Meet the 9 New General Authority Seventies
Contributed By Church News staff
During the Saturday afternoon session of April 2020 general conference, Latter-day Saints sustained 9 new General Authority Seventies, as well as the 3 members of a new Young Men General Presidency and 58 new Area Seventies. President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency announced the calls.
Following is a brief look at each of the new General Authority Seventies. A more in-depth profile on each will appear in coming weeks.
Elder Jorge T. Becerra
Jorge T. Becerra was shy and quiet growing up, but his mission president gave him opportunities to
lead. Jorge returned home from the California Arcadia Mission with a desire to engage in the work
of the Lord for the rest of his life.
More leadership opportunities came sooner than he expected. At age 27, he was called into a bishopric. At age 32, he was called as a bishop. At first he felt inadequate as people approached him with their challenges.
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” he told his father.
His father’s reply taught him a powerful lesson, reminded him of his mission president’s faith in
him, and helped him prepare for future leadership callings, including his calling as a stake president
at age 37.
“My father said, ‘Son, how old is the Holy Ghost?’” Elder Becerra recalled. “That was a great teaching moment for me because I knew that I could do anything the Lord asked me.”
That lesson has stayed with Elder Becerra through many years of heartfelt service in The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jorge Eduardo Torres Becerra was born on December 18, 1962, to Juan C. Becerra and Celia T. Becerra in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, where he was raised.
After serving a full-time mission, Elder Becerra married Debbie Ilene Schneberger in the Salt Lake Temple on August 10, 1984. They are the parents of five children.
Elder Becerra received a degree in general studies from the University of Utah and an associate of arts degree in accounting from Salt Lake Community College. He also studied business at the University of Phoenix. In 1998 he became a partner of Allegis Advisor Group, a financial advisory company. At the time of his call as a Genenal Authority Seventy, he was working as an investment adviser for Intermountain Financial Partners.
Elder Becerra has served as a ward Young Men president, counselor in a mission presidency, counselor in a branch presidency, seminary teacher, counselor in a bishopric, bishop, stake president, and president of the California Arcadia Mission. At the time of his call, he was serving as an Area Seventy.
Elder Matthew S. Holland
Elder Matthew S. Holland is no stranger to General Authorities or general conferences.
Many Latter-day Saints know him as the son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Others might remember him as a 17-year-old speaking during the April 1983 general conference priesthood session.
“It has been a wonderful blessing, all of my life, to watch how my mom and dad have lived, what they’ve been committed to, and what they’ve been asked to do,” said Elder Holland, who currently presides over the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.
“Yet, due to these firsthand observations, we know too much about this calling to think we’re adequately equipped for it,” he added. “Fortunately, we’ve also learned that the Lord qualifies those whom He calls, and we’re taking a lot of faith and comfort in that.”
Elder Holland remembers that speaking in general conference was daunting. Prepping a message that eventually came “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30) became “an early, reassuring blessing to know that when you accept assignments from the Lord, He will help you and give you the thoughts and impressions of things that need to be shared.”
Matthew Scott Holland was born June 7, 1966, in Provo, Utah, the son of Jeffrey R. and Patricia Holland. He married Paige Bateman on May 20, 1996, in the St. George Utah Temple. They are the parents of four children.
Elder Holland’s educational pursuits include three degrees in political science—a bachelor of arts from Brigham Young University in 1991 and a master of arts and doctor of philosophy, both from Duke University, in 1997 and 2001, respectively.
While working as an associate professor of political science at BYU (2001–2009), he was named as president of Utah Valley University in 2009, serving until his 2018 call as a mission president.
He has served as a bishop, high councilor, counselor in a bishopric, ward Young Men adviser, ward mission leader, Sunday School teacher, and full-time missionary in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission.
Elder William K. Jackson
After 23 years as a regional medical officer in the U. S. Foreign Service, William K. Jackson was asked to share the top 20 experiences he’d had while living and working in the nethermost regions of the world.
As he mulled over that request before his retirement ceremony, he realized that “all 20 of my top 20 were Church- or family-related,” he said.
William King Jackson was born on March 29, 1956, in Washington, D.C., to E. William and Lois Andrey Jackson. He grew up in Ojai, California, USA, but because of his parents’ volunteer work, he also received schooling in Honduras, Algeria, and Afghanistan.
After serving a mission in the Bolivia La Paz Mission, Elder Jackson met Ann Kesler in the summer of 1977.
“It was love at first sight for me,” he said. “I spent the rest of that summer trying to convince her that I was the one.”
They married on December 29, 1977, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They are the parents of eight children, three of whom are adopted—from India, Nepal, and Cambodia.
Elder Jackson attended Brigham Young University, earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1983.
After his medical residency, they worked overseas for 26 years. He worked most recently as medical director of Valley Family Health Care, with locations in Idaho and Oregon.
When they lived outside the United States, he and Sister Jackson spent most of their time among first-generation Church members.
“One of the biggest parts of my testimony of the gospel has been watching what the gospel does to these people that we love,” he said. “It changes them.”
