Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
April 5, 2008
Being a witness of Jesus Christ in the most fundamental sense is to possess a sure, personal testimony that He is the divine Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
Salt Lake City -- Elder D. Todd Christofferson was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during the morning session of the 178th Annual General Conference.
"I suppose the first reaction was incredulity, but a deep sense of humility," said Elder Christofferson in a Saturday news conference when asked about his initial reaction at being called as an Apostle. "At the same time [I felt] a sense of gratitude for the trust that is manifest in such a calling, primarily from The Lord but from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve as well."
Elder Christofferson was extended his calling two days prior to the announcement in General Conference.
"President Monson invited me to his office last Thursday, two days ago, and extended the call in a very kind way," said Elder Christofferson. "He [President Monson] reflected somewhat on his own experience being called at age 36 by David O. McKay - who had been called at 32." He told President Monson that he felt old in comparison, being called at age 63. President Monson responded by telling him 63 is just a reverse of 36.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson has served in the First Quorum of the Seventy since 1993, and as a Seventy President since 1998. "President Monson is the one who extended the call to me 16 years ago to serve in the Seventy, so it was special to me that it came through him." He has also served in the church as a regional representative, stake president and bishop.
Elder Christofferson was born January 24, 1945 in American Fork, Utah. During his high school years, his family moved New Jersey. "I consider that spiritually the most formative part of my life," explained Elder Christofferson. "I was the only member of this church in my high school class. I found many wonderful friends of different faiths. I found my own faith at times challenged and other times confirmed. It forced me to think very deeply about what I believe and in the end go to The Lord and seek real confirmation of the truth and the merit of what I thought."
He married Katherine Jacob Christofferson in May 1968, and is the father of five children. "We have a wonderful relationship," said Elder Christofferson. "Next month we'll be celebrating 40 years of marriage. I remember when I served on active duty in the army we had only been married about a year. I was the only one married in my group. One of them said to me 'weren't you afraid to get married?' I asked what's there to be afraid of? It never occurred to me to be afraid of it. To be with a companion such as I have that's so supportive and so wise, it's made all the difference for me. I'll give her tribute for making something of me."
Katherine Christofferson shared her feelings on her husband's service as a Seventy and on his calling as an Apostle.
"We've had a wonderful time over the past 15 years traveling throughout the world to around 40 different countries meeting members of the church and enjoying their fellowship and being with them," said Sister Christofferson. "It's been a marvelous opportunity and we're happy to be able to continue that on for many more years. This is really overwhelming, but it's a wonderful time."
Elder Christofferson earned his Bachelor's Degree from BYU and a Law Degree from Duke University. Prior to his calling as a General Authority in The Church, he practiced law in Washington D.C., Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and was general counsel for NationsBank Corp. Christofferson also volunteered as chairman of Affordable Housing of Nashville, Tennessee.
"I have felt frankly in all my experiences through my professional life and church service what a blessing it is to associate with people of goodwill of any faith and we're all made better by that," said Christofferson. "I've found there are many many of them everywhere and if I have any message at the moment it's that we take full advantage of the privilege that is ours to be among our fellow man to contribute what we can and receive what they bring and enjoy the brotherhood of children of God."
As a member of The Seventy, Elder Christofferson had overseen the North America Northwest, North America West and as president of the Mexico South Areas of the Church. He has also served as executive director of the Family and Church History Department where he helped make available online the 1880 United States Census and the 1881 Canadian Census, and the Freedman Bank Records, a new database to aid African American family history. "People used to search through rolls and rolls of microfilm with varying degrees of success," said Christofferson in a 2002 interview. "Now with just a few keystrokes, they can search through millions of records from anywhere at anytime."
Elder Christofferson has been heavily involved in interfaith outreach and understanding programs. In May of 2007 he accompanied Elder Henry B. Eyring to Tokyo, Japan and met with Katsushi Toyama, chief Shinto priest at Tokyo's historic Meiji Shrine. "There is generally room for a great deal of diversity and variety in our societies and our cultures to coexist. It really is our desire to be good neighbors and to be helpful and to allow others to do the same."
In 2005, he met and worked with Jewish leaders to reaffirm a 1995 agreement with the church to not perform proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims. He commented then, "While the Jewish visitors came with specific concerns, they spoke respectfully of the Church and its beliefs, while Church leaders emphasized that those feelings of respect were mutual."
Elder Christofferson commented on concerns expressed about diversity in church leadership. "To me one of the great underreported stories is the First Quorum of the Seventy," he said. "You should take a look at the diversity that is there and the depth of leadership from all across the world; the backgrounds and different circumstances members of that quorum come from. I think you'll see that reflected all through church leadership naturally as time goes on."
He also commented on why someone born outside North America was not chosen to oversee a global church. "I believe in the natural course of things it's logical to assume that as the church deepens its roots in leadership in different parts of the world I would fully expect to see members of the quorum of twelve and first presidency from places outside North America, it's just a question of time and that will come to pass."
He continued, "Remember though that we're not called to represent any place any group any region. We don't need to try to try to tell The Lord about His sheep and how to take care of them, He knows them better than we do. Our assignment really is to represent Him to them and try to help them understand how His law, His gospel and His example will bring them happiness whatever their circumstance, or background or culture."
Foreshadowing his call as a "special witness of Christ", Elder Christofferson wrote in a 2008 article, Becoming a Witness of Christ, "Being a witness of Jesus Christ in the most fundamental sense is to possess a sure, personal testimony that He is the divine Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world."
Since receiving his call, Elder Christofferson said he's felt something of a real anxiousness to be out and about and involved preaching Christ's message and looks forward to doing that the rest of his life.
"My hope is to be able to strengthen the faith of people, members of the church especially, wherever they're found in any way I can, and [as Jesus counseled] feed the sheep."
Read Elder Christofferson's first general conference talk after being sustained as an apostle.