If you were aghast yesterday at the announced reorganization of the First Presidency without Dieter F. Uchtdorf, you were not alone. Uchtdorf, seen by many as a moderating influence who encouraged openness and a sort of “big tent” Mormonism, is among the most beloved and prominent of Church leaders. His frankness about the plight of refugees, regular stories about aviation, big love for Spider-man, and openness about drinking Diet Coke endeared him to many. In short, Uchtdorf is built to thrive in the age of social media. He is meme-able and approachable.
Ever the good soldier, Elder Uchtdorf sat in his seat among the Twelve as the new First Presidency was announced. In a touching moment, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland grabbed Uchtdorf’s hand while President Nelson expressed his thanks for the erstwhile counselor’s service. We accept change in calling and assignment, but we’re still human, and Uchtdorf has surely experienced a bevy of emotions over the past few days.
However, despite how social media looked in some corners yesterday, the world is not ending, and the apostle himself had some words of encouragement. In a Facebook post on January 16, Uchtdorf, stressed his support for the new First Presidency and his enthusiasm to return to the Quorum of the Twelve:
It was a joy to participate in this morning’s announcement of the new First Presidency. I love and sustain President Russell M Nelson, President Dallin H Oaks, and President Henry B Eyring. I can assure you, the Lord Himself is at the head of His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Lord has provided a divine plan so that His Church is always led by prophets, seers, and revelators. I embrace the opportunity to associate with my Brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I love them and look forward to serving with them as we—along with you—strive to serve the Lord.
In all of the hubbub surrounding a new First Presidency, including the “ouster” of Uchtdorf and “demotion” of Eyring, it’s easy to forget that we’re in this together. President Nelson is striving to serve the Lord. Elder Uchtdorf is striving to serve the Lord. We are all encouraged to strive to serve the Lord, no matter our calling or position. The final line of Elder Uchtdorf’s post should be that which resonates most with us most, far more so than speculation on why the Silver Fox will be just a tad less visible.