“Though our world is filled with serious challenges, I am optimistic about the future and confident about the fundamental goodness of humankind,” said Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at a news conference this morning.
President Nelson and his counselors fielded questions from the media in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City following a live message to members announcing the new First Presidency. His two counselors are President Dallin H. Oaks, 85, first counselor and president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and President Henry B. Eyring, 84, second counselor. The rest of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were also in attendance, including newly announced acting quorum President M. Russell Ballard, as well as other senior leaders.
President Nelson, 93, succeeds President Thomas S. Monson, who died January 2, 2018.
“I know his love of the people; I know of his wisdom,” said President Oaks, who has served with President Nelson for nearly 34 years. “I am thrilled to participate in the leadership of this worldwide Church.”
The global Church has more than 16 million members in nearly 190 countries around the world. President Nelson has traveled to 133 countries and speaks multiple languages.
“For me it is a special joy to be at the side of these great men,” said President Eyring, who served as first counselor in President Monson’s administration.
“We live in the most vibrant era in the history of the world,” President Nelson told reporters. “I wake up every morning eager for the adventures of the day. And I hope you feel that same exuberance for the gift of life.”
The news conference was shared in 29 languages. Local media, as well as national and international reporters, asked the First Presidency questions during the event.
When asked by a reporter about the diversity of the leadership of the Church, President Nelson said, “Wherever we go, the leadership of the Church is from the local communities, and those are the real leaders.”
President Nelson, who has nine daughters and one son, responded to a reporter’s question about women in the Church. “I have a special place in my heart about the women,” he said. “We have women on our councils, we have women administering ordinances in the temple, we have women presidents of the auxiliaries and their counselors. We depend on their voices.”
“I think no greater influence exists in the kingdom than the women of the Church,” added President Eyring.
The leaders talked about the strength of the youth in the Church, despite media reports that many are leaving organized religion. “There’s a power coming in this ‘millennial generation’ that is in fact remarkable and greater faith than I can remember,” stressed President Eyring. “I thought I had faith when I was 18, but I’m seeing some 18-year-olds now and some 20-year-olds and 25 that have a rock-solid faith, a love of the Lord and are willing to do everything they can to serve Him and each other, other people. I think it’s the best of times of the millennials.”
President Oaks talked about the transparency of the Church. “If we weren’t interested in transparency, we wouldn’t be publishing all the papers of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the documents that came out of the founding of this restored Church.”
“I declare my devotion to God our Eternal Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ. I know and love Them and pledge to serve Them — and you — with every remaining breath of my life,” concluded President Nelson.
If you missed the press release, you can watch the entire thing below.