Into the Future

Newsweek has a great article about how the Church picks a new leader, and then about the overall state of the Church:

…”That’s the purpose of a prophet,” Hinckley told NEWSWEEK in 2005. “To answer the questions of the times … The purpose of a prophet is to lead these people through the contemporary thicket through which they walk.” Monson will inherit a church that is vibrant and wealthy, but that faces challenges created in part by its own success…

Compared with the process of picking a pope, choosing a new Mormon prophet is fairly routine. The top leadership of the church consists of a prophet and two counselors—called the First Presidency—and a quorum of 12 apostles. (The two counselors are usually chosen from the quorum, so technically there could be 14 apostles.) Prophets and apostles serve for life. When a prophet dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles collectively becomes the church’s ruling body until a new prophet is “sustained.” The new prophet has always been the most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (determined by length of service as an apostle, not date of birth).

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