New Apostle

It’s not a terribly novel insight, but the recent calling of Elder Kearon to the Quorum of the 12 is another sign that the Church is breaking out of the relatively limited geographical Mountain West area in spirit as well as in raw numbers, and that the increased diversity of the Church is trickling upwards into the highest rungs of leadership. An adult convert from overseas was called to replace a multigenerational blue blood from pioneer leadership stock in a quorum that is increasingly made up less of multigenerational blue bloods from pioneer leadership stock. (Very pointed note: pointing out this fact is not in any way meant to disparage President Ballard). 

A few odds-and-ends thoughts:

As far as I can tell from my cursory Wikipedia search, Elder Kearon is the first adult convert who has been ordained an Apostle since Charles Penrose (ordained in 1904, also a Brit).

Looking forward to the updated Zelophehad’s Daughter’s analysis on this, but Elder Kearon is now the youngest member of the Quorum of the 12 (although still not as young as, say, Elder Bednar was when called), and is young enough that he could very plausibly become President of the Church some day .

He was a “street contact,” and was baptized recently enough that the missionaries involved are probably still alive. This might set a whole new bar for convert retention!

Finally, at the risk of piling on with the adulation, I second what everybody else is saying about his natural spirituality and warmth, and I look forward to sustaining him at the next conference.

19 comments for “New Apostle

  1. According to Wikipedia, he also finished his formal schooling in his late teens, and it appears that he did not attend any college. That makes him the only current Apostle without a formal postsecondary education as far as I know (and I don’t know who the last one without formal postsecondary education was).

  2. That’s actually pretty big in my book, and should be shouted from the rooftops if confirmed. The educational and occupational pedigree of the Q12 and FP was becoming so distinguished I think there was a risk of a prosperity gospel creeping into the culture (through no fault of the leadership’s teachings). Having a non-college grad in the 12 is a whole other dimension of diversity we don’t talk about that much. (Although if I recall correctly President Ballard also did not graduate from college).

  3. I am so delighted by this calling! His 2016 talk on helping the Syrian refugees was hands down, by far the most inspiring General Conference talk I’d ever heard, on par with Brigham Young organizing the Willie Martin Handcart rescue in conference. The tears in then-President Uchtdorf’s eyes after that talk said it all.

    Indeed, the way the “I Was a Stranger” initiative quickly withered on the vine due to mass indifference and disinterest was a hugely disillusioning moment in my adult life as a member, and marked the beginning of my total lack of interest in General Conference talks. But I will definitely be tuning into what he has to say in the future!

    President Nelson has come in for plenty of criticism over the course of his tenure, some of it well deserved; but as far as calling new apostles, I think he’s 3 for 3.

  4. How can you not love a guy who starts a general conference talk with “Marin, I’m Elder Holland, and things are about to go downhill”?

    I looked at a few online bios and found no mention of college either. Church News was the most specific: “Concluded formal education in his late teens, having attended schools in Saudi Arabia and England.” But his wife at least attended BYU. I found a few references to him running “his own” communications consulting firm, but it was called Kearon Hulme Communications, his wife’s maiden name being Hulme, and they were co-owners. So not the stereotypical LDS marriage either.

    His 2016 talk on welcoming refugees was unforgettable (I’m sure the far right has not forgotten it) and his 2022 talk on surviving and healing from abuse was powerful. I look forward to hearing more from him.

  5. I did the same search through the old apostles. I was surprised how far back I had to go. After Penrose, I kept going to also find the last apostle who was older than Elder Kearon at the time of his baptism. Albert Carrington was baptized July 18, 1841 at age 28 and ordained apostle July 3, 1870. So, the last apostle prior to Elder Kearon to be baptized at age 20 or older was someone born in 1813, when Joseph Smith was seven. Ordained immediately prior to Carrington where Joseph F. Smith and Brigham Young Jr. A multi-generational church had taken root!

  6. Looks like he’s in a similar boat to Elder Rasband wrt education (though very different circumstances leading to this). His 2010 church news bio said that he ended his educational aspirations at 19 after his father’s death, which to me implies that he might’ve started university but then dropped out. But it could also be that he was planning to go to university and then didn’t after the crash.

