- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsQuorum of the Twelve Apostles, 1984 - present
Elder Russell M. Nelson was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 7, 1984.
An internationally renowned surgeon and medical researcher, Dr. Nelson received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Utah (1945, 47). Honorary scholastic societies include Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He served his residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at the University of Minnesota, where he was awarded his Ph.D. degree in 1954. He also received honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from Brigham Young University in 1970, Doctor of Medical Science from Utah State University in 1989, and Doctor of Humane Letters from Snow College in 1994.
His professional work included the positions of research professor of surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at the University of Utah and chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Author of numerous publications and chapters in medical textbooks, Elder Nelson lectured and visited professionally throughout the United States and in many other nations prior to his call as a General Authority. A host of awards and honors have come to him, including the Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Utah; the Heart of Gold Award from the American Heart Association; a citation for International Service from the American Heart Association; and the Golden Plate Award, presented by the American Academy of Achievement. He has been awarded honorary professorships from three universities in the People’s Republic of China.
Dr. Nelson has served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association.
He is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in Religion.
Elder Nelson has held numerous positions of responsibility in the Church. He served as stake president of the Bonneville Stake from 1964 to June 1971, when he was called as general president of the Sunday School. Prior to his call to the Quorum of the Twelve, he was serving as a regional representative assigned to the Kearns Utah Region. He had previously served as regional representative for Brigham Young University.
Born September 9, 1924, Elder Nelson is the son of Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson. He and his wife, the former Dantzel White, have ten children. Sister Nelson passed away in February 2005. In April 2006, he married Wendy L. Watson.
- University of UtahM.D., 1947
- University of MinnesotaPh.D., 1954
A True Millennial is a man or woman whom God trusted enough to send to earth during the most compelling dispensation in the history of this world. A True Millennial is a man or woman who lives now to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign. Make no mistake about it—you were born to be a True Millennial.
As you diligently, earnestly pour out your heart to Him in daily prayer, He will send His angels to help you. He has given you the Holy Ghost to be by your side as you live worthily. He has given you scriptures so that you can fully feast upon the words of Jesus Christ. He has given you words to heed from living prophets.
Later as stake president I was questioned by many young people about their own educational pursuits. Some asked me how long it took to become a doctor of medicine.
“The general pattern would be four years at a university, followed by four years in medical school,” I replied. “And if you choose to become a specialist, that could take another five years or more, depending upon your desire.”
That occasionally evoked a reaction: “That adds up to thirteen years—and maybe more? That’s too long for me!”
“It all depends,” I would respond. “Preparation for your career is not too long if you know what you want to do with your life. How old will you be thirteen years from now if you don’t pursue your education? Just as old, whether or not you become what you want to be!”
So my counsel then—and now—is to continue your education wherever you are, whatever your interest and opportunity, however you determine you can best serve your family and society.
Thanks to the Atonement of the Lord, eventual resurrection is a reality and eternal life is a possibility for all humankind. That possibility becomes a reality as we obey God’s law. He said, “Except ye shall keep my commandments, … ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” One day we will be judged by the Lord and go to our own mansion prepared in our Father’s heavenly house. Celestial glory awaits those who have been faithful to God’s gentle commands.
Brothers and sisters, we live to die and we die to live—in another realm. If we are well prepared, death brings no terror. From an eternal perspective, death is premature only for those who are not prepared to meet God.
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow’r thru-out the universe displayed;
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!
On one occasion I was in a mission conference when a missionary with great compassion, with tears in his eyes, asked me, “Why did the Savior have to suffer so much?” I reached for our hymnbook, turned to this song, and answered his question with this verse:
And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Jesus suffered so much because of His love for you and me. What a message! Worthy music is powerful. It has power to make us humble, prayerful, and grateful.
Remember that the fulness of Christ’s ministry lies in the future. The prophecies of His Second Coming have yet to be fulfilled. At Christmas, of course, we focus upon His birth. But He will come again. At His first coming Jesus came almost in secret. Only a few mortals knew of His birth. At His Second Coming the whole of humankind will know of His return. Then He will come, not as “a man traveling on the earth,” but His glory “shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
As a special witness of His holy name, I testify that Jesus is the divine Son of the living God. He will love you, lift you, and manifest Himself unto you if you will love Him and keep His commandments.
Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church.
He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”
My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!
Despite my best efforts, the child died. Later, the same parents brought another daughter to me, then just 16 months old, also born with a malformed heart. Again, at their request, I performed an operation. This child also died. This third heartbreaking loss in one family literally undid me.
I went home grief stricken. I threw myself upon our living room floor and cried all night long. Dantzel stayed by my side, listening as I repeatedly declared that I would never perform another heart operation. Then, around 5:00 in the morning, Dantzel looked at me and lovingly asked, “Are you finished crying? Then get dressed. Go back to the lab. Go to work! You need to learn more. If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know.”
Oh, how I needed my wife’s vision, grit, and love! I went back to work and learned more. If it weren’t for Dantzel’s inspired prodding, I would not have pursued open-heart surgery and would not have been prepared to do the operation in 1972 that saved the life of President Spencer W. Kimball.
This timeless offer to provide personal revelation is extended to all of His children. It almost sounds too good to be true. But it is true!
I have received and responded to that heavenly help. And I have learned that I always need to be ready to receive it.
So great was my enthusiasm for our success, I allowed myself to rationalize aloud with the girls. (Rationalization is one of the real obstacles to obedience.) Knowing that the next day was Sunday, I jokingly said, “If we get up tomorrow two hours earlier than normal, we could catch some more fish and then quit promptly at our usual wake-up hour.”
Silence followed. My companion and our daughters all glared at me. Icy stillness was broken when our seven-year-old said, “Daddy, would you eat those fish you caught on Sunday?”
Then she added, “Would you ask Heavenly Father to bless fish you caught on the Sabbath?”
Needless to say, we did no fishing the next morning.
Their commitment to the Sabbath became my commitment, too.
Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon! It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power.
He who fed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes—He who helped the blind to see and the lame to walk—can also bless you! He has promised that those who live by the precepts of this book “shall receive a crown of eternal life."