Want a New Apostle With A Diverse Background? He’s Already There

By Lisa Renlund Hyde  dale-renlund-mug-new-apostle

–  I have been reading many criticisms about the three new LDS Church apostles for being the “typical upper-middle class white guys born in Utah” with no racial or socioeconomic diversity. While I cannot personally comment on the background of the other two new apostles, I can comment a bit more on the background of my uncle, Dale G. Renlund, the now 12th member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Yes, Dale was born in Utah, but there is so much more to his story that I think people should know:

  • Dale was born to full Scandinavian immigrants who spoke no English when they first came to the U.S. in 1948/1950.  All four children, including Dale, spoke Swedish as their first language. Their father, my grandfather, was a construction worker, and they were very poor.
  • The entire family moved back to Scandinavia when Dale was about 10 to 13ish, where they spent time in Helsinki, Finland and Gothenbirg, Sweden. They were fully immersed in Swedish culture there and went to Swedish speaking public schools. I have heard many stories about the meager resources they were living on there.
  • When the family came back to Utah, the children spoke no English and had little to no understanding of U.S. culture. They went through a great deal of adjustment.dt.common.streams.StreamServer
  • When Dale was 19, he went on a full-time mission to Sweden for 25 months where he was again completely immersed in Swedish culture.
  • In his late 20s, Dale was called to be the bishop of a newly-formed, inner-city, multi-cultural ward in Baltimore. (During this time he was also doing his medical residency and trying to support his wife who was in law school and going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer).
  • For those who like to see strong women sharing their perspective, Dale’s wife Ruth, is the real deal. In addition to raising an amazing daughter and excelling in her own dedicated church work, she rose to become a highly respected attorney and president of her law firm. In my family, it was understood that if something needed to be done in the world, just put Ruth on it and she will work miracles. She has been and will continue to be an amazing speaker, editor, supporter, and (if I know Ruth) a “not-so-subtle suggester” who will make Dale exponentially better in his work, and he knows it.
  • Dale and his wife have spent five of their last six years in Africa, where he served in the Africa Southeast Area Church presidency. He traveled extensively throughout his vast territory from Angola to Ethiopia to visit with people in extremely impoverished areas and circumstances. I have heard and read many stories about this time in their lives and the way Dale and Ruth fought to help people and grow the church there. Dale is not afraid to make bold decisions as he advocates for the needs of those he serves. And while most Church authorities in the area operate using only English, he was determined to learn French (the most predominant language in the area) so that he could effectively communicate with the people he served.350-pioneering-a-work-that-fires-the-soul_8
  • The Renlund family, of which both Dale and I are a part, is profoundly Swedish to its core. Our Swedish heritage is a prominent part of our family culture, from the stories that are told at our family home evenings to the traditional Swedish food served at Christmas each year.

So on first appearance, yes, Elder Dale G. Renlund is a white guy born in Utah. But as you can see, he brings with him a very unique international perspective that I hope others will appreciate. From his Swedish background to his service in Southeast Africa, I believe God has been preparing Dale for his entire life for this apostleship and to be an effective advocate for people of all diverse backgrounds and circumstances.

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  1. What a wonderful tribute to your aunt and uncle. Thank you for adding the “rest of the story” for us who haven’t known this couple. He’s in our prayers throughout his service in our Church and to our Lord.

    • Graham Sabela says:

      Elder and Sister Runlund did a great job when they were serving here in South Africa we love them. I personal withnes a lot of change and transformation in the church leadership during their service.

    • Margaret Ann Butterfield says:

      Mrs. Lisa.. In the family Micro system is where we are rooted and grounded in what makes us who we are, why we believe the way we do in every area of our lives and in your case as in many of the readers of your faith would not of had the opportunity to experience. Thank God there are still congregations of “traditional” families that choose to pass down from one generation to the next the core belief biblical worldview of traditions, social economic status, religious teachings cultural and communal. What a wonderful legacy your aunt and uncle choose to pass down to the next generation. May God continue to bless your family and what you obviously stand for~~

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. My uncle and I were talking about him earlier and how he’ll bring a diverse experience with him from his service among the African people. Didn’t even know about the amount of time he spent in Sweden. And still, that’s not what matters most, what’s most important is that he’s who the Lord called!!

  3. Enjoyed every word. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Thank you so much for that insight. I was so touched when Elder Renlund spoke with his humility and soft spoken ways. The negative comments are a sad indication of weak testimonies and the adversary trying to drag down the church. What a blessing it will be to have the Renlunds part of such a sacred calling. I’m looking forward to hearing him speak in April.

    • I think you can express disappointment, without having a weak testimony. Reducing other people’s faith won’t strengthen your own. Some people would like to see people from South America, Asia, Africa or the Pacific Islands. I don’t think there’s anything weak about wishing that you could someone who looks more like yourself among a group of important men.

  5. Terez Nilsson says:

    Thank you Lisa for this angle. I have shared your wonderful article with my Facebook friends.
    Love, Terez
    (Bengt and Inger’s oldest?)

  6. Bryce Sprosty says:

    Pandering to the liberal diverse Mormons I see?

    • Was that even necessary?

    • Steve in Millcreek says:

      I’m sorry that you feel that way. Under your view, the Church cannot win either way.

    • So Christ-like. What a great run of the mill, conservative, Mormon you must be. 🙂 This was a great article, and he bore a powerful testimony. I’m excited to see what’s to come.

    • Rick Voss says:

      Trolling.. Really? This is not a political posting, This is a man chosen by GOD, not the people. Chosen to share HIS divine word, A beautiful story of a man that our Lord and Savior has placed before us, to serve us..

    • Gloria Wright says:

      Whenever I hear the leaders of the church criticized, I always remember: those who
      know the least say the most.

  7. Thank you for the background information. As a half-Swede, half-Tongan whose mother just recently returned from a genealogical trip to Sweden, I am excited to hear about Elder Renlund’s Swedish heritage. I do appreciate hearing about his unique life experiences, and I truly hope he will bring some much needed diversity to his calling.

    That said, I want to validate the concerns of those who are disappointed with the lack of racial diversity amongst the Q12. As a person of color, it is extremely disheartening to think that there is not a single man of color in the entire church organization that the Lord viewed as righteous enough to be a member of the Q12.

    I have often heard, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” When my children look at the leaders of our church, they do not see a single person that looks like them. I don’t expect anyone who has not experienced this to truly understand what it means because, frankly, I spent most of my life not understanding it, and I was experiencing it.

    If you could, try to picture a Q12 where all the men were black and Polynesian and Latino and Asian. And then imagine someone telling you, “I know this man looks just like all of the other black men in the group, but he actually spent some time in Utah, so, while he is, indeed, black, he understands diversity.” It might give you comfort to know that he probably has a better understanding of your needs than most of the other members of that group, but it is not the same as having someone who looks like you and knows what it’s like to deal with the problems you deal with in the skin you’re in.

    Anyway…thank you for the biographical information, and also for the insight about Ruth Renlund. I am super excited to see the good fruits they will bring to the table.

    • Thank you for trying to spread this understanding! So many Mormons could benefit from this thought experiment of how they would feel with the tables turned. The lack of compassion and lack of effort I see to truly understand the feelings of others is truly disheartening. I am one poly woman who had dearly hoped to see a brown face of any variety in the quorum and whose heart broke a tiny bit when that did not happen. I sustain these new apostles and am truly glad to hear of Elder Renlund’s international and multicultural experiences. I hope he will indeed be a voice that urges compassion and inclusion of minority perspectives. That voice is badly needed, even more keenly in the absence of the powerful visual demonstration of God’s universal love and esteem for ALL his children that a brown face on the stand would have offered without even having to open his mouth.

      • So sad you needed to add your prejudice. These men are called of God, consult Him why no ” brown faces”

        • Maybe she did. It’s not like anyone is protesting three white guys added to the Quorum. They’re just wondering (and rightly so) why the church has apostles that do not currently reflect the cultural make up of the church. There are more Spanish-speaking members than English-speaking members, and I do believe that within a generation half of the apostles could be non-caucasian.

          I fully support and sustain the three new apostles and believe they were and are called of God. That said, it would have been nice to see a South American apostle. That’s all.

          • Can you show me where where it says there are more Spanish than English speakers in the church? Not arguing that it’s not true, I just can’t find any actual statistics put out by there church since 2005 when there were over 2 million more English speakers thsan Spanish speakers. I think it would be really interesting to see how the church has evolved in the last 10 years.

            I also believe there will be non-caucasion members if the quorum of the 12 apostles in the near future. I serve my mission in Tahiti and was amazed by the faith of the church leaders there, and I’m sure it is the same in many if not all countries. It’s only a matter of time I think before the Lord calls on them.

            I do disagree with the whole “you cant be what you can’t see” stuff though. Firstly, because anyone can be anything they want to regardless of race or ethnicity. Secondly, being an apostle isn’t something you aspire to. It’s a calling. I personally feel that if someone were to say “I’m going to be the first black, Polynesian, Latino, Asian, or native American . Apostle” our heavenly Father would never call him.

