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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Some Additional Thoughts About New Leadership

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post again now with some thoughts and musings about new leadership. I am particularly going to be addressing some additional observations about the new members of the Quorum of the Twelve (Elders Gong and Soares) and those five new members of the Presidency of the Seventy (Elders Carl B. Cook, Robert C. Gay, Terence M. Vinson, Jose A. Teixeira, and Carlos A. Godoy) who have been called between the end of March and now. Let's get right into it.

First of all, I wanted to note that, with these changes, the Brethren of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles may be looking to expand their understanding of international issues. Elders Gong and Soares represent not only the first Asian-American and Latin American apostles called, but with Elder Gong having Asian ancestry and Elder Soares having been born in Brazil, these are the first apostles to have direct ties to nations outside the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

Additionally, since Elder Soares was called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2005, he has served in area presidencies in Brazil (from 2005-2011) and in the Africa Southeast Area (from 2011-2013, at which point he was called to the Presidency of the Seventy), while Elder Gong has served in Asia (from 2011-2016). And in recognition of their familiarity with those areas, Elder Gong has a supervisory role over the entire Asian continent, while Elder Soares oversees the Central America and Africa West Areas.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Elders Carl B. Cook (who has served as a General Authority Seventy since April 2011) and Robert C. Gay (who was called as a GA Seventy one year later), who were both called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy effective March 31 of this year have also had experiences serving outside the United States. Elder Cook served in the Africa Southeast Area from 2011-2016), while Elder Gay served in the Central America Area from 2012-2013, and was president of the Asia Area from August of last year until his call to the Presidency of the Seventy in March.

Of the three new members of the Presidency of the Seventy whose service became effective almost a week ago (on August 1), Elder Vinson was born in Australia (which currently falls under the Pacific Area of the Church) and has served as a General Authority Seventy since 2013, while Elder Teixeira and Elder Godoy have both served as General Authority Seventies since 2008, with the former born in Portugal and the latter born in Brazil.

Since Elders Godoy and Teixeira have served longer, let's start with them. Elder Godoy served in South America from 2008-2009, in Brazil from 2009-2012, and in the South America Northwest Area from 2015-2018 while Elder Teixeira served in the Europe Area from 2009-2015 and the South America South Area from 2015-2018. In the meantime, following his call as a General Authority, Elder Vinson has exclusively served in the presidency of the Africa West Area.

These changes suggest a few things to me. First, the Church has called as the two new apostles and five newest members of the Presidency of the Seventy men who have extensively experienced life outside of the United States, and it appears that the only international areas in which these new leaders have not had experience are the Caribbean, Europe East, Mexico, Middle East/Africa North, and Philippines Areas.

Therefore, the international ministry of these Brethren surely uniquely qualifies them for their new positions. But more than that, the First Presidency appears to be recognizing that with the Church being as global as it is, and with decisions being made in the top Church councils which will affect the Saints worldwide, there is a great need to call these leaders that have extensive international experience and would be able to weigh in on how such discussions and determinations may affect the members in the areas with which they are familiar.

It may be some time before we fully know specifics regarding the assignments for most of the members of the Presidency of the Seventy (who, as previously noted, have been released from the responsibility of overseeing the 10 North America Areas in order to more fully assist the apostles and fill other assignments as needed). That said, the LDS Church Growth Blog recently shared this message, which Elder Vinson wrote as he concluded his service in the Africa West Area Presidency and prepared to return to Church headquarters for his new assignment in the Presidency of the Seventy.

Among the things he mentions is that he has been asked to assist a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in overseeing the North America Southeast Area, along with the two main areas of the Church in Africa (Southeast and West). With that in mind, I wanted to note as well that, right now, what we know as of now is, as I mentioned above, that Elder Soares has oversight of the Africa West Area, but I do not have any indication right now which of the apostles oversees the Africa Southeast Area, or how oversight of the 10 North America Areas are divided among the apostles.

As of currently, the information about the Presidency of the Seventy to which I have access via the Church's official website has not yet been updated to exclude Elders Christensen, Robbins, and Uceda, who were released, and to add Elders Vinson, Teixeira, and Godoy, and the information available about Elders Clayton, Kearon, Cook, and Gay may not be current. But hopefully such changes will come in the weeks ahead.

Once I track down such updates, I will pass along anything I find out regarding the new assignments for the other members of the Presidency of the Seventy, including (if available) the apostle(s) which they are assisting in those roles. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time.

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