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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tribute to Elder Gary E. Stevenson on His 64th Birthday

Hello again, everyone! As we are now just over an hour into August 6, I wanted to go ahead and post a tribute to Elder Gary E. Stevenson, who is marking his 64th birthday today. Let's dive right into that. Gary Evan Stevenson was born in Ogden, Utah in 1955 to Evan and Jean Stevenson. He grew up in the Cache Valley. He served full-time in the Japan Fukuoka Mission, after which he continued his secondary education at Utah State University's Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. During the course of his studies there, he met Lesa Jean Higley, whom he later married in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, and with whom he would raise four sons. He spent his professional career working as the COO of ICON Health & Fitness, and served on both the Marriott School of Management Advisory Council and also the USU Foundation Board.


In the Church, he has served as a bishop and a stake president's counselor. He went on to serve between 2004 and 2007 as the president of the Japan Nagoya Mission. Less than a year after his return, he was among the first general authority seventies called during President Thomas S. Monson's prophetic administration in April 2008. In August of that same year, he was called to serve as First Counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency. The following year, he became the president of that same area, and he served in that assignment until April 2012, at which point  he was released as a General Authority Seventy and sustained as the Church's 14th Presiding Bishop.

In October 2015, with three vacancies in the apostleship due to the deaths of President Boyd K. Packer and Elders L. Tom Perry and Richard G. Scott, Elder Stevenson was unexpectedly summoned to meet with the First Presidency. He related that he felt sure that he was being notified that one of his counselors (Bishops Gerald Causse or Dean M. Davies) were being called to the apostleship. He was stunned when the apostolic call was instead extended to him. He was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 3, 2015, and was ordained an apostle on October 8, then released as Presiding Bishop one day later. Elders Ronald A. Rasband and Dale G. Renlund, whom he sits between, were called to fill the other two apostolic vacancies, and shared the same sustaining and ordination dates.

Although he was the youngest of the three at that time, in a somewhat unusual move, he was called, sustained, and ordained as the senior apostle to Elder Renlund, who is just shy of 3 years older than Elder Stevenson is. Typically, when more than one apostle is ordained at the same time, the oldest one is ordained first. But the last time 3 apostles were called simulatenously was in 1906, at which point, the order in which the 3 (George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, and David O. McKay) were called differed from their chronological age order (Orson F. Whitney, George F. Richards, and David O. McKay). At the age of 60, Elder Stevenson was the youngest man called to the apostleship since Elder David A. Bednar (who was 52 at the time of his October 2004 apostolic call). He would retain his status as the youngest currently-serving apostle until the April 2018 call of Elder Ulisses Soares, who was 59 at the time of his call.

With the apostolic calls of Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares in April 2018, Elder Stevenson is now the 9th in seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the 12th in seniority among all current apostles. In terms of his age, he is the second-youngest among both the Quorum of the Twelve and the apostles overall. In his 11 years of service as a general authority, he has given 11 addresses in General Conference (1 as a General Authority Seventy, 2 as Presiding Bishop, and 8 since his call to the apostleship). All of these addresses, covering a wide variety of topics, are well worthy of your time, attention and review.

I gratefully sustain Elder Stevenson as a prophet, seer, and revelator, and appreciate this opportunity to post this tribute to him for his birthday. I similarly greatly admire and sustain each and every one of the other apostles in their God-given roles and responsibilities, and I am grateful to them for giving their time and talents to build up the kingdom of God, and to go wherever they are sent, bearing witness of the Savior at all times and in all circumstances. I share my witness that these men are called of God, and that we will be blessed as we give heed to their words.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. 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.