    • Don’t look at it as there is not a single man of color righteous enough. I don’t think that is the case at all. I think that these 12 men that have been called are there because they are, or will bring, a message and experiences that are needed at this time. Others may not have the experiences or knowledge that will be needed to bring the same message in the time frame of the Lord. Although many are righteous, only 12 are called. And they are called in a time when they are needed for their specific attributes that will be used to deliver a specific message or messages. When the Lord needs a specific message delivered to the world he will call one that can deliver it in the best way possible, regardless of nationality, color, or age. There will come a time when this message needs to be delivered by someone that isn’t an old white guy. It may be 5 years or it may be 25 years but in no way does it represent unrighteousness in a people. It is all about the message. If I need to play a soft song, I won’t use a Trumpet, I will use a violin. If I need to excite an Audience I will use a trumpet instead of the violin. Different messages need different instruments. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it means they have a different message to send. The Lord does this with his messages. The best person to deliver the specific message is who he will call.

      • Blame God. Works every time.

      • This comment is horrifying

        • I am sorry if I didn’t express my feelings correctly. All I was trying to say was that just because someone isn’t called as a GA it doesn’t mean they are less righteous. I apologize if it came out in any other way.

          • Kevin, I thought you expressed yourself quite eloquently and quite accurately, as well. There have indeed been General Authorities of other than Caucasian heritage, even an Apostle. Most of them are to be found in the Quorums of the Seventy. From there brothers have been known to ‘move up in the ranks’ as it were into an Apostleship.

          • Kevin,
            I understood what you said perfectly and I agree with you. Nothing you said was disrespectful. I think Porter and Jill may have been a little tired when they read it or something.

      • Thank you.

      • Well said. I have never thought that the Quorum of the 12 were the 12 most righteous people on earth. Just that they were capable men and were willing to serve. On a more basic level – even on my mission or any of the wards I have been in – leaders were not necessarily the most righteous. Many were called I’m sure to be molded and/or tamed 🙂 One of the most humble, awesome teacher, righteous, hard working, get along well with others elders on my mission was never a zone leader or AP and I was always surprised he wasn’t. I understand wanting to see someone “similar” or “brown” in the quorum. My daughter goes to a high school where she IS the minority – mostly Asians and Indians. They dominate the leadership, the sports etc. It is what it is and it doesn’t take anything away from her contributions. She just isn’t in the spotlight constantly and that is okay. She is still is an amazing, capable and contributing individual.

      • I am Latina, conservative, convert, single LDS, educated, yet poor– only society had labelled me in all those categories but most of all I AM A CHILD of GOD. As such, I feel diversity is within me as a serve those around me because we are brothers and sisters no matter our backgrounds, race or color.

        So, why instead of speculating, murmuring, criticizing, and questioning we all go to the Lord and ask Him why He selected these men? If we believe in being pre-ordained from the pre-existence– why are we questioning? The Lord Himself pre-ordained them – so, stop speculating, murmuring, criticizing, and questioning. The Lord spoke and selected these men from the pre- existence. Isn’t that what we believe?

      • Jill’s comment is in reference to Porter’s comment.

    • I’m sure that the Lord could have found any number of righteous enough Polynesian, Latino, Asian (etc.) men to serve as apostles. I can see why you and others would be frustrated if that is your thinking. Apostles are not called on righteousness alone… they are human and make mistakes every day, just like everyone else. There is so much more that goes into a calling, beyond one’s righteousness. And besides, the color of one’s skin doesn’t mean he can’t be exactly what we need in an apostle. For example, just because I am a white woman, I don’t expect a white man to understand me any better than an Asian or Latino man. None of them know me personally! No one, no matter their color, can know my needs like the Lord does. The Lord will always have a perfect understanding of each of us. He knows exactly what we need and will give those thoughts and promptings to his apostles and prophets. I enjoyed reading your comment and interesting perspective.

    • While I know that I don’t understand fully your feelings when it comes to this, I do hope that you can understand that it most likely was not a lack of righteousness that led to no one of color being called – I have no doubt that there are many many men throughout the world who could have been called based on righteousness alone. I think it’s more due to the timing – it simply is not quite time yet. Maybe these men are still needed in their own areas first, to be an example of leadership and to build up the church there. Maybe we are not quite in need of their specific talents yet – but we most likely will be. The Lord has a plan more detailed than we realize, and someday we’ll understand it. And while there’s no one of color currently in the Quorum of the 12, there are several serving as Seventies.
      Again, I’m not trying to make your opinions and feelings seem invalid – I haven’t experienced it, so I don’t understand. I just truly feel it is not a righteousness issue, and I hope you can understand that.

      • I agree with you that it is not a righteousness issue.

      • “Most likely”………

        • It’s called being accurate. Lindsey was not present during the decisions of who to call so cannot with any validity say what was or was not a factor. The strongest statement that can be made by anyone other than Thomas S. Monson is “most likely” because he is the only one that actually knows what the factors were.

      • Good point about building up our own areas first.

      • It is interesting how we are discussing this issue of why again three white Utah guys were called to serve as apostles. all the reasons that we read here may sound as excuses ” it simply is not quite time yet” so you imply that the Quorum of the Twelve is reserve for the Good white guys of Utah, and no for the good members of other parts of the world, so sad. During my time serving my mission in Mexico a similar situation happen in the Zone leader callings, all the Zone leaders were from the US, the mission president was from the US. a lot of the Mexican Elders felt that the Mission President prefers American Missionaries for the leadership and no Mexican Missionaries who were as Obedienta, worthy and hard working as the Missionaries from the US. I remembered my first multi zone leaders conference after I was called as Zone Leader how many Mexican Missionaries spoke to me about their feelings of being never be considered for leadership positions in the mission. they saw me with happiness and congratulated me for my calling. they saw someone who reflect themselves, somebody who looks like them, somebody who represents them and the promise of the Book of Mormon ” the Lamanites will blossom as the rose”.

    • I love your perspective on this. Thank you for sharing. I feel like it is similar to the women and the priesthood, right?! How do we teach our daughters that they can grow up and do anything- and they only see that is under the direction of men. Interesting. Elder Renlund probably had my favorite talk of the day. He seemed incredibly thoughtful and I look forward to hearing more of him. But I agree with your comments completely!

    • I appreciate your perspective, and am glad you shared with us. I do take exception to the idea of not finding a person of color “righteous enough”. I’m a firm believer that those called – from the Ward level to the Prophet, aren’t necessarily called because they are the most righteous. We have to understand that the reasons belong to God alone, and perhaps, the one who was called, as they search their soul for strength to do the work. I’m confident there are wonderful, worthy, very righteous people of all colors – and of all faiths, for that matter. There is much good in the world, and a calling to the 12 is not a Righteousness contest.
      May your children follow your example and learn to walk by Hope and faith, trusting that the Lord is with them and loves them perfectly.

      • Exactly!!

        • Well said Sue. God is still running this show and is doing all the right things. As large as the LDS membership is, I’m SURE there are multitudes of people who could qualifiy., Evidently, ‘color’ is not one of God’s pre-requisites. There is probably even a MULTITUDE of righteous men in UTAH of various colors that could have qualified. The point made is a God is in control, These men were called – plain and simple. God Bless Them!

    • Kalani, I am sorry you have been given the deceptive and destructive message that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” If that were true, only Jewish Galilean carpenters who lived in the 1st century could ever be Christ-like. I have many heroes and role models and almost none of them match me in race, nationality, ethnicity, generation and religion.

      • Sean, it’s neither deceptive nor destructive. It’s proven. You want kids to be successful? Give them good role models that they can relate to and understand. It’s not a complicated concept. And, no, that is not the only way to find success. But do not diminish the importance of having these types of role models — particularly when you are in the minority. They matter.

        • Amen!

        • Kalani – I am sad and frustrated even, that there are still people like you who actually take race into consideration! I ask you to please reconsider your paradigm. I do know exactly what it’s like to live in a city where I was the only LDS and the only one of my race. I grew up surrounded by those who are different than me. I never once was taught to think of it as anything but normal! My leaders, my heroes throughout my growing up years, were heroes of that race. A hero is not a hero because of his race, but because of his integrity, morality and virtue. So long as there are people who continue to LOOK for certain races, be it as POTUS, as an Apostle, as a CEO or anything else, then those are the very people who are keeping racism alive. That will include you if you insist on maintaining your paradigm. You are hurting this world by the FALSE logic that you need to be the “race guardian”, and that you are teaching your children to watch for race too! HOW SAD! You are teaching your children to be racist!!! All in the name of “we want to be equal”. If you really want to be equal, then behave equal and have the equal paradigm like the rest of us do: do not pay ANY attention to race whatsoever. NONE. THAT is the ONLY way to get over racism. Yes, there will always be a very very few who will insist on being true racists/haters, but are in the minority and so long as we continue to give them power through attention and media coverage, then they will continue to take that power and make it grow. We need to ignore them, and in cases where that isn’t possible, let the law handle them. But as for you and me? We need to ignore race altogether. I don’t care what races are sitting on the stand. I don’t care if they’re all black, Hindu, polynesian, Latino, White, or any other race. I care that they are called of God and live up to the calling they have been called to.