  7. I taught his daughter in seminary, and they are the most delightful, authentic, genuinely kind, grateful, and in touch with current issues type people. Huge fans.

  8. I heard a rumor that he has been a strong advocate for religious freedom. I haven’t been following his talks, with the exception of homerun 2016 one. Does anyone know?

  9. @Mortimer, he gave a major address on the topic in 2019:

    “Religious freedom means nothing if you protect your own religious practice while neglecting the practice of others, especially those who might be less secure and able to defend themselves….It only works if you protect the rights of everyone.”(

    ‘The new apostle “is a person who sees and stops to talk with people that others overlook or disregard whenever he’s in a room,” Elizabeth Clark, associate director at BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, wrote. “I’ve heard him described as ‘astonishingly normal.’ He jokes that his American brother-in-law tells him that having a British accent raises his I.Q. by 20 points. I’ve seen a Facebook post from a trans woman who came to one of our religious freedom conferences, where he gave a keynote, and she couldn’t say enough about the love and welcome he gave her when they chatted afterward.”’ (

  10. “His 2016 talk on welcoming refugees was unforgettable (I’m sure the far right has not forgotten it)”

    And apparently, they took it to heart and put it into practice. My ward and stake are, generally, much further right than I am (for example, COVID vaccine “skepticism” is quite rampant), and they are way more directly involved in caring for refugees than most progressives round these parts.

  11. I’m not sure I see the correlation between new apostle selection and membership growth, otherwise it seems like we would have have a Latin American apostle called in the 80s, and this newest call would have been from Africa. That being said, I am absolutely thrilled about this call of Elder Kearon. The two talks I have heard from him have been incredibly moving, and I look forward to hearing more from him. I’m hopeful that he will be able to exert some influence in the 12 and we’ll see some major church-wide initiatives focused around compassionate service and inclusion in the near future.

  12. It seems then that it is becoming the norm for a new apostle to emerge from the presidency of the seventies. However, and despite Mexico being one of the places with the most membership, the opportunity has not yet come.

  13. Mat: I guess I’m making the more narrow point that, as the multigenerational Mormon Corridor membership becomes a smaller portion of the whole, so too will the leadership be less multigenerational Mormon Corridor. Once we’re past that point then yes, the demographics of leadership do not necessarily map onto the demographics of the particular groupings outside the Mormon Corridor.

    For whatever my tea leaf reading is worth, I don’t get the sense that junior members of the Quorum of 12 exert that much influence, and even if they did I’m not sure how much he would change in terms of policy. As I noted in my piece on President Uchtdorf, we tend to make tenuous connections between personal style and policy specifics.

    Ivan: I’d like to second Ivan’s point that I’m familiar with a lot of local wards that are more involved with refugee stuff than I think they would otherwise be (although the wards I’m thinking of are probably not as conservative as Ivan’s and live by a lot of the centers of resettlement for Afghan refugees, but still).

    Mortimer: He gave a talk on it, but I’m not sure if it was assigned to him or not.

    Longtimeluker: Did Elder Rasband not graduate? Now that you mention it I seem to remember something along those lines but I’m not sure.

    John Mansfield: Thanks for that deeper dive. Another way to frame it: the last time a street contact of someone the same age or older than Elder Kearon led to an apostleship it was the Nauvoo era.

  14. To build on what Juan and mat’s comments, I’m both excited to have Elder Keaton called to serve in that capacity (for all the reasons already discussed) and generally disappointed that we do not have members of the Church from Mexico, the Pacific Islands, and Africa in the Preisdency of the Seventy, Presiding Bishopbric, or Quorum of the Twelve. The Church has had a continuous presence in the Pacific since the 1840s and in Mexico since the 1880s and has plenty of members who are both worthy and capable. But I also understand that the value I put on representation and inclusion is different than many Church members.

