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He had seen up close the Watergate scandal, strolled the halls of courthouses and national banks and served as an interfaith advocate, but when D. Todd Christofferson - before the eyes of millions - walked to a different chair Saturday morning, he was taking a seat as a humble and anxious apostle.
Chosen by the LDS First Presidency as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Christofferson, 63, replaces Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who President Thomas S. Monson selected in February as his second counselor in the governing First Presidency.
Monson personally called Christofferson on Thursday, the new apostle said. His first thought was of "a deep sense of humility and . . . a sense of gratitude for the trust that is manifest in such a calling from the Lord," he said. "Since then, I've felt something of a real anxiousness to be out and about and involved [in preaching Christ's message]. . . . I look forward to doing that the rest of my life."
He shared the news of his new position with his wife of nearly 40 years, Katherine, but managed to keep it from their children.
"I'm as surprised as you are," said his youngest, Michael, 23, who learned of his father's new role during the morning session along with everyone else. "He's a good man, a great father. I think he'll do a good job."
Added his daughter-in-law, Rainey, who's married to Christofferson's oldest child, Todd: "He's the best of men. . . . You always hear complaints about in-laws, and I've never been able to complain. I'm grateful to them for their example."
In the 15 years since he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Christofferson has traveled to 44 countries on six continents. Other international experiences include a mission to Argentina he served as a young man and later service in the Area Presidency in Mexico.
Given that more than half the church's membership lives outside the U.S., many Mormons wondered why the latest apostle didn't hail from outside the U.S.
"It's even worse. I'm a former attorney," Christofferson joked when the question was put to him. "One of the under-reported stories is what's happening in the First Quorum of the Seventy. There is diversity there from all over the the world. . . . But we are not called to represent any place, group or region. We don't need to try to tell the Lord about his sheep. . . . The Lord knows them better than we do."
Christofferson spent his high school years in New Jersey as the only Mormon in school and said: "I found many wonderful friends of different faiths. . . . It forced me to think deeply about what I believed."
While living in Nashville, Christofferson represented the LDS Church in interfaith efforts, so it's not surprising he was asked to work with Jewish leaders in 2005 to reaffirm an earlier agreement about the LDS practice of baptism by proxy.
Jewish leaders decried the continued appearance of Jewish names on the genealogical index the LDS Church uses in its baptisms for the dead. The church agreed to discontinue vicarious baptisms for Holocaust victims and to remove their names from the index unless they are direct ancestors of current Latter-day Saints. The agreement stands to this day.
Before working full-time for the church, Christofferson was a lawyer in Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Tennessee. As a young clerk, he worked for Judge John Sirica during the Watergate break-in, White House tapes controversy and cover-up trial.
"It was a unique way to start a legal career," he said. "It gave me, interestingly enough, a great deal of added faith in government. I saw there in action many, many good people who did the right thing and restored the equilibrium and constitutional balance of the United States."
As an apostle, Christofferson joins those who one day may become the church's "prophet, seer and revelator." The man who outlives the apostles named before him ascends to the church's highest office.
* Born Jan. 24, 1945, in Pleasant Grove, the son of Paul V. and Jeanne Swenson Christofferson.
* Received a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from Duke University.
* Former associate general counsel of NationsBank Corp. in Charlotte, N.C.; practiced law in Washington, D.C., Tennessee and North Carolina; served as volunteer chairman of Affordable Housing of Nashville.
* Sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 3, 1993 at age 48; called to the Presidency of the Seventy on Aug. 15, 1998.
* BOLD LEDE-IN: Married to Katherine Jacob Christofferson. They have five children.
* L. Whitney Clayton replaces Christofferson as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Clayton has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 2001.
* Elaine S. Dalton succeeds Susan W. Tanner as Young Women general president, with Mary N. Cook as first counselor and Ann M. Dibb, President Thomas S. Monson's daughter, as second counselor. Dalton had previously served as first counselor and Cook as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. Dibb had been serving on the Young Women General Board.