          I cannot believe we are even talking about this. What I have typed here are my thoughts that have remained inside me for far too long. I have kept silent for years, not wanting to “offend”. Well, the truth is out, and I’ve typed it, and no offense is meant, felt, or intended. However, if someone gets “offended”, then that’s on them. I’m being very blunt, yes. But I speak the truth. So long as we speak about race and continue to look for race represented in all areas of life, then THAT IS RACISM, and we are criminal if we teach such ways of thinking to our children!

          Lisa – thank you for the great post! I love learning about our Apostles and leaders and just people in general. It is fascinating!

          • I love this comment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Teri.

          • Hi Teri. Honestly, I’m glad you commented. I’m genuinely glad that you are able to speak about racism as though it is a thing of the past. That is a privilege. It is a privilege I lack because racism is still very real to me. To be able to “not see race”…to be able to suggest that speaking about representation as though it is racist to do so…to be able to say that you don’t teach your children to watch for race…all of that is a very privileged way of thinking.

            I HAVE to teach my children to see race. When my 11 year old son wants to run around the neighborhood with his toy gun with his friends, I have to remind him that a little 12 year old child of color was recently shot dead for playing at the park with a toy gun. My son HAS to know this if he is to make informed decisions about his safety. I don’t expect you to understand what that’s like, but I do feel like you are pretty harsh about calling me racist when you have no idea what my lived experiences are. I wish I had the privilege of saying that I don’t see race. I don’t.

        • Amen again Kalani!

        • Amen!

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. I really would have thought that God would choose someone who is Hispanic or something. Not that there is anything wrong with these men, but I can see how it is harder to feel that it is “my church” for someone with skin of a different color.

      • My white, 27 yr old, Utahn son is a branch president in Chile. He is not a missionary. He lives there. The previous BP was also a Utahn, a senior missionary. There are not enough Priesthood members to meet the needs of the church. I’m not saying this has anything to do with the choice of apostles, but you never know. There are certainly a lot of brown faces in the Seventies. We should not discount that.

        • I really like this comment. I agree. Not enough Priesthood members around the world to take care of the needs. My brother-in-law moved to Puerto Rico and within the month he was called as the Bishop there.

          • I live in Warren, MI. There is barely enough active priesthood holders and women in our ward to cover all of the callings. There are a lot of families that can’t handle adding one more thing to their plates. With the Lord’s help, we do the best that we can. We are ever grateful for the senior missionaries that leave there comfy homes in Utah and Idaho and come help us out.

      • Those who have not experienced the life and extra challenges that being a minority present can Never understand the perspective. EVER. It’s like a man saying he knows what it is to be a woman and vice versa.
        So to people of color I say don’t expect people of no color to understand. Work on your testimonies and ask God to help you forgive those that say hateful things because of their ignorance. I have done this the whole 25 years I have been a member. To all people I say remember we are all part of the same body. The body of Christ.

      • This is Christs church, not your church or my church. I cannot say I know what it feels like to be a monority, but we have to be careful what we are worried about. Do we worry that our daughters can’t be like the apostles or like Christ because they are female? I can’t follow or be like the apostles or Christ because I have a different skin color? Maybe I can’t teach the people of another country about the gospel because they have a different skin color so I will only serve a stateside mission with people just like me????? I am young and they are old and have no idea how to relate to me so why listen???? Do you see why this probably isn’t healthy.
        They are called of God. He knows why. I guarantee it has nothing to do with ethnicity but what is needed at this time.

    • Andrea Anderson says:

      I love your comment. I agree and love how you shared your opinion in such a mature way. Children do see what they see, and adults do too. It is nice that he has all that experience. But just like me, I am deaf and to have a person say they do have experience as handicap person or experience with handicap person. Both experiences are very very different. The person who isn’t handicap shouldn’t really try to equal them self to the people who are actually handicap.

    • I’m not gonna lie. I felt a twinge of disappointment that not one of the 3 vacancies was filled with a person of color. I was really expecting it after Elder Perry passed away – long before I read anyone else’s assumptions on the matter.

      As I was having this debate within myself during the Saturday afternoon session, I found myself using criticisms that I’ve heard countless other people say, “This is so racist that they are all white men!” I started to dwell on that concept without realizing it and was still struggling with the doubting thoughts wondering why “they” (the Brethren) didn’t call any men of color to the Quorum when a voice in my mind interrupted me and said, “Yvonne, don’t you believe that I am the one who called these men to the apostleship? Or do you believe that the men leading my Church called these men?”

      President Hinckley, upon being called to the apostleship, was told that both his father and grandfather were righteous enough to be called to be apostles even though they never were. There are a multitude of men who are righteous enough to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but as has been said before, timing is everything. There is a reason that Abraham didn’t have Isaac until he and Sarah were VERY old – and why Isaac and Rebekah didn’t have Jacob & Esau until Rebekah was in her 40s, and then why even though Leah and the other two concubines were having babies, Joseph wasn’t born to Rachel until after she struggled with infertility for YEARS! And yet, when Joseph was sold into Egypt and rose in power in Potiphar’s house and then was thrown in prison – he was exactly where he needed to be WHEN he needed to be. He was there to interpret the dreams of Pharoah’s baker and cupbearer – which both came true. When Pharoah had dreams that none of his advisers could interpret, the cup-bearer was able to tell Pharoah about Joseph. Joseph prepared the nation of Egypt (and the surrounding nations) for the 7 years of famine because he was in the right place at the right time with the right gifts.

    • I too will admit I was a hoping for a little more racial diversity with the new apostles and it is true that having role-models with your same background is incredibly valuable. That being said, the part of conference where I felt the spirit the strongest was when these 3 men were sharing their testimonies. I know they are called of God, and that they will fulfill the purposes the Lord has in mind for the church at this time. It is important to remember too that in their callings, regardless of their backgrounds, they can receive revelation that will help anyone from any background, with any experience, with any skin color. Even if they don’t know themselves from their own experience, the Lord knows and He is the ONLY one who has ever lived on this earth who understands the needs of everyone (Alma 7:11-12). The apostles are not representing the people (as in a democracy), they are representing the Lord (D&C 1:38). So, it is the challenge for the people to overcome what the messenger may look like on the surface, and just search for truth.

      Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord”. Just some food for thought.

    • Thank you for your honesty. I have found that most people have gotten defensive or questioned my faith when I have admitted that I was disappointed when I learned that all three new apostles were born in Utah and were white. I have been looking forward to seeing a person of color in the Quorum of Twelve since I started noticing such things. I was happy when President Uchtdorf was called because he was not from the U.S., but I still thought to myself, “But he is a white European.” Having said that, President Uchtdorf has been a godsend. He has been an answer to my prayers. I suspect I will grow to love and admire these three new apostles as well. Still, I look forward to the day when more LDS youth look at the apostles and see men that look a little more like themselves. Until that day, I will continue to love and sustain whoever is called. It is possible to sustain your leaders and still look forward to a day when the leadership reflects the international character of today’s church.

    • The simple answer is that the Lord is not racist. You may feel it is high time he called someone of color to be an apostle, but do you really think God cares about a man’s skin color as much as some people do?

      The Lord has his reasons, which are known to him. I doubt skin color is at the top of His list.

      • Yes. His ways and our ways are not the same. We shouldn’t counsel the Lord, but let him counsel us.

    • I don’t think it has anything to do with “being righteous enough”. I’ve read enough experiences of leaders in other countries who were very inspired in serving others, and it was plain the Lord was with them and miracles were wrought by their efforts. some of them are in areas where the church is young, there are few members, and strong leadership is desperetly needed. They are pioneers today. they can do more for building the members in their area by serving in their area. The Lord wants to build us all.

      as for the “you can’t be what you can’t see” . . . that makes no sense. We’re all trying to be like Heavenly Father – we can’t see Him, but we certainly strive to be like Him.

      • the 2nd Kristen (me) is a different Kristen than the first one. ;p I had no idea there were two of us, or I’d have added an initial.

    • In my experience, a person’s life experiences influence what they see. I personally see a great deal of diversity in the leadership of the Church. In the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles there are men with diverse backgrounds both professionally and personally, which allows them to provide a balanced viewpoint as they guide the Church and the members. Their talks in Conference this past weekend demonstrate that while they may physically seem similar, each has their own unique insights and experiences that can help members in a variety of ways. In the Quorums of the Seventy there is the same variety in experiences and professional backgrounds, but also a broad cultural diversity, with men called from Asia, the South Pacific, Central and South America, Africa (including men of color), Europe and North America. (https://www.lds.org/church/leaders?lang=eng)

      I recently graduated college and had professors and fellow students who did not share my skin color or ethnicity, my religious or cultural backgrounds, and often my values and viewpoints, but I could still learn from them and appreciate the insight they could provide to experiences I had not personally had. I don’t need to look like someone to look up to them and respect what they have to offer. I hope one day everyone can feel the same way.

    • Ralph howland says:

      I’m half Itlian. I have dark olive skin. It was never a problem for me. I was raised in a prominent white town on the west coast. The only darker then me were a hand full of exchange students. The ones that pointed out how dark i was are the ones that put that thought in my mind. It was my dad and then a coworker when i relocated to salt lake city. I was working for the church at the time and running alot preparing for a marathon. I suppose in a white shirt i looked awesomely dark. What is crazy is, these so called white people are killing themselves trying to be dark like me. Your kids will not think anything different unless you and others say so.

