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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

General Conference: Predictions results/3 new apostles/Subsequent Changes in General Church leadership

Hello all! This post will discuss everything related to the wonderful general conference weekend we enjoyed a week and a half ago.

The highlight of this conference was the appointment of 3 new apostles to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They are Elder Ronald Andersen Rasband, Senior President of the Seventy; Presiding Bishop Gary Evan Stevenson, and Elder Dale Gunnar Renlund, who has served in the First Quorum of the Seventy since 2009.

I am very pleased with whom the Lord has selected to fill the vacancies. They are all a little older than I thought they would be. Elder Rasband is 6 months and 3 days older than Elder Neil L. Andersen, who is Elder Rasband's seatmate. Elder Renlund is almost 6 months younger than Elder David A. Bednar. And Elder Stevenson, the youngest appointee of the three, was born the same year as my parents. It was so wonderful to see them take their places with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve.

I had the instant confirmation I had been praying for that these were the men the Lord wanted appointed at this time. It was a very sacred and unforgettable experience, especially when I had been so sure about whom I thought the new apostles would be. But I was gratified in the sense that I was partially right in my predictions of who would be called: One came from the Presidency of the Seventy, one from the Presiding Bishopric, and one from the First Quorum of the Seventy.

I loved how they all explained in the press conference Saturday Afternoon their feelings regarding the call and how they fielded questions regarding the fact that they were all older and all American. They all agreed that they had international experience, having all served as members of area presidencies in other countries. And they all expressed that willingness to go and do as the Lord and those more experienced in the  apostleship had done. They all paid tribute to the three apostles that had preceded them. And they all bore a powerful witness of the Lord's work in their brief remarks during the Sunday Morning Session.

That being said, let me now turn my attention to a report on how my predictions panned out. Obviously, I couldn't have known that President Monson would once again only speak twice, or have guessed the extra speakers I didn't predict would speak. Here are the results of my predictions.

NOTE: I learned from looking at the last time we had new apostles that the regular General Conference speaking order might be altered. Accordingly, I have made this prediction in this particular way. The tables below list the possible changes in general Church leadership and the speaking order. There are some changes in general Church leadership that are definite because they have already been announced. The other changes are conditional based on who is released and sustained. The order may be altered in view of whoever might be called to be the new apostles and when they might be called upon to speak. On the subject of who might be called, I have had a good feeling about two particular names. I am not confident enough in my feelings about who the new apostles might be to add their specific names to my prediction, and Elder Scott’s death came so suddenly. I really haven’t had a chance to give any thought as to the identity of the first new apostle. I could be totally wrong in my feelings about who might be called, so, I will not be making my predictions for the new apostles known. Hope that makes sense. Here are my predictions for what changes might be made to general Church leadership, followed by my predictions for who might speak and when and in what order.

