SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An Idaho educator and a former German airline pilot and executive were named Saturday to leadership posts in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Chosen for the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church’s top leadership council after the three-member First Presidency, were Elder Dieter Uchtdorf and Elder David Bednar.
Mormon church President Gordon B. Hinckley made the announcement as he opened the 174th semiannual General Conference.
Elder Uchtdorf, who was born in Germany, most currently served as president of the Quorum of the Seventy, the leadership council after the Quorum of the Twelve.
Before joining the church as a full-time leader in 1996 with the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was a pilot and later served in management posts for Lufthansa German Airlines, including as vice president of flight operations and chief pilot. Elder Uchtdorf was born Nov. 6, 1940 in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia and is the father of two children.
To date, there have been 11 non-U.S. born members of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles: five from England, and one each from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Mexico and German.
Elder Bednar, 52, is president of Brigham Young University-Idaho. He became president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, on July 1, 1999, before the junior college became the four-year BYU-Idaho.
Before that, the lifelong educator served posts at both the University of Arkansas and Texas Tech. Elder Bednar was born June 15, 1952 in San Leandro, CA and is the father of three boys.
They filled vacancies created by the deaths last summer of Elder David Haight and Elder Neal Maxwell.
President Hinckley also addressed the needs of the growing church, noting that there are 451 meetinghouses currently under construction across the world.
“This tremendous building program is phenomenal, I know of nothing to equal it,” he told 21,000 church members packed inside the conference center.
The church’s 5.4 million members makes it the nation’s fifth largest, according to the National Council of Churches. Worldwide, there are nearly 12 million Mormon church members.
Also announced were two new Mormon temples, one in Twin Falls, Idaho, and another in the Salt Lake Valley. The Twin Falls Temple with be the fourth in Idaho, while the Salt Lake Valley temple will be the third in the area and 12th in Utah. However, President Hinckley indicated that continued church growth may require another Salt Lake City-area temple.
Sunday worship and weekly activities take place in meetinghouses, but temples — the most sacred places on earth to Mormons — are open through the week but closed on Sundays.
President Hinckley also spoke of the renovation project to make the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle earthquake proof.
“We must do extensive work on the Salt Lake Tabernacle to make it seismically safe,” President Hinckley said of the 137-year old building on Temple Square.
Tithing funds will not be used for the project, but instead will funded by income from church businesses, property rents and private contributions.
“It is one of the unique architectural masterpieces in the entire world, and a building of immense historical interest,” President Hinckley said of the 10,000-seat round building on Temple Square. “Its historical qualities will be carefully preserved while its utility, comfort and safety will be increased.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will move to the conference center during the 18-month project, expected to start in January. Construction is not expected to close Temple Square.
Official Church News Release:
Two New Temples Announced at General Conference
SALT LAKE CITY (KSL News) – LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced two new Apostles and two new temples in the opening session of the church’s semi-annual general conference.
SALT LAKE CITY, October 2 — During his opening remarks today at the first session of the semiannual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that two new temples will be built, one in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the other in the Salt Lake Valley.
When completed, the Twin Falls Idaho Temple will be the fourth temple in Idaho. Dedicated temples serve Latter-day Saints in areas surrounding Boise and Idaho Falls. Plans were announced previously to construct the Church’s third Idaho temple in Rexburg.
The new temple in the Salt Lake Valley will be the third temple in the Salt Lake area and the twelfth in Utah. President Hinckley indicated that continued growth may require a fourth temple in the Salt Lake area.
Following President Hinckley’s announcement in Salt Lake City, President Brad R. Hobbs, president of the Twin Falls Idaho Stake said, “It’s fitting that the Church would recognize the growth and development of Twin Falls and the Magic Valley and select it for a temple during this year of centennial celebration for Twin Falls.”
Unlike meetinghouses where Sabbath worship and weekly activities take place, temples are open throughout the week and close on Sundays.
To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temples are the House of the Lord, the most sacred place on earth. Temple services bind families together forever, teach the purpose of life and explain God’s plan of salvation. Temple attendance strengthens Latter-day Saints’ commitment to living Christian principles, emphasizes personal spiritual growth and increases devotion to family.