Meet General Authority Seventies Called during April 2017 Conference
Contributed By Church News staff
The First Presidency announced the calling of six new General Authority Seventies during the 187th Annual General Conference on April 1. Members sustained Elder Taylor G. Godoy, Elder Joni L. Koch, Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, Elder John C. Pingree Jr., Elder Brian K. Taylor, and Elder Taniela B. Wakolo.
Following are brief biographies of the new leaders:
Elder Taylor G. Godoy
Several years into his profession, Elder Taylor G. Godoy found himself at a crossroads.
He was working as a dentist, establishing a practice, and anticipating a future in academics teaching dental surgery. But a beloved and trusted priesthood leader invited him to work for seminaries and institutes.
Leaving a burgeoning career was an interesting choice for the young dentist. Many of his colleagues wondered how he could walk away from the profession.
“But I knew it was the right choice,” he said. Such faithful certainty defines the Church convert. Helping others discover and come to love the gospel has proven to be a life-defining opportunity and blessing.
During his Church education career, Elder Godoy worked as an institute teacher, coordinator, director, and country director. Most recently, he was the South America Northwest Seminaries and Institutes area director.
Taylor Guillermo Godoy Atanacio was born in Lima, Peru, in 1968, to Taylor Godoy and Adalzahinda Atanacio. His father died when he was a young boy, and his beloved stepfather, Elias Rebaza, raised him. Elder Godoy joined the Church when he was 17.
After serving in the Peru Lima North Mission, he returned to his hometown of Arequipa. There he developed a friendship with a young woman named Carol Pachecho. The fellow converts were married May 31, 1994, in the Lima Peru Temple. They are the parents of two children.
Elder Godoy earned a bachelor’s degree in dentistry from the Catholic University of Santa Maria in 1993 and a master’s degree in administration from the Technical University of Madrid in 2006.
He has served as bishop, high councilor, stake president, area public affairs director, and Area Seventy.
Of his decision to change careers, he said that a dentist can treat a toothache, “but when you teach someone from the scriptures, you can help to change a life.” Learn more.
Elder Joni L. Koch
Elder Joni Luiz Koch is a second-generation member of the Church from Brazil. His parents, Luiz and Etelca Gascho Koch, visited a variety of local churches in the early years of their marriage to find spiritual truth.
Hours after his mother had offered a heartfelt prayer and promised to follow God, missionaries arrived at his parents’ door. In less than six months, they were baptized.
Born in 1962, Elder Koch grew up in Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil. The influence of Church leaders, such as a dedicated Primary teacher, fatherly bishop, and valiant stake president, helped him commit to live the gospel.
After completing a full-time mission in the Brazil São Paulo North Mission, Elder Koch studied statistics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “On a trip back to Brazil I visited the ward of a friend, where I met my future wife,” said Elder Koch. “She walked up to me and asked me if I was married.” After an eight-month, long-distance courtship—and only 15 actual days together—he married Liliane Michele Ludwig on April 26, 1988, in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. They have two children.
After graduating from BYU and earning an executive MBA, Elder Koch worked in international logistics. Over the span of 25 years, he worked for a variety of companies until called to serve full-time for the Church.
Elder Koch has served as bishop, stake president, and Area Seventy. He was serving as president of the Mozambique Maputo Mission at the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy.
“My testimony has grown gradually over time through spiritual experiences received through gospel living,” said Elder Koch. “The Book of Mormon is one of the main elements in the strength of my testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Church, and the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Learn more.
Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella
When Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella was 8 years old, the missionaries began teaching his family about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel.
“Even as a child, I had no question that Joseph Smith had in fact seen God and Jesus Christ,” said Elder Parrella. “I never doubted that from then on.”
Elder Parrella was born in 1962 in Guarujá, Brazil, on the Atlantic coast near São Paulo, to Fioravante and Vany de Paula Parrella.
His two older brothers served missions. Their examples and that of a loving bishop, Angelino Borges De Freitas, sparked in him a desire to serve a full-time mission. Missionary service reinforced to him “the reality of God and His Son and that all of us are children of God.”
After serving in the Brazil Porto Alegre Mission, Elder Parrella attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in business administration. He worked as the managing director at Kodak Polychrome Graphics and as a partner at Korn Ferry International. Most recently he was a partner at Caldwell Partners.
He married Elaine Finholdt in December 1988 in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. They are the parents of five sons.
Elder Parella has served as branch president, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, Area Seventy, and president of the Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission from 2009 to 2012.
Since he met the missionaries, his life has been a journey to understand the feeling he experienced as an 8-year-old. Attending Church, studying the word of God, and striving to live the commandments has helped broaden his vision from the glimpse of truth he was given as a child. “This truly is the kingdom of God on the earth,” he said. Learn more.