    • Hi! I thought your take was interesting. I can see where you are coming from. But one thing you said just is NOT right! You commented, “it is extremely disheartening to think that there is not a single man of color in the entire church organization that the Lord viewed as righteous enough to be a member of the Q12.” I believe that there are MANY MANY who are more than “righteous” enough to be members of the twelve. But for reasons, only God knows, they are needed where they are at. Just because these were the ones called, doesn’t mean there aren’t other righteous ones who would be just as capable. But God knows they end from the beginning. He see more and farther than we could ever. I trust Him with all my heart…and lean not unto mine own understanding. Hugs and xo 🙂

    • Thank you Kalani. While I appreciate an insight into Elder Renlund’s background, to me it seems Sister Hyde failed to understand the term ‘diversity’. Your original comment articulated my feelings exactly – except for the part about being Swedish/Tongan. 🙂 Thank you again!

    • I realize this is a difficult thing for you I do. However, I think it is disheartening how many people are looking at the apostles skin color and nationality rather than their hearts – that is where God looks. He not only knows us best but wants the best for us so you can bet whoever he calls is who He knows is the best for the job of being a representative of Jesus Christ who will bear witness of Him to the world. That is their call. These apostles are here to represent Jesus Christ not the other way around. We are all called to be like Jesus. Does it matter what His skin color or His Jewish heritage was? I don’t mean to be rude or sound harsh, I know you are genuinely struggling with this. Just hope that seeing people’s hearts instead will help you, because I testify to you that it is their hearts that matter. I testify to you that Jesus loves you and wants the best for you and will help you no matter who you are or where you come from. I know He has helped me. 🙂

    • June Cleaver says:

      Hej Kalani!

      How great to hear from you! I knew you when you were a little girl. Are you still in Sundsvall?

    • Does it even matter what color they are? I’m in total shock that color is even an issue. These men are called of God. The church is still true no matter what race our apostles are. I suggest to those who have doubts or wish for more diversity; to pray!

    • I support Kalani 1000% I do not see and I expect more representation from diverse backgrounds
      I’m sure God doesn’t only call White leaders

  8. Indeed a humble man, and one who brings much to bless the Quarem and indeed the whole church with. I am excited to jave the opportunity to learn from all these great leaders.

  9. linda larsen says:

    What is the Swedish traditional food that your family has?

  10. Thank you so much for sharing about your uncle! It’s wonderful to learn more about those the Lord calls to His service. What a fantastic life story Elder Renlund has. I look forward to many wonderful addresses from him!

  11. Thank you for helping us to know your uncle and the Lord’s apostle a little better! Those who criticize don’t fully, or at all, understand the Lord’s process for calling His servants. That aside, indeed your uncle is a great man who has been prepared through out his life, even in the pre existence, for this calling. Bless you for your support of him, and prayers for him and your family in this marvelous time.

    • Dale’s father Åke (Mats Åke Ragnvald) Renlund was born Sep 15th 1917 in the swedish-speaking community of Larsmo in Finland. His parents Mats Leander and Lena Sofia Renlund were baptized in Larsmo May 28th 1912. Åke was baptized in Larsmo May 25th 1941. During the war agaist Russia he emigrated to Sweden. Åke was the first Finnish citizen to be called on a fulltime mission to Finland Nov 1949 to March 1950 after which he emigrated to SLC Utah. Dale’s grandmother Lena Renlund donated the property to the church where Finland was dedicated for preaching the gospel by then Apostle Ezra T Benson July 16th 1946 in Larsmo.

      • Thank you for this insight of the family history. “Pioneering” families in the church sacrifice much for the opportunity to be a part of and grow the church.

  12. What does it matter where they were born or raised, what their nationality or background? “Old, white men born and raised in Utah” have guided this church with amazing competency for many decades. It is interesting to read about the new apostles and their lives, and the preparation the Lord has orchestrated, but it doesn’t matter to me: I support and sustain them no matter who they are. I suspect those who are criticizing the Brethren now will be the same ones who will criticize what they consider to be a more “diverse” appointment, but for different reasons. God bless our leaders; most of us love you and pray for you without criticism.

  13. Joop Scholte says:

    Thank You for this wonderful tribute. I love the way you speak so highly of them and make many understand, sometimes maybe ashamed, and it certainly must have changed their opinion.

  14. Thank you for helping us to know your uncle and the Lord’s chosen apostle a bit better! Those who criticize don’t fully, if at at all, understand the Lord’s process for calling His servants. That aside, your uncle is obviously a wonderful man who has been prepared throughout his life, even in the pre existence, for his new role as apostle. Bless you for your support of him and prayers for him and your family during this marvelous time.

  15. And of course you forgot to mention that he is also a democrat.

    • Oh darn. Were we supposed to vote?
      Why even mention politics? This is the Lord’s government.

    • Jonathan – politics does not belong in this conversation. First, because this is about someone being called to the Q of the 12, not to an elected government position. And second, because …. seriously? Do you not know by now that Democrat/Repulican/Other are all the very same thing? So it’s completely irrelevant to even bring it up.

  16. Sara DeWitt says:

    It is fun to learn more about Elder Renlund. I love knowing where people have come from. I also feel that it is sad that such a thing feels necessary. Since when does the Lord think in skin color or diversity. He sees us all the same, and calls those most qualified for reasons I hope I am nevert arrogant enough to question. I loved all three of our new apostles talks on Sunday so much. I especially loved Elder Relund’s address. Thinking of everyone as someones child, really hit home to me. Knowing how much I love my own children, it helps to think of others that way. I love church leaders who teach about and emanate love. We are so blessed to have such wonderful men leading our church.

  17. Vernon Parmley says:

    Having a Finnish wife, and myself having been on a mission in Sweden the same time as Elder Renlund, I would just like to point out that Elder Renlund’s father was Finnish, albeit Swedish speaking, born in Larsmo, Finland, where he grew up. He immigrated to Sweden about 1944 in his early 20s. So Elder Renlund is the best of both – 50% Swedish and 50% Finnish. This is why Elder Renlund knows what Sisu is.

    • Lisa Renlund Hyde says:

      You are absolutely correct! For simplicity when I wrote the article, I referred to him as full “Scandanavian.” But I absolutely agree and appreciate your comment that Dale is indeed 50% Swedish and 50% Finnish. As you mentioned, my grandfather’s family came from Larmso, which was a Swedish-speaking part of Finland. The Swedish language was what unified both side of the family, and our family spent more time in Sweden, so sometimes that is what got more emphasis. But I do wish I would have been more clear on that point. Thank you.

  18. Love everything about this! People are so quick to judge by what we look like on the surface! What a great tribute and history. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hey, I have heard that Dale’s father has born in Finland and Dale’s mother has born in Sweden. So he is half Finnish and half Swedish. His dad is Swedish speaking Finn. In Finland we have 2 national languages Finnish and Swedish (plus Sami in the Lappland). Dale’s dad came from Larsmo/Jakobstad/Pietarsaari area. You can read more here: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/dale-g-renlund_constructing-spiritual-stability/

    • Lisa Renlund Hyde says:

      You are correct. I oversimplified a bit by saying he was full “Scandanavian,” but Dale is indeed both Finnish and Swedish.

  20. Diana Haub says:

    Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful things about your Uncle and Aunt. I was very moved by his public address when the new Apostles were being questioned by the news people. He has a loving, gentle spirit about him and enjoyed his words at General Conferemce. I am looking forward to hearing more from him. I for one am pleased with each man who was called. The Lord extends the call and we will be blessed by all they will share.

  21. When will people get it. Pres. Monson didn’t choose who would be the apostle, God did. If they have a beef maybe they should take it up with Him.

    • Yes Jan. If one truly believes that this is Christ’s church, then maybe that can be a way to heal hurt and disappointment. Maybe one can allow that testimony to cure any doubts as to why these particular servants were called. I have faith that these Apostles were called of God, not men. The Priesthood and its workings and who holds it is not determined by men. If in some way the workings of men caused God’s will to not be done yet, I have faith that He will make it right.

  22. Thank you so much for sharing this! I always like learning more about the incredible men and women whom the Lord calls to His sacred work. Your tribute was beautifully written. We’ll be praying for them in our family.

  23. I am grateful to have learned more about his background. Though I think both sides are focusing too much on this: No they are not diverse and yes they are diverse topic! As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I simply take peace and comfort to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is lead by Jesus Christ.

  24. Wendy Farr says:

    Thank you so much! I have learned repeatedly over my life that it’s not where you started in life that matters… It’s what you did throughout your life. I have no doubt that Elder Renlund will be a fierce advocate on behalf of the African people he and his wife have served and the many more Saints he will get to know in his new calling. My motto: if God has chosen him then he must be something pretty special. If anything its racist to belive that only a member of a particular culture is capable of inspiring & uplifting that culture. Really? Dr. Martin Luther King has inspired me but I guess that doesn’t matter because I’m not African American.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing the story. I have been curious who this newly called apostle is for the last few days. I particularly like the part, “while most Church authorities in the area operate using only English, he was determined to learn French so that he could effectively communicate with the people he served.”

