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President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Upon the death of the President of the Church, the First Presidency automatically dissolves, leaving the Twelve Apostles as the highest leadership group and their President as the highest official. On the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., this position was held by Brigham Young, and he persuaded the Church that Smith's death left him and not Sidney Rigdon, who had been Smith's First Counselor in the First Presidency, as the senior leader... Smith had said, "Where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve."
In 1847 the Quorum of the Twelve reconstituted the First Presidency, with Brigham Young as second President of the Church. During Young's Presidency seniority within the Quorum of the Twelve was formalized to mean continuous service as an Apostle since being ordained as one of the Twelve. The original apostles of 1835 had been ranked by age, and two of them excommunicated and later restored to fellowship. With this rule in place, it was John Taylor who led the church after Young's death in 1877, first as President of the Twelve and after 1880 as President of the Church with Wilford Woodruff as President of the Twelve.
Woodruff did not reorganize the First Presidency until 1889, after Taylor died in 1887. But before his death in 1898 he advised then President of the Twelve, Lorenzo Snow, "Do not wait, Brother Snow, but proceed at once to reorganize the First Presidency." Snow followed this advice and since then every interval between Presidents of the Church has been under two weeks. Just long enough to mourn the death of the President of the Church and complete his funeral services, and also for the Quorum of the Twelve to nominate and sustain the President of the Twelve together with his counselors in the new First Presidency. The next Apostle in seniority after the President of the Twelve becomes the next President of the Twelve.
If the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the Counselors in the First Presidency, he retains that title, but is not numbered among the Twelve, and the most senior Apostle not in the First Presidency is named Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Acting President title was first used in 1918 for Rudger Clawson. The position has also been used at times of infirmity of a President of the Twelve: Howard W. Hunter was Acting President for the infirm Marion G. Romney in 1985-88.
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