“President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,” Ensign, Apr. 2008, 16
“Joyfully overwhelmed” is how President Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf described his feelings upon being called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency.
“I am very humbled by the call to serve as one of the counselors of President Monson,” he said. “I know this call must have come from God, because human beings might have had a difficult time to do the same.”
President Uchtdorf comes to his new calling after having served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since October 2, 2004. But his association with President Monson began years before, first as a stake president in Germany and later as a member of the Quorums of the Seventy.
Speaking of President Monson, President Uchtdorf said: “I know of his heart, his soul, his commitment, his wonderful love for the people, his capacity. I have seen him focusing on the one and bridging nations. … He is a wonderful leader.”
President Uchtdorf—born in Mährisch-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia, on November 6, 1940, and raised in Germany—is the first person born outside of North America to be sustained to the First Presidency since President Charles W. Nibley of Scotland was sustained in 1925. But he points out that “we are not representing a nation or a country or an ethnic group.”
He explained, “Especially in the callings of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, … we are representing the Church of Jesus Christ. We are representatives of Him.”
President Uchtdorf praised President Monson as an example of bridging countries, cultures, and languages by reaching out to others around the world regardless of nationality or ethnic group. “There are no more foreigners; we are all citizens in the kingdom of God,” he said (see Ephesians 2:19).
“Church membership is going all across the world,” President Uchtdorf said. “Recently I was asked whether it is a global church. No, it’s a universal church. It is a message of universal power. It is the message that will connect and combine and unite and bless all the countries, all the nations, all the ethnic groups.”
President Uchtdorf was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 2, 1994; sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 6, 1996; and called to the Presidency of the Seventy on August 15, 2002.