David Todd Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church”). Elder Christofferson (who goes by Todd) was born on January 24, 1945, in Spanish Fork, Utah, while his father was away serving as a serviceman in China. Elder Christofferson and his mother lived with his grandparents until his father returned home. He describes his childhood as a happy one, with plenty of time for free play, unlike today’s highly structured childhoods. His parents taught him to live the gospel and he, in turn, set a good example for his younger brothers.
When Elder Christofferson was thirteen years old, his mother developed cancer. Elder Christofferson gathered his brothers for a family prayer on her behalf. Because she was unable to continue many of her regular responsibilities, including making the family bread, he learned how to make bread and continued to make it until he went away to college.
When he was fifteen, his family moved from their small Utah town of Lindon to Somerset, New Jersey, a large and populated town that was very different from his Utah home. Suddenly he was the only member of the church in a school that was diverse in every way. This helped him develop an appreciation for those who were different from him, and also to begin to appreciate his own faith in a new way.
It was during this time he decided to gain a sure testimony of his faith. He was participating in a Mormon church pageant held in New York each year, which re-enacted the beginnings of the church in modern times. Because it was held right where Joseph Smith first saw God and later an angel, he felt this would be a good place to gain his own testimony. He went to the same grove where Joseph Smith had gone to ask God which church to join, and Elder Christofferson began to pray. However, he didn’t receive an answer to his prayers, which left him confused and discouraged. It was a month later that he received his answer, and he wasn’t even searching for it then. He was simply reading the Book of Mormon in his bedroom. He learned from this experience that you needn’t be in a special place to receive personal revelation—you can receive God’s word anywhere at all, and always on God’s own time.
Elder Christofferson was accepted into Brigham Young University, a Church-owned school, after his high school graduation. However, at the end of his first year, he took a leave of absence to serve a two-year volunteer mission for the church in Argentina. This began a life-long love for South America.
After his mission, he returned to Brigham Young University to study English. There he met his future wife, Cathy Jacob. Although he first saw her near the end of his first semester there, he didn’t meet her until the following fall. However, their relationship grew quickly, and they were married on May 28, 1968. After the two graduated in 1969, Elder Christofferson transferred to Duke University to obtain his law degree. When he graduated, he accepted a position clerking for federal judge John J. Sirica, which he planned to do for one year before moving to a new position. However, Judge Sirica was called on to preside over the Watergate Hearings, and asked Elder Christofferson to stay on through the course of the trials, because he felt Elder Christofferson was the only person he could talk to. Elder Christofferson was later asked to speak at Judge Sirica’s funeral mass.
When this position ended, Elder Christofferson met his military service requirements. Then he went to work for Dow Lohnes PLLC, followed by a position as associate general counsel of NationsBank Corp. He was an active participant in community and interfaith groups and also had a busy church life. The Mormon Church is a lay church, so members hold positions, even high-level ones, without pay while caring for families and managing careers. During this busy time in his life, he held several demanding church positions and raised five children. His work led him to live in several places: Tennessee, Washington D.C., and North Carolina.
He was called to be an apostle of the Lord, the highest ranking body of the church, on April 5, 2008.