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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Overview of Changes in General Church Leadership

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to provide an overview of resources which the Church has released, particularly those relating to announced leadership changes. The Church has released this summary of the Solemn Assembly (including biographical information for Elders Gong and Soares, our new apostles), along with this one (introducing the new members of the Presidency of the Seventy and new General Authority Seventies).

As anticipated, President Nelson had more than enough time to make all the necessary changes in Church leadership. Let's take a quick look at what has changed (and is going to change) in terms of the Presidency of the Seventy and the new General Authority Seventies that have been called. It is worth noting that, while we sustained two changes in the Presidency of the Seventy that are effective immediately (in view of the calling of the new apostles), in leading the second half of the sustaining of Church officers, President Oaks additionally mentioned that three other members of the current presidency (Elders Craig C. Christensen, Lynn G. Robbins, and Juan A. Uceda) will be released in August, and that Elders Terence M. Vinson, Jose A. Teixeira, and Carlos A. Godoy will begin serving in the Presidency as of August 1, 2018. As we know, this is when the area leadership changes take effect.

The interesting thing about those upcoming changes is that Elder Uceda will have only been in the presidency for a year once his release is effective. I cannot be sure, but I would imagine that Elder Uceda has been asked to fill a special assignment, either at headquarters or in an area presidency, that would prevent him from continuing to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy at that time. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

So let's talk about the General Authority Seventies that were sustained today. Among them are y that had been serving as area seventies at the time of their calls (Elders Steven R. Bangerter, Matthew L. Carpenter, Mathias Held, David P. Homer, Kyle S. McKay, and Juan Pablo Villar), 1 (Elder Jack N. Gerard) who was released as an area seventy two years ago, and 1 other (Elder Takashi Wada) who has served as a director of temportal affairs for three areas of the Church (North America Northwest and West and Asia).

We also saw the calling of a new Young Women's General presidency. As relayed in this article, the former First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency (Bonnie H. Cordon) has been called to serve as the Young Women General President. She has selected as her counselors Michelle D. Craig (who had been serving as a member of the Primary General Board) and Becky Craven, who is, as far as I know, a new face to the general Church membership.

Sister Cordon's call to serve as the Young Women General President has resulted in the call of Lisa Harkness, a member of the Primary General Board, to serve as the new First Counselor. Interestingly enough, Sister Harkness is the third First Counselor for Primary General President Joy D. Jones.

In April 2016, Sister Jones selected Jean B. Bingham and Bonnie H. Cordon as her counselors. In April 2017, Sister Bingham was called as the new Relief Society President, so as a result, Sister Cordon became the new First Counselor, with Cristina B. Franco called as the new Second Counselor. Now that her second First Counselor has been called as the new Young Women General President, for whatever reason, the only change to the Primary General Presidency this go-round is that Sister Harkness has replaced Sister Cordon, while Sister Franco remains the Second Counselor.

There were also a number of area seventies released and sustained as well, and I will have more later this week on how those changes impacted the total number of area seventies. That does it for this overview of the changes to the general leadership of the Church, and therefore, that does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums to Be Combined in Each Ward as One Elders' Quorum

Hello again, everyone! Breaking news from the LDS Church tonight in the Priesthood Session. This release describes how the Elders' Quorums and High Priest's Group are now going to be combined into one larger quorum, and, regardless of office, will be referred to as "the Elders' Quorum", with its' presidency being comprised of those who may be either High Priests or Elders. The new Elders' Quorum Presidency will directly report to the stake presidency.

All those serving in stake leadership (including the stake presidency, high council members, and the bishop and his counselors) will now comprise the high priests' group in the stake. This will add strength and power to priesthood quorums.

On a personal note, I welcome this change. My first opportunity to teach a lesson in Elders' Quorum was in my parents' ward. On the first day I was going to teach, I was advised that the High Priests in the ward would be joining the lesson, as their instructor was not able to make it. As I taught that group of combined elders and high priests, there was a power in the discussion of the lesson material, and, above and beyond that, how to implement the principles taught into our lives.

So I welcome the chance all Melchizedek Priesthood holders will have in a ward to meet in one united group, firmly committed to bearing the priesthood and doing the Lord's work together. I testify, along with the testimonies we have received tonight from President Nelson and Elders Christofferson and Rasband, that this is yet another example of the clear fact that modern revelation does occur in this Church. It is the Lord's Church. Together we will move the work of the Lord forward.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

Some Thoughts on the Newest Apostles

Hello again, everyone! Now that the Saturday Morning Session has concluded, I wanted to provide some additional thoughts regarding the newest apostles. First, both picks should appeal to those that complain about the face of Church leadership not representing the diversity of the Church. Elder Gong, though born in the US, is of Asian descent, and Elder Soares becomes the first apostle called from South America, having been born and raised in Brazil.

And it is wonderful to think how prophetic President Nelson's statement made during the January 16 press conference in which he and his counselors took media questions. He indicated that the Church would see a day when there are more flavors in the mix, and the men he was inspired to call certainly reflect how prophetic that statement really was.

Next, since this is my specialty, I wanted to note that, with Elder Gong being 64 years old, and with Elder Soares being 58, they become the 10th and 12th in order of age among the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and they are also the 13th and 15th oldest among all of the apostles.

Elder Gong has only given 2 talks in General Conference, and Elder Soares has given 5 addresses. That makes sense because Elder Soares was called as a General Authority in April 2005, and to the Presidency of the Seventy in January 2013, while Elder Gong was called as a General Authority in April 2010 and was called to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015 (as a result of Elder Rasband's call to the Twelve; he formally began his service in that presidency on January 4, 2016, by which time he had concluded all his obligations as the president of the Asia Area).

Next, a general note about the apostles overall. As many of you know, I had been predicting that one of President Nelson's counselors would speak during the Saturday Morning Session. Since we heard instead from three members of the Quorum of the Twelve (rather than 2 as I had projected), it is likely that all three First Presidency members will speak tomorrow morning, along with Elders Gong and Soares.

And I also found it interesting that the Solemn Assembly from this General Conference is going to be separate and distinct from the sustaining of other Church leadership, which is set to occur at the beginning of the session this afternoon.

But getting back to the apostles, Elder Gong is the second current apostle that has a birthday in December (with his December 23 birthday coming 20 days following that of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland), and Elder Soares' birthday, which is marked on October 2, means he joins President M, Russsell Ballard, whose birthday is marked on October 8.

I would like to again share my absolute witness that these men have been called by the Lord at this time. I received instant confirmation of that as their names were announced. And for any who do not yet have such a witness, I invite you to do that which is necessary to obtain one.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.

BREAKING NEWS: Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Hello again, everyone! As many of you likely know by now, Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares have been called to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In a surprise move (at least to me), President Eyring, who lead the Solemn Assembly, noted that other Church leaders would be sustained during the Saturday Afternoon Session. The Quorum of the Twelve is now complete, and I couldn't be happier with those the Lord chose, as I had the instant confirmation that those called were called by the Lord.

That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.