New Seventies Called; Leaders Speak of War and Peace
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.
Elder Mervyn B. Arnold
If people wore product labels, then Elder Mervyn Bennion Arnold, age 54, a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, would proudly wear one that says, “Homemade in Granger, Utah.”
Born in Salt Lake City on 19 July 1948, Elder Arnold grew up in a farming area on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. “We had a thousand chickens,” he recalls, “and a cow that we kids had to milk. We also hoed a lot of sugar beets.” His parents, John Everett Sorensen Arnold and Jasmine Bennion Arnold, reared five sons and two daughters with a strong work ethic, gratitude for what they had, and a love of family and of the gospel. Family prayer was always followed by the children hugging and kissing their parents. Elder Arnold’s parents frequently read the Book of Mormon to their children. “I learned to love the doctrines of the Church,” says Elder Arnold, “and I love the Book of Mormon.”
Asked how he has gained his testimony, Elder Arnold replies that “it is a gradual process. People enter into your life, starting when you are at a very early age. And they help you get that testimony ingrained in you.” He can name practically every teacher and priesthood leader he has ever had and how he or she influenced him.
Elder Arnold served a mission in northern Mexico. Then he attended Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and a master of public administration degree. In 1971 in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple he married Devonna Kress, who was raised on a farm in Rockland, Idaho. He describes her as “a wonderful lady with a very strong testimony of the gospel, a great wife and mother.” They are the parents of six children and the grandparents of four. Their family, they say, is “the joy of our life.”
Elder Arnold worked in real estate development and later in banking. From 1985 to 1988 he served as mission president in Costa Rica, Panama, and the San Blas Islands. Most recently, Elder Arnold was director of training and field services in the Church Missionary Department.
As he begins his new calling, Elder Arnold expresses love for the One who has blessed his life most of all: “I know the Savior lives! I love Him so much.”
Elder Shirley D. Christensen
The morning of 18 May 1980 stands out vividly in Elder Shirley Dean Christensen’s memory. It began as a beautiful, sunny spring day. But by noon the skies over Royal City, Washington, were black, and the once-green fields and orchards were covered in ash. Mount Saint Helens, about 150 miles (240 km) west of Royal City, had erupted.
During the next few days, Elder Christensen watched in horror as the ash-laden trees in his orchards dropped much of their precious fruit. He thought the impact of the catastrophe on his apple-growing business would be devastating.
But eventually Elder Christensen realized that the remaining apples were of excellent quality, and the thinning of the fruit had actually benefited his crop. “The Lord really did protect our crop,” he says. “That turned out to be one of the most productive years we’ve ever had.” He links that blessing to his family’s faithful payment of tithing and to their desire to obey the Lord’s commandments. The experience also taught him that adversity sometimes brings blessings in unexpected ways.
Elder Christensen, age 64, a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, was born in Preston, Idaho, to LeGrand and Blanche Naef Christensen on 8 January 1939. He grew up in Idaho and Washington and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he met Geniel Johnson. They were married on 23 June 1962 in the Manti Utah Temple. They have six living children.
Elder Christensen served a mission in Uruguay from 1959 to 1961, and it was there that he developed a strong testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. “Prior to that I could relate the story of the First Vision. But when I arrived in the mission field and prayerfully and sincerely taught it to others, I came to have a certain testimony of the Prophet Joseph and the restored gospel,” he says. “That testimony came in a vivid and sure way, and I knew what I was teaching was true.”
From 1999 to 2002 Elder Christensen served as president of the Argentina Resistencia Mission. He has also served as a temple ordinance worker, branch president, bishop, and member of a stake presidency.
Elder Clate W. Mask Jr.
Elder Clate Wheeler Mask Jr. knows that nothing happens by chance.
As a young boy in El Paso, Texas, Elder Mask was affected by the service of his father, Clate Wheeler Mask Sr., in World War II. It was a trying time—one that changed Elder Mask’s life.
That’s when his mother, Marva Gonzalez Mask, taught him to really pray. His father was not a member of the Church. “Our family prayed my dad would join the Church and come home safely,” he says. “As a little boy praying at my mother’s side, I just knew God was there.”
With his father away, Elder Mask spent many hours with his maternal grandparents. “I would sit at my grandmother’s knee as she told Book of Mormon stories. My grandfather would tell about his mission to Mexico,” Elder Mask recalls. “That set the course of my life.”
His father did join the Church and return safely. From that time, Elder Mask’s testimony was firm.
He eventually served a mission to Central America, and just before coming home he was assigned to write a report on some missionaries he had worked with. “One sister was just tremendous in every way, and I realized she was the kind of person I wanted to marry someday,” Elder Mask says.
Following military service, Elder Mask attended Brigham Young University, and there he became reacquainted with that same sister missionary, Paula Carol Garns. They married in 1965 in the Los Angeles California Temple and reared six children, spending much of their married life in Arizona.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish, Elder Mask went into construction sales in Los Angeles, California, before an unexpected call to teach early-morning seminary led to a 30-year career with the Church Educational System. During that time he served as a mission president, bishop, bishop’s counselor, stake Sunday School president, high councilor, and branch president.
Elder Mask, age 60, was born on 20 August 1942. He knows his new calling as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy will be as life changing as the other not-by-chance events of his life. “Everything that has happened to him has prepared him for this calling,” says Sister Mask.
Elder William W. Parmley
The past several months of Elder William Watts Parmley’s life sum up the last several decades. He and his wife, Shanna Nielsen Parmley, made the decision that he would retire from his profession as a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco so they could serve a mission together. As Elder Parmley prepared for a mission—and instead was called to serve as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy—the true impact of his lifelong testimony became very evident.
