All would agree that, at age 98, President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appears to be in incredible health.
Still, even this famously fit former heart surgeon made a concession to advancing age during the past weekend’s General Conference, delivering all three of his speeches while sitting on a stool at the podium.
“Sometimes even small adjustments, such as a chair,” he stated on social media, “help those of us who ‘age on stage.’”
But do the ages of the global faith’s senior leadership pose a bigger problem? After all, two of the three First Presidency members (Nelson and Dallin Oaks) are in their 90s and the third (Henry Eyring) will join them next year. Among the 12 apostles, M. Russell Ballard turns 94 on Saturday, three others are in their 80s, and, starting next month, five will be in their 70s.
While this multilayered hierarchy makes allowances for the occasional incapacitated authority, does this collective “gerontocracy” give rise to a stagnant, intractable, out-of-touch leadership? Would switching to a system that brings younger blood into the leadership invigorate the global faith of 16.8 million?
Historian Gregory Prince has thought and written about these issues. He joins us today via zoom to talk these, frankly, age-old questions.
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