Mormon Church appoints three men to its governing body

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the biannual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah October 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Three men were named to a governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, as the church ended its biggest leadership void in over a century by taking the rare step of filling three seats at once, Mormon officials said. Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Gary F. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund were named during a church conference in Salt Lake City to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which serves under the Mormon Church's president and his two counselors. The Utah-based church, which has more than 15 million adherents worldwide, saw three members of the quorum die this year. The quorum had not had three vacancies in over a century, and the last time three leaders were named to the governing body at the same time was in 1896, church officials said. All three of the men have served in top leadership roles with the church, and all were born in Utah to Mormon parents. Renlund's parents immigrated to the United States from Europe in the 1940s so they could marry in a Mormon temple, according to a biography of him on the church website. They will have the opportunity to serve for life on the quorum, which has never had a woman member. Feminist groups have pushed for the involvement of women in decision-making within the Mormon Church. In August, the church for the first time in history appointed a trio of women to priesthood leadership councils, after Mormon women's leadership roles had previously been limited to auxiliary organizations. (Reporting by Peg McEntee in Salt Lake City, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Richard Chang)