“Small Things” Helped New Seventy Elder Pingree’s Testimony Grow
Contributed By Gerry Avant, Church News editor
Born August 11, 1966, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Carmen and John C. Pingree Sr. Married Anne Pugsley on March 9, 1990, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of five children.
Received a bachelor of arts in English in 1990 and a bachelor of science in political science in 1991, both from the University of Utah. Received a master’s of business administration from Harvard Business School in 1993.
Held executive management positions in biotechnology, healthcare, and medical humanitarian organizations.
Full-time missionary in the Massachusetts Boston Mission, elders quorum president, high councilor, bishop, stake president, Texas Houston Mission president (2011–2014), and Area Seventy.
“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 April 1 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 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.”
That letter had an impact on the young Elder Pingree as he served in the Massachusetts Boston Mission, Spanish-speaking, and continues as a confirming influence in his life. “It helped me realize that we can consistently be learning, line upon line, precept by precept,” Elder Pingree said.
He learned important lessons not only from his parents but also from his siblings. He is the eldest of five children—four boys and one girl. One brother, Brian, taught him some of the most important life lessons. At an early age, Brian was diagnosed with autism.
“As a family we had to focus a lot on him and his needs,” Elder Pingree said. “His autism affected many things in our lives, such as where we could go on vacation, which car we could drive, or where we could sit in the chapel. I look back on that with a great deal of appreciation for what I learned through our family having to work together with him. I have so much respect for Brian. He has a lot of challenges and health issues, yet demonstrates incredible perseverance. He is remarkable.”
Elder Pingree’s family lived in northern California when he was young but returned to Utah before the time he entered junior high school. After graduating from a Salt Lake City high school, he enrolled at the University of Utah. He had returned home from his mission when he met Anne Pugsley through mutual friends at the university. They dated a few months before she left to serve as a missionary in England.
Sister Pingree said, “He was remarkably supportive of me; he wrote every single week.”
Elder Pingree explains that marrying Anne was one of the most important decisions he has made in his life. “She has an unwavering testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and is bold in sharing it with others. She is not swayed by worldly influences and treats everyone the same, regardless of their station in life. I am such a better person because of her.”
He received degrees in English and political science from the University of Utah and an MBA from Harvard University. He and his wife are the parents of five children.
He served as an Area Seventy, mission president, stake president, bishop, elders quorum president, institute teacher, and seminary teacher. Four of the Pingrees’ children went with them when they served in the Texas Houston Mission, 2011–2014.
“One of the highlights of serving as a mission president was seeing how interested the Lord is in every individual’s life, particularly missionaries’ lives, and to watch how He would use each of them—with their skills and abilities or past challenges—to relate to and serve other of His children,” he said.
Elder Pingree finds it difficult to name a favorite scripture, “because there are so many meaningful ones.” However, he said, Doctrine and Covenants 11:8 has influenced him a lot. “The Lord says, ‘If you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.’”
He said when returned home from his mission as a young man, he had been praying to know what the Lord wanted him to do with his life. He read that scripture. “To me, the Lord was 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. I received a strong impression from the Spirit that I was to always try to find ways to be of use to Heavenly Father in blessing somebody else.”
That scripture, he said, helped him think about what he should study or what his career should be. “That perspective fits into any decision we make in life,” he said. “Heavenly Father wants to use us, but we have to let Him do it.”
Much of Elder Pingree’s career has focused on helping others. “For a time, I was able to run a medical humanitarian aid organization, Globus Relief. We worked with manufacturers of medical supplies, equipment, and instruments. Sometimes they would have surplus or overproduced items that were viable. We would take those goods and distribute them to a network of about 150 charity organizations around the world. It might be a women’s medical center in Ecuador, an AIDS hospital in Ghana, or a homeless clinic in Salt Lake City.”
He has been a vice president of community benefit for Intermountain Healthcare and, at the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy, was vice president of Sera Prognostics, a biotechnology company that develops proteomic diagnostic tests to help women have healthier pregnancies.
What message, Elder Pingree was asked, would he like to share if he had an open forum? He gave a quick and straightforward reply: “We have loving Heavenly Parents who sent Their Son to be our Savor and Redeemer, and He wants to be involved with us on a daily basis. He wants us to repent and connect with Him each day. He wants us to reach out to Him for strength and to be able to do things beyond our natural capacity through His atoning sacrifice. I know with all my heart that He is a real, tangible being and wants to have a personal, interactive, practical relationship with us.”