Conference Reaching Members Worldwide; New Seventies Called

President Gordon B. Hinckley, approaching his 96th birthday, overcame the effects of the surgery he underwent earlier this year to address Church members Saturday evening and Sunday morning and to bless listeners as the 176th Annual General Conference of the Church concluded.

“God bless you, my beloved brothers and sisters,” he said at the close of the conference. “I leave my love and my testimony and my blessing with you and pray that the Lord will be with us each and every one until again we meet.”

President Hinckley’s words, as well as the teachings of his counselors in the First Presidency, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other General Authorities and general Church leaders, were broadcast by satellite in 85 languages to 5,952 Church-owned receiving sites in 83 countries worldwide. They were carried online in up to 61 languages, depending on the session. Video streaming carried conference to selected meetinghouses outside the Church satellite network.

The 85 languages, including English, represent the native tongues of 98 percent of Church members. The Church hopes to reach 100 percent by 2010. New languages this conference were Efik, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Lingala, and Yoruba.

On Saturday, 10 new General Authorities and 17 new Area Seventies were called.

Called as General Authorities to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are David S. Baxter, Shayne M. Bowen, Daniel L. Johnson, Marcus B. Nash, and Anthony D. Perkins. New General Authorities called to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy are Craig A. Cardon, Don R. Clarke, Keith R. Edwards, Stanley G. Ellis, and Larry W. Gibbons. (Information on the new General Authorities begins on page 124.) In addition, Elder Keith K. Hilbig, a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy since 2001, was named to the First Quorum of the Seventy (see biographical information in Liahona, July 2001, 125; Ensign, May 2001, 106).

Area Seventies give part-time voluntary Church service within their assigned geographic areas and support Area Presidencies in international areas. Called as Area Seventies are Jose L. Alonso, 47, San Nicolas, Mexico; Vladimiro J. Campero, 60, Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Juan A. Etchegaray, 61, Montevideo, Uruguay; Hernan I. Herrera, 50, Santiago, Chile; David J. Hoare, 52, Sunbury, Australia; César H. Hooker, 47, Lima, Peru; Javier Ibañez, 51, San Cristobal, Venezuela; Daniel M. Jones, 53, Cedar City, Utah; Stephen C. Kerr, 45, Stirling, Scotland; Joni L. Koch, 44, Balnéario Camboriú, Brazil; Daniel A. Moreno, 53, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kent H. Murdock, 58, Salt Lake City, Utah; J. Michel Paya, 61, Mougins, France; Stephen D. Posey, 58, North Augusta, South Carolina; Carlos F. Rivas, 46, San Salvador, El Salvador; Juan M. Rodriguez, 54, Mexico City, Mexico; Carlos Villanova, 43, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Releases to be effective on May 1, 2006, were announced for the following 16 Area Seventies: Salvador Aguirre, Jose C. Aleson, Daniel P. Alvarez, David S. Baxter, Shayne M. Bowen, Yatyr M. Cesar, Robert M. Cowan, Keith R. Edwards, Stanley G. Ellis, Franz R. Gaag, Daniel L. Johnson, Joel H. McKinnon, Marcus B. Nash, Armando A. Sierra, Jeffrey C. Swinton, and Remus G. Villarete.

For information on available video, audio, and text archives, visit

Young women and their leaders at the general Young Women meeting in March were encouraged by President Hinckley during a video presentation: “You dear, wonderful girls, I speak with a father’s love for you. I thank you that you’ve traveled so well, so far. I plead with you to never let down, to establish a purpose and hold to the line and move forward undeterred by any opposing temptation or force that may cross your path. You live in many lands, you speak various languages, and every one of you has something divine within you. You are second to none; you are daughters of God.”

Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting Text Accessible to All Members

The complete text of the recent worldwide leadership training meeting will be printed in the June 2006 Liahona and Ensign, the first time all talks from such a training meeting have been made available in the magazines.

The broad release of all talks from a worldwide leadership meeting is uncharacteristic, since the broadcast is specifically for the priesthood and auxiliary leaders of the Church. However, Church leaders are making these talks accessible to all members of the Church because they are on the topic of the family.

