LDS Church selects British man for top governing body

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Friday the newest member of the faith's top governing body to fill a vacancy when a member died last month will be a man raised in England who had been previously serving on a middle tier leadership council.

Patrick Kearon, 62, has become the first new member since 2018 named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, where members serve until they die helping to oversee the business interests and global development of the faith known widely as the Mormon church. The Quorum serves under the church president and his two top counselors. All 15 church leaders are men, in accordance with its all-male priesthood.

Like most recent appointees, Kearon had been serving as the senior president of a lower-tier church leadership council called the Presidency of the Seventy, often a stepping stone to higher office.

He is well known for his 2016 speech urging compassion for refugees fleeing war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa.

"This sacred call is so very daunting and humbling to me," he said in a statement Friday.

Kearon was born in the city of Carlisle in the Cumbria area of northwest England, and was raised in the United Kingdom and the Middle East, according to his church biography. Before joining church leadership, he ran his own communications consultancy and served on the boards of charities, schools and an enterprise agency.

He fills the seat of M. Russell Ballard, who died last month at age 95. As the second-longest tenured member of the Quorum, Ballard was second-in-line to become church president. The longest-tenured Quorum member becomes the new president in a longstanding  church tradition meant to ensure a smooth transfer of power within the faith.

The church made history with its  last two Quorum appointees in 2018 when it selected the first-ever Latin-American apostle and the first-ever apostle of Asian ancestry to serve on the previously all-white panel.

Patrick Kearon (Courtesy: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Patrick Kearon (Courtesy: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)