“New Seventies Called; Leaders Speak of War and Peace,” Ensign, May 2003, 124–25
At the Saturday afternoon session of the 173rd Annual General Conference, the First Presidency announced leadership changes in the Presidency of the Seventy and the Sunday School general presidency. A member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy was called to the First Quorum, five men were called to the Second Quorum, and 37 new Area Authority Seventies were called.
In view of his recent appointment as president of Brigham Young University, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. was released as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Samuelson was also released as Sunday School general president.
Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, recently released as president of BYU, was called to the Presidency of the Seventy and as Sunday School general president. Elder John H. Groberg and Elder Val R. Christensen will continue to serve as first and second counselors, respectively, in the Sunday School general presidency.
Elder Bruce D. Porter, a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy since 1995, was called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The new members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy are Elder Mervyn B. Arnold, Elder Shirley D. Christensen, Elder Clate W. Mask Jr., Elder William W. Parmley, and Elder W. Douglas Shumway.
Also sustained were 37 Area Authority Seventies—4 from Brazil, 2 from Mexico, 2 from Nigeria, 12 from the United States, and one each from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Panama, Philippines, Samoa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tonga, and Venezuela (see a complete list of names in “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” this issue, p. 23).
Elder J. Devn Cornish, an Area Authority Seventy in the North America Southeast Area, was released to fill a calling as a mission president.
During general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley and other Church leaders acknowledged current world strife and offered words of comfort, guidance, and instruction to those on all sides of the conflict.
Answering the question “Where does the Church stand in all of this?” President Hinckley reminded members of the Church that “we have no quarrel with the Muslim people or with those of any other faith. We recognize and teach that all the people of the earth are of the family of God.”
President Hinckley asked Church members to obey the twelfth article of faith by sustaining the laws of their lands and being subject to their governments. He added the caution, “Never let us become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters in various nations on one side or the other.”
Finally, he admonished the Saints to pray for those involved in the conflict and to look to the Savior: “When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace.”
In his Saturday morning address, President Hinckley reported on the continued growth of the Church. He noted that the Church builds approximately 400 new chapels each year and continues “to build temples across the earth.” He also reported that some 8,000 young men and women have participated in the Perpetual Education Fund, and they are on average increasing their income some four and a half times through training and education.
The Church announced immediately before conference that missionaries will not be sent to Hong Kong until further evaluations are made regarding the SARS virus. The safety and well-being of missionaries currently serving in Hong Kong are of highest priority and are being monitored carefully. The Asia Area Presidency and the area medical adviser in Hong Kong are meeting daily to keep abreast of developments and to offer timely direction to mission presidents to provide missionaries with appropriate precautionary measures.