Dear 100 Hour Board,
Within the First Presidency, does the counselor order always match the apostolic seniority? i.e. the 1st Counselor is the higher seniority apostle and 2nd counselor is the lower seniority apostle (or non-apostle as the case could be). If it doesn't always match, when was the last time it didn't?
Noticer of Patterns
To answer this question, I carefully looked through a list of all the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and noted any calls to the First Presidency. Usually, the counselors were in order of seniority from that quorum, but there were a few exceptions.
- John Henry Smith was 2nd Counselor while Anthon H. Lund was 1st Counselor, who was lower seniority in the quorum but was already in the First Presidency.
- David O. McKay was 2nd Counselor while J. Reuben Clark was 1st Counselor, who was lower seniority in the quorum but was already in the First Presidency. However, when David O. McKay became the prophet, J. Reuben Clark became 2nd Counselor and the new 1st Counselor, Stephen L. Richards, had higher seniority.
- Joseph Fielding Smith was called as an additional Counselor to the First Presidency, when he had higher seniority than the 1st and 2nd Counselors. However, he didn't officially leave the Quorum of the Twelve during that time.
- Marion G. Romney was 2nd Counselor while N. Eldon Tanner was 1st Counselor, who was lower seniority in the quorum but was already in the First Presidency.
- President Eyring is the 2nd person to be moved from 1st Counselor to 2nd Counselor, after J. Reuben Clark who was in a very similar situation.
- The only other people besides Elder Uchtdorf to return to their places in the Quorum of the Twelve after being in the First Presidency were three Assistant Counselors called by Brigham Young. They were Lorenzo Snow, Brigham Young Jr., and Albert Carrington.
After studying the history, it's apparent that the reorganization we had last week, although not unprecedented, was a little different than tradition. However, it's also become clear that "tradition" is broken all the time when it comes to the First Presidency. At times we've had Assistant Counselors, Other Counselors, and even a Third Counselor. There have been counselors who were never members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Not to mention all the First Presidency members that were excommunicated in the early church. Things these days aren't quite that chaotic.
I really appreciated that President Nelson did a worldwide broadcast to announce the new First Presidency to us, the members. For me it was an experience that reaffirmed my belief that Christ leads this Church and that our leaders are called of Him.
Also, here is a cool list of every First Presidency we've ever had.