  26. David G. Fuqua says:

    Thank you for the background information, but for myself when i raised my hand and sustained Elder Renlund it didn’t matter if he was a “white guy from Utah”, because he was called of God through God’s Prophet and those who criticize any of the brethren that were called better wake up and repent because the are criticizing the Lord for calling them as his Apostles.

  27. In ordaining apostles from our Church President, I never thing about whether he is red,black, white or blue, only that he is the person our President thru the inspiration of the Lord names him>

  28. Who cares what color they are. The real issue is why they have to be wealthy? Are we the church of christ or a corporation with the name of christ as part of its name?

    • Oscar, I asked myself the same question. After thinking about it for a while, this thought occurred to me, were they made an apostle because they were wealthy or were they made wealthy because they were going to be made apostles? After seeing statistics about the number of weeks that they are gone from home and unable to be available to help their own children and grandchildren, a certain amount of extra income would allow them to take care of those responsibilities while still able to be focused on the responsibilities of these callings. I appreciate the sacrifices that all our church leaders make, men and women, local and General, that help over this work forward.

    • I don’t think they have to be wealthy. I think those who have taken the steps to put themselves in a place of financial freedom (through education, wise financial decisions) are more free to serve. I know many men righteous enough to serve as a general authority but their family would really struggle financially if they had to quit their job to go serve full time.

      • You know, many people who have “taken the steps to put themselves in a place of financial freedom” have still not been afforded the kinds of opportunities that would make them more free to serve. I think it’s important that people without money, who have a different perspective, have voice. Instead, the message we seem get is that if you’re righteous and take the right steps, you’ll be blessed financially. That isn’t always the case.

    • I didn’t know they were even wealthy. How does everyone else know but me? Is there a link someone can share?

  29. Lisa, thank you for posting this. All of these posts about “three white guys” are such an example of the why we shouldn’t judge based on looks. Dale (Elder Renlund) is a loving and Christlike man who, in my opinion, everyone should be celebrating his inclusion in the quorum of the twelve. I certainly am. His call is a nod to big tent Mormonism. He encouraged and supported me when I was trying to decide what to do with my life. He is the reason I went to medical school and I’m grateful for him every day. We are all so lucky he has sacrificed so much to give himself to all of us in the service of our Savior.

  30. Becky Smith says:

    I have nothing but the utmost love for and faith in these great men and love to learn everything I can about them. Thank you for sharing this information and may God continue to bless your family.

  31. Christina says:

    What does it truly matter what color of skin someone has? Isn’t the character of people that really matter?

    • The color of one’s skin in this world, and certainly in this country, does matter. It makes a difference in the opportunities, experiences, struggles, and perspectives they develop. The most discerning, righteous, compassionate, wonderful white guy can’t possibly fully understand the experience of a discerning, righteous, compassionate, wonderful brown woman. Their perspectives will be different. That’s why diversity is so important.

  32. While I was not born in Utah (I grew up in the Air Force), I am very white. What I don’t understand about many of these comments is that people talk as if the process of choosing new apostles is based on strategy and “the Church missed a great opportunity by not choosing someone of color or diversity”. Um, the Church doesn’t choose apostles people! I myself was hoping that Elder Aoyagi or Elder Yamashita would be chosen (I lived in Japan for high school and served a mission there), but ultimately I know that the Lord is in charge of His church and I should not seek to counsel Him. Yes, easy for a white guy to say I guess.

  33. Christina says:

    What does it truly matter what color of skin someone has? Isn’t it the character of people that really matters?

  34. I met with Elder Renlund in his office just four days before he was called. When he called my office to set up this meeting I asked myself Elder who? I didn’t know him at all. He conducted some very sacred business and ordinances with powerful caring, humility, lack of ego and love. There’s more to this story, but I’ll just say, I thought to myself while with him, this is the type that could serve as an Apostle, but he’s been off in Africa and is probably not under consideration. He clearly had absolutely no inkling he would be called, and that became clear based on some of the things he said and taught while we were together. I could not help but breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the way he conducted the errand he was on for the Prophet. This is a kind and wonderful man who has no apparent ego, and conducts himself with unconscious grace and charity. I was very pleased to hear he had been called. I sustain him and it is my happy privilege to sustain all the 12 and First Presidency.

  35. This was great to learn more about these two wonderful people. We had the privilege of having them at our Stake Conference in September 2007 in Rock Springs, WY and then they joined us in our home for dinner afterwards. My husband was in the Stake Presidency at the time. We really enjoyed our time with them, very humble people. I’m sure it was brought up that I spoke Norwegian and we must have done some Scandinavian chatting, can’t quite remember. May the Lord bless their family for their service!

  36. I guess people are forgetting that President Uchtdorf is from Germany…

  37. As a female, I have never seen an apostle who “looks like me.” And it doesn’t matter, because looking like the members is not the purpose of apostolic ministry. I would be totally fine with a quorum composed of black, Asian and Hispanic apostles — if the Lord called them, I would absolutely believe they could teach me and relate to me. I have served under leaders of different races and have really not paid attention to what they look like. That being said, it is still kind of nice to read of a couple where the wife was not a full-time mom with six kids. Diversity means more than ethnicity.

  38. thank you so much for posting this! I had a discussion with family members who complained about the 12 Utahns and this clearly shows that diversity doesn’t simply mean black and white and comes in many light shades.

    Our great leaders spent many years abroad, also due to their missions, and there they acquired international backgrounds, which are valuable and brought them even closer to Christ. Their lights shine above all of us and guide us the way to the next conference.

  39. I haven’t question his background at all. He has been called of GOD and that is all that matters to me.

  40. StillConfused says:

    His wife sounds like an amazing and strong woman. Too bad she was not the one named. I love the female religious leaders that I have met in the various Christian faiths as well as my female Rabbi acquaintances. I have never heard of Scandinavian as being part of a diversity matrix but it is interesting to hear that he was an immigrant who had to learn English as a child.

  41. Speaking to a person of color does not equal diversity. Having a smart wife and sometimes listening to her does not equal diversity. I’m sure your uncle is a nice person – but you need a reality check.

  42. Sherdon Cordova says:

    I was hoping for a member of the quorum of 12 apostles who was foreign born and raised in a non eurocentric circumstance (which Elder Uchtdorf also shares that history). The lions share of the growth of the church is in Latin and African areas for the past 40 years. That being said. I am not the prophet. Revelation is the all omnipotent power that supersedes and trumps all other criteria or abilities. God qualifies those whom he calls and that is the certain testimony I have of the calling of the apostles. They don’t have to be individually exceptional nor have an exceptional spouse. They don’t have to have a tremendously faithful or prescribed achievements. They can be the worst of sinners even (think of Paul). But once that call comes, God can do miracles through them if they are humble, repent, and follow his will and not theirs. God Bless Elders Renlund, Stevenson, and Rasband.

  43. clay barth says:

    Speaking as on of Dr Renlund’s heart transplant patients, May I assume to speak for us all, when I give you our perspective from a potion of his medical life.Elder Renlund, then a wonderful cardiologist held the lives of many of us in his hands. Like many medical professionals, he was always busy with his medical duties and his church calling. Yet I never noticed that he lost touch with that individual interest into my care and the well being of my family!When I was near death and hopeless of ever receiving a heart, It was Dr. Renlund, who left his medical hat at home one Sunday and came to my home along with his brother to offer me a Priesthood blessing! This gave great comfort and peace to our family.
    This is just one small example of Elder Rendlund’s love for the Savior and his children. He will be a great servant and
    Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has been prepared from his childhood for this sacred calling as his niece has so amply explained! May the Lord bless our 3 new ordained Apostles,I humbly pray!!
    {clay barth, A 15 yr.heart transplant survivor}

  44. Frank Fourth says:

    At what age did he come back from Sweden?

  45. Rich Wales says:

    I think one important, but little-noted, reason why the apostles are almost always Americans may be that the Church’s HQ is in the US, and as a result, they all really need to have US citizenship — or, at least, permanent resident status (a “green card”) — in order to be assured of being able to have a permanent base in the US and come/go at will to fulfill their assignments.

    It’s incredibly difficult nowadays, in general, for someone outside the US to get a “green card”, and I doubt the Church’s leaders have very much ability to pull strings for people in this regard. More likely — at least for now — the men whom the Lord wants as apostles will either be born here, or else placed into circumstances that can eventually allow them to get permanent residence.

    Sometimes I wonder if one of the many reasons why the Brethren have been pushing for relaxation of immigration restrictions in the US, to a far more generous extent than the majority of American LDS seem willing to stomach, might have something to do with wanting to make things easier for certain people whom the Lord wants to be able to put down roots in the US and eventually serve in leadership positions in the Church.

    • What a very interesting and insightful concept, thank you. Often there are highly logical reasons behind the things the Lord does, it just takes a bit of time to see his genius. I wonder how many other reasons he has behind these things? I’m sure we see only a tiny portion, and yet many of us think we’re seeing the whole thing.

  46. Will you please share an authentic Swedish meatball recipe? The one I tried last week was disappointing

    • LOL!!! This gave me a good chuckle.

