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Posted: 11:04 AM- Thomas S. Monson is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 16th president.
Monson, in turn, has chosen Henry B. Eyring, 74, as first counselor and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 67, as second counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency.
The selection of Uchtdorf to serve in one of the church's top three leadership positions leaves a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Monson may announce a new member of the Quorum soon, or he may wait until LDS General Conference in April.
Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf held an 11 a.m. news conference in the lobby of the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City. It came two days after the funeral and burial of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who had been the LDS Church's "prophet, seer and revelator" for 13 years before he died Jan. 27 at age 97.
"Hinckley's passing has affected all of us . . . We shall miss him, yet he has left us with a wonderful legacy," Monson said in introducing his counselors.
He said he anticipates "no abrupt changes from the courses we have been pursuing," and emphasized that he has worked closely with those of other faiths and "we will continue this cooperative effort."
Eyring pledged his "total love and support" to Monson and said he looks forward to seeing his "great influence and power" at work.
Uchtdorf described himself as "joyfully overwhelmed," by his calling.
"It is a great honor and I'm very humbled by the call," he said.
Monson has spent his entire career in the service of the LDS Church, working alongside every president since 1963 when he was named one of the twelve apostles at the age of 36.
The 80-year-old is a folksy orator known for his compassion, fondness for modern-day parables of struggle and spiritual triumph, and willingness to enlist non-Mormons in humanitarian causes. He repeatedly talks of being spiritually prompted to help the disadvantaged and outcast, a lesson he learned during the waning years of the Great Depression.
Eyring had spent more than three decades serving the LDS Church full time, before becoming an apostle in 1995 and second counselor in the First Presidency on Oct. 11, 2007.
After earning a graduate degree in business administration from Harvard University, he became an educator, working for years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, Calif. He was president of LDS-owned Ricks College (now Brigham Young University-Idaho) in Rexburg, Idaho, from 1972 to 1977, then became the church's commissioner of education. He managed the church's extensive educational operations, including BYU, the LDS institutes of religion adjacent to many college campuses, and seminary programs for high school students. He then had a brief stint with the Presiding Bishop's Office, where he oversaw the church's buildings.
A native German who was born in Czechoslovakia, Uchtdorf was ordained an apostle on Oct. 7, 2004, after having been part of the presidency the Quorum of the Seventy. The former pilot and executive for Lufthansa German Airlines was called to the Seventy in 1994.