On 1 March 1842, Joseph Smith wrote a defining document for John Wentworth, a newspaper man from the Chicago Democrat. The Wentworth Letter, as it has come to be called, included thirteen concise statements of basic belief for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (referred to as the Mormons). These Articles of Faith are often memorized by members of the Church around the world, because they summarize many of the most plain and precious truths we know through the restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel. Composer Vanja Watkins set each of these statements to music to aid children and adults in memorizing them and understanding their messages.
The sixth Article of Faith states:
Modern Apostles function in a similar role to those in ancient times. They are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency (the President and his two counselors) are all ordained as Apostles. We sustain them as prophets, seers, and revelators. The senior Apostle is the President of the Church – a modern Prophet who leads the Church.
At this time when we mourn the death of the President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, we can also feel confident about the future of the Church. The Lord has set in place a procedure for succession in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
As other LDSBlogs bloggers have mentioned, when the Prophet dies, the other ordained Apostles return to their positions in the Quorum, in order according to their time serving as Apostles. Since the Church was restored, the senior Apostle has become the next President of the Church, but the Apostles must come to a unanimous decision. Then through prayer and revelation, they determine the man who will serve as the next Apostle.
As in Biblical times, the Church of Jesus Christ is built upon a foundation of solid leadership:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The plain and precious things revealed as the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored are not limited to doctrines only; the organization of the Church is dictated by revelation from God. I am grateful to know that the Lord calls Apostles today to witness of His divinity as in times of old.
MP3 Recording of The Sixth Article of Faith, set as a children’s song