Elder Gary E. Stevenson addressed the legacy and succession of prophets in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with BYU-Idaho students during the devotional at the BYU-Idaho Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
In the devotional, Elder Stevenson paid tribute to President Thomas S. Monson and said he is “one of the only a few men who has so clearly defined his ministry by his daily practice.”
Elder Stevenson described the process that takes place during apostolic interregnums, including the history of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and the ensuing transfer of the prophetic mantle to Brigham Young.
He said the most recent apostolic interregnum between President Monson and President Nelson happened instantly as the late President Monson passed from mortality into immortality.
“Upon the last heartbeat of President Monson, the mantle of apostolic leadership passed to President Russell M. Nelson, now the senior living apostle of God on the earth,” Elder Stevenson said.
He later explained the decision of leadership transition of The Church as a “deeply sacred experience with abundant spirit attendance.”
“President Nelson… has been profoundly prepared and specifically tutored by the Lord to lead us at this critical time in the world’s history,” Elder Stevenson said.
Elder Stevenson also introduced the legacy of President Nelson including his Christ-like leadership and his success in his career as a well-known heart surgeon. He then told the story of President Nelson’s participation in the first open heart surgery at the University of Minnesota.
Elder Stevenson said it was a solemn and wonderful blessing to have a new prophet.
“What a great blessing is ours to now have dear President Russell M. Nelson as our loving and devoted prophet – the 17th President of the Church in this, the final dispensation.”
In closing remark, Elder Stevenson said students can lead themselves in accordance with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in any circumstance by emulating the example of President Nelson.
Elder Stevenson has served as the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle since Oct. 3, 2015. Prior to his service in the Quorum, he served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church and First Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Stevenson graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor degree in business administration. He married Lesa Jean Higley in April 1979 and are parents of four sons.