“We recommended inserting the proceedings in the Ensign and Liahona because strengthening the family is a major message for our time from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” said Elder Dale E. Miller of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Priesthood Department of the Church. “Members will be more receptive to the teaching of these principles by local leaders if they have the confirming voice of General Authorities and officers.”

The talks are already available in text, audio, and video formats online at and feature the words of President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society general president.

“Our thoughts have centered on home and family as we have been reminded that the home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions,” President Monson said during the broadcast.

Elder Perry spoke to members “heart to heart” about their service in the Lord’s kingdom. Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, he shared a message from a 2003 worldwide leadership training meeting: “It is imperative that you not neglect your families. Nothing you have is more precious” (“Rejoicing in the Privilege to Serve,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 21, 2003, 22).

Elder Bednar said such instruction has never been more needed in the world than it is today. “Today I will speak with you primarily as men and women, as husbands and wives, and as mothers and fathers, and secondarily as priesthood and auxiliary leaders in the Church,” he said.

Sister Parkin spoke on the sacred duty parents have to provide for, protect, and nurture their children and expressed the importance of showing love in the home. “One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is to show them they love each other,” she said.

All of the talks will be distributed as usual on DVD and in booklet form to individual units. Online, the text will be available in more than 40 languages. In video, audio, and MP3 files, the talks from the meeting are already available in 11 languages, with more than 60 to follow.

Elder David S. Baxter

Of the Seventy
Elder David S. Baxter

Elder David Steward Baxter of the Seventy believes that the darkest hour is just before dawn. Born into difficult circumstances in Stirling, Scotland, on February 7, 1955, Elder Baxter says his family struggled before joining the Church. But when the missionaries found his mother, Ellen Steel, raising her four young children alone, the spirit that entered the home was “almost tangible.”

“Our recognition of the gospel was instantaneous,” recalls Elder Baxter, then a 12-year-old boy. “It gave us a new sense of purpose.”

Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Surrey, England, and was embraced by the branch members there. “It was nothing we’d ever experienced. We didn’t come from a class of people who got invited to dinner.”

There he also met his future wife, Dianne Lewars. They attended Mutual and seminary together, and were two of five Church members in their school of 1,200.

Elder Baxter graduated in business and economics from the University of Wales and served in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission. He and Dianne were married on February 24, 1979, in the London England Temple and made their home in England, where they raised their four children. Elder Baxter worked in communication and marketing with several international companies. He has served as stake president, mission president’s counselor, stake institute and public affairs director, and bishop. When called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was serving as an Area Seventy and as Second Counselor in the Europe West Area.

Elder Baxter credits the gospel of Jesus Christ with lifting his family out of a dark time. “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My life experience has taught me to know the blessings from the Savior’s Atonement. We can be refreshed, cleansed, lifted up. We can be healed.”

Elder Shayne M. Bowen

Of the Seventy
Elder Shayne M. Bowen

Elder Shayne Martell Bowen says that “being able to take advantage of all the blessings of the gospel” and having been “richly blessed with a great family” have prepared him for his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He says, “I’ve learned to be obedient.”

Elder Bowen’s wife, Lynette Mortensen, attests, “He’s always obeyed with exactness as long as I’ve known him.” She and their seven children are grateful they can depend on his integrity. Sister Bowen even credits her husband’s obedience for their marriage on December 28, 1976, in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. Elder Bowen’s father advised his son to ask Lynette on a date.

Born to Lyle and Jacqueline Bowen in Rigby, Idaho, USA, on August 29, 1954, Elder Bowen worked alongside his father in his music store delivering pianos and on Church farms harvesting potatoes. After completing a bachelor’s degree in English at Brigham Young University, he operated an insurance agency with his father and later his son.

Elder and Sister Bowen enjoy traveling with their family and spending time with their five grandchildren. Elder Bowen also likes coaching his sons in football and soccer.

Though the Bowens have faced serious challenges, including the death of a nine-month-old son, “it has been a wonderful life,” Elder Bowen says. “Heavenly Father has been so good to us.” Submitting to the Lord’s will has allowed him to “feel closer to Him and understand that we can put full faith in Him.”

