LDS Prophet Gordon B Hinckley Video Service

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Educator, pilot called to First Presidency, Posted by Robert Paisola

A former college president with a Harvard education and a former airline pilot from Germany will help President Thomas S. Monson lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its governing First Presidency.

The LDS Church announced during a Monday morning press conference that President Henry B. Eyring will serve as Monson’s first counselor and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf will serve as his second counselor.

Together, the three men form the First Presidency, the highest leadership body in the 13-million member worldwide church.

The reorganization of the First Presidency follows the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley on Jan. 27.

Sister Kristina Rimmel, a missionary from Cologne, Germany, who is serving in the St. George LDS Temple Visitors Center, said Latter-day Saints in her native country were excited when the German Uchtdorf was called as an apostle three years ago.

She said it also caught the attention of people belonging to other religions in Germany. With his call to the First Presidency, Uchtdorf will be even more visible.
“Now they see it’s not only Americans — it’s international,” Rimmel said of the church leadership. “So I’m excited.”

Sister Jessica Fowler and Sister Isabel Vargas — Visitors Center missionaries from Elwood, Ind., and Billings, Mont., respectively — said they have mourned Hinckley’s death but it has been a blessing to be able to testify of the new First Presidency, showing that the church does not fall apart with the death of its earthly leader.

Eyring, who had served as second counselor to Hinckley prior to his death, said he will miss the late church president but is looking forward with “great anticipation” to serving with Monson. He said he knows of Monson’s faith in Christ and his power to receive revelation from God.

Both Eyring and Uchtdorf said they were honored and humbled by the call to serve in the First Presidency. Although Eyring had previously been a member of the First Presidency, there was no requirement that he remain in the presidency when it was reorganized.

Uchtdorf said he was “joyfully overwhelmed” at the call. He also said he knew that the call came from God and that he was looking forward to serving with Monson. He called Monson a great teacher and said he loves Monson’s style of teaching through modern parables.

A former member of the LDS Church’s Presiding Bishopric and First Quorum of the Seventy, Eyring, 74, was ordained an apostle on April 6, 1995. He became second counselor in the First Presidency under Hinckley on Oct. 6, 2007, following the death of President James E. Faust.

He was president of the church-owned Ricks College — now Brigham Young University-Idaho — in Rexburg, Idaho, from 1971 to 1977 and later served as the commissioner of church education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Utah and master’s and doctorate degrees in business administration from Harvard University.

Eyring was born May 31, 1933, in Princeton, N.J. He is married to Kathleen Johnson Eyring and they are the parents of four sons and two daughters.

Having served in the LDS Church’s Second Quorum of the Seventy, First Quorum of the Seventy and Presidency of the Seventy since 1994, Uchtdorf, 67, was ordained an apostle on Oct. 7, 2004.

He studied engineering, business administration and international management in Cologne, Germany, and Lausanne, Switzerland. He joined the German air force in 1959, receiving his pilot wings in Big Spring, Texas, and fighter pilot training in Phoenix. In 1965 he joined Lufthansa German Airlines as a pilot and worked as an airline captain from 1970 to 1996, holding several executive positions during that time.

Uchtdorf was born on Nov. 6, 1940, in Mährish-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia, and was raised in Zwickau, Germany. His family joined the LDS Church in 1947.

He is married to Harriet Reich Uchtdorf and they are the parents of two children.
Since his call in 2004 as an apostle the Uchtdorfs have had a permanent home in the United States, but their children and grandchildren all live in Europe.

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