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Russell M. Nelson now oldest president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


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SALT LAKE CITY ( — President Russell M. Nelson on Thursday became the oldest president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He turned 97 years, 7 months and 6 days old on Thursday.

Previously, President Gordon B. Hinckley had been the oldest church president. He died on Jan. 27, 2008, at 97 years, 7 months and 5 days old.

President Nelson was born on Sept. 9, 1924. He served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 34 years before being confirmed as the 17th president of the church on Jan. 14, 2018. Prior to his service as an apostle, he had an esteemed medical career as a cardiothoracic surgeon after graduating from medical school when he was 22.

“If I have learned anything certain in (my life), it’s that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God. His church has been restored in these latter days to prepare the world for his second coming,” President Nelson said at a celebration for his 95th birthday in 2019.

President Nelson is one of only two prophets to become president of the church while over 90, according to the church. The other is Joseph Fielding Smith.

While a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Nelson traveled to 133 countries, dedicating 31 of them.

President Nelson was married to Dantzel White for just under 60 years before she passed away, and they are parents of 10 children. After her death, he married Wendy L. Watson.

“He has more love for people, I think, than almost anybody I’ve ever been around in my life,” President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, said in a statement. “He not only loves us; he sees the best in us. … He sees good in people to a degree that’s really quite remarkable.”

Rosalie Ringwood, one of President Nelson’s daughters, said in a statement, “The word ‘father,’ to my dad … is his highest calling. He oftentimes has said ‘there are 12 apostles, but you only have one daddy,’ and he takes that responsibility very seriously. He has never made us feel like he was too busy to be our father.”

During the church’s annual general conference earlier this month, President Nelson encouraged members of the church to spend their time well, to attend the temple and to end conflicts in their lives — specifically inviting members to end a personal conflict before Easter.

“Could there be a more fitting act of gratitude to Jesus Christ for his Atonement? If forgiveness presently seems impossible, plead for power through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to help you,” he said. “As you do so, I promise personal peace and a burst of spiritual momentum.”