Desire to Learn Fueled Elder Vinson’s Spiritual Education
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer
Terence M. Vinson had never heard the word “Mormon” before meeting Latter-day Saint Kay Anne Carden in the early 1970s.
Both were university students working after school at a fast food restaurant in Sydney, Australia. The pair talked about religion and ultimately came to an agreement. Each Sunday, they would attend both the church of Terence’s youth and a small branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One met in a large, beautiful church building; the other in a small rented space that the few Latter-day Saints in the Sydney branch had been able to procure.
After a while Terence began taking the missionary discussions. He had many questions. “I thought I needed to know the answers to all the questions,” he said.
Then, while attending stake conference, he felt a message as clearly as if it had been spoken. “I needed to join the Church in order to progress. All the questions I had, and would have, had answers.”
Having received the message, he was baptized the next week. From that time forward, he knew “what the Lord expected me to do and discovered that all my questions did have answers.”
Less than three years later he was called as a bishop. Serving in this capacity “was a great learning experience. From there I continued to serve in leadership positions.”
Ultimately, he would serve in several stake presidencies, as a regional representative, and as an Area Seventy. Those calls prepared him for his current service; he was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 6 and will begin serving as First Counselor in the Africa West Area on August 1.
Terence Michael Vinson was born in Sydney, Australia, on March 12, 1951, to John Laurence and May Therese Armstrong Vinson.
His parents taught him to “be honest and upright and loyal.”
The family loved sports; Elder Vinson played cricket and rugby and participated in a rowing club during his university years.
His father, who worked as a firefighter, sacrificed so his seven children could get an education.
Elder Vinson received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Sydney University with a teaching diploma from Sydney Teachers College.
He and Kay were married on May 2, 1974, in Sydney, and the couple was sealed August 23, 1975, in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, one year after his baptism; they have six children.
Over the years, Elder Vinson continued his education. He received a financial planning diploma from Deakin University and a master’s degree in applied finance from Macquarie University. During his career, he was a math teacher, university lecturer, and financial adviser and directed a financial planning and investment firm.
He also worked to gain a spiritual education. Sister Vinson said when her husband first joined the Church he enrolled in institute. “He wanted to catch up,” she explained.
Elder Vinson said he had a “strong desire to learn as much as I could. When you have that desire, the Lord continues to teach you things, both by your intellect and especially by the Spirit.”
Sister Vinson said when Elder Vinson first learned about tithing he jumped out of his seat with joy. “He recognized tithing as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for what God has given us.”
As the oldest of seven children, he grew up in a house where there was little opportunity to sit and ponder and pray. But as he studied the scriptures, he began to feel peace.
Soon he came to know his Savior and his Heavenly Father and began to rely on the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
The Vinsons dedicated much of their time to Church service.
The family also decided they would “build memories” and took wonderful vacations as the children were growing up. Today they enjoy family gatherings where they cook pizzas in their outdoor pizza oven with their 12 grandchildren.
In time the family saw the Church in Australia grow and mature.
When Elder Vinson was baptized, there were seven stakes in Australia; today there are 37. Much of that growth has come with the construction of temples in his nation, he said, noting they have witnessed a “coming of age” for the Church in Australia.
Sister Vinson said her husband is an optimistic person with a good sense of humor. “He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” she said.
Looking back on his life, Elder Vinson said the closer he grew to the Lord, the more he wanted to serve Him. “I love the Lord and I love my family,” he said. “Nothing else really matters.”