Elder John C. Pingree Jr.
“My testimony has been built over time, little by little, through receiving answers to prayers, feeling the Spirit while reading scriptures, repenting, and serving the Lord,” said Elder John C. Pingree Jr., who was sustained on April 1, 2017, as a General Authority Seventy.
Born in 1966 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Carmen and John C. Pingree Sr., he credits the devotion of his parents in helping to shape his life.
“The day after I was born, my father wrote me a letter,” Elder Pingree said. “He saved that letter and later, when I left to serve a full-time mission, he mailed it to me. The letter contained several pages of his testimony and lessons he wanted me to learn during my life. As I read it, the Spirit bore witness to me that what I had been taught about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ by my parents was truth.”
Elder Pingree served in the Massachusetts Boston Mission, Spanish-speaking. He received degrees in English and political science from the University of Utah and a master’s of business administration from Harvard Business School. He married Anne Pugsley in March 1990, and they are the parents of five children.
Much of his career focused on helping others. He was president of a medical humanitarian aid organization and a vice president at two health care companies.
He was president of the Texas Houston Mission from 2011 to 2014 and has served as an Area Seventy, stake president, bishop, elders quorum president, and institute and seminary teacher.
“The Lord says, ’If you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation’ (D&C 11:8),” Elder Pingree said. “To me, the Lord is saying, ‘I can use you to do some good in other people’s lives, if you will let me.’ If we look for opportunities, Heavenly Father will use us to bless somebody else.”
Elder Brian K. Taylor
Brian King Taylor was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 1, 2017.
Elder Taylor was born in 1964 in Ogden, Utah, to Lowell Moon and Marie King Taylor. He grew up in nearby Kaysville, the fourth in a family of five children that loved fishing and sports.
His older brother Craig had a basketball scholarship at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and was trying to decide whether to serve a mission or continue his college career.
“One night at dinner I said, ‘Hey, if you go on a mission, I’ll go on a mission,’” Elder Taylor recalled. Both brothers ended up serving, with Elder Taylor going to the Spain Seville Mission.
Before his mission, Elder Taylor played on the Brigham Young University basketball team from 1982 to 1984 with Brother Devin G. Durrant, currently serving as a member of the Sunday School General Presidency. After his mission, he played two more years, from 1986 to 1988.
He also met his wife-to-be, Jill Featherstone, at BYU. She was teaching the Gospel Doctrine class in her student ward. Invited by his brother, Elder Taylor visited her class and met her. A romance blossomed, and they were married on April 30, 1987, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of seven children.
Sister Taylor is the only daughter out of seven children in the family of Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, emeritus General Authority, and Sister Merlene Featherstone.“They were just really accepting and kind,” Elder Taylor said of his in-laws. “I felt immediately loved.”
With a bachelor’s degree from BYU, Elder Taylor has built a number of businesses, including a company that designed software to coordinate emergency calls between public safety agencies.
He has served as institute teacher, high councilor, ward Young Men president, stake president, and, at the time of his call to the Seventy, president of the Texas Dallas Mission.
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo
Elder Taniela Biu Wakolo has dedicated every day of his life since his baptism in March 1994 to serving the Lord.
Born in 1967 on the small island of Lomaloma, Lau, Fiji, to Taniela Vosa and Temalesi Buadromo Wakolo, Elder Wakolo was the youngest of six children. “I was raised in a very humble home, but we were rich in terms of the love we had for each other,” he said.
At age 12, Elder Wakolo left his parents’ home to attend boarding school with more than 500 young men, ages 12 to 19. “That was great training ground for me,” he said. “It is where I learned self-discipline.”
He dated Anita Herberta Moimoi, a recent convert, for more than a year. They married on August 22, 1987, in Suva, Fiji.
Conversion didn’t come overnight for Elder Wakolo, and over the first eight years of the couple’s marriage, he met with many missionaries. “I completed the discussions four times in eight years,” he said. “I have 24 missionaries.”
It was a simple question from one of those missionaries about the name of the Church that changed his mind about baptism. “The Church needs to be named after its owner,” he said. “That was it for me.”
Elder Wakolo and his wife were sealed in the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple in 1995. They are the parents of two children.
Service opportunities quickly followed his baptism. Two weeks after his baptism, he was called to the ward Young Men presidency and to co-teach seminary with his wife. After less than a year, he accepted the call to serve as branch president. He later served as counselor in a stake presidency, stake president, and Area Seventy. At the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy, he was presiding over the Arkansas Little Rock Mission.
Elder Wakolo studied management and public administration and earned a master’s degree in management. Most recently, he was service center manager at the Church’s Fiji Service Center.