Jeffrey R. Holland

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Jeffrey R. Holland
Holland, speaking at Brigham Young University, April 2018
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles[1]
November 15, 2023 (2023-11-15)[2]
Called byRussell M. Nelson
PredecessorM. Russell Ballard
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 23, 1994 (1994-06-23)
Called byHoward W. Hunter
LDS Church Apostle
June 23, 1994 (1994-06-23)
Called byHoward W. Hunter
ReasonDeath of Ezra Taft Benson; reorganization of First Presidency
First Quorum of the Seventy
April 1, 1989 (1989-04-01) – June 23, 1994 (1994-06-23)
Called byEzra Taft Benson
End reasonCalled to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
9th President of Brigham Young University
In office
September 1980[3] – 1989
PredecessorDallin H. Oaks
SuccessorRex E. Lee
Personal details
BornJeffrey Roy Holland
(1940-12-03) December 3, 1940 (age 82)
St. George, Utah, U.S.
Alma mater
(m. 1963; d. 2023)
ParentsFrank D. and Alice Holland
Signature of Jeffrey R. Holland

Jeffrey Roy Holland (born December 3, 1940) is an American educator and religious leader. He served as the ninth President of Brigham Young University (BYU) and is the acting president[4] of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Holland is accepted by the church as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Currently, he is the third most senior apostle in the church.[5]

Holland was born and raised in St. George, Utah. After graduating from high school, his college education began at Dixie College and he also served a mission for the LDS Church in Great Britain. After returning from his mission, he transferred to BYU and graduated with a bachelor's degree in English. He later earned a master's degree in Religious Education at BYU. Holland received a second master's degree and later a PhD in American Studies at Yale University. In 1974, Holland was appointed BYU's Dean of Religious Education, then two years later he was appointed as the eleventh commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES), replacing Neal A. Maxwell. In 1980, Holland became BYU's ninth president, replacing Dallin H. Oaks.

Early life and education[edit]

Holland was born in St. George, Utah. His father, Frank D. Holland, was a convert to the LDS Church while his mother, Alice, came from a long line of Latter-day Saints.[6] As a youth, he worked as a newspaper carrier, a grocery bagger, and a service station attendant.[7] As a young man, Holland served in what was then known as the British Mission. His mission president was Marion D. Hanks, a church general authority. He and Quentin L. Cook were missionary companions.[8]

Holland graduated from Dixie High School in 1959. He helped the Flyers capture state high school championships in football and basketball.[6] He began his college education at Dixie College before his mission. After returning from his mission, he served as co-captain of the Dixie basketball team.[7] In 2011, the school broke ground for the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons Building, a building to honor both Holland and the school's 2011 centennial.[9] The completed building was dedicated in September 2012.[10]

Holland transferred to BYU, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in English. He did graduate study in religious education, receiving a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in 1966 with a thesis on selected changes to the text of the Book of Mormon,[11][12] while also teaching religion classes part-time.[6] After earning his master's degree, Holland became an Institute of Religion teacher in Hayward, California. He later worked as an institute director in Seattle, Washington. Holland then studied American studies at Yale University, where he received a second M.A. and a PhD in 1972.[13] At Yale, Holland studied with American literary scholar and critic R. W. B. Lewis and authored a dissertation on the religious sense of Mark Twain.[14] He was an instructor at the LDS Church's institute in Hartford while he was a student at Yale.

While studying at Yale, Holland served as a counselor in the presidency of the LDS Church's Hartford Connecticut Stake.[15]

Leadership at BYU and CES[edit]

Holland served as an institute director in Salt Lake City after earning his PhD. He also served as director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA and as chair of the Young Adult Committee for the LDS Church.[7][16] In 1974, at age thirty-three, Holland was appointed Dean of Religious Education at BYU. As dean, Holland founded BYU’s Religious Studies Center and became its first director.[17] From 1976 to 1980, he served as the eleventh commissioner of CES, replacing Neal A. Maxwell, who was called to the First Council of the Seventy.[18]: 40–42 [19][20] During this time, Holland also served on the board of directors of both LDS Hospital and the Polynesian Cultural Center.[21]

In 1980, Holland was appointed to succeed Dallin H. Oaks as BYU's president. After a search committee was formed, as a favorite candidate of N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, and the protege of the chair of the executive committee of the BYU Board of Trustees, Gordon B. Hinckley, Holland was appointed less than two days later. As the church's Commissioner of Education at the time Oaks was released, Holland was supposed to compile a list of candidates to be the next BYU president. Instead, he was unexpectedly notified of the First Presidency's intention to make him president. After his appointment, rumors on campus cited the decision as "politically motivated".[18]: 40–41  Before he arrived at BYU, Holland reduced the number of vice-presidents to four and increased the number of assistant and associate vice-presidents over academics.[18]: 42 

