INDEPENDENCE (AP) – The Community of Christ yesterday named Stephen Veazey to lead its 250,000 members.
A group called the Council of the Twelve chose Veazey, 47, to serve as the churchís president – who also carries the position of prophet. Veazey, president of the Council of the Twelve, replaces former president Grant McMurray, who resigned in December, citing health, family and undisclosed personal reasons.
McMurray did not name a successor, marking the first time the succession decision had been left to the leadership of the denomination, which has a shared history with the Mormon church.
Veazeyís appointment still must be approved by church delegates at a special meeting in June.
“I am deeply humbled by that which is unfolding in my life and ministry at this time,” Veazey said during a service in the churchís temple in Independence. “Those who know me best know that I would never aspire to a position such as this one.”
James Slauter, secretary of the Council of Twelve, said, “As Brother Veazeyís friends and colleagues, we affirm his gifts of visionary leadership, prophetic insight, humility, integrity, compassion, missionary passion and commitment to Jesus Christ.”
Veazey, director of field ministries, a position that required him to travel around the world and work with established and developing congregations, was appointed president as the churchís overseas membership is growing.
Its membership in the United States and Canada, however, remains stagnant.
“I do think itís important for a leader of the church to have a heart for the church throughout the whole world and have had experience in those places so you can understand better how the ministries of the church are expressed in various cultures,” Veazey said.
Generally, church leaders have been successors of Joseph Smith Jr. and have served until their deaths. Veazey would be only the second person who is not a descendant of Smith to hold the position.