Placing such faith in the Lord has helped Elder Bowen in many callings, most recently as an Area Seventy in the Idaho Area. He has also served as stake president, high councilor, bishop, high priests group instructor, elders quorum president, Scout leader, mission president in the Spain Barcelona Mission, and full-time missionary in Santiago, Chile.

Elder Daniel L. Johnson

Of the Seventy
Elder Daniel L. Johnson

Elder Daniel Leroy Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy believes that the ordinances of the temple are the crowning blessings of the gospel. “Temple attendance affects so many aspects of gospel living,” he says. “If we will go to the temple as often as we can, it can be the single biggest influence for change in our lives.”

Elder Johnson was born to Leroy and Rita Skousen Johnson on December 15, 1946, in Colonia Juárez, Mexico, where he was raised and where a temple was dedicated in 1999. He has seen the temple’s effect on the members there. “Life revolves around temple attendance in that community now,” he says. “It has changed lives.”

Elder Johnson has had the opportunity to see the gospel change lives throughout the Americas. As an Area Seventy in the Mexico North Area, Elder Johnson visited many places where he had served as a missionary in the West Mexico Mission from 1966 to 1968. “Every city where we had missionaries in the ’60s now has at least one stake,” he says. “It’s marvelous to see so many strong leaders.”

Elder Johnson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Brigham Young University. He and his wife, LeAnn Holman, were married in 1970 in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple.

The Johnsons, who have six children, have lived in Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and in Utah, Minnesota, and Texas, in the United States. “We have been able to watch the Church grow,” he says. “It’s a miracle.”

The Johnsons have tried to contribute to that growth wherever they have lived. In addition to serving as an Area Seventy, Elder Johnson has been president of the Guayaquil North Ecuador Mission, counselor in mission presidencies, counselor in a stake presidency, bishop, ward Young Men president, and Gospel Doctrine teacher.

Elder Marcus B. Nash

Of the Seventy
Elder Marcus B. Nash

Elder Marcus Bell Nash remembers as an eight-year-old boy puzzling over something a nonmember friend had told him. This friend had said that he believed his own church was true. Elder Nash says, “I knew our Church was true. I had never thought that someone else could think his or her church was true. I walked home puzzling and pondering this question. If he thinks his church is true, and I think mine is true, who is right?”

As he sat on the front steps, his head in his hands, he asked himself, “How do I figure this out?” Elder Nash says, “A voice came into my mind, and it said, ‘Now you know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, don’t you?’ I answered the question inwardly, ‘Yes.’ Then the voice said, ‘Then you know the Church is true, don’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yes!’ All the doubt disappeared.”

That answer set the foundation of his testimony. Elder Nash developed a great love for the Prophet Joseph Smith and a powerful feeling for the Book of Mormon that built upon that foundation.

Elder Nash was born to Brent and Beverly Bell Nash on March 26, 1957, in Seattle, Washington, USA. He married Shelley Hatch on May 29, 1979, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have five children.

Elder Nash graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a law degree from Brigham Young University. He was a partner in a major Seattle law firm at the time of his call. He has served in the Church as stake president, bishop, ward Young Men president, elders quorum president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and full-time missionary in the El Salvador San Salvador Mission. Elder Nash was serving as an Area Seventy in the North America Northwest Area when he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Anthony D. Perkins

Of the Seventy
Elder Anthony D. Perkins

Elder Anthony Duane Perkins spent much of his childhood with his legs in “all kinds of contraptions” because one of his legs stopped growing when he was 7. At age 10 he was the “guinea pig” in an inventive but successful operation performed by a Chinese doctor.

Elder Perkins notes that the event was the first of many interactions with the Chinese. “My whole life has been wrapped up with the Chinese people.”

Born in Cortez, Colorado, USA, on July 22, 1960, to Sunny Kimballa Luther Perkins and Larry Lazelle Perkins, Elder Perkins says the family didn’t settle in one spot until he was 13 years old. There, in Farmington, New Mexico, USA, he first met his future wife, Christine Abbot, who overwhelmingly defeated him in student body elections. They later dated, wrote throughout his mission, and were married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 21, 1981.

