The LDS Church’s First Presidency of today is the oldest threesome in the faith’s nearly 200-year history.
According to statistician Christian Anderson, the male trio governing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gotten older and older as the religion moved from its beginnings in 1830 to its just-completed 188th Semiannual General Conference.
Founder Joseph Smith was 26.3 years old in March 1832, when he organized the fledgling faith’s original First Presidency — with himself as president and Jesse Gause (46) and Sidney Rigdon (39.1) as the two counselors.
The average age of that initial presidency was 37.4, Anderson notes.
When Gause was excommunicated, the average age dropped to 33.4 years, the researcher says, but it rebounded to 37.5 with the calling of Frederick G. Williams (45.3) as a replacement.
The first major jump upward occurred when Brigham Young (46) succeeded Smith, who died in 1844. Young moved his band of believers across the country to the West and, in late 1847, reorganized the First Presidency with counselors Heber C. Kimball (46) and Willard Richards (43). The average age then became 45.5.
The average age of the First Presidency “increased fairly steadily after that, reaching an absolute peak of 88.7 under Gordon B. Hinckley (97) and Thomas S. Monson (80),” Anderson says, in the time between “the death of [counselor] James E. Faust but before the calling of Henry B. Eyring in October 2007.”
In March 2015, the average age of the top 15 men — the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelves Apostles — turned 80 for the first time in the church’s history.
Nearly three years later, Russell M. Nelson ascended to the church presidency at 93.6, making him the second oldest man ever to assume that role (behind Joseph Fielding Smith).
When Nelson organized his First Presidency, Anderson says, the average age was 87.8 — with first counselor Dallin H. Oaks at 85 and Henry B. Eyring at 84 — not quite the oldest intact presidency.
Some nine months later — with Nelson now 94, Oaks, 86, and Eyring, 85 — the average has risen to 88.56, the researcher says, “which makes it the oldest complete presidency ever.”
Despite their advanced ages, all three remain active. They handled full speaking loads at the recent conference. In fact, Nelson is scheduled to depart Friday on yet another tour abroad, this time to five South American countries in nine days.