  15. Sorry, I should have been clearer: it was the European far right that strongly opposed taking in the (mostly) Syrian refugees that Elder Kearon was talking about in 2016. In the US, war refugees (as opposed to other immigrants) have been much less of a partisan issue. And yes, Church members have done a tremendous amount of good for refugees. When the first wave of refugees from Afghanistan arrived at a military base in our area, the Church asked for volunteers to serve full-time for, if I recall correctly, two weeks, and made it clear their service would be physically and emotionally taxing. They had all the volunteers they needed and more in a day.

  16. Hello RLD,
    Thank you for citing the source and giving context to our new apostle’s work in religious liberty. I know we have championed religious liberty- a meaningful cause. But sometimes I think we only see parts of it, and don’t balance it. Our GAs spend more time ensuring the rights of a multi-national $100B church that doesn’t resemble the little persecuted church of the past, and spends far less time (according to its amicus briefs and political
    nods) advocating for the poor/underserved. And, during times when religious liberty runs up against the rights of an individual (e.g. scotus hobby lobby case) siding with large corporations and wealthy churches against healthcare of women and power employees is wrong. One of my favorite quotes on the topic comes from Bobby Kennedy. “Freedom possesses many meanings. It speaks not merely in terms of political and religious liberty, but also in terms of economic and social justice.”

    I’m heartened by your description of him talking with a transgenders person, and his compassion is palpable. I hope that that compassion is translated into policy.

  17. @Mortimer: I get those concerns, which is why that first quote stood out to me (not that others haven’t said similar things). As for balancing religious freedom vs. other rights, I’d recommend reading President Oaks’ 2021 speech at the University of Virginia ( It’s sure to disappoint hardcore culture warriors on either side. You’ll also see why the Church endorsed the Respect for Marriage act even though it gave legal status to same sex marriage–it was created using exactly the process Elder Oaks describes as ideal.

    I’m not saying the Church has always been perfect on this. But there’s a lot more nuance in its positions than a lot of members seem to realize.

  18. Why is it that anytime someone doesn’t agree with a position the church or a GA takes on a topic, they are thrown under the bus? That somehow- in their ignorance, they haven’t seen some great argument or article, or are lumped in with the ignorant masses who simply don’t grasp the nuance? Heaven forbid there actually be another side- an alternative perspective worth bringing up.

    Please. (Eye roll).

    I’m sure a rebuttal will call down Elder Oaks great professional accolades, or all of Kirton and McKonkie’s power. Bring it. I’ve seen tiny firms and wise penniless lawyers win cases against skyscrapers filled with legal sharks powered by unlimited resources. Sometimes right is right and Lady Justice (unshackled) agrees.

    No one is arguing that religious liberty isn’t important. What I am arguing is that religious liberty, as defined and applied, allows powerful religious organizations to dodge responsibilities and ultimately minimizes the rights, choices, and we’ll-being of disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals and communities within and without their parishes. When extremely wealthy and powerful churches (e.g. Mormons, Catholics, SB Convention sects, etc.) manipulate systems, policies and laws (with their payroll of attorneys, buckets of resources, lobbyists, networks, etc.) to deny adherents as well as nonbelievers of vital services or support, something is terribly wrong. Jesus would (in my opinion) call them hypocrites- as they speak of love, equality and charity on Sunday, and then turn around and profit from the power differential.

    Let’s start to count the financial investment in this initiative. Consider for a moment that religious liberty/freedom has been an unflinching strategic priority for the church for the past 15 years now, while the church’s literacy efforts (from the days of Elaine Jack) languish in obscurity even the excellent refugee support initiative from 2016 seems to be waining or nearly gone (for Ukrainians, Syrians, and others. So, comparatively, what I see is that the highest priority of the church, is itself, with people being secondary. Liberty or freedom is always balanced with responsibility and measures with equality and fairness.

  19. As I entered a LDS chapel in Kampala, Uganda, I saw framed individual photos of the FP3 and underneath were photos of Q12 in order of seniority. None looked African, none looked Indian, none looked SE Asian, none looked indigenous. Just old gentleman in business suits. Talk about neocolonialism.

    While Kearon seems an improvement toward diversification. It’s not enough. Half of the Church members live in developing countries, many in poverty, who represents them? Who really understands their plight?

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