankind. More importantly, your Father in heaven believes in you, he knows each of you personally, and he is reaching to give you his hand to lead you towards the breaking of day.”

Quoting the poem again, he finished his testimony by saying, “Go forth, my friends, with joy. ‘Put your hand into the hand of God,’ and let Him guide you ‘safely into the unknown.'”

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