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Boyd K. Packer

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Boyd K. Packer
Photo of Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 3, 2008 (2008-02-03) – Incumbent
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 5, 1994 (1994-06-05) – January 27, 2008 (2008-01-27)
End reason Became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 6, 1970 (1970-04-06) – Incumbent
Called by Joseph Fielding Smith
April 9, 1970 (1970-04-09) – Incumbent
Called by Joseph Fielding Smith
Reason Death of David O. McKay and reorganization of First Presidency
Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
September 30, 1961 (1961-09-30) – April 6, 1970 (1970-04-06)
Called by David O. McKay
End reason Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Military career
Service/branch United States Army Air Forces
Battles/wars World War II
Personal details
Born Boyd Kenneth Packer
(1924-09-10) September 10, 1924 (age 90)
Brigham City, Utah, United States
Alma mater Utah State University (B.S., M.S.)
Brigham Young University (Ed.D.)
Spouse(s) Donna Smith
Children 10
Parents Ira W. and Emma Packer
Signature of Boyd K. Packer

Boyd Kenneth Packer (born September 10, 1924) is an American religious leader and former educator, and the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1994 to 2008, and has been an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve since April 1970. Packer has served as a general authority of the church since 1961. Currently, he is the second most senior apostle among the ranks of the church.

Background and education

Packer was born on September 10, 1924, in Brigham City, Utah, the tenth of eleven children born to Ira W. Packer and Emma Jensen. After graduating from high school, he served as a pilot in the United States Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946. Packer flew a number of bombing missions in the Pacific theater of World War II.[1] After leaving the military, Packer initially attended Weber College (now Weber State University), where he met his future wife, Donna Smith.[2] They married in the Logan Temple in 1947 and are the parents of ten children. After their marriage, Packer attended Utah State University, earning a B.S. degree in 1949 and an M.S. degree in 1953. He later earned an Ed.D. from Brigham Young University in 1962.[1] Packer is also an artist, and enjoys painting, particularly birds.[3]

Church service

In his professional career as an educator, Packer worked in the LDS Church's Church Educational System, where he held various administrative positions overseeing seminary and institute programs, including as assistant supervisor of the church's Native American seminary programs, general assistant administrator of seminaries and institutes, and later as supervisor of church's seminaries and institutes.[4] Packer served a four-year term on the Brigham City City Council.[5] In 1961, Packer was called by LDS Church president David O. McKay to serve as a general authority as an Assistant to the Twelve, a position that no longer exists.[6] While serving in the position, Packer was assigned to serve as president of the church's New England States Mission.[4] He also served for a time as the managing director of the church's military relations committee.

Following McKay's death in January 1970, Packer, then 45 years old, was called by new church president Joseph Fielding Smith as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the church's April 1970 general conference. On September 12, 1991, Packer dedicated Ukraine "for the preaching of the restored gospel."[7] In 1993, Packer read the dedicatory prayer in the Spanish language at the dedication of the San Diego California Temple.[8]

When Howard W. Hunter, who had been President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, succeeded to the presidency of the church in 1994, he called Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson as his counselors in the First Presidency. Packer was the fourth apostle in seniority among the ranks of the church, behind Hunter, Hinckley and Monson, respectively. This created a situation where the only apostles senior to Packer were in the First Presidency. As a result, Packer was named Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. When Hunter died in 1995 and was succeeded by Hinckley, Monson was again retained in the First Presidency and Packer was again asked to be Acting President of the Twelve. Of the five acting presidents of the Quorum in the church's history, Packer served the longest in that capacity and is the only one to serve under two different church presidents. In 1999, Packer dedicated the Regina Saskatchewan Temple.[9]

Packer became President of the Quorum of the Twelve on February 3, 2008, when Monson became church president. As President of the Quorum of the Twelve, Packer is second in line of seniority to Monson. In 2012, Packer dedicated the Brigham City Utah Temple.[10][11]

Teachings and legacy

Packer has become well known for several talks and teachings, and several of Packer's stories have been adapted into short films. His sermon about singing a hymn to drive off bad thoughts was adapted into the video Worthy Thoughts.[12][13] His Parable of the Mediator (Jesus Christ) was adapted into the short film The Mediator.[14][15] "The Candle of the Lord" (1982) is well known for its analogy of trying to describe what salt tastes like to trying to describe what promptings from the Holy Ghost are like.[16]