Elder Perkins served as a missionary in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, where he says he “caught the China bug.” He obtained a finance degree from Brigham Young University and Masters of Business Administration and Arts from the University of Pennsylvania; then he joined an international management consulting firm. Elder Perkins was later one of the partners to open an office in China, an opportunity that sent the Perkinses and their six children to Beijing for eight years. He is now completing his tenure as president of the Taiwan Taipei Mission.

“I’ve spent half of my adult life in Asia,” he says. “This great blessing has shown my family the global reach of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Previous to his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Perkins had served as district president’s counselor, branch president, elders quorum president, ward clerk, and seminary teacher.

Elder Craig A. Cardon

Of the Seventy
Elder Craig A. Cardon

Elder Craig Allen Cardon says there is no substitute for the power that comes through the scriptures. “I set a rule for myself long ago,” he says. “I was not going to let my eyes close for the final time upon the day unless they had fallen upon the scriptures.”

When serving as president of the Italy Rome Mission from 1983 to 1986, Elder Cardon started discussing the scriptures during each presidency meeting—a practice he continued in subsequent callings. “Teaching from the scriptures was always on the agenda,” he says. “We would spend a significant amount of time focusing on the doctrine as taught in the scriptures. That was a valued, cherished time.”

Elder Cardon was born on December 30, 1948, in Mesa, Arizona, USA, to Vilate Allen Cardon and Wilford Pratt Cardon. After serving a mission in Italy, he married Deborah Dana on November 25, 1970, in the Mesa Arizona Temple; they are the parents of eight children.

While growing up, Elder Cardon says, he benefited from the righteous example and teachings of his parents. “I had a mother who taught me to pray and a father who taught me to trust and love the Lord,” he says. Their guidance helped him recognize the Spirit at a young age. On one occasion, a concern weighed heavily on his mind. “Because of the way I’d been taught, I went out to kneel in the fields near our home. I remember getting some distinct answers.” Tutoring experiences continued throughout his life and helped prepare him for his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Cardon, who has worked in a family real-estate business, received his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and his master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has been a bishop, stake president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and institute instructor.

Elder Don R. Clarke

Of the Seventy
Elder Don R. Clarke

When Elder Don Ray Clarke was president of the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission, he transferred to mission headquarters an elder who made it clear he would have preferred to finish his mission in another area. Soon after, the elder met a woman looking for a daughter she hadn’t seen in 10 years. When she showed him a photo, this missionary recognized her daughter from a previous area. He played a key part in reuniting a mother and her child.

From this experience and others, “I’ve come to know that God cares deeply about people,” Elder Clarke says. He welcomes surprise transfers and new callings that allow him to help others. “I hope I can minister,” he says of his new calling, “and not just administer.”

Born on December 11, 1945, in Rexburg, Idaho, USA, to Raymond and Gladys Clarke, he credits a good home, good friends, and his patriarch grandfather, who lived with his family, for strengthening his testimony as a child.

He earned an associate degree from Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho), a bachelor’s degree in business from Brigham Young University, and a master’s degree in business administration from Washington State University. He married Mary Anne Jackson on June 5, 1970, in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. They have six children.

He pursued a successful career in retail, filling senior executive positions. Before his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he served as a member of the high council of the Buena Vista Virginia Stake, stake president, assistant director of Church hosting, bishop, stake Young Men president, elders quorum president, and full-time missionary in the Argentina South Mission.

“I’ve learned along the way that so many of God’s children need help.” He answers their prayers through us, he says, “so that we can receive the great blessings of serving them.”

Elder Keith R. Edwards

Of the Seventy
Elder Keith R. Edwards

Elder Keith Reid Edwards has served as bishop, stake president, president of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission, and Area Seventy. But when he lists defining moments in his life, they center around family.

One such event was after he first asked his future wife on a date. “My twin brother said, ‘That’s not the kind of girl you just date. That’s the kind of girl you marry.’ And he was right.” Elder Edwards, son of Elbert and Mary Reid Edwards, married Judith Lee Higgins on June 20, 1964, in the St. George Utah Temple.

