Meet the Five New General Authorities Called During Conference

Contributed By the Church News

  • 13 April 2015

Five new General Authorities were sustained during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 185th Annual General Conference on April 4. They will serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Church members sustained five new General Authorities during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 185th Annual General Conference on April 4.

Called as new General Authorities to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are Elder Kim B. Clark, Rexburg, Idaho; Elder Allen D. Haynie, San Diego, California; Elder Von G. Keetch, Salt Lake City, Utah; Elder Hugo Montoya, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; and Elder Vern P. Stanfill, Kalispell, Montana.

Following are brief biographies of the new leaders. A longer feature on each new leader will be published in the coming weeks.

Elder Kim B. Clark and Sister Sue Lorraine Hunt Clark. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Kim B. Clark

A lifetime of education—as a student and a teacher—will benefit Elder Kim Bryce Clark in his new assignment in the First Quorum of the Seventy. Sustained April 4 in general conference, Elder Clark will begin his service just weeks after he finishes his assignment as president of BYU-Idaho.

“I have been in school since I was five years old,” the newly called Seventy said. “I love learning and teaching.”

He was born in Salt Lake City on March 20,1949, to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark—the eldest of three children. He spent his childhood in Salt Lake City until age 11, when his father took a job in Spokane, Washington.

Although he had planned to attend Brigham Young University, as a junior in high school he felt he needed to explore other options and decided to apply to Harvard University—a place that would eventually become his home for more than three decades.

After his freshman year of study, Elder Clark served in the South German Mission from 1968 to 1970. Upon his return, he attended BYU, where he soon met Sue Lorraine Hunt in his ward. They were married a few months later on June 14, 1971. They are the parents of seven children. 

Right after they were married, the couple moved to the Boston, Massachusetts, area, where Elder Clark again enrolled at Harvard. There he earned his bachelor of arts degree, a master of arts degree, and a PhD—all in economics. Elder Clark became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1978, and was later named as the school’s dean in 1995. In 2005 he was named the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he served for nearly a decade.

Elder Clark has served as an ward elders quorum president, ward executive secretary, bishop’s counselor, bishop, high councilor, and stake mission president’s counselor, and Area Seventy.

Elder Allen Decker Haynie and Sister Deborah Ruth Haynie. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Allen D. Haynie

Elder Allen Decker Haynie was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at general conference April 4.

Elder Haynie was born August 29, 1958, to Van Lloyd and Sarah Lulu Lewis Haynie.

He was born in Logan, Utah, but spent much of his youth in other cities in northern Utah and in the SiliconValley of California. He attended five different elementary schools, two junior high schools, and a high school in Bountiful, Utah.

This diversity in experience “taught me a great lesson about learning to appreciate everybody, because it seemed that every year I was changing locales and having to make friends all over again,” he said. “One of the things I love about the Church is that it gives us an opportunity to associate with people and find value in their differing backgrounds, experience, talents, and abilities.”

He served in the Argentina Cordoba Mission from 1977 to 1979.

With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University, Elder Haynie went on to obtain a juris doctorate from the university’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1985.

He fulfilled a year-long judicial clerkship on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Diego before joining the law firm of Latham and Watkins, practicing out of the San Diego office. About five years ago he and his brother formed their own law firm.

Elder Haynie has also served as elders quorum president, ward Young Men president, seminary teacher, high councilor, bishop, stake president, and Area Seventy.

He met Deborah Ruth Hall while attending BYU, and the two were married December 19, 1983, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of six children.

Growing emotional when talking about his testimony, Elder Haynie said he first read and marked the Book of Mormon when he was 12. “I don’t have a memory of not believing; I don’t have a memory of not praying.”

Elder Von G. Keetch and Bernice Pymm Keetch. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Von G. Keetch

The defining moment of Elder Von G. Keetch’s life came as he was completing a judicial clerkship with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court and preparing to enter full-time practice.

 He could have worked in any city in the United States for a multitude of big law firms. Instead, he and his wife, Bernice Pymm Keetch, asked the Lord what they should do. After a period of searching, the couple returned to Salt Lake City, where he went to work for the law firm of Kirton McConkie.

At the time, Elder Keetch thought he might be sacrificing his ability to work on cutting-edge legal cases in order to be near family.