October 2015 Predictions for changes in General Church Leadership
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Russell Marion Nelson sustained as Quorum President; Three new apostles sustained. (I think I know who two of them might be, but I’m not going to say just in case I’m wrong.)
NOTE: We know from previous announcements that Russell Marion Nelson should be sustained as Quorum President since he was set apart in that position on July 15. Three new apostles will be sustained to succeed Elder L. Tom Perry, President Boyd K. Packer and Elder Richard G. Scott.
RESULT: Russell Marion Nelson was so sustained. Three new apostles were called, namely: Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Senior President of the Seventy, Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Presidency of the Seventy: New member(s) sustained (if new apostle(s) come from the Presidency of the Seventy.
NOTE: We may see one of the new apostles come from the Presidency of the Seventy, though who it might be is beyond me.
RESULT: Elder Ronald A. Rasband was released as Senior President of the Seventy in view of his new calling as an apostle. Elder L. Whitney Clayton is now the Senior President of the Seventy, and a new member will be called to fill the vacancy in the Presidency, though it may take a while for the Church to announce who that will be.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: On October 6, 2015, it was officially announced by the Church that Elder Clayton had indeed become Senior President of the Seventy and that the new member of the Presidency of the Seventy is Elder Gerrit W. Gong, who has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since April 2010.
First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Don R. Clarke released and granted emeritus status; other member(s) possibly released if called to the Twelve.
NOTE: I believe Elder Don R. Clarke will be released and granted emeritus status because he will turn 70 at the end of the year, and it seems to be a common practice to release and grant emeritus status in October to First Quorum brethren that are or will be 70 by the end of any given year. I also believe that the third new apostle will come from the First Quorum, and will thus need to be released as well, but, as stated above, I won’t be revealing who I think that will be.
RESULT: Elder Don R. Clarke was released as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and granted emeritus status. Elders Ronald A. Rasband and Dale G. Renlund were also, in view of their new callings as apostles, released as members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Besides not having Elders Rasband and Renlund as members anymore, in view of his calling to the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Gerrit W. Gong is serving in the Presidency of the Seventy and is not numbered among those of the First Quorum any more. Also, Elder W. Christopher Waddell was released on October 9, to accept a calling as Second Counselor in the reorganized Presiding Bishopric. This makes four total men not numbered among the First Quorum anymore.
Second Quorum of the Seventy: Elders Koichi Aoyagi and Kent F. Richards and others possibly released if called to the Twelve.
NOTE: I believe that at least Elder Koichi Aoyagi will be released. Not so sure about Elder Kent F. Richards. He’s at an age and service length where a release could be expected, but as of September 13, he is still the Temple Department Executive Director, and any changes to Executive Directors of Departments are usually made by or before August 1. So either only Elder Aoyagi will be released (as he is unassigned and over 70) or both Elders Aoyagi and Richards will be released, and someone else will take on the role of Temple Department Executive Director. I do not believe we will see any other changes here.
RESULT: Elders Koichi Aoyagi and Bruce A. Carlson were released as members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and became the first members of the Second Quorum to be granted emeritus status.  
Presiding Bishopric: Change(s) made if new apostle(s) come from the Presiding Bishopric.
NOTE: I believe the second new apostle will come from the Presiding Bishopric, but again, as stated above, I won’t be revealing who I think that will be. If any members of the Presiding Bishopric do become apostles, that would necessitate changes.
RESULT: No changes were made here. It may be a little while until a new Presiding Bishop is called, and in the meantime, neither Bishop Stevenson nor his counselors were released at this time.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: On October 9, it was announced that Gerald Causse, the former First Counselor to Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, would be the new Presiding Bishop, the first non-native English speaker to hold this position in about 50 or 100 years. Dean M. Davies, who previously served as Second Counselor to Bishop Stevenson, is Causse’s new First Counselor, and W. Christopher Waddell of the First Quorum of the Seventy has been called as the new Second Counselor.
Area Seventies: Releases and sustainings, especially if new apostle(s) come from currently serving Area Seventies.
NOTE: I believe we will only have a few changes here, as it seems to be typically the pattern for major changes to be made in April when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf presents the Sustaining of Church Officers and for only a very few to be made in October when President Henry B. Eyring presents the Sustaining of Church Officers. I’m not infallible, however, so I will just say that I believe there will be few, if any, changes here.
RESULT: 1 area seventy was released and none were sustained.
Sunday School General Presidency: John Sears Tanner released as First Counselor; Devin G. Durrant released as Second Counselor and sustained as First Counselor; Brian K. Ashton sustained as Second Counselor. Possible additional changes if new apostle(s) come from Sunday School General Presidency.
NOTE: We know from the Church’s June 12 announcement that these changes have been made and will most likely be ratified by sustaining vote during General Conference. I don’t believe there will be any other changes here.
RESULT: These changes were made. No other changes were necessary.
Young Men General Presidency: Change(s) made if new apostle(s) come from Young Men General Presidency.
NOTE: I don’t believe there will be any changes here.
RESULT: No change necessary.

October 2015 General Conference Speaking Order Predictions
General Women’s
Bonnie L. Oscarson
Rosemary M. Wixom

[Linda S. Reeves]
Carol F. McConkie

[Carol F. McConkie]
Linda S. Reeves

[President Dieter F. Uchtdorf]
President Thomas S. Monson
Saturday Morning
President Henry B. Eyring
President Thomas S. Monson [President Dieter F. Uchtdorf]

[Elder M. Russell Ballard]
President Russell M. Nelson or
Elder Quentin L. Cook

Elder Richard J. Maynes

Neill F. Marriott

[Elder Larry R. Lawrence]
Elder Kim B. Clark

[Elder Francisco ViƱas]
Elder Quentin L. Cook or
Elder David A. Bednar

[Elder Quentin L. Cook
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Saturday Afternoon
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
President Henry B. Eyring (Sustaining of Church Officers)

Elder Robert D. Hales

[Elder Jeffrey R. Holland]
Elder M. Russell Ballard

[Elder Bradley D. Foster]
Elder Von G. Keetch

[Elder Hugo Montoya]
Elder Allen D. Haynie

[Elder Vern P. Stanfill]
Elder Hugo Montoya

[Elder James B. Martino]
Elder Vern P. Stanfill or
Elder Dallin H. Oaks

[Elder Dallin H. Oaks]
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Saturday Priesthood
President Henry B. Eyring
Elder David A. Bednar or President Russell M. Nelson
[Elder Neil L. Andersen]

