President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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President Thomas S. Monson
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Acting President Boyd K. Packer

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the most senior Apostle in the church, aside from the church President.

Upon the death of the President of the Church, the First Presidency automatically dissolves, leaving the Twelve Apostles as the highest leadership group and their President as the highest official. On the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., this position was held by Brigham Young, and he persuaded the Church that Smith's death left him and not Sidney Rigdon, who had been Smith's First Counselor in the First Presidency, as the senior leader... Smith had said, "Where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve."

In 1847 the Quorum of the Twelve reconstituted the First Presidency, with Brigham Young as second President of the Church. During Young's Presidency seniority within the Quorum of the Twelve was formalized to mean continuous service as an Apostle since being ordained as one of the Twelve. The original apostles of 1835 had been ranked by age, and two of them excommunicated and later restored to fellowship. With this rule in place, it was John Taylor who led the church after Young's death in 1877, first as President of the Twelve and after 1880 as President of the Church with Wilford Woodruff as President of the Twelve.

Woodruff did not reorganize the First Presidency until 1889, after Taylor died in 1887. But before his death in 1898 he advised then President of the Twelve, Lorenzo Snow, "Do not wait, Brother Snow, but proceed at once to reorganize the First Presidency." Snow followed this advice and since then every interval between Presidents of the Church has been under two weeks, just long enough to mourn the death of the President of the Church and complete his funeral services, and also for the Quorum of the Twelve to nominate and sustain the President of the Twelve together with his counselors in the new First Presidency. The next Apostle in seniority after the President of the Twelve becomes the next President of the Twelve.

If the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the Counselors in the First Presidency, he retains that title, but is not numbered among the Twelve, and the most senior Apostle not in the First Presidency is named Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Acting President title was first used in 1918 for Rudger Clawson. The position has also been used at times of infirmity of a President of the Twelve: Howard W. Hunter was Acting President for the infirm Marion G. Romney in 1985-88.

Currently, Boyd K. Packer is Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, as the President of the Twelve, Thomas S. Monson, is First Counselor in the First Presidency.

List of Presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve

#PresidentServedNotes
1 Thomas B. Marsh 1835–1839 Excommunicated in 1839.
2 Brigham Young 1839–1847 Became senior Apostle in 1839, ordained President of the Twelve in 1840, became President of the Church in 1847.
3 Orson Hyde 1847–1875 Left the Quorum in 1839, but returned a few weeks later. As a result of this, he was reduced in seniority in 1875.
4 John Taylor 1875–1880 Became senior Apostle in 1875 when the seniority was changed. Ordained as President of the Twelve in 1877 and became President of the Church in 1880.
5 Wilford Woodruff 1880–1889 Became senior Apostle in 1880: it is unclear if he was ever ordained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Became President of the Church in 1889.
6 Lorenzo Snow 1889–1898 Became President of the Church in 1898.
7 Franklin D. Richards 1898–1899 Died in 1899.
8 George Q. Cannon 1899–1901 Became senior Apostle in 1899: it is unclear if he was ever ordained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Died in 1901.
9 Joseph F. Smith 1901 Became senior Apostle in 1901: it is unclear if he was ever ordained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Became President of the Church later that year.
10 Brigham Young, Jr. 1901–1903 Died in 1903.
11 Francis M. Lyman 1903–1916 Died in 1916.
12 Heber J. Grant 1916–1918 Became President of the Church in 1918.
13 Anthon Henrik Lund 1918–1921 Became senior Apostle in 1918: it is unclear if he was ever ordained as President of the Twelve. Died in 1921.
14 Rudger Clawson 1921–1943 Died in 1943.
15 George Albert Smith 1943–1945 Became President of the Church in 1945.
16 George F. Richards 1945–1950 Died in 1950.
17 David O. McKay 1950–1951 Became President of the Church in 1951.
18 Joseph Fielding Smith 1951–1970 Became President of the Church in 1970.
19 Harold B. Lee 1970–1972 As he was serving in the First Presidency, Spencer W. Kimball was Acting President of the Twelve. Became President of the Church in 1972.
20 Spencer W. Kimball 1972–1973 Became President of the Church in 1973.
21 Ezra Taft Benson 1973–1985 Became President of the Church in 1985.
22 Marion G. Romney 1985–1988 Due to his infirmity, Howard W. Hunter served as Acting President of the Twelve. Died in 1988.
23 Howard W. Hunter 1988–1994 Became President of the Church in 1994.
24 Gordon B. Hinckley 1994–1995 As he was serving in the First Presidency, Boyd K. Packer was Acting President of the Twelve. Became President of the Church in 1995.
25 Thomas S. Monson 1995–present While he is serving in the First Presidency, Boyd K. Packer is Acting President of the Twelve

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