Holland easily transitioned into the role of president. He was familiar with the president's duties, since he had worked closely with Oaks as the Commissioner of Education.[18]: 41  He placed emphasis on upgrading programs and improving relationships with faculty rather than focusing on physical expansion of the campus.[18]: 42  In order to supplement the school's funds, Holland launched a fundraiser called "Excellence in the Eighties" which sought to raise $100 million from 1982 to 1987.[6] Specific funds were raised for student scholarships, academic programs, faculty salaries, and extension programs. He emphasized hiring more qualified faculty and purchasing more library and research materials. He supervised the building of the Crabtree Technology Building, but didn't promise more than ten new buildings during his presidency.[18]: 43 

A significant achievement during Holland's presidency was the founding of the BYU Jerusalem Center.[22] Also during his presidency, the BYU Center for International Studies was renamed the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and had its role at BYU re-emphasized.[23] There had been a large amount of debate about BYU's dress code throughout the previous administration. Holland clarified his support for dress code rules.[18]: 115  Regarding violations of the Honor Code, if a student requested their names be removed from the church records, Holland instituted a policy in which they would have to receive special permission from the board of trustees in order to remain enrolled in school.[18]: 122–23 

During Holland's presidency, the weekly independent student newspaper, The 7th East Press was shut down due to writing about controversial topics. However, student editor, Dean Huffaker, believed that Holland had tried to prevent them from being banned because Holland was conscious of public relations and didn't want to cause controversy. The students stated that they believed the ban came from one of the LDS Church's general authorities.[24]

Holland had the re-establishment of religious instruction as the "hub" of BYU's academics as one of his significant administrative goals. While he did not initiate any significant changes along these lines, his public communications regularly emphasized the importance of religious education.[18]: 91  As BYU's president, Holland encouraged academic excellence in an atmosphere of faith. Holland emphasized that BYU could not do everything but would seek excellence in what it did choose to do.[22]

Holland served as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities (AAPICU) and as a member of the NCAA's presidents' committee. He also received the "Torch of Liberty" award from the Anti-Defamation League.[25]

LDS Church service[edit]

Holland was called as a general authority and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 1, 1989, bringing an end to his term as BYU's president.[26] As a member of the Seventy, Holland was a counselor in the general presidency of the church's Young Men organization from 1989 to 1990.

Prior to his call as a general authority, Holland served as bishop of a single adult ward in Seattle, as a counselor in the presidency of the Hartford Connecticut Stake,[6] and as a regional representative.[26] He also served in the presidency of two other stakes and as a stake high councilor.[16]

From 1990 to 1993, Holland and his wife lived in Solihull, England where he served as president of the church's Europe North Area.[27]

On June 23, 1994, Holland was called and ordained as an apostle by new church president Howard W. Hunter. The vacancy was created by the death of Ezra Taft Benson and subsequent reorganization of the First Presidency. This timing differed from the typical sustaining of new apostles in a general conference and ordaining them afterward. Holland also met with the media on the day of his ordination.[28] His call to the apostleship was subsequently ratified by the church during the October 1994 General Conference.

In 2000, Holland became the chair of the Missionary Curriculum Task Force which worked to develop Preach My Gospel.[29]

Holland lived in Santiago and served as president of the church's Chile Area from 2002 to 2004.[30][31]

In church general conferences in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008, Holland gave sermons that directly answered accusations that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. At the April 2009 general conference, Holland gave a sermon about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the importance of Christ's statement, "my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me". This talk was later reformatted with music and put on a church website where it had been viewed over 500,000 times by August 2009.[32]

In 2012, Holland was the member of the Quorum of the Twelve with responsibility for the affairs of the LDS Church in Africa. Early in that year, he went to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ghana to meet with members and missionaries. He also met with the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Samuel Sam-Sumana.[33] In December 2012, Holland organized the LDS Church's 3,000th stake, located in Freetown, Sierra Leone.[34][35] On March 12, 2012, the Harvard Law School hosted Holland for a "Mormonism 101" series.[36] On June 10, 2015, he addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords at the UK Parliament.[37] In 2016, Holland was keynote speaker at the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) Duty to God breakfast, as part of his assignment as the LDS Church's chief BSA representative.[38]

From 2015 to 2023, among his other assignments, Holland served on the Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees, where he also served as chairman of the Board's Executive Committee from January 2018 to May 2023.[39]

In November 2018, Holland spoke at a major inter-religious conference at Oxford University.[40] During the same trip, Holland met with Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain. This may have been the first official meeting of an LDS Church apostle and a British Prime Minister.[41]