[Elder Randall K. Bennett]
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson

[President Dieter F. Uchtdorf]
Elder Ronald A. Rasband

[President Henry B. Eyring]
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

[President Thomas S. Monson]
President Henry B. Eyring

[No one]
President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Morning
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
President Henry B. Eyring
[President Thomas S. Monson]

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

Elder Dale G. Renlund

[President Russell M. Nelson]
Elder D. Todd Christofferson or New apostle #3

[Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer; not predicted]

[Elder Claudio R. M. Costa; not predicted]

[President Henry B. Eyring]
President Thomas S. Monson
Sunday Afternoon
President Henry B. Eyring
Elder Dallin H. Oaks or
New apostle #2
[Elder D. Todd Christofferson]

[Devin G. Durrant]
Carole M. Stephens or
Elder D. Todd Christofferson

[Elder Von G. Keetch]
Devin G. Durrant

[Carole M. Stephens]
Elder Mervyn B. Arnold

[Elder Allen D. Haynie]
Elder Yoon Hwan Choi

[Elder Kim B. Clark]
Elder Kevin R. Duncan

[Elder David A. Bednar]
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

[No one]
President Thomas S. Monson
79/129=61.2% (Note that this percentage does not reflect when a speaker that I thought would speak was eliminated, or when an extra speaker that was not anticipated spoke. Taking those factors into account, I was perfectly within the 60-80% range that I usually get.
I enjoyed all the conference talks greatly. It was a wonderful conference, and I was so glad I could watch all the sessions. It was so neat to hear the wonderful prayers, beautiful, doctrinally-rich talks, and the inspiring majesty of the musical selections. I left General Conference with my spiritual tank completely filled, and in eager anticipation of the next General Conference in April.

The one thing I'm not sure of is whether or not President Monson and Elder Hales will still be living next conference. I have spoken to several who feel President Monson is on his way out. It will be so hard to lose these men. It always is. But I take comfort in the knowledge that their days are known to our Heavenly Father and that their years shall not be numbered less. And I also take comfort in knowing in advance that those who may be called to replace them will be the ones the Lord would have in those roles. God is at the helm of His work, and there is no doubt in my mind about the veracity of the process by which the Lord's servants are called and released.

That being said, I want to turn my attention to some important changes that have taken place in Church leadership. Elder Rasband's call left a vacancy in the Presidency that was filled by Elder Gerrit Walter Gong, who has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 2010 and is the first native Asian to be called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy. His call marks the first time two members of the Presidency of the Seventy who are not native US citzens have served together in the Presidency of the Seventy.

Elder Rasband's role as the Senior or Presiding President of the Seventy was transferred to Elder Lyndon Whitney Clayton III. Though it hasn't yet been officially announced by the Church, there is no doubt in my mind that Elder Clayton has taken on Elder Rasband's assignment to assist in all areas and that Elder Gong has been given Elder Clayton's former assignment to preside over and direct the affairs of the Church in the three Utah areas. Right now the Presidency of the Seventy is undergoing a transition period, especially as Elder Gong had been serving as the president of the Church's Asia Area, which assignment will need to be handed off to someone else.

Also announced this week was the reorganization of the Presiding Bishopric. Gerald Causse, who had been serving as First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric is the new Presiding Bishop, the first non-American to hold that position in either a full or half century, only the third non-American Presiding Bishop, and the first Presiding Bishop whose native language is not English. He had been called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 2008, and became a member of the Presiding Bishopric during the April 2012 General Conference.

Bishop Dean M. Davies, who had been serving as Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, is the new First Counselor. He has been serving as a general authority and as the second counselor to Bishop Stevenson since April 2012. Called as the new Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric is Elder W. Christopher Waddell, who has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 2011 and is currently serving as First Counselor in the South America Northwest Area Presidency, so there will also need to be a change there.

An article in the Deseret News quoted an Ensign article written about the Presiding Bishopric by Keith B. McMullin, who was serving as Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric at the time the article was written. Bishop McMullin stated:

The presiding bishop has responsibility for the temporal affairs of a worldwide church. The presiding bishop's load is really heavy. If there's a hymnbook you sing from or a church manual you use, temple clothing that you wear or words that have been translated for church use into your native tongue, it comes under the guidance of the presiding bishop and his counselors."