Elder Jackson has served as an Area Seventy, president of the India New Delhi Mission, branch Young Men president, institute teacher, and Gospel Doctrine teacher. At the time of his call to be a General Authority Seventy, he was serving as a bishop.
Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi
When Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi was a teenager, his seven-year-old sister, Kristen, contracted a bacteria that attacked her brain. Doctors said she wouldn’t survive.
Young Jeremy knelt beside his bed in the family’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah, and pleaded with the Lord to know why she had to die so young. His sister, however, received a priesthood blessing and lived.
This was a catalyst for 17-year-old Jeremy to “get himself right with God,” leading him to seriously read the Book of Mormon for the first time. Later he served as a full-time missionary in the Ohio Cleveland Mission.
Jeremy would return to his knees in heartfelt prayer years later as his wife, Amy, was in preterm labor with their third child. “At that moment, I felt an overwhelming peace—a peace that can only be described as the loving arms of a Heavenly Father enveloping me with the warmth of the Holy Ghost,” he said.
That peace carried him through the brief time the baby lived and the months of grief that followed with another miscarriage. “We’re all tried in our way,” he said, “but we still ‘count it all joy’ [James 1:2] that the Savior has provided a way for us to have peace and happiness.”
Jeremy Robert Jaggi was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 23, 1973, to Robert Stanley Jaggi and Judy Anne Roos. He married Amy Anne Stewart in the Salt Lake Temple on June 12, 1995. They are the parents of five children.
Elder Jaggi received a bachelor of science degree in behavioral science and health from the University of Utah and an executive master of business administration degree from Pepperdine University. He was heading regional sales for Alkermes and managing commercial real estate at HCA Investments at the time of his call.
Elder Jaggi has served as an Area Seventy, president of the Utah Ogden Mission, assistant stake executive secretary, bishop, elders quorum president, seminary teacher, counselor in a ward Young Men presidency, stake missionary preparation teacher, and ward mission leader.
Elder Kelly R. Johnson
Elder Kelly R. Johnson remembers well the day he was called as a bishop at age 31. That same day
he was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy—a condition in which the muscles on one side of the face become paralyzed or weakened.
It was a challenging time, not only because of the discomfort and embarrassment caused by the
condition but also because of his many new responsibilities. But that difficult time became a
“Not knowing what the long-term situation would be, I developed a compassion for individuals that has been with me through the rest of my life,” he said. “I really learned that people go through tough and sad things they can’t control that impact their abilities, feelings, and confidence.”
At times, it’s not convenient to serve in the Lord’s Church. But just as the Savior’s disciples “straightway left their nets” (Matthew 4:20) to follow Him, “whatever we’re asked to do, we’re willing to do it,” said Elder Johnson.
No matter where the Lord calls him or his family, they go with willing hearts and minds, looking to find good no matter their circumstances.
Kelly Ray Johnson was born in Pleasant View, Utah, on January 16, 1963, to Harold Raymond Johnson Jr. and Helen Cragaun Johnson. He grew up in Ogden, Utah, and married Teressa Lynn Bartrum in the Salt Lake Temple on March 27, 1986. They have five children.
Elder Johnson graduated from Weber State University in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in accounting and received his master of business administration degree from Brigham Young University in 1989.
He has worked as a forensic accountant for KPMG International Cooperative and most recently worked as a forensic accountant and partner for Norman, Townsend, and Johnson.
Elder Johnson, who was serving as an Area Seventy at the time of his call, has served as mission president in the Thailand Bangkok Mission, where he served his full-time mission, and as a stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor, bishop, elders quorum president, ward mission leader, and stake missionary preparation teacher.
Elder Thierry K. Mutombo
Elder Thierry K. Mutombo had a strong testimony of the gospel when he received his mission call as a young man. Baptized with his family when he was 10, he had witnessed the powerful way the gospel changed his family.
But even as he prepared to serve a mission in the Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan Mission, he didn’t have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He had never read it before.
Thierry’s inspired bishop challenged him to read the Book of Mormon every day before leaving on his mission. He even gave Thierry a key to the local Church meetinghouse so he could study in peace.
Thierry read every day for three months. By the time he entered the mission field, not only had he gained a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, but he had also developed study habits that helped him as a missionary.
“The greatest tool we have to bring people to the light of the gospel and gather scattered Israel is the
Book of Mormon,” he said.
Thierry Kasuangi Mutombo was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on January 31, 1976, to Antoine Kasuangi Mutombo and Marie Therese Matsanga Mutombo.
He married Tshayi Nathalie Sinda in a civil ceremony on November 29, 2002. They were later sealed in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple on November 19, 2004. They have six children.
Elder Mutombo graduated in 2010 from the University of Cepromad with a degree in business management and in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in human resources management. He worked for the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a manager in the Family History and Human Resources Departments and as a supervisor in the Materials Management Department.