Packer has served as an advisor to the Genesis Group,[17] a social organization of the LDS Church for African-American members and their families; and Packer has been active in obtaining genealogical records on microfilm for the church through its Genealogical Society of Utah. In 1977, Packer was a key figure in getting Native American-related records filmed from the federal records centers in Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Seattle and Kansas City.[18] He was involved in negotiations that same year with archivists and scholars at Jerusalem to microfilm Jewish records.[19]

Packer has taught the importance of hymn-centered prelude music for worship services,[20] and he has spoken out numerous times about morality. In a General Conference Priesthood Session in October 1976, Packer gave a sermon entitled "To Young Men Only", in which he discouraged boys of the Young Men organization in the Aaronic priesthood from pursuing activities which the LDS Church defines as immoral, including masturbation, the use of pornography, and homosexual activities.[21] The sermon has been criticized over the years by gay activists as encouraging homophobia and gay bashing.[22][23][24][25] Further comments by Packer during his October 2010 address "Cleansing the Inner Vessel", concerning whether or not homosexuality is an individual choice, generated a petition by the Human Rights Campaign. The church responded to this petition by reaffirming its doctrinal position on gay marriage while reiterating the universal need to follow "Jesus Christ’s second great commandment—to love one another."[26][27][28] Following the conference, Packer altered the published text of the sermon to "clarif[y] his intent."[29]

Packer has advocated that LDS historians should refrain from discussing history that does not promote faith. In a 1981 speech to educators in the LDS Church Educational System, he cautioned, "There is a temptation for the writer or teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."[30] Arguing that teachers should "give milk before meat",[31] he stated that "some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy."[32] Packer's opinion applied to all historians who were members of the LDS Church: he stated, "One who chooses to follow the tenets of his profession, regardless of how they may injure the Church or destroy the faith of those not ready for 'advanced history', is himself in spiritual jeopardy. If that one is a member of the Church, he has broken his covenants and will be held accountable."[33] Packer's comments have raised criticism by some prominent Mormon and non-Mormon scholars. Soon after Packer's 1981 speech, Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn gave a speech highly critical of Packer's views, and suggested that a historian who followed Packer's advice would sacrifice their honesty and professional integrity.[34] Quinn also discussed what he viewed as a Mormon tradition of portraying LDS leaders as infallible people.[35] C. Robert Mesle has criticized Packer as having created what Mesle views as a false dichotomy "between the integrity of faith and the integrity of inquiry."[36]


In May 2013 Weber State University, where Packer received an associate degree in 1948 and where he met his wife, designated a public service center for families the "Boyd K. and Donna Smith Packer Family and Community Education Center".[37] Packer was also interviewed by PBS for its documentary on the LDS Church titled The Mormons.[38][39]

Selected works

  • Packer, Boyd K. (1962), Manual of Policies and Procedures for the Administration of Indian Seminaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Field Project (Ed.D.), Provo, Utah: Department of Education, Brigham Young University, OCLC 22009489 
  • —— (1975), Teach Ye Diligently, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 0-87747-558-X 
  • —— (1977), "Mothers", booklet, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, OCLC 19655993 
  • —— (1980), "To Young Men Only", pamphlet, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, OCLC 20473672 
  • —— (1980), The Holy Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 0-88494-411-5 
  • —— (1982), "That All May Be Edified": Talks, Sermons & Commentary, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 0-88494-473-5 
  • —— (1984), Our Father's Plan, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 0-87747-523-7 
  • —— (1986), A Christmas Parable, booklet, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 0-88494-605-3 
  • —— (1991), Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 0-88494-787-4 
  • —— (1996), The Things of the Soul, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 0-88494-951-6 
  • —— (1997), Memorable Stories and Parables, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 1-57008-336-3 
  • —— (1998), The Shield of Faith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 1-57008-582-X 
  • —— (2000), Memorable Stories With a Message, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 1-57345-788-4 
  • —— (2008), Clyde J. Williams, ed., Mine Errand from the Lord: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Boyd K. Packer, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 1-60641-023-7 

