At the press conference held to announce the new First Presidency this week, one of the reporters noted that there seems to be a new direction, with second counselor Dieter F. Uchtdorf being German rather than a Utah-born American. Although he is a welcome addition to the presiding quorum, President Uchtdorf is not the first non-American to serve in the First Presidency.
President John Taylor was born in England, as was his counselor George Q. Cannon (who also served as counselor to Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow).
Two of President Joseph F. Smith’s counselors, John R. Winder and Charles W. Penrose, were also born in England. Another of his counselors, Anthon H. Lund, was from Denmark.
Penrose and Lund also served as counselors to President Heber J. Grant, as did Charles W. Nibley, who was an immigrant from Scotland. Marion G. Romney, who served as counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, was born in Mexico.
Though born in the Salt Lake Valley, both Hugh B. Brown and Nathan Eldon Tanner were raised in Canada as citizens of that country prior to becoming general authorities. Both began their service in the First Presidency under President David O. McKay.
The very first person of foreign birth to be called as a counselor in the First Presidency was William Law, a counselor to Joseph Smith, who was born in Ireland. Law was the only foreign member of the First Presidency to leave the Church.
Of the other apostles who have served in the Quorum of the Twelve (excluding those named above), two were from England, one from Canada, one from Ireland, and one from Norway.
As for the Utah connection, only six of the 16 presidents of the Church were born in that state.