In January 2019, Holland presided at the groundbreaking for the church's Urdaneta Philippines Temple. He also spoke at a multi-stake conference in the Philippines that week.[42] In 2020, as chairman of the executive committee of the BYU-Hawaii board of trustees, he announced the appointment of John S. K. Kauwe III as the institution's new president.[43][44]

In August 2021, Holland spoke at BYU's annual conference for faculty and staff and the speech sparked controversy within the LGBTQ+ community.[45] In the address,[46] Holland asked the faculty to defend the doctrine of the LDS Church, BYU's institutional sponsor, with the use of metaphorical "musket fire."[47]

In April 2023, the church reported that Holland would take a two-month hiatus from service to focus on his health. He had been undergoing dialysis for a kidney issue and had also contracted COVID-19.[48] In early June, Holland began to gradually return to church service.[49]

After the death of M. Russell Ballard on November 12, 2023, Holland was appointed and set apart as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on November 15, 2023.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Holland and his wife, Patricia Terry, were married on June 7, 1963, in the St. George Temple.[51] They are the parents of three children.[52] Their oldest son, Matthew S. Holland, served as president of Utah Valley University from 2009 to 2018[53] and has been a general authority since April 2020.[54] Their youngest son, David F. Holland, is the John A. Bartlett Professor of New England Church History and Interim Dean of Harvard Divinity School.[55] Patricia died on July 20, 2023, from causes incident to age and health.[56]


  • Holland, Jeffrey R. (2016), To Mothers: Carrying the Torch of Faith and Family, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-62972-211-5
  • —— (2014), To My Friends: Messages of Counsel and Comfort, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-62972-029-6
  • —— (2012), For Times of Trouble : Spiritual Solace from the Psalms, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-60907-271-1
  • —— (2011), Created for greater things, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-60641-940-3, OCLC 671541156
  • —— (2008), Broken Things to Mend, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-60641-024-0, OCLC 231745598
  • —— (2006) [1997], Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-59038-613-2, OCLC 163198993
  • ——; Tanner, Susan W (2006), Modesty, Makeovers, and the Pursuit of Physical Beauty: What Mothers and Daughters Need to Know, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-59038-603-3, OCLC 63692649
  • —— (2003), Trusting Jesus, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-59038-155-7, OCLC 51389056
  • —— (2001), Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-57345-859-7, OCLC 45446206
  • —— (2000), Shepherds Why This Jubilee, Eagle Gate, ISBN 978-1-57345-863-4, OCLC 44468883
  • —— (1997), Because She Is A Mother, Deseret Book#Deseret Book, ISBN 978-1-57345-374-5
  • ——; Holland, Patricia T (1989), On Earth As It Is In Heaven, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-0-87579-186-9, OCLC 20133634
  • —— (1985), However Long & Hard the Road, Deseret Book, ISBN 978-0-87747-625-2, OCLC 12161981