    • This post makes me so happy! Why are so many arguing and scorning others as they discuss things they have no control over when there are meatballs to be made?? I would also love to take part in an authentic Swedish meatball recipe. ^_^

  47. Chad Junkermeier says:

    I can understand a niece wanting to defend a cherished uncle, I am rather appalled that anyone else would take her argument seriously.

    • I think you misunderstand her argument then…. “he brings with him a very unique international perspective that I hope others will appreciate. From his Swedish background to his service in Southeast Africa, I believe God has been preparing Dale for his entire life for this apostleship and to be an effective advocate for people of all diverse backgrounds and circumstances.”

  48. The 1992 US Olympic basketball team was called the “dream team.” With only four white guys and eight black were people complaining about the color of their skin? Of course not! We were proud to have players chosen for their abilities, skills, and talents. We knew even before they played that they would be team players, looking out for the best of the team, for they represented the hopes and dreams of America.

    Why can’t we focus on the abilities, skills, and talents of three men that were chosen by God for their new role rather than the color of their skin? These are our dream team, the best that we have to represent us before the world.

  49. My husband and I were just discussing why apostles aren’t typically chosen from other places then the Utah area. I have also questioned this. I am a caucasian woman, but love seeing the diversity the church holds. I live in Southern CA, and we have much more diversity than UT in my own opinion. Obviously they are going to pick men who have worked for the church for long periods of time in and around the Church headquarters, and thinking of the demographic of those people that live in UT that are active members of the church, are at a time in their lives where they can devote all their time and talents to the work of the Lord; I hate to say it, but you are going to see mainly, if not all, white older men. Just look at the Children’s choir that sang during conference…you can’t but help notice 99% of the children are white kids with blond hair. That is just what the members look like who live in UT! Just like if you went to other parts of the world, you would see other colors of people permeating those areas. When I thought of it like that, it helped me understand why.

  50. DamienLatu says:

    This is what diversity means to you guys? Lol. I sustain this man however this is not diversity. Nationally, yes. Ethnically, no. I guess the Lord wants the rest of us to just wait for representation, that’s OK.

  51. Steven Bonta says:

    My wife and I were interviewed by Elder Renlund last year, in connection with a BYU position I was applying for. During the course of the interview, he told us some wonderful things about his and his wife’s service in east Africa, including the fact that they had learned French. As a linguist myself, I was very impressed that a man in his late fifties would undertake to learn a foreign language to better serve the saints.

  52. Thanks for sharing. I now have a better understand on who this kid is.

  53. We need to remember who it is that calls an apostle. It is the Savior. Those chosen by him were fore ordained to hold those callings. This is not a popularity contest. The parable of the ten virgins was written for our times. Who is on the Lord’s side, who?

  54. Brett Allen says:

    Part of my testimony is that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. God, through his prophet, called these three men to serve. Obviously they are intelligent, accomplished, and spiritually seasoned, but none of that in the end matters, because God called them. Why weaken your faith and testimony with bitter thoughts that President Monson is a racist.

    I was very disappointed that the Church is still involved in Boy Scouts. Nothing to do with homosexual scout leaders, but everything to do with Scouts only reaching 50% of our young men world wide and what I thought could be a better budgeting of resources. But President Monson said that “at this time” we would still be involved so I will donate to ICL this February and be as supportive of Scouting as I know how.

  55. Susan Sandberg says:

    I guess I am very perplexed by this. I have complete faith in whoever the Lord calls–I never thought about diversity, or who has done what. They are called by God (not man), so who would I or anyone be to question that, or be “disappointed”? There are many churches that are studiously concerned with balancing their leaders with people of different ethnicities; they are ” politically correct” to a painful degree, but at least they don’t fear that someone would think they are not diverse. Some may be more happy with that church, and that’s OK, each to their own. But the Lord’s church doesn’t follow political correctness or the desires of the world, they follow and obey GOD. In that, I find great peace.

  56. Curtis Hight says:

    One of my Bahá’í friends told me that he asked an African woman if she had suffered from racism growing up (against white people). She responded with something very close to: “No, but we hated the neighboring tribe.” He then concluded that maybe we need to look into human hearts more deeply and consider a broader range of issues than “racism.”

    I’m grateful for our freedom of speech and the delightful technologies that grant us broad communication capability.

    Some of the comments above reminded me of these words in David Landes’s The Wealth and Poverty of Nations:
    In that regard, one must reject the implication that outsideness disqualifies: that only Muslims can understand Islam, only blacks understand black history, only a woman understand women’s studies, and so on. That way lies separateness and a dialogue of the deaf. It also excludes the valuable insights of outsiders and lends itself to racism. I knew a Boston Brahmin once who could not understand why a student of Italian background would want to work on Christopher Columbus (“I thought Columbus was Italian,” was the student’s reply); and another who was surprised to find an African-American doing Roman history—as though he were any more Roman than the other.
    On the other hand, some outside scholars qualify because they agree politically with the gatekeepers. So Edward Said makes an exception in Orientalism for a handful of Western scholars—pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab, pro-Muslim—who may or may not be right, but are on what he sees as the right side. Motive trumps truth and fact.
    That way lies censorship by exclusion and indifference. Scholarship and research are the losers.

    David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998), 416-417, 417-418.

  57. It seems that many people have stated that they were hoping for a apostle to represent them or their ethnicity. The apostles and prophets do not ‘represent’ us. They do not represent any race or nationality. They represent the Lord.

    • There is such diversity in the world that it would be impossible to represent all nationalities. Even had the new apostles been from some where more diverse it would leave those left out still complaining. To me it feels like this is another way that Satan has found to test the testimonies of strong righteous members of the church. He would love to see members turn bitter with their disappointment. He knows that his time is getting shorter and he wants to implant seeds of doubt in our hearts. If this is an issue you feel strongly about Please Pray for increased faith and understanding. Don’t let this come between you and The Lord. As many have pointed out, this is the Lords decision and if you believe that fully you will trust that he has a purpose. It really breaks my heart to hear the discord among members of the church over this and other issues. Please Turn to The Lord for understanding and acceptance.

  58. All I can say is that as my husband and I watched the news conference following General Conference, the spirit strongly witnessed to both of us, that Dale Renlund was called of God to be a member of The Quorum of the Twelve . We had no doubt. If he was called of God, who are we to question the Lord? This shouldn’t even be happening. And for the record, we are not from Utah and are just regular everyday American members of the church… who trust the Lord to call whom he may. And we will support that decision. We look forward to hearing more from Elder Renlund and are excited for him as he (and his obviously amazing wife) begin this new chapter in their lives !

  59. Linda Wood says:

    …for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

  60. David Winmill says:

    It was my distinct pleasure and honor to work with Elder Renlund, then Dr. Renlund, when he was the director of the University of Utah Heart Transplant Program. At the time, it was one of the largest heart transplant programs in the country. He has a brilliant and keen mind and was an internationally respected researcher in the areas of heart failure, transplant and immunosuppressive therapies. He knew I was ex-Mormon and gay and always treated me well. He encouraged me in my studies and professional endeavors. I have the deepest respect for Elder Renlund and know him to be a good, kind and humble man.

  61. All I needed to do was listen to their testimonies and it confirmed to me that our prophet was led by God to call these three men. I too thought maybe we might be ready for some more diversity by I tried to listen to the spirit as they spoke and I received the confirmation I needed…and specifically about your uncle. Thank you for the history.. especially of Sister Renlund. That was the best part.

  62. No way you spin it the man is White. He is not going to understand the struggles of minorities like another minority will. I don’t care how diverse his background. White is what rules in this nation and throughout the world! What you can count on is that God understands. All that the apostles do is listen to God and they will get the right message and understanding.

    God’s ways are no limited by our petty tribal/racial prejudices. When we STOP wanting Black apostles, maybe HE, God, will call one. He does not have time coddle the cultural Mormons so that they can feel better about being White or Black or Other. This is the Kingdom of God, not the UN. The only resolutions we vote on are if we will get with the program or not.

    If God makes a change or not let us be faithful. If the Lamanites can do it so can we. Read yo Book of Mormon, hear?

    • Rodric – Very well said. The church is not the UN and the Heavenly Father we all have in common, doesn’t appear to be hung up on achieving the worldly definition of “diversity” as many of us are.

  63. God is no respector of persons. Anyone questioning the ‘diversity’ of the Apostles clearly doesnt have faith to begin with.

  64. I’m a Korean immigrant and I was born into the Church. My dad joined the Church in the 70s when it was barely 20 years old. My family immigrated to the US when I was 8 years old. I grew up and still live in areas where Koreans/Asians are rarely seen. My family has always been the only Koreans in our ward. And if you haven’t noticed, there are no Koreans or even Asians in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Yet, I have NEVER felt a disconnect between the prophets/apostles and myself. When the three new apostles were called, I genuinely felt the Spirit testify to me these men are truly called of God. That is good enough for me.

    Also, Heavenly Father prepares these men from very early on, even generations before they are even born. Their ancestors and pioneers sacrificed everything and they were promised great things. Many of their posterity became great Church leaders because the absolute faith and unshakable testimony of their ancestors became part of who they were (Note: President Uchtdorf is the only apostle that I know of who was not born into the Church so he would be an exception). Most African, Hispanic, Asian members do not have this heritage due to the fact the Gospel was introduced their countries much later.

