SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The two new apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed the faithful on Sunday, thanking them for their support and asking for their continued goodwill.
“I’m calm as a hurricane,” joked Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who along with David Bednar, became members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the 174th semiannual General Conference.
Turning more serious, Uchtdorf, 63, told 21,000 people inside the church’s Conference Center, “In one sentence, I need your prayers.”
The Twelve Apostles are the top leadership council after the three-member First Presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has about 12 million members worldwide.
Bednar, currently the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho, expressed his gratitude that members voted to sustain his call, even though few knew him personally.
“I express my thanks to you and pledge my whole soul and all of my energies to this sacred work,” said Bednar, 52. “I will strive to become what I should and must become.”
Also during the Sunday morning session, President Gordon B. Hinckley, 94, fondly remembered his wife of 67 years, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who died April 6, two days after the spring conference.
“As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome,” he said of the woman he often called the girl of his dreams before they married.
“She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she had again become the girl of my dreams.”
Uchtdorf is only the 11th non-American born member of either the Twelve Apostles or First Presidency in the church’s 174-year history.
In 1965, Uchtdorf joined Lufthansa German Airlines as an airline pilot, serving from 1970 to 1989, and then for the next seven years was senior vice president of Flight Operations and chief pilot.
A native of the former German Democratic Republic, Uchtdorf was born in MÊahrisch-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia, on Nov. 6, 1940, to Karl Albert and Hildegard E. Opelt Uchtdorf.
His family joined the Mormon church in 1947 in Zwickau, in the former East Germany.
Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet Reich, are parents of two children and have five grandchildren.
Bednar began serving as president of the private, two-year Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, on July 1, 1997. He is leading the transition for it to become a four-year school, which is now known as BYU-Idaho.
He was born June 15, 1952, in San Leandro, Calif. He holds a doctorate from Purdue University and a master’s and bachelor’s degree from BYU.
Bednar previously at Arkansas and Texas Tech. He is the author, with Donald D. White, of “Organizational Behavior: Understanding and Managing People at Work, Second Edition” (Allyn and Bacon, 1991) and with White and Ronald Sims, “Readings in Organizational Behavior” (Allyn and Bacon, 1992).
Bednar and his wife, Susan, have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.