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Sunday, August 6, 2017

First Apostolic Birthday in August: Elder Gary E. Stevenson turns 62

Hello, all! Though one of my first blog posts this month discussed the dates in August on which 5 of our apostles (33% or 1/3 of all 15) would mark their birthdays, where possible, I will also be doing posts for each of these 5 on the day of. Therefore, the first apostolic birthday this month is for our youngest apostle, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, who celebrates his 62nd birthday today. As most, if not all, of you are no doubt aware, Elder Stevenson is right now the second most junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and also of the 15 apostles overall.

I thought I would present a brief biography of Elder Stevenson, including important highlights of his time as a general authority. Born in Ogden, Utah in 1955, Elder Stevenson served in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. He obtained his secondary education at Utah State University (where he majored in business). During his time at USU, he met his wife, Lesa Jean Higley, whom he married in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple and with whom he raised four sons. Fun fact: Elder Stevenson's mother and wife share the middle name of Jean. I found that intriguing.

Elder Stevenson worked for ICON Health and Fitness, eventually getting promoted to Chief Operating Officer. He additionally served on both the USU Foundation Board and the Marriott School of Management National Advisory Council.

Prior to his call as a general authority, he served in a variety of callings, including as a bishop, a counselor in a stake presidency, and returned to Japan to serve as president of the Church's mission headquartered in the city of Nagoya. He filled that assignment from 2004-2007.

Approximately one year after returning from that assignment, Elder Stevenson was among the first General Authorities called by President Monson in April 2008. In the almost four years that followed, Elder Stevenson was assigned to live in Japan again, this time as a counselor and then as the president of the Church's Asia North Area.

During the April 2012 General Conference, the Presiding Bishopric that had been serving together since late December 1995 was released, and Elder Stevenson was called as the new Presiding Bishop. Part of his duties included involvement with temples. And one of the temples that went from announcement to groundbreaking to construction during that time was the Sapporo Japan Temple, for which he, as the Asia Area President, had broken ground in 2011.

About 2.5 years into his service as Presiding Bishop (just prior to the October 2015 General Conference), he was called to the apostleship, becoming the youngest apostle called since Elder David A. Bednar (who was 52 years old at the time of his call in October 2004).

Since his call as a general authority, Elder Stevenson has given 7 amazing and inspirational talks during General Conference, one as a General Authority Seventy, 2 during his time as Presiding Bishop, and the other 4 as a special witness of Jesus Christ. To review any of these talks (which have covered some significant and important topics), click here.

As a brief aside, one thing that really impresses me about his talks (and likewise those of President Eyring) is that the covered subject matter is so important to both of them that they have teared up almost every time they give their prepared remarks. I know that may bother some people, but it doesn't bother me. In fact, when something like that does happen, if anything, it strengthens the Spirit I have felt in such situations.

But getting back to Elder Stevenson, I was gratified to see that the Church has been using him for a wide variety of assignments as he comes closer to marking two years in the apostleship. Together with Elders Rasband and Renlund (who were called to the apostleship the same day), Elder Stevenson has made very valuable contributions to the furthering of the work of the Lord. I look forward to seeing him continue his apostolic ministry.

This concludes my post paying a birthday tribute to Elder Stevenson. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. I am anticipating that this next week will be another big one for new posts, as there is no shortage of Church and temple-related news. And among those planned posts (barring anything unexpected) will be birthday tributes like this one for Elder Andersen (who will be 65 on Wednesday) and Elder Oaks (who will celebrate his 85th birthday on Saturday). Until I post again, I wish each of you all the best.

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