Elder Randall K. Bennett: 'Follow the prophet' are words to live by

Throughout their lives, Elder Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Shelley Bennett, have always tried to follow the prophet.

Elder Bennett's testimony of prophets and apostles began when he was young. He vividly recalls that when he was 6 years old, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, visited his stake in Canada.

"I remember exactly where I sat near the front in the stake conference," said Elder Bennett. "Afterward, Elder Kimball came down from the podium, stopped right in front of me, shook my hand and asked, 'Are you going to serve a mission?' I told him, 'Yes sir!' as I loved the full-time missionaries serving in our ward."

Elder Bennett said that he remembered knowing, even from that early age, that Elder Kimball was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. That testimony was nurtured throughout his childhood and youth by devoted parents, faithful youth leaders, inspired bishops and stalwart peers, he said.

"I'm very grateful for those leaders, bishops and friends who were patient with me, loved me and helped me navigate my way through my teenage years," Elder Bennett said.

When Spencer W. Kimball became the president of the Church, Elder Bennett knew that he was the living prophet. And when President Kimball visited the Language Training Mission (now the MTC) and Elder Bennett sat just a few feet away in the choir seats, his testimony of prophets and apostles was again reinforced. That knowledge would bless him over the next two years as he served in the France Paris Mission and then the newly created France Toulouse Mission.

Elder Bennett said, "President Kimball was the prophet during my mission, and I was always grateful that I kept my promise to him. I knew that he was the living prophet of God and I wanted to follow him and work to assist in his vision to spread the gospel throughout the world."

Elder Bennett's wife, Shelley Watchman, also grew up in Canada. They met the day after he returned home from his mission, became friends during a number of group activities and then started dating. Elder Bennett said, "I thought Shelley was absolutely beautiful, but I was even more impressed with her commitment to live the gospel and follow the prophet."

Elder Bennett said that after he and Shelley dated seriously for several months, he knew that the Lord would approve of their marriage — if Shelley would accept him.

Shelley D. Bennett stands with husband, Elder Randall K. Bennett, in Moscow, Russia, where he serves
Shelley D. Bennett stands with husband, Elder Randall K. Bennett, in Moscow, Russia, where he served in the Europe East Area Presidency. | Photo courtesy Shelly D. Bennett

“I prayerfully prepared and then proposed,” Elder Bennett said. “But Shelley didn’t even hesitate in declining my proposal. She said that the prophet had asked for more missionaries, so she was preparing to serve a mission.”

Disappointed but not discouraged, Elder Bennett waited and then asked again a few weeks later. She again said no because she was going to serve a mission. After a third refusal, Elder Bennett found a talk by President Kimball about the priorities of young women and asked Shelley to read it.

Elder Bennett said, "The next time we met, I told Shelley that I understood her desire to serve a mission, and I promised her that if she would marry me we would serve more than one mission together after raising our family. I am so grateful that the Lord has granted my wife's desires to follow the prophet and my promise to serve missions with her."

The Bennetts were eventually blessed to move back to Elder Bennett's birthplace, Magrath, Alberta, Canada, which he describes as "a perfect place to raise four young children." There, he said, "We were surrounded by righteous, caring friends and family."

The Bennetts later moved to California, where he pursued additional education to become an orthodontist. He said that he and Sister Bennett recognize many blessings that have come from following prophetic counsel to study the scriptures and pray daily, pay a full tithing, keep the Sabbath day holy — which, to him, included never studying on Sunday — and attend the temple as often as possible.

"We found that we could meet all our family needs, do well in school and serve as called in the Church if we simply followed the prophet," Elder Bennett said.

At the height of Elder Bennett's orthodontic career, he and Sister Bennett felt promptings to prepare to serve missions together. Soon after, he was called to serve at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, in a missionary branch of Russian and Ukrainian language-learning missionaries. The branch also included many native missionaries from the former Soviet Union. "We loved our time serving with those valiant and obedient missionaries," Elder Bennett said.

Elder Randall K. Bennett speaks during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on March 19,
Elder Randall K. Bennett speaks during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on March 19, 2019. | Gabriel Mayberry, BYU, BYU

During their service at the MTC, Elder Bennett was called to serve as president of the Russia Samara Mission. "The call was very humbling," Elder Bennett said. "I had remembered President Kimball talking about the gospel going behind the Iron Curtain and I couldn't imagine a time when that would occur. It never dawned on me that one day I would serve in Russia as a mission president. We were blessed to serve with some of the best missionaries in the world."

Elder and Sister Bennett returned home from Russia desiring to serve another mission as a senior couple. Just prior to submitting their missionary papers, Elder Bennett was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy during the April 2011 general conference.

"The Lord has shown us time and time again that when we serve Him, we are blessed," said Elder Bennett. "We follow the prophet without question, even if it is sometimes inconvenient or uncomfortable.

"Sister Bennett and I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's living prophet on the earth today and the only person who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys. We love him and sustain him with all our hearts. Our prayer is that we will all commit to follow the prophet."

Biographical information:

Family: Born June 17, 1955, in Magrath, Alberta, Canada, to Donald K. and Anne Darlene Long Bennett. Married Shelley Dianne Watchman on April 23, 1977, in the Cardston Alberta Temple. Four children: Shanda (Erik Lyman), Jason (Rachel Calabio), Brenley (Justin Hansen), McKenzie (Corey Bush); 14 grandchildren.

Education: Bachelor of science degree from the University of Alberta in 1979, DDS degree from the University of Alberta in 1981, master of science degree in orthodontics from Loma Linda University in California 1988.

Career: Dentist in Alberta, Canada; orthodontist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Church service: Full-time missionary in France; counselor in a bishopric; Missionary Training Center branch president and counselor; high counselor; president of the Russia Samara Mission, 2007–2010.

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