Friday, July 3, 2015

A True Champion For Christ Passes Away: May President Boyd K. Packer Rest In Peace (1924-2015)

Less than five weeks after the passing of Elder L. Tom Perry, another champion for Christ has passed away, opening up a second vacancy on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On July 3rd, 2015, President Boyd K. Packer died at home from causes incident to old age. He was 90 years old. President Packer was born September 10th, 1924, the 10th of 11 children, in Brigham City, Utah. He is survived by his wife, Donna, and their 10 children, one of whom is Elder Allen Packer of the First Quorum of Seventy. He is also survived by 60 grandchildren and 103 great-grandchildren.

Update July 4th: Funeral services will be held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Friday July 10th at 11:00 A.M. MDT. The funeral will be open to the public ages 8 and older. The Temple Square gates and the Tabernacle doors will open at 9:30 A.M. Those wishing to attend should be in their seats by 10:30 A.M. Overflow seating will be available in the Assembly Hall and the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square. There will be no public viewing, and a private burial service will take place at the Brigham City Cemetery following the funeral.

-- See video of the funeral HERE.

President Packer was serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time of his passing, a position he held since February 3rd, 2008. Prior to that, he served as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve since June 5th, 1994. He was ordained an apostle on April 9th, 1970, and served for over 53 years as one of the Church's general authorities. He was the fifth longest-serving general authority in LDS history; only David O. McKay, Heber J. Grant, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Wilford Woodruff served longer as general authorities. As the senior apostle, President Packer was next in line to succeed President Thomas S. Monson should that have become necessary; with Packer's death, Elder Russell M. Nelson becomes the senior apostle, and will be set apart as the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve in the near future.

-- Timeline of President Packer's life.

-- A photographic look at President Packer's life and service.

President Packer was one of the foremost defenders of LDS doctrine. He took seriously the apostolic responsibility of a watchman; namely, to be on the lookout for trends that will take us where we do not want to go, teachings that seem harmless and appealing on the surface but will destroy the faith of our youth, and individuals who cannot take counsel nor get beyond ego, thus dragging themselves and others down. He raised alarms against immorality, the disease of profanity, bad music, the plague of pornography, and substances that interfere with the delicate feelings of spiritual communication -- coffee, tobacco, liquor and drugs. His direct approach earned him sharp criticism from anti-Mormons, some ex-Mormons, and even progressive Mormons who are uncomfortable with the LDS Church being populated with "peculiar people". But President Packer refused to skirt issues in order to save feelings; he said the Church could not change because some wished or wanted it, because the Lord's words are not to be adjusted by experiments or theories of men. In 1993, President Packer cited intellectuals, feminists, and gays as three great dangers to the Church; while the problem with gays proved to be over-stated, the problems with intellectuals and feminists continue.

The best summary of President Packer's life is an 8-page Deseret News article entitled "President Boyd K. Packer, champion of families, master teacher, resolute defender of LDS doctrine, dies at 90".

Tributes to President Packer poured in from numerous sources, to include Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, the Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Utah, and Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

It's unknown when the two vacancies on the Quorum will be filled. The First Presidency could choose to wait for the next LDS General Conference in October or name replacements in the intervening months. The last time the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had a two-man vacancy came in July 2004, with the deaths of apostles David B. Haight and Neal A. Maxwell. Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar were named in October that year as replacements. The First Quorum of the Seventy is often considered a Triple AAA farm club for the Quorum of the Twelve, but apostles have been selected from other sources. Elder Russell M. Nelson was a heart surgeon, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who was ordained an apostle just weeks after Nelson, was a Utah Supreme Court justice.

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