Mark E. Petersen

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Mark E. Petersen
Mark E. Petersen.JPG
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 20, 1944 (1944-04-20) – January 11, 1984 (1984-01-11)
Called by Heber J. Grant
LDS Church Apostle
April 20, 1944 (1944-04-20) – January 11, 1984 (1984-01-11)
Called by Heber J. Grant
Reason Excommunication of Richard R. Lyman
at end of term
Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks were ordained after the deaths of Petersen and LeGrand Richards
Personal details
Born Mark Edward Petersen
(1900-11-07)November 7, 1900
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died January 11, 1984(1984-01-11) (aged 83)
Murray, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
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Mark Edward Petersen (November 7, 1900 – January 11, 1984) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1944 until his death. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he filled the vacancy in the Quorum caused by the excommunication of Richard R. Lyman. Petersen had become managing editor of the church-owned Deseret News in 1935 and editor in 1941.

Early life

As a young boy, Petersen was a newspaper carrier, and he also helped in his father’s construction business. Later, he attended the University of Utah and served a mission for the LDS Church in Nova Scotia. In pursuing a career, he became a reporter for the Deseret News and continued working for the paper for sixty years, advancing to the position of president and chairman of the board. Petersen wrote numerous editorials and published more than forty books and many pamphlets used in the church’s missionary effort.


In April 1944, while serving as general manager of the Deseret News, Petersen was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In his calling as an apostle, he directed the church’s public information programs and served on the Military Relations Committee. He was an adviser to the Relief Society, the Indian Affairs Committee, and the Music Committee. He served as president of the West European Mission[1] for more than six years. Petersen was also involved in many community affairs. He was closely associated with the Boy Scouts of America and was a recipient of the Silver Antelope Award.

Controversial teachings

At Brigham Young University on August 27, 1954, at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Petersen delivered the speech, "Race Problems—As They Affect the Church".[2] The speech outlined the religious underpinnings of racial segregation and supported its continued practice as it related to intermarriage between blacks and whites.

In the 1940s, Petersen coined the term "Mormon fundamentalist" to describe people who had left the LDS Church to practice plural marriage.[3]


Petersen died from longstanding complications of cancer after entering Cottonwood Hospital in Murray, Utah, and undergoing surgery.[1] He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Grave marker of Mark E. Petersen.



  1. 1.0 1.1 "This week in Church History". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. January 3, 2009. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  2. [1]
  3. Ken Driggs, "'This Will Someday Be the Head and Not the Tail of the Church': A History of the Mormon Fundamentalists at Short Creek", Journal of Church and State 43:49 (2001) at p. 51.

Further reading

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Ezra Taft Benson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 20, 1944 – January 11, 1984
Succeeded by
Matthew Cowley