  65. What a lot of you are seeming to forget (or maybe just do not understand) is that this is all part of the fulfillment of prophesy. It was given thousands of years ago that in the last days the leadership of the church would be held by those in the tribe of Ephraim. That tribe has been predominantly passed down (genetically speaking) in the white, Caucasian, European descent, which is the descent of most white Americans. Also Europeans. Thus Elder Renlund and Uchtdorf fall into this category as well. Throughout history different races and cultures have been chosen by God as the standard bearers of the Priesthood responsibilities of leadership. Now during the fullness of times where the fullness of the gospel and the fullness of the priesthood are available to all of God’s children the responsibilities of priesthood leadership are also being disbursed throughout all cultures and races. However this does not change the fact that those of the tribe of Ephraim have been set aside for this time to be the predominate holders of the priesthood leadership and the positions that come along with that. We don’t know why God has set it up that way, but he has. Maybe you think God is racist. I don’t really see this changing until maybe the next change in history after the second coming and during the millennium. That will be a new time and probably a different assignation of who will have the predominant assignment to hold priesthood keys of leadership. Perhaps at that time it will be more racially, culturally, and tribally mixed. But in the last days before and leading up to the second coming this responsibility was given by God to those of the tribe of Ephraim and it was prophesied as such. No need to much worry about it. God’s at the helm. It’s his work and he directs it perfectly in his omnipotent way with his omniscient understanding.

  66. Why this obsession with diversity? I want a GA who is kind, wise, good, inspired by God. And called by him. Nothing else matters. The apostleship is holy.

  67. As a person of color that is not from and whos first language was not english, i am sad to see so many people looking at themselves in groups and ethnicities rather than unified children of God. Seeing the world through covetous eyes and twisted versions of “fairness” divides rather than unifies us. Our goal is not diversity but unifty in Christ. Our various backgrounds are not what makes us strong ultimately. It is our meekness and willingness to live by every word if God rather than judge God by the unrighteous precepts of the world. Yes i mean it because I see diversity as a temporary division which must be surpassed not exacerbated. Diversity was essentially implemented in a big way at the tower of babel as a way of scattering or dividing an errant people. Our job is to unify or we are not the Lords. Ditch the worldly doctrine of diversity and embrace the culture of zion is not what I teach my children. I never teach them to base anything or even notice a persons color of skin. The fact that none of the twelve share my native language, culture, or skin color is so deeply unimportant to me I have no words to express further. It is zion or bust for me and diversity is way to telestial to spend much precious time on.

    • You and I are of one mind and heart. I have almost wept over some comments here. YOU brought the joy right back!

    • Thank you JG!!

      Best observation on this thread. Diversity is indeed a temporary division. Our focus is to become one in Christ, not to focus on the world’s notion that “diversity” requires an “understanding” or “representation” that is somehow unique to a particular group. We are all children of the same God. “Diversity” is from the same root as divide. Separateness and division are not our object but rather oneness.

  68. As far as I’m concerned only a True apostle and servant of the Lord could have transplanted and operated on the the Heart of my dear friend Chad. His heart was bigger than this life! Anyone who criticizes without knowing the person or listening and truly feeling the spirit doesn’t understand what having a heart really means. Thanks for sharing your heart, but I’m sad you ever had too!

  69. Simply stated, Apostles as other leaders, are called by God. If you have a problem with who upis given or not given a calling, here’smy simple advice: See God.

  70. Heja på! Jag ticket väldigt om Äldste Renlunds “talk.”

  71. Thank you for sharing a brief history about Elder Renlund. It is good to know about church leaders. Living in different countries and learning a new language helps people to be open minded and to accept others people’s background and culture. My respect to Elder Renlund.

  72. I don’t understand why people are so worked up about this. Sure, it would be great, but to think it’s racist is beyond me. They were called of the Lord. I don’t care if they are all white, all black, all Mexican, or all from diverse places. They are called by the Lord, so if you believe that, why question it? You either believe they were called by the Lord, or you don’t. We have many 70s of many races. In fact, the majority are Latinos. And yes, I would feel the same way, even if I wasn’t white. Of course I would love some one called that is the same race, so I understand that. But I wouldn’t question it and call it racist.

  73. The fact that you think this would even remotely adress the concerns of those who are disappointed by and/or critical of the calling of three white utah-born apostles is very telling. Clearly you have no idea about the issues and experiences that are behind that disappointment/criticism. I am sure you mean well but this entire post and the bulk of the comments only prove that they are right. The church likes to present itself as a global and international church but in reality it is an american, utahn church and clearly the top leadership wants it to stay that way. Although I am not surprised I do find it very saddening. And yes I believe church leaders make mistakes (and so do Pres. Uchtdorf, Pres. Andersen, pres. Ballard and probably many more of the general authorities, judging by their general conference adressess) and this was clearly one of them.

  74. I´m from Vienna, Austria. Currently living in Germany. Lived for many years in Jordan, Amman and in the USA (even served a mission there).
    Yes ist was great to have a German called as an apostel 2004 (and my husband and I just love Elder Uchtdorf´s talks) and it´s always unique to have different cultures together but what matters most to me: Truth is spoken! God´s word. And even if you´re born in Utah, each one of us has a lifestory to tell, had it´s challenges and sorrows, joys and special, secret moments.
    In each countrey we have tons wonderul local, worthy leaders to follow, support and listen too. But only one (or in this case only 3) could be called to fill the empty places these wonderful 3 brethren have left!!!!
    Thanks to the niece of Elder Renlund for sharing some insights of her unclce. Can´t wait how his swedish side will influence his talks to help us get closer to God!

  75. Lynnette Plate says:

    Hmmm, my thought on this is, he is called by Heavenly Father…period, end of qhestions.

  76. There are many General Authorities from all over the world, and I learn from all of them. I have Scandinavian ancestry and it would not matter to me if the First Presidency and the Twelve were all black or Asian men.

  77. Pam Hartley says:

    Living in Oklahoma, I had not heard any negative comments but loved reading your comments and learning more about one of our new apostles. Thank you for sharing.

  78. The Lord loves everyone. This is His church. He has calls us to do His work. We are all human and sometimes our earthly minds cloud our spiritual growth and understanding.

    It is okay to have questions about things like this…It is completely understandable. My council to you would be to get on your knees and talk to Heavenly Father about your questions and concerns. Fast about it. Ask Him to give you strength and eternal understanding. If you are able…attend the temple as well. Try not to get to emotionally wrapped up in things like this…it does no good to anyone. This is God’s true church on the earth…I guarantee you that!

    Your Proud Polynesian Friend

  79. meo costales says:

    I know our prophet were inspired by the Lord to call our new apostles. they had been called even from the pre existence… I doubt not!

  80. Wonderful tribute to your uncle! I was very excited to be present in the Conference center when they announced the new apostles. Afterwards, someone I was with asked why no one from Hispanic or Asian descent was called. I have to admit this never even crossed my mind. As a female member of the Church, I have a strong testimony that the Lord puts into position those *He* needs to lead, and those who *need* this calling. It’s the Lord’s Church. Trust in Him. He will not lead us astray.

  81. I think there is a difference between those who felt some disappointment at the lack of visible diversity with the new apostles called yet still have their testimonies to the divine callings that were extended and those that are disappointed yet openly criticize the church for not having an apostle with darker skin pigments born outside of Utah. The first are honestly seeking the Lord’s will and understanding, are humble, and testify that these men are indeed prophets, seers, and revelators. The second group are prideful, seeking the ways of the world and assuming that they know God’s will better than His chosen servants. I am happy that the vast majority are in the first camp. For those that choose to be in the second (and it is a choice) remember what the Lord taught about the wheat and the chaff. You get to choose which you will become.

  82. I loved his testimony. He is so humble and gets right to the point. Seems like a man who is very Christ-like and now will be able to share his testimony with even more people. Can’t wait to hear more from him.

  83. Sharon Judd says:

    As senior missionaries my husband and I had the privilege of knowing the Renlunds while working in the Africa Southeast Area Office. We were so thrilled when Elder Renlund’s name was called to be an apostle. Whether in a temple sealing session with them, to eating Thanksgiving Dinner in the garage to playing board games on New Year’s Day or speaking at our farewell giving good advise “(“you will never know of all the good you have done in training the leaders in the wards and branches of Africa”) we will always love them for their spirituality, joy, and dedication.

  84. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

  85. Thanks a lot for this wonderful article about your uncle and aunt. I love learning more about the apostles.
    Before conference I thought if the world is ready for a Spanish speaking (south American) , african and maybe asian apostle.
    I still don’t know if one speaks Spanish. I think it’s so cool that there’s one apostle who lived in Asia and one in Africa. They know the people there, what they need. They know the governments and cultures.
    As a German I love the fact that one (El. Rasband) served in our area presidency as I came to church. I met him. And I love the fact that El. Renlund is Swedish. Europe is well represented through the apostles. Maybe cause we need so much help. Church here doesn’t grow much for a very long time now.
    My ward is multicultural with more then 20 nations. Each continent is well represented. I live the fact that the 3 new apostles are not only white Utah guys.