See also


  1. ^ a b NNDB: Boyd K. Packer
  2. ^ Greg Hill, "Develop courage, Pres. Packer counsels", Deseret News, November 17, 2008.
  3. ^ "General Authorities and General Officers". President Boyd K. Packer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. April 4, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Todd, Jay M. (May 1970). "Boyd K. Packer Of the Council of the Twelve". Improvement Era. 
  5. ^ Don L. Searle, "Elder Boyd K. Packer: Disciple of the Master Teacher", Ensign, June 1986.
  6. ^ Gerry Avant, "President Packer is at half-century milestone of service", Church News, 2011-10-01. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  7. ^ Marina Mikhailovskaya and Benjamin Gaines, “Putting Family First in Ukraine,” Ensign, September 2004, p. 46.
  8. ^ Church News, 1 May 1993.[full citation needed]
  9. ^ Regina Saskatchewan LDS (Mormon) Temple,
  10. ^ "Brigham City Utah LDS Temple,"
  11. ^ Carole Mikita, "LDS Church members participate in Brigham City temple dedication", KSL, 2012-09-23.
  12. ^ Ezra Taft Benson has acknowledged that this idea originated with Packer: see Ezra Taft Benson, "Think on Christ", Ensign, March 1989.
  13. ^ "Worthy Thoughts". LDS Church. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Book of Mormon Presentations, retrieved 2012-12-23 
  15. ^ The Mediator, retrieved 2012-12-23 
  16. ^ "The Candle of the Lord". LDS Church. 1982. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Lloyd, R. Scott. "Revelation rewarded those who waited", Church News, 1999-12-18.
  18. ^ Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894–1994 (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, 1995) p. 247.
  19. ^ Allen. Hearts Turned to the Fathers. pp. 250–51.
  20. ^ Bateman, Merrill J. (July 2001), "The Power of Hymns", Ensign: 15, retrieved 2008-06-21 
  21. ^ Packer, Boyd K. "To Young Men Only" (published 1980).
  22. ^ D. Michael Quinn, Same-sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-century Americans: A Mormon Example (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001) p. 382.
  23. ^ D. Michael Quinn, "Prelude to the National 'Defense of Marriage' Campaign: Civil Discrimination Against Feared or Despised Minorities", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 33 no. 3 (Fall 2000) pp. 1–52.
  24. ^ Hilary Groutage Smith, "Mormon Pamphlets on Gays Criticized", The Salt Lake Tribune, 2000-08-06, p. B2
  25. ^ David E. Hardy, "BYU's Dismissal of Gay Students Continues Confusion for Gays, Parents" [opinion], The Salt Lake Tribune, p. AA3.
  26. ^ "Full text of Boyd K. Packer's talk with Packer's Edits",, 2010-10-21.
  27. ^ "HRC Delivers 150K Petitions to Mormon Church", 2010-10-21
  28. ^ "News Release",, October 12, 2010  |chapter= ignored (help)
  29. ^ "LDS Church addresses changes made to Pres. Packer's talk",, 2010-10-08.
  30. ^ Packer (1981, online ed. p. 5).
  31. ^ Packer (1981, online ed. p. 6) (apparently referring to 1 Cor. 3:2).
  32. ^ Packer (1981, online ed. p. 6).
  33. ^ Packer (1981, online ed. p. 7).
  34. ^ Quinn (1992) ("If I were to write about any subject unrelated to religion, and I purposely failed to make reference to pertinent information of which I had knowledge, I would be justifiably criticized for dishonesty. What is true outside of religion is equally true in writing religious history.").
  35. ^ Quinn (1992)
  36. ^ Mesle (1992).
  37. ^ R. Scott Lloyd, "Weber State University names center after President, Sister Packer", Church News, May 9, 2013.
  38. ^ "President Packer Interview Transcript from PBS Documentary". LDS Church. 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  39. ^ "The Mormons". PBS. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 


External links

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Thomas S. Monson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 3, 2008 –
Preceded by
Thomas S. Monson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 9, 1970 –
Succeeded by
Marvin J. Ashton