Instead, as the chief outside legal counsel for the Church, Elder Keetch, 55, argued constitutional issues and precedent-setting cases on religious liberty. He has represented almost every major religious denomination in the country.

“I have loved being able to work for such a great client and being able to work on such great issues,” he said.

Born March 17, 1960, in Provo, Utah, to Gary and Deanne Keetch, Elder Keetch is the oldest of four children. His family lived in Orem, Utah, before moving to Pleasant Grove, Utah—where he and his future wife would serve on their high school seminary council. 

Elder Keetch served in the Germany Dusseldorf Mission and came to love the German people. After returning from the mission field, he married Bernice Pymm in the Salt Lake Temple on November 21, 1981; they have six children. Elder Keetch graduated from Brigham Young University in 1984 in political science and received a law degree from the university in 1987. 

Through the years, Elder Keetch, who was sustained April 4 to the First Quorum of the Seventy, has served in bishoprics, on high councils, as a stake president, and as an Area Seventy.

Elder Hugo Montoya and Sister Maria del Carmen Balvastro Montoya. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Hugo Montoya

Elder Hugo Montoya was understandably overwhelmed when he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He found comfort in President Thomas S. Monson’s gentle words during a training meeting for new General Authorities: “You are here because you love the Savior.” Elder Montoya felt uplifted knowing his new calling placed him on the Lord’s errand.

“I love the Savior and I will go wherever I am asked to go,” he said. “I will do whatever I am asked to do. I will say whatever I am asked to say.” Elder Montoya was sustained during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 185th Annual general conference.

Elder Montoya also finds strength in his family’s legacy of faith. His great-grandfather, Rafael Monroy, is a pivotal figure in the history of the Church in Mexico. In 1915, Brother Monroy and a fellow member, Vicente Morales, were arrested by a group of revolutionaries during the Mexican Revolution. Both men were told they would be released if, among other demands, they renounced their religion.

The two refused and were shot to death by firing squad.

Elder Montoya said his great-grandfather’s example remains a powerful influence in his life. “I’ve learned that feelings of fear can be overcome by feelings of faith and testimony when you know you are doing the right things.”

Elder Montoya was born April 2, 1960, in Fresno, California, to Abel Montoya and Maclovia Monroy. He has lived most of his life in Mexico.

He married Maria del Carmen Balvastro in Hermosillo; they were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple on April 6, 1983. They have five children.

After laboring in the Mexico City North Mission (1979 to 1981), he served as ward Young Men president, high councilor, bishop, stake president, area auditor, and Area Seventy.

He graduated from Sonora State University in 1986 with an agricultural engineering degree and has worked in several management positions with Xerox and as a Church institute teacher.

Elder Vern P. Stanfill and Alicia Cecile Cox Stanfill. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Vern P. Stanfill

Elder Vern Perry Stanfill believes there is no such thing as a coincidence. There are intersections in this life between people for a purpose. The Lord can inspire His children to be a blessing to others.

Elder Stanfill enjoys ministering to others in the gospel, especially working with people one on one.

Born August 8, 1957, to Jed and Peggy Stanfill, he grew up on a cattle ranch near Townsend, Montana. He learned the value of hard work and cultivated a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. The third of four children, Elder Stanfill has two older brothers and a younger sister who have faithfully served in the Church.

“The hand of the Lord is present in our lives despite our weaknesses,” he said. “My wife and I are not perfect people. We don’t have a pefect family. We are just ordinary people who have tried to live our lives day by day and allow the Lord to be part of it.”

After serving a full-time mission in Toulouse, France, and pursuing a degree in agricultural economics at Brigham Young University, he met and married Alicia Cox. They were married December 17, 1980, in the Salt Lake Temple.

After graduation, the Stanfills moved back to Montana so he could help manage the family ranch, dealing in cattle, hay, and grain operations. He sold the business in 1998 and began managing a portfolio of real estate and financial instruments, as well as structuring philanthropic and estate matters.

Elder Stanfill has been involved in aviation for both business and pleasure  and holds both commercial fixed wing and rotorcraft ratings. 

Raising four daughters with his wife, Elder Stanfill had opportunities to serve in the Church as an elders quorum president, bishop, high councilor, stake president, and Area Seventy. He was serving in the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.