50 Years of President Packer and Church History

  • 30 September 2011

President Boyd K. Packer has served as a general authority of the Church for 50 years.

“Our lives are made up of thousands of everyday choices. Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.”—Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Half a century ago, in 1961, The Beatles performed for the first time in England. East Germany erected the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.

In 1961, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened the first seminar for all mission presidents, and later that year, the Language Training Institute for newly called missionaries was established at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, USA.

And on September 30, 1961, Boyd K. Packer was sustained as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. His 50 years make him one of the longest serving general authorities in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During those 50 years as a general authority, President Packer has seen—and been involved in—many changes in the Church. He has served with eight Presidents of the Church.

In 1961, at age 37, President Packer was called to serve as the 20th Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1961 - 1970), a general authority calling that existed from 1941 until 1976, when those serving were called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

On April 9, 1970, he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Since 2008, President Packer has served as president of the Quorum of the Twelve. (He was Acting President of the Quorum for more than a decade before.)

As a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 50 years and the second most senior apostle among the ranks of the Church, his life has been a fulfillment of the statement he made during the October 1980 general conference: “Our lives are made up of thousands of everyday choices. Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.”

Below, explore links that show how the Church has changed in the last 50 years:

Longest-serving General Authorities in Church History

NameServed fromServed toYears, DaysLast calling
David O. McKayApr 9 1906Jan 18 197063, 284President of the Church
Heber J. GrantOct 16 1882May 14 194562, 210President of the Church
Joseph Fielding SmithApr 7 1910July 2 197262, 86President of the Church
Wilford WoodruffApr 26 1839Sept 2 189859, 129President of the Church
John Smith IIFeb 18 1855Nov 6 191156, 261Church Patriarch
Levi Edgar YoungOct 6 1909Dec 13 196354, 68President of Seventy
Henry HarrimanFeb 6 1838May 17 189153, 100President of Seventy
Lorenzo SnowFeb 12 1849Oct 10 190152, 240President of the Church
Joseph F. SmithJuly 1 1866Nov 19 191852, 141President of the Church
Franklin D. RichardsFeb 12 1849Dec 9 189950, 300President of Twelve
Ezra Taft BensonOct 7 1943May 30 199450, 235President of the Church
Boyd K. PackerSept. 30 1961Present50, 1*President of Twelve (current)

*On September 30, 2011

Comparison of Church Statistics 1961 to Today

Statistic19612011 (Sept. 16, 2011)
Church membership1,823,66114,131,467
Members per apostle121,577942,097
Full-time missionaries serving11,59255,389
Missionary training centers015
Temples12155 (completed or in planning)

Length of Service as President (and Acting President) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

NameTotal Time (years, months, days)Time as Acting President (years, months, days)
Orson Hyde27, 3, 14
Rudger Clawson24, 6, 262, 3, 22
Joseph Fielding Smith19, 30, 190, 6, 5
Boyd K. Packer17, 3, 6*13, 7, 11
Francis M. Lyman13, 1, 12
Thomas S. Monson12, 10, 22
Ezra Taft Benson11, 10, 11
Lorenzo Snow9, 5, 6
Howard W. Hunter8, 6, 292, 6, 10
Wilford Woodruff8, 5, 28

*On September 30, 2011

The position of Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is only filled when the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is called as a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church. The man who holds this calling is the most senior Apostle who is not serving in the First Presidency.

Chronology of Significant Events in Church History, 1961 to present


Church leaders organize the first non-English-speaking stake of the Church at The Hague in the Netherlands (March 12). It is followed by the first Spanish-speaking stake in the Church in Mexico City on December 3.


Church membership reaches 2 million milestone.


A new program of home teaching, replacing ward teaching, is officially inaugurated throughout the Church after having been presented in stake conferences during the last half of 1963.


Church publishes a formal family home evening manual, which is placed in every LDS home. Wards have a choice of which night in the week to hold home evenings.


The first stake in Asia is organized in Tokyo, Japan.


Church membership reaches 3 million milestone.

New Church magazines—the Ensign, New Era, and Friend—begin publication.


President Kimball announces in general conference the organization of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the first three members of the quorum are sustained.


Church membership reaches 4 million milestone.

The First Presidency announces the revelation that worthy men of all races would be eligible to receive the priesthood. The revelation becomes Official Declaration – 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, USA, previously the Language Training Mission constructed in 1976, begins training all missionaries.


The Church publishes new editions of LDS scriptures with improved study helps.


Church membership reaches 5 million milestone.

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced that a subtitle was being added to the Book of Mormon: “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”


Church membership reaches 6 million milestone.


The Church reaches the milestone of having completed 100 million endowments for the dead.


Church membership reaches 7 million milestone.

President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicates the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.


A new Church software package called FamilySearch, designed to simplify the task of family history research, was released by the Church.


Church membership reaches 8 million milestone.


Church membership reaches 9 million milestone.


At the annual General Relief Society Meeting, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issue a Proclamation to the World on the Family, reaffirming that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”


Church membership reaches 10 million milestone.

The 100,000th member on the African continent is baptized, marking the almost doubling of Africa’s membership in just six years.

President Hinckley announces that the Church will construct temples in remote areas of the Church that have small LDS populations.


Church membership reaches 11 million milestone.

The Book of Mormon is printed in its 100th language.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issue their testimonies of the Savior in a document titled “The Living Christ.”


Church membership reaches 12 million milestone.

Mexico becomes the first nation outside of the U.S. to reach one million members of the Church.


Church membership reaches 13 million milestone.

President Hinckley announces that since 1830 an estimated one million missionaries have served throughout the world.


Church membership reaches 14 million milestone.