The article goes on to talk about the duties of the Presiding Bishopric, which include: "[Overseeing the] design, construction and maintenance of temples, meetinghouses, seminary and institute buildings and other real estate, the commercial farming enterprises of the church and its real estate investment properties such as City Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah. [They also direct] the church's welfare and humanitarian programs. Membership records and the collection of tithes and offerings also come under their purview."

Members of the presiding bishopric also have ecclesiastical duties. They hold the keys to the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood. As Bishop McMullin stated, "Each member of the Presiding Bishopric is an ordained bishop and a general authority of the church who goes out on assignments, as do all general authorities, to officiate in stake conferences, to teach members of the church and to handle the various ecclesiastical administrative affairs they are called upon to handle."

The Presiding Bishopric meets every Friday with the First Presidency. Their efforts also focus on :"[t]hose who suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes and privations of various sorts."

The article concludes with brief biographies of the new Presiding Bishopric members and names the two other Presiding Bishops who have not been from the United States and are not native English speakers, namely: Charles W. Penrose, who served from 1907-1925 when he became a member of the First Presidency, and who was born in Scotland, and Victor L. Brown, a native Canadian, who served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1961-1985 (being Presiding Bishop from 1972-1985, and was a member of the Seventy from 1985 to his death in 1996, following his tenure in the Presiding Bishopric.)

I am grateful for all of these inspired changes and can and will sustain these newly called leaders with all my heart. I testify that each of their callings and all of the inspired messages from General Conference come directly from the Lord, and that we will be blessed as we sustain and follow the counsel of all of our leaders, and I bear this testimony and share this post in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Our New Place

Hey, everyone! Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Things have been kind of crazy. We are very nicely settling in to our new place in the trailer in Orem. We are so thrilled with this move! Things have been so much better since we started living here.

My work attendance has been spotty lately again. As I feared, the distance from the job has lulled me into a false sense of security about my attendance at work. The last two weeks, I have clocked in about half as much time as I did the previous two weeks. We're hoping I can work every day the rest of this week, including putting in some time on Saturday, But we'll have to see what happens.

I had a chance to speak to our new bishop on a rare weeknight when I was at home. I let him know of my Celiac Disease and a need for a separate tray, and he very kindly informed me that he was fully aware of what that entailed because his sister-in-law has it. He said that I just needed to bring my bread in a bag, like I've been doing, and they would make sure it got to me. He also got our records transferred over to our new ward that same night.

Unfortunately, we arrived at Church last Sunday after the meeting started, so I didn't get a chance to get the priests my corn tortilla piece. Thankfully, we got there in well enough time to partake of the sacrament, and the good news is, I didn't have any reaction of any kind to the bread with gluten in it. Church was great. For the first time in several years, I was able to attend Gospel Doctrine with Amy. That was great. I then went to Priesthood Opening Exercises, where, for the first time since we were on the 11 am Church block with the AF 21st Ward, we began the meeting with a hymn. The lesson was one we'd already had in my previous ward. I met a lot of good brethren and felt right at home. After Church, for the first time in a while, we had deacons stop by for Fast Offerings. I felt bad about turning them away. We were also able to fill out a form for our new ward that the bishop had gotten us. It was great. We're going to be just fine here, and the ward instantly felt comfortable to us.

We've had kids stop by volunteering to mow our lawn for us and selling stuff for money for their school. We hated turning them away and agreed that, when we can afford to do so, we would gladly give money to help out with stuff like that. We are thrilled with the neighborhood. I have been going to Walgreens pharmacy to get my prescriptions and have been quite impressed with them.

With my dad's help, we were able to get our TV working with just a converter box (no antenna needed), our washer and dryer going, and a new dishwasher installed. It needs new parts, though, so we will have to wash dishes by hand for the time being. We were grateful for his kind assistance.

I spent today sick at home after throwing up early this morning. My stomach settled down easily, thankfully, but I guess I must have been wiped out from all the nights during which  haven't slept well or at all. I slept the day away, only getting up and ready for the day @ around 6 pm. I have been grateful for my sweet Amy helping me and even going the extra mile for me in the midst of all this. Have I mentioned  how amazing this wonderful wife of mine is? Words aren't enough to adequately express how I feel about this sweet, wonderful woman, who sacrifices so much to help me whenever I need it. I love her more every day. She is truly my better half, my life, my love, my all, my everything. With her by my side, I can face anything and everything life throws at us.

My next post will focus on general conference. Until I write that one in a few minutes, I wish you all the best! Thank you all for your readership, interest, and support.