Mormon Succession Guided by Tradition

Associated Press/January 28, 2008

Salt Lake City - The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serves for life and, upon his death, the succession of the next leader is a process guided by long-standing tradition.

In the male-dominated church, senior leadership is divided into two governing bodies, the First Presidency - the president and his two counselors - and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Like the president, all members of the Quorum also serve until death.

When a president dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and his two counselors resume their place of seniority on the Quorum. That seniority is determined by the date on which an apostle is called to serve in the Quorum.

With the First Presidency dissolved, the Quorum assumes management of the church until a new president is appointed.

By tradition, the most senior apostle is typically named president, although the Quorum meets to discuss and pray about the decision.

Thomas S. Monson, 80, who has been Gordon B. Hinckley's first counselor since 1995 is in line for the presidency following Hinckley's death on Sunday. Monson became a member of the Quorum in 1963, five years after Hinckley.

If he is named president, Monson will then select two men to serve as his counselor, creating a vacancy in the Quorum. Filling that slot also falls to the church president.

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