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Thursday, April 9, 2015

General Conference News

A bit later than promised, here's my recap of the major news from General Conference. During the sustaining of Church officers, we had some very vocal dissenting votes. This has not happened in general conference since the days of President Kimball. Back then, if an individual had a dissenting vote at general conference, he was invited to meet with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to explain his or her reason for so voting. Now that the Church is more global, it has become necessary to transfer that responsibility to stake presidents. I have heard that the dissenters felt they could not trust their local leaders with why they were dissenting. But I don't know if they would have been sufficiently mollified if they were able to meet with an apostle to discuss their dissent. These people just seemed bent on stirring up trouble. President Uchtdorf handled the situation beautifully.

During the sustaining, five new members were added to the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder Kim B. Clark served as an Area Seventy in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy (Idaho Area) from 2007-2014. He became President of BYU-Idaho on August 19, 2005, succeeding interim president Robert M. Wilkes, who was installed to replaced Elder David A. Bednar when he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Clark will be released as BYU-Idaho President on April 13. I found it interesting that he was called at this time of his life. He is 66 years old, considerably older than most members of the Seventy when they are called as general authorities. Because of his age, he will likely only serve four or five years before receiving emeritus status. But he was a good choice.

Elder Allen D. Haynie is 56 years old, so he will likely be a general authority for at least 14 years. He was serving in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy (North America West Area) at the time of his call. His Church service has been quite extensive. He could still be an actively-serving general authority at the time of the Church's 200th anniversary. We'll have to see.

Elder Von G. Keetch is 55 years old, so he will likely also serve at least 14 or 15 years and still be serving at the time of the Church's 200th anniversary. At the time of his call, he was also serving in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy (Salt Lake City Area). He has also served quite extensively in the Church, and is from Provo, Utah.

Elder Hugo Montoya is also 55 years old, so it's not unreasonable to assume that he too will serve 14 or 15 years and still be serving at or near the time of the Church's 200th anniversary. When he received his call, he was serving as an area seventy in the Fourth Quorum (Mexico Area). His Church service has been extensive as well.

Elder Vern P. Stanfill is 57, so he will likely serve for at least 13 years. His extensive Church service has included most recently his call as an area seventy in the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy (North America Central Area).

The Young Men General Presidency (David L. Beck, Larry M. Gibson, and Randall L. Ridd) were released. A new Young Men General Presidency was sustained. Additionally, Jean A. Stevens and Cheryl A. Esplin were released as First and Second Counselors in the Primary General Presidency. Sister Stevens' husband has been called to be a mission president. I thought the entire Primary General Presidency might be released, but Rosemary M. Wixom will continue to serve as Primary General President. Cheryl A. Esplin is the new First Counselor, and Mary R. Durham is the new addition to the presidency as the Second Counselor. How long they will serve together, I don't know. But time will tell,

The new Young Men Presidency are Stephen W. Owen, 57; Douglas D. Holmes, 53; and M. Joseph Brough, 51. All of them have served extensively in the Church and are excited to be called to work with young men and their leaders throughout the world. Sister Durham is 61 and is excited to have the chance to work with children and their leaders throughout the world. She has served extensively in the Church.

Also announced were the release of 49 and the calling of 53 area seventies. I take a biannual interest in geography when I determine which area each new seventy belongs to. I keep a list of currently serving area seventies in my copy of the Church Almanac.

Church membership at the end of 2014 was announced as 15,372,337. This is 24,363 less than the number of Church members I guessed there were. But it's always interesting to me to witness the growth of the Church.

But by far the most significant announcement to me came as President Monson delivered the second of only two addresses he gave during this conference. He talked about the progress of temples, then announced three temples in locations where they are badly needed. They will be in Abidjan Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Port-au-Prince Haiti, and Bangkok, Thailand. In the Ivory Coast, members currently drive twelve hours each way to get to the Accra Ghana Temple. In Port-au-Prince Haiti, members currently drive almost a day's journey to the nearest temple, the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple. In Bangkok Thailand, the members have to travel 1,000 miles one way to get to the nearest temple, the Hong Kong China Temple. The Bangkok temple will serve members in mainland southeast Asia. Interestingly enough, it is one of the five that was proposed by President Hinckley but never came to fruition until now. Each of these temples is significant.

So that's just a brief overview of the major General Conference news. Hope you enjoyed it. I will post the results of my general conference predictions perhaps tomorrow, with a general update about our situation to follow hopefully before the end of the week. Until I write again, all the best!