Elder Edwards was born in Boulder City, Nevada, USA, on March 16, 1942. He attended the Church College of Hawaii, served in the Florida Mission from 1961 to 1963, completed his bachelor’s degree in political science at Brigham Young University, then obtained a law degree from the University of Utah.

Elder and Sister Edwards settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he practiced law. During that time, another life-defining event occurred. During Sister Edwards’s seventh and final pregnancy, she became quite ill and couldn’t eat. After a family fast and priesthood blessing, she improved. But halfway through the pregnancy she took a sudden turn for the worse, and the doctor told them to expect the baby by morning. That night was filled with fervent prayers by the anxious couple. Their daughter was later born at full term.

“Twenty-one years later, on the eve of that daughter’s wedding,” Elder Edwards recounts, “we learned that each of our older children had found a quiet place and had also poured out his or her heart to the Lord that night.” It was a powerful lesson of a family united in faith.

Of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Edwards says, “I come to this as a product of generations of good, strong, solid men and women. I just climbed the trail they blazed for me.”

Elder Stanley G. Ellis

Of the Seventy
Elder Stanley G. Ellis

Serving God is a choice, says Elder Stanley Gareld Ellis, recalling his days as a student at Harvard University. “As I looked around, I saw that there was no way you can prove God exists by any scientific means. Believing in Him is a choice we have to make,” he says. “I still remember as a freshman making that choice.”

He remembers receiving confirmation from the Spirit much earlier in life than that—in his prayers as a young child. Born on January 22, 1947, and raised in the Church with the good examples of his parents, Stephen and Hazel Taylor Ellis, he grew up on the family farm in Burley, Idaho, USA, where he learned the importance of hard work—pulling sugar beets, hauling hay, and herding cattle—and faith.

Elder Ellis served from 1966 to 1968 in the Brazilian Mission, one of only two missions in the country at that time. There are now 26, a fact Elder Ellis knows from having recently served as president of the São Paulo Brazil Mission.

“Our hearts beat Brazil,” says his wife, Kathryn Kloepfer Ellis. They currently reside in Houston, Texas.

Elder and Sister Ellis met at Brigham Young University, where he earned a law degree after graduating from Harvard in governmental studies. They married on June 7, 1969, in the Los Angeles California Temple.

After raising their nine children, they remark on how each one is different. “With this calling too you learn how different the Brethren are,” Elder Ellis says. “And yet together they are all effective in serving the Lord.”

He says he has been guided and prepared by the Spirit every step of the way and in every calling for his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. He has served as mission president, stake president, high councilor, counselor in a bishopric, elders quorum president, and ward Young Men president.

Elder Larry W. Gibbons

Of the Seventy
Elder Larry W. Gibbons

Elder Larry Wayne Gibbons of the Seventy has a philosophy: “If you have a choice between two challenges, take the toughest—the one that will stretch you most. The times my testimony has grown the most were when I faced the greatest challenges.”

Born to Andrew H. and Lola Heaton Gibbons on July 30, 1942, in Logan, Utah, USA, Elder Gibbons has had myriad opportunities to develop that philosophy. He served a mission in the Netherlands, one of the greatest periods of growth in his life. While he was away, his father died, and he had to choose between a local university near home to help his mother and the away-from-home challenges of Stanford University. At his family’s urging, he returned to Stanford, where he studied history. He chose to be a physician, earning his medical degree from the University of Utah and a master of public health degree from Harvard University.

While at medical school, Elder Gibbons married LaDawn Anderson on July 21, 1967, in the Logan Utah Temple. After time in Seattle, San Antonio, and Boston, they settled in Dallas, Texas, USA. They have two children.

Though we don’t get to choose our callings, choosing to accept them brings stretching experiences as well, says Elder Gibbons. Now a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he was among the first Area Seventies. He says, “Accompanying members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—studying together, kneeling together, and receiving revelation on calling a new stake president—that was a time of tremendous spiritual growth.”

Elder Gibbons has also grown as a regional representative, stake president, stake president’s counselor, seminary teacher, and others.

To make good choices and take on the right challenges, Elder Gibbons says, it’s important to establish priorities early. “Spend your time and your best efforts on things that matter eternally.”