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From Watergate to World Peace: 4 memorable moments from Elder Christofferson's life to celebrate his birthday

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles turns 74 today. Born on Jan. 24, 1945 in American Fork, Utah, Elder Christofferson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 2008.

He graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in English and International Relations, eventually earning a J.D. from Duke University School of Law. He married his wife Kathy in 1968 and they have five children.

Elder Christofferson pictured with his wife and children in a Facebook post.
Elder Christofferson pictured with his wife and children in a Facebook post. Photo: Screenshot

To celebrate his birthday today, here are some memorable moments of Elder Christofferson's ministry within the last few years, including his campaigns for religious freedom and relieving worldwide poverty.

On Jan. 14, 2019, Elder Christofferson took part in a Deseret News event entitled "Integrity and Trust: Lessons from Watergate and Today" where he was joined by legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate story in 1973 and current associate editor at the Post, speaks to Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during "Integrity and Trust: Lessons from Watergate and Today" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate story in 1973 and current associate editor at the Post, speaks to Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during "Integrity and Trust: Lessons from Watergate and Today" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 Photo: Laura Seitz

After graduating from Duke Law School in 1972, a young D. Todd Christofferson was a law clerk for John J. Sirica, then-chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. During his clerkship, Christofferson listened to the Watergate tapes with Sirica, which left a lasting impact on the Apostle.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with Judge John Sirica of the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s. Elder Christofferson was Judge Sirica's law clerk during the Watergate trials.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with Judge John Sirica of the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s. Elder Christofferson was Judge Sirica's law clerk during the Watergate trials. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In reference to Watergate, Elder Christofferson explained, "We’ve got to feel accountability, I think always. At least to God if nowhere else. Even in small things I think you have to be careful. When it seems you won’t get caught or it doesn’t matter or it’s just too small, I don’t think you can make an exception. None of us can escape, I feel, the responsibility for our own selves, our own conduct, our own integrity.”

Elder Christofferson had spoken previously on the same topic in June of 2017, when he visited Oxford University and addressed faculty and students about lessons he learned from Watergate at Christ Church College in Oxford, England.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tours the Upper Library at Christ Church, Oxford University, in Oxford, England on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Some books date back to the 9th century.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tours the Upper Library at Christ Church, Oxford University, in Oxford, England on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Some books date back to the 9th century. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“The life lesson I took away from his experience,” he said, “was that my hope for avoiding the possibility of a similar catastrophe in my own life lay in never making an exception — always and invariably submitting to the dictates of an ethical conscience. Putting one’s integrity on hold, even for seemingly small acts in seemingly small matters, places one in danger of losing the benefit and protection of conscience altogether.”

In September of 2018, Elder Christofferson presented at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Argentina where he discussed worldwide poverty and the Church's humanitarian efforts.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets the audience before his speech at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets the audience before his speech at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Photo: Gustavo Garello

“In contrast with these humanitarian programs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has programs that provide or facilitate practical education and skills that supply what some might call ‘human capital’ — the knowledge and ability to be more productive and create lasting economic and personal improvements.”

Elder Christofferson also shared the results of those practical education experiences provided by the Church.

“In just three-and-a-half years, over 700,000 participants have taken a course, including thousands from other faiths. In Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay alone, almost 7,000 business have been started or improved, over 4,200 individuals have found a new or better job, about 1,500 participants completed a personal financial course, and approximately 7,000 others started an education with a career goal.”

At the same forum, Elder Christofferson expressed the necessity for religious freedom, saying:

"Religious freedom protects other fundamental rights. The freedom to express beliefs about God, which took centuries of struggle to establish, also supports the right to express opinions about morality, society, politics, literature, art, science or virtually any other subject."

Visiting Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in Nov. 2018, Elder Christofferson met with members who were still working to recover from the devastating loss of destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria nearly a year after they made landfall.

Sister Katherine Christofferson and her husband, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during a trip to the Pacific.
Sister Katherine Christofferson and her husband, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during a trip to the Pacific. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Speaking at several events including a business ethics conference and at a religious freedom conference in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, respectively, Elder Christofferson shared messages of hope for the future and focused much of his attention on the rising generations.

In a Nov. 17, 2018 meeting with young married couples in Puerto Rico, he spoke of the contributions each person can make to building up the Church, regardless of age.

“You can make a real contribution — you don’t have to wait until you are older to make a difference in the Lord’s cause," he said.

After returning to Salt Lake City, Utah, following his Caribbean visit, Elder Christofferson said, "There is a real vibrancy in the Church whenever we place focus on the rising generation. It seems to make everything better, for both the older and younger members."

In Aug. 2017, The World Peace Center gifted Elder Christofferson the Saint Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize in India. He accepted the award on behalf of the Church.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, receives the Philosopher Saint Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize during an award ceremony at the MIT World Peace University in Pune, Maharashtra, India on August 14, 2017.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, receives the Philosopher Saint Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize during an award ceremony at the MIT World Peace University in Pune, Maharashtra, India on August 14, 2017. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan, Deseret News

According to the article, the Church has provided $1.89 billion in humanitarian aid throughout the world since 1985. Presenters at the ceremony also thanked The Church for their continued effort to help those in need.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks after receiving the 2017 Philosopher Saint Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize during an award ceremony at the MIT World Peace University in Pune, Maharashtra, India on August 14, 2017.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks after receiving the 2017 Philosopher Saint Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize during an award ceremony at the MIT World Peace University in Pune, Maharashtra, India on August 14, 2017. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan, Deseret News

Elder Christofferson added, "I'm gratified ... I represent several millions of people who really want to bless the lives of their fellow man, who believe in being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and try to incorporate His character in their lives.”

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