“They all know of his honesty and his integrity and his love of family,” says Sister Parmley, speaking of those Elder Parmley associated with daily. “It is very obvious to these people that he loves God.”
Retiring from a profession people often do not retire from, Elder Parmley, age 67, has had many opportunities to share the reason he is setting aside medicine. He recalls a man he recently met at an annual conference. He told attendees why after 39 years he would no longer be involved in the profession. The next day, a colleague approached him and said, “My wife and I couldn’t sleep last night because we were thinking about what you said. Tell us more about this mission.” Elder Parmley did, and the man simply said, “Can we go with you?”
When the call came to serve as a member of the Seventy, it was not quite the call he had expected, but Elder Parmley is happy to serve in whatever capacity he is asked. Such response is typical from one whose life has been defined by service as a physician, a husband, a father and grandfather, and a member of the Church.
“As King Benjamin said, that’s what we are really here to do,” Elder Parmley says. “We serve each other, and that’s our service to God.”
Elder and Sister Parmley were married in 1961 in the Salt Lake Temple. They have four children and eight grandchildren. Elder Parmley, the son of Thomas Jennison Parmley and LaVern Watts Parmley, was born in Salt Lake City on 22 January 1936. He served a full-time mission in the Northwestern States Mission and has served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, and an Area Authority Seventy.
Elder W. Douglas Shumway
When you ask Elder Wilford Douglas Shumway what defines his family, it takes him about a split second to answer, “Loyalty.” Whether it is through the fourth generation working in a family business, or his daughter caring for his mother before her death, or his eight children caring for each other so he could serve as a mission president in Bolivia, Elder Shumway’s family is loyal to each other and to the gospel. With his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, his family has demonstrated the same immediate support of their father.
“There would be absolutely no way my wife and I could accept this call if it were not for the support of our family,” says Elder Shumway.
Elder Shumway, age 62, is the son of Wilford Jennings Shumway and Mabel Whiting Shumway. He was born on 8 May 1940 and grew up in Saint Johns, Arizona, where he first met his wife, Dixie Ann Jarvis. Their parents were close friends, and the two casually dated during high school. Elder Shumway went on a mission to Uruguay, and Sister Shumway went to Brigham Young University. When Elder Shumway returned, her parents encouraged her to give the good family friend a chance. She did, and they were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1963. They have 8 children and 20 grandchildren.
They recently moved from Eagar, Arizona, to nearby Show Low, where their family business includes a hotel and car wash. Devastating wildfires struck the area last summer. Elder Shumway recalls that for three nights in a row, a television announcer stated the fire would be in Show Low by the next morning. The fire never reached the town, and the announcer finally said that there was a power at work higher than he had ever seen—he could not explain why the fire did not reach Show Low.
“Had it come through, I do not think I would be sitting here today,” says Elder Shumway. “It would have been devastating.”
His family and business were spared, and he is grateful for the new opportunity to serve. “I deem it a privilege to go out into the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he says.
New BYU President Named
In a visit to Brigham Young University’s weekly campus devotional in March, President Gordon B. Hinckley, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, announced a new president for the school in Provo, Utah.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. of the Seventy, a retired medical doctor who was serving in the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his appointment, was named 12th president of the university and took his post on 1 May.
“It will be [President Samuelson’s] responsibility to keep [Brigham Young University] in robust health, growing and maturing as one of the great teaching universities of this country and the world,” said President Hinckley.
President Samuelson is a Salt Lake City native and has served as professor of medicine, dean of the School of Medicine, and vice president of health sciences at the University of Utah. Prior to his call as a full-time General Authority, he was senior vice president of Intermountain Health Care. He holds a bachelor of science degree, a master’s degree in educational psychology, and a medical degree from the University of Utah.
He fulfilled his residency and held a fellowship in rheumatic and genetic diseases at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He has received numerous scholastic honors and has authored or coauthored 48 original publications, eight books or chapters of books, and 13 abstracts.
While serving as a General Authority, he has served as an Area President for the Utah North Area and the Europe North Area. He has also served as a missionary, branch president, stake high councilor, stake president, and regional representative. He and his wife, Sharon Giauque Samuelson, have five children and three grandchildren.
President Samuelson succeeds Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, who continues full-time service as a General Authority. Elder Bateman began his tenure as the university’s president in January 1996. “We are deeply grateful for the service President Bateman has given,” President Hinckley said. “We could not have asked for anyone better. He will walk off this campus as one whose performance has been summa cum laude.”
Elder Bateman has served as a missionary, bishop, stake high councilor, stake president, and regional representative. He was called to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy in June 1992. As part of that assignment, he was President of the Asia North Area.
He was sustained as Presiding Bishop on 2 April 1994 and was then called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy on 2 November 1995. While serving as president of BYU, he continued to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Bateman is married to Marilyn Scholes Bateman, and they have seven children and 28 grandchildren.
Policies and Announcements
Stake and Ward Web Sites
In a 22 January 2003 letter to priesthood leaders in the United States and Canada, the Presiding Bishopric announced that branches, wards, and stakes in these areas may create Web sites for their units.
In March 2001 wards and stakes were asked to discontinue Web sites, pending a policy established from the Church. With this new announcement, the Church has made available templates and content guidelines for Web sites that can be tailored by each unit. They may post news, announcements, calendars, directories, and meetinghouse schedules on their sites. “This system is the only authorized way for local Church units to have a presence on the Internet,” the letter states.