At the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy, Elder Mutombo was serving as president of the Maryland Baltimore Mission. Previously he served as a stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, ward mission leader, Sunday School teacher, and executive stake secretary.
Elder Adeyinka A. Ojediran
April 2020 general conference was “an unforgettable weekend” for Elder Adeyinka A. Ojediran.
The Church convert was sustained as a General Authority Seventy—a first for a Nigerian and West
African Latter-day Saint. His overwhelming gratitude and joy increased even more when President Russell M. Nelson announced that Nigeria’s third temple would be built in Benin City.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Elder Ojediran said, smiling broadly. “To hear our prophet say another temple would be built in Nigeria was really, really wonderful. For me, it was a confirmation that the work of the Lord is moving quickly. We all have a lot to do to prepare God’s children for His Son’s Second Coming.”
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, on April 5, 1967, to Amos Adeniyi and Caroline Anike Ojediran, Adeyinka Ayodeji Ojediran received a bachelor’s degree in botany at the University of Ilorin in 1991 before later earning a master of business administration degree from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. He pursued a career in finance and business administration as a professional chartered
accountant. He was working as a business finance manager for Shell Nigeria before his call as a General Authority.
Three years after his baptism, he met Olufunmilayo Omolola Akinbebije at a social function. The
two eventually began dating, but employment in different cities meant “we just kept in touch by
The couple eventually married in Nigeria in 1998 and were sealed in the Johannesburg South Africa
Temple on November 14, 2002. The Ojedirans have one daughter.
Elder Ojediran is grateful for every Church calling he has received since joining the Church in 1990 when he was 23. Each ecclesiastical assignment has helped him grow and has given him sacred opportunities to help others develop in their respective callings and duties.
Elder Ojediran, serving as an Area Seventy at the time of his call, has also served as a counselor in a mission presidency, stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, bishop, counselor in a bishopric, and branch president.
Elder Ciro Schmeil
Elder Ciro Schmeil has always strived to be obedient to the Lord, even when he did not understand the reason behind a specific commandment. “As we are obedient, as we keep the commandments,” he has learned, “the Lord will always bless us.”
In fulfilling his callings, he has seen the blessings that come from obedience. While serving as a bishop and a stake president, he had many treasured opportunities to “see people changing their lives because of their testimony of the Savior and of the Book of Mormon.”
Elder Schmeil was born on April 16, 1971, in Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil, to Bruno and Erica Schmeil, both converts to the Church. He grew up in Curitiba, Brazil, and about the time his parents were called to preside over the Brazil Campinas Mission, he left to serve in the Utah Ogden Mission.
While attending the University of Utah, Elder Schmeil met Alessandra Machado Louza, a student at Brigham Young University, at a devotional. “When we met for the first time at the devotional, she totally ignored me,” he said. But for him, it was love at first sight.
They were married in the São Paulo Brazil Temple in July 1994 and finished their studies in the
United States. They returned to Brazil for 20 years before moving to Colorado and then to
Florida. Elder and Sister Schmeil are the parents of two children.
Elder Schmeil earned a bachelor of arts degree in architectural studies from the University of Utah in
1995 and an executive master of business administration degree from Ohio University in 2010. He has worked for Walmart Brasil as vice president and director of real estate development, as chief operating officer of Scopel, as general manager of Cia City, and most recently as head of real estate for JBS S.A.
Elder Schmeil has served as an Area Seventy, stake president, counselor in a stake presidency,
bishop, elders quorum president, and branch president.
Elder Moisés Villanueva
At the time of his call, Elder Villanueva was serving as an Area Seventy in Mexico. He has also served as president of the California Arcadia Mission and as a high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, bishop, and public affairs director.
He was only 10 years old at the time, but Elder Moisés Villanueva has never forgotten how he felt as
the missionaries taught him and his family the gospel in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“I remember the Spirit that they left, the peace that I felt in my heart,” he said.
When Moisés was baptized with four of his siblings, his mother—a single parent raising Moisés and his seven siblings in difficult circumstances—returned to Church activity.
Later, as 18-year-old Moisés prepared for his mission, his family continued to face temporal challenges. He doubted his decision to leave and told his mother he wanted to stay home to help her.
“If you really want to help me,” she told him, “go and serve the Lord.”
Kneeling by his cot at the close of his first day in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission, Moisés felt that the Lord was pleased with his decision. He credits his mission for the growth of his testimony of the restored gospel.
“This Church is led by our Savior Jesus Christ,” Elder Villanueva said. “He knows each one of us by name. He knows our needs, our challenges, and our concerns. He also knows our strengths and even the desires of our hearts.”
Moisés Villanueva López was born on December 13, 1966, in Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, to Rubén Villanueva Platas and Delfina López Domínguez. He married Leticia Ávalos Lozano in the Mexico City Mexico Temple on June 30, 1995. They have three children.
Elder Villanueva earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southeast Regional University in 1997 and a master’s degree in innovation for business improvement from Tecnológico de Monterrey in 2011. He most recently worked as the chief executive officer of Sertexa, a transportation company.