Graying of LDS General Authorities

According to researcher Christian Anderson, the average age of the 15 men who comprise the LDS Church’s top leadership is over 80.  This is the first time the average has been this high in the 185-year history of the Church.

Here is what the figures show (from eldest to youngest):  L. Tom Perry-92.57 years; Boyd K. Packer and Russell M. Nelson-90.48 years; Thomas S. Monston-87.53 years; M. Russell Ballard-86.40 years; Richard G. Scott-86.32 years; Dallin H. Oaks-82.55 year; Robert D. Hales-82.52 years; Henry B. Eyring-81.75 years; Quentin L. Cook-74.48; Dieter F. Uchtdorf-74.32; Jeffrey R. Holland-74.25 years; D. Todd Christofferson-70.10 years; Neil L. Anderson-63.56 years; and David A. Bednar-62.71 years.

In summary, there are more in their 90s than in their 60s.  And more in their 80s than in their 70s.  In fact, the number in their 80s equals the number in their 60s and 70s combined (6).

John English, a technical project manager living in Utah, has suggested that one avenue for dealing with a geriatric leadership is to have Apostles placed on emeritus status at age 90.  For me, this number seems a bit high.  The LDS Church grants emeritus status to members of the Quorum of the Seventy when they reach age 70.  I wonder if “retiring” Apostles at age 80 might be more realistic.

If the Church retired Apostles and members of the First Presidency at age 70, all but two of the current General Authorities would be gone.  If the Church retired them at 80, 9 of the current GAs would be on emeritus status.  As for age 90, 3 GAs would be retired:  Elders Perry, Packer, and Nelson.

Tim Hegstrom, in a letter to sltrib.com (7 Mar 2015), supports nonagenarians:

I see there’s a woman working as a designer at IDEO here in Silicon Valley at age 92.  If Silicon Valley’s hottest design firm can see the advantage in keeping old folks around, I’m not sure why some Mormons cannot.

For me, the biggest problem is the age of the two youngest Apostles:  62 and 63 (the only two in their 60s).  There are NO Apostles in their 40s and 50s.  There is clearly a need for younger blood.  Elder Bednar (almost age 63) is currently the point man for dealing with new technologies.  When he was in college, HP calculators and primitive mainframes were the rage.  There were no PCs or Internet.

Retirement of elderly Apostles could help, but there needs to be a concerted effort to get younger individuals into top leadership positions.  The Church needs General Authorities who are more in touch with today’s problems and needs.

According to English, the LDS Church “is due for some big changes in the 21st century and this (granting emeritus status) would be a significant policy change that could help the leadership lead on those things.”  And I would add, it is equally important to get younger members involved in the upper eschelon of Church leadership.

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6 Responses to Graying of LDS General Authorities

  1. Russell says:

    Where did you find this data? I would love to see this trend over time. I don’t know if I would go as far as strict age limit. I wish that there was an opportunity for apostles to abdicate the calling due to health. Doesn’t seem like there is an ability to do that today.

    By the way, I love the blog. I find myself disagreeing with you as much as agreeing but always love to hear your thoughts.

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    The data came from the sltrib.com (Mar 3, 2015). I’ve added the link to the original post. Thanks for your kind comments.

  3. Jess says:

    i agree, bringing in younger leadership would be ideal. i’m not sure about forced “retirement”, but maybe the option to step down should be there. i think a balance would be ideal.
    the challenge seems to be that the calling requires so much time that it’s impossible to do it while working a normal job. that leaves it to members who are either retired or independently wealthy. thus the collection of old rich dudes. so what’s the solution? start paying them?

    • Eric says:

      Authorities are paid generous living stipends that are likey equivalent to standard executive salaries at regular corporations.

      • Jess says:

        i knew they got a “modest stipend” (pres. hinckley’s words). after reading your comment i looked it up & was surprised to see how high it is. thanks for setting me straight.

  4. Jess says:

    on review, most of the info i have found is speculative. the last official word from the church was $50k/year (twenty years ago). is there any current proven stipend info?

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