President Nelson is now the oldest President of the Church. Has any general authority lived or served longer?

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President Russell M. Nelson in 2015.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Church News

Today, April 16, 2022, President Russell M. Nelson becomes the eldest President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is now 97 years, 7 months, and 7 days old—which equates to 35,648 days.

With this milestone, President Nelson surpasses President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died in 2008, also at age 97 (35,647 days).

President Nelson is not the longest-lived General Authority, however. Elder David B. Haight of the Twelve lived almost to age 98, and Eldred G. Smith, who served as Church Patriarch, lived to age 106, although he was not serving as a General Authority at the time of his passing.

President Nelson’s longevity has also allowed him to see the births of many descendants, and in 2020 he became a great-great-grandfather.

Nelson descendants
President Nelson, depicted with his daughter, Marsha Nelson Workman; her son, Nathan McKellar, bottom right; and his son and grandson, Jacob and Duncan McKellar, bottom left.
Courtesy Nelson family, via Church News

President Nelson is the father to nine daughters and one son and has 57 grandchildren. As of January 2021, he had 116 great-grandchildren.

▶ You may also like: What’s it like to be married to President Nelson? Sister Wendy Nelson shares delightful stories and insights

When President Nelson was born, there were about 600,000 members of the Church and 6 operating temples. That means Church membership has grown about 27 times in his lifetime, and temples have grown about 28 times.

Russell M. Nelson as a young child.

Here’s a look at President Nelson’s ministry and how it compares to other Church leaders.

You may also like: 45 photos of President Nelson that will make you love our prophet even more

Time as Church President

Russell M. Nelson became President of the Church on January 14, 2018, succeeding President Thomas S. Monson.

Before that, President Nelson might have felt it was unlikely he’d ever serve as President of the Church. The reason? President Monson was three years younger but had been called as an Apostle two decades earlier than President Nelson.

Because of the seniority factor in the Twelve—the longest-serving Apostle is called to be President—men who are called after a younger man generally have a low chance of becoming President. So it seemed unlikely that President Nelson would live longer than the younger President Monson and succeed him as President.

But that’s just what happened. Because of these factors, President Nelson became the second-oldest man to become President of the Church, at age 93 years, 4 months.

  • The oldest to be called as President was Joseph Fielding Smith, called in 1970 at age 93 years, 6 months.

To date, President Nelson has served 4 years and 3 months as President.

  • Previous Presidents of the Church have served for 11 years and 2 months, on average.
  • Brigham Young served the longest, for 29 years, 8 months.
  • Howard W. Hunter served for the shortest time, for 9 months.

Time as an Apostle

President Nelson was ordained an Apostle on April 12, 1984, at the age of 59 years, 6 months.

  • George Q. Morris was the eldest Apostle called, at age 80 in 1954.

This means that President Nelson has served a total of 38 years as a General Authority.

  • David O. McKay served longer than any other General Authority, for 64 years.

▶ You may also like: The miracle behind President Nelson’s call as an Apostle

President Nelson delivers his first general conference address in April 1984.

General Conference Addresses Delivered

President Nelson has delivered 105 addresses in general conference, the first in April 1984 after being called as an Apostle.

  • Only four leaders have delivered more general conference addresses: President James E. Faust (108 addresses), President Henry B. Eyring (111), President Gordon B. Hinckley (232), and President Thomas S. Monson (234).

Temples Announced

One hallmark of President Nelson’s service has been the many new temples he’s announced—a total of 100. This is more than any other Church President, and the number is nearly two-thirds of the 159 temples the Church had in operation when he became President.

  • Presidents to announce the next-highest number of temples were President Gordon B. Hinckley (78) and President Thomas S. Monson (45).

▶ You may also like: 19 touching photos of President Nelson as our prophet that show he is called of God

Insights from a Prophet's Life

Insights from a Prophet's Life offers a candid view of President Russell M. Nelson, the seventeenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from childhood to the current day. More than a biography, this landmark volume invites readers to experience President Nelson's life through dozens of brief vignettes and hundreds of photographs. Each episode highlights an important lesson; taken together, they weave a captivating story of a man prepared in a unique way to lead the Church in our day.

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