  86. José Robledo says:

    Elder Renlund, I sustain you and you got all my support and admiration.

  87. EditorJack says:

    Obviously Elder Renlund’s experience is diverse. So it’s his ethnicity that’s in question? A note to those who are upset about Elder Renlund’s skin color: We have a word for that–prejudice. It’s a word that works both ways.

    And to those who say “You can’t be what you don’t see,” I say, “Argue for limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” If Dr. Martin Luther King had believed such a ridiculous notion, he wouldn’t have been Dr. Martin Luther King.

    Finally, an insight from President John Taylor, third president of the Church: “[God’s] ways are not as the ways of man, neither are His thoughts limited by our limited thoughts or conceptions. But He does as He pleases.” (Journal of Discourses 22:33.)

  88. Thank you Lisa for taking the time to share a little more about your uncle. What an amazing man! I can’t wait to hear more from him in coming conferences.

  89. Baura Kale says:

    I’m reminded of the old joke: Utah’s version of DIVERSITY is non-Scandinavians in the Tabernacle Choir.

  90. Sherry Stephens Wood says:

    The Lord calls whom he calls. Loved the Swedish info. I have a Swedish line, Stidham. That fifth great grandfather was a physician also. I am from Oklahoma .third generation. Convert. Grateful for the gospel and Apostles

  91. It is important to remember, that much as we might like to see Apostles from other nations, the Quorum of the Twelve represents the Lord to the people, not the people to the Lord.

    Jesus picked a publican (a tax collector who the Jews hated as apparent sell-outs to Roman misrule) and a zealot (the revolutionary faction that would sooner slit a Roman throat than not) to be Apostles. But all the rest of the Twelve, except Judas, were ordinary men from Galilee, where his ministry began.

  92. Diane Brantmeyer says:

    Comments of a negative nature are only made by those that donot understand that these men are called of God. They are as the apostles of old. There is no diffrence. When we stand in Holy places we are all dressed in white. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and he is in charge. Those of the world donot know. I’m sure the apostles in the time when Jesus walked the earth had the same negative type remarks. The outward appearance does not matter.

  93. When Elder Renlund spoke, we were all sitting around the tv (all ages, stages of life) we heard a humble, witness of Christ. We also heard felt that same spirit with the Latin/Spanish decent Apostles. I also thought there was an Asian Apostle that gave an inspiring prayer. I think if we concentrate more on the message than the color or ethnicity, we’d all be better off.

  94. Kisser Ravn Sørensen says:

    As a Dane I am so grateful to have a “half Swede” as an apostle and a German. It was wonderful to hear his story, I only knew part of it. Tak ;0)

  95. Viola Miles says:

    Apostles from different ethnic cultures are not that far off.. The Lord prepares his servants.. More and more brethren from all over the world are being added to the seventy and other positions that will give them the experience they need to fulfill the obligations of an apostle.. Patience

  96. Thank You for this wonderful post. Sitting in our Stake Center all the way here in American Samoa (Pacific Island) and listening to Elder Renlund’s testimony, I didn’t see a “white man” speaking instead I SAW and FELT, a Servant of God, who through his testimony, conveyed in my heart the Love he has for his Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I also FELT his love for Heavenly Father’s children, even here in American Samoa. I sustain Elder Renlund!!!

  97. As I read I felt from you Kalani, the struggle of your heart and I felt compassion for you. I do not know or understand your struggle. The only thing that really came to me is the comment made to us in conference to look at those or things as the eyes of a mother. If we are struggling see these apostles as you would your own children. I don’t have a pat answer for why or when. I do not want to discount your feelings in any way. I pray you find peace

  98. The point isn’t that this man is well qualified in many ways for the position or that his life experience overlaps cultures. The point is that there are likely many others from around the world who are equally qualified and bi-cultural who also reflect the faces of the populations of the world the Church is finding new members in.

  99. I wanted to bear my testimony, that I have felt the Spirit as the new Apostles have talked and borne their testimonies. I know that they are true Apostles of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that He called them. I have sustained them. When He calls others, I will seek HIS confirmation and sustain them too. I will sustain and uphold ALL HE asks of me. When I stand before Him and my Father in Heaven, I want Them to know that I am defending them and Their gospel.

  100. I have heard no negative comments in my Ward or Stake in south west England. No one I know has even made the suggestion that it is the more of the same (Is there any such thing). I know that contentious people make the most noise,but many of us quiet people trust the Lord and trust who he decides to call. Elder Renlund sounds wonderful and like someone I can love and respect. You have our sustaining vote here. =)

  101. Patty Turley says:

    Elder Renlund was one of my mom’s heart doctors in the heart transplant clinic. He was one of the most compassionate doctors I have meet. I’m saddened to hear the controversy of his call. I would want the qualities of the 12 to have the same qualities as the Savior. If one has not developed Christ like qualities they are not prepared to serve. Life experiences don’t qualify you for the work. Compassion and charity are the pure love of Christ. That is what I want in the church leaders.

  102. Elder Renlund was in our stake a few weeks ago. We enjoyed has warm personality and his sense of humor. He told stories of Africa and wove them in his talks as he taught us. We chuckled about when he is away from his wife he is “Ruthless.” And he adores his daughter. He has a wonderful testimony of the gospel and love for the Savior. I’m looking forward to being taught by him in the future.When they announced his name as one of the new apostles I was so excited and tears came to my eyes. It was a privileged to serve him dinner and make his lunch for his return trip. AND to receive a personal hand written note thanking me. I will always cherish his visit with us in Pueblo, CO Stake. Thank you for sharing his life sketch. It makes him more real to know more about him.

  103. VoiceOfReason says:

    Ok…OK…I’ve got a new slogan…YOU CAN BE WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE…like Heavenly Father for example.

  104. Cheryl Panisiak says:

    As a Latter Day Saint here in Canada, who is of Ukrainian/German and Swedish/Norwegian descent, I realize that having someone of color to represent the ethnic diversity of the growing church would be nice too. But I just happen to be Caucasian. The apostles chosen were whom the Lord wanted and if they just happen to be Caucasian, I believe that in time, that will change as well. Please let us not forget that it wasn’t long ago…and sadly, some people still think this way…that a person of color is not as intelligent, hard working or dedicated as someone who is not. I feel like this is almost reverse racism. I was raised to respect others and that’s what we need to do in this church. There is a diversity in the quorums of the Seventies and one or more of those men will be called some day to be an apostle. When I look around my ward/stake, I see all shades, cultures and sizes. We all have one thing in common…we love the gospel. If we say we love the gospel, we must accept those who the Lord has chosen to lead us without murmuring or dissent.

  105. Sean Chilcote says:

    Thanks for sharing insights on Elder Renlund and his wife. I have no doubt that he will serve the Lord with all his heart and that he has been called at this time to bring about God’s work. He is the perfect apostle at this time to serve and love the people of the world. Elder Renlund will always hold a special place in my heart and my wife’s heart as he served as our Bishop when we were in college. He and Ruth are amazing people – we are sincerely excited to be strengthened by Elder Renlund as he leads and testifies of Christ.

  106. May God bless and preserve the three new apostles just called. I love and sustain them all.

  107. David Mohr says:

    I remember feeling upset because all the General Authorities were from the USA. But I slowly learned a few things. The most important was that God selects people before they are even born for certain positions. That means God is selecting from out of His faithful children in the pre-existence when we are all the same colour, nationality, race, or whatever you feel is important. It is Satan talking when you ask why not an Asian or Latino or whatever. These men have already proven themselves in the War in Heaven. My Patriarchal blessing talks about my position in the War in Heaven and how I fought by Christ’s side yet I went about 35 years without a calling. The reason? I did not live up to my background and had to find my way back to His path. Now I am 61 and finally starting to learn those lessons I should have learned over 40 years ago. It is my fault I am not a GA not God’s. I am totally responsible for my standing in God’s Kingdom and no one else can stand in for me. I might have been a leader but chose to follow the wrong path. These men followed the right path and God knows He can depend on them. Just as God knows that the leaders in (insert area or country or stake or…..) to do the job required there. Remember that there is great joy in the return of one soul and that there is much work to be done. Each person who serves will inherit wonderful gifts and blessings – not because they were a GA but because they did serve where they were asked to serve.

  108. I think he is indeed a nice person, but there is no need to say that he’s a good person, Jesus Christ is the one who selects and calls the Apostles.
    The problem of being from Utah, White,typical upper-middle class is for those who have money and are not doing anything to help those in need.
    Where I come from the church is really small, there are not many members and girls to date. it is hard to be a good person, and it really makes me think of most americans who have really easy lives, they go to Byu and get married so fast afer their mission.
    PLUS all the Apostles are normal people with imperfections, so they don’t need to be justified by their family members.
    I have respect for His life, every one has his or her challenges to face avery day. Let’s focus on the things we can do to Help those in need, and please Americans learn to be Honest.

  109. Bruce Runyon says:

    I’m thankful for your story about Elder Renlund. As a convert I love the church and all it was done for me and my family. Love hearing about our leaders and all they have given to the church and those around them. My prayers are that we all remember our Father in heaven and how he cares for each one of us here on earth.



    After 200+ comments, we’re now closing this discussion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.