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Due to quorum president Dallin H. Oaks serving as First Counselor in the First Presidency.
  2. ^ "Jeffrey R. Holland: New Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles". 2023-11-16. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  3. ^ Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). "Chapter 1: Growth & Development". Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-34-6. OCLC 12963965.
  4. ^ "Jeffrey R. Holland: New Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles". 2023-11-16. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  5. ^ Apostolic seniority is generally understood to include all ordained apostles (including the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Seniority is determined by date of ordination, not by age or other factors. If two apostles are ordained on the same day, the older of the two is typically ordained first. See Succession to the presidency and Heath, Steven H. (Summer 1987). "Notes on Apostolic Succession" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 20 (2): 44–56. doi:10.2307/45216003. JSTOR 45216003. S2CID 254390532..
  6. ^ a b c d e Searle, Don L. (August 1995), "Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles", Liahona: 26
  7. ^ a b c Godfrey, Kenneth W. "Jeffrey R. Holland" in Garr, Arnold K., Donald Q. Cannon and Richard O. Cowan (eds.). Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2000) p. 506.
  8. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. (April 2008), "Elder Quentin L. Cook: A Willing Heart and Mind", Ensign
  9. ^ "Dixie State College Officially Breaks Ground for New Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons Building", Dixie Today, Dixie State College of Utah, 21 March 2011
  10. ^ Dixie State dedicates commons named for Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Deseret News, 8 September 2012
  11. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R (1966). An Analysis of Selected Changes in Major Editions of the Book of Mormon—1830–1920 (MA thesis). Brigham Young University. hdl:1877/etdm347.
  12. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (1997). The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power. Signature Books.
  13. ^ 2003 Deseret News Church Almanac (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, 2002, page 34).
  14. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. (1973). Mark Twain's Religious Sense: The Viable Years, 1835–1883 (PhD thesis). Yale University. OCLC 367235370. ProQuest 2152787340.
  15. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. (April 1983), "Within the Clasp of Your Arms".
  16. ^ a b article on Holland's call as BYU President
  17. ^ "Elder Holland Helps Celebrate RSC's Fortieth | Religious Studies Center".
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0941214346. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  19. ^ Brown, Matthew S. (June 24, 1994). "Calling Fills Elder Holland with Awe". Deseret News Publishing Company. Deseret News. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Jeffrey Holland Named LDS Apostle". Deseret News Publishing Company. Deseret News. June 23, 1994. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  21. ^ July 1980 article on Holland's appointment to head BYU
  22. ^ a b "Jeffrey R. Holland", Past Presidents, BYU Office of the President, Brigham Young University, archived from the original on 2007-07-15
  23. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. (17 November 1983), The Mission of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, archived from the original on 10 February 2008
  24. ^ Baird, Joe (February 22, 1983). "BYU 'Press" gets heave-ho from campus". The Daily Utah Chronicle. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Homecoming 2009" (PDF), Dixie State Magazine, Dixie State College of Utah: 8, Fall 2009, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04, retrieved 2011-08-31
  26. ^ a b 2006 Deseret News Church Almanac (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, 2005) p. 26
  27. ^ Church News 20 August 2020
  28. ^ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "News of the Church" section, Ensign, August 1994. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  29. ^ "History of the development of Preach My Gospel".
  30. ^ "Two Apostles Will Serve Overseas", Ensign, May 2002
  31. ^ "New area assignments: Service begins Aug. 15 for 30 area presidencies", Church News, June 14, 2003
  32. ^ Shill, Aaron (8 October 2009), "LDS Church using the Internet to its advantage", Deseret News
  33. ^ Holman, Marianne (February 23, 2012), "A bright future for members in African nations: Apostle visits, blesses countries in West Africa", Church News
  34. ^ "Historic Milestone: Sierra Leone Stake Marks Church's 3000th",
  35. ^ "Historic milestone: Sierra Leone stake marks LDS Church's 3000th", Deseret News, December 2, 2012.
  36. ^ "Harvard Hosts Mormon Apostle as Speaker". 2012-03-21.
  37. ^ "Mormon Apostle Addresses All-Party Parliamentary Group in UK House of Lords". 2015-06-10.
  38. ^ article on Holland's speech
  39. ^ Church Education: About CES Administration, Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  40. ^ article on Holland at Oxford
  41. ^ article on Holland meeting May
  42. ^ Church News article on Urdeneta groundbreaking
  43. ^ "Church Names Native Hawaiian as New President of Brigham Young University–Hawaii: John "Keoni" Kauwe and his wife, Monica, begin service on July 1". Newsroom. LDS Church. May 12, 2020.
  44. ^ Walch, Tad (May 12, 2020). "BYU administrator named as BYU-Hawaii's new president, replacing John Tanner". Deseret News.
  45. ^ "Guest op-ed: Wounds from Elder Holland's musket fire are still being felt". Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  46. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. "The Second Half of the Second Century of Brigham Young University". BYU Speeches. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  47. ^ Holland stated "we have to be careful that love and empathy do not get interpreted as condoning and advocacy or that orthodoxy and loyalty to principle not be interpreted as unkindness or disloyalty to people. As near as I can tell, Christ never once withheld His love from anyone, but He also never once said to anyone, “Because I love you, you are exempt from keeping my commandments.” We are tasked with trying to strike that same sensitive, demanding balance in our lives."
  48. ^ Weaver, Sarah Jane (6 April 2023). "Official Church statement: Elder Holland taking 2 months off to focus on health". Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  49. ^ Elder Holland Health Update, Newsroom,, 6 June 2023. Retrieved 20 July 2023.
  50. ^ "Jeffrey R. Holland: New Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles". 2023-11-16. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  51. ^ "Elder Jeffrey R. Holland". What are prophets and apostles?. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  52. ^ a b "Jeffrey R. Holland". Organization: General Authorities. Retrieved 2014-08-19. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  53. ^ Trotter, Scott. "UVU President Matthew S. Holland called as LDS mission president, set to leave UVU in June 2018". Utah Valley University News. Utah Valley University. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  54. ^ Fletcher Stack, Peggy. "Former Utah Valley University president joins LDS Church's general authority ranks". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  55. ^ "David F. Holland". Harvard Divinity School. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  56. ^ Patricia Terry Holland Passes Away, Newsroom, 20 July 2023. Retrieved 20 July 2023.
  57. ^ a b "Distinguished Eagle Scout Award". Archived from the original on 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  58. ^ Eyring, Emily (July 23, 2013). "Mormon leader Elder Jeffrey R. Holland to receive Manhood Award". Deseret News. Deseret News Publishing Company.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 23, 1994 –
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by  President of Brigham Young University 
1980 – 1989
Succeeded by