LDS Church sustains 2 new general authorities in historic firsts

From left, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. Photos: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 31, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sustained two new general authorities, and each will be the first of his racial heritage to serve in the position.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, 64, in a California native of Asian descent. He had served as a General Authority Seventy since April of 2010. From 2011 to 2015, Gong was a member of the Asia Area Presidency, headquartered in Hong Kong, and concluded that service as the Area President.

According to Gong’s biography on the LDS Church news website, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and university studies from Brigham Young University in 1977. In 1979, he received a Master of Philosophy degree and in 1981 a doctorate  in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

In 1985 he served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department and in 1987 as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China.

From 1989 he served in several positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was assistant to the president for planning and assessment at Brigham Young University until April 2010.

Gong served his mission in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, and has served in numerous other church positions.

Elder Ulisses Soares was sustained Saturday as the LDS Church’s first General Authority of Latin American descent.

Soares, 59, is a native of Brazil. He had been serving as a General Authority Seventy since April 2, 2005, and was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy in 2013.

Soares served previously as a counselor in the Africa Southeast Area, President of the Brazil Area and as a counselor in the Brazil South Area, his biography says.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and economics from the São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science in 1985 and later received a Master of Business Administration degree. He was an accountant and auditor for multinational corporations in Brazil and director for temporal affairs in the Church area office in São Paulo.
At the time of his call as a General Authority, Soares was serving on a special assignment for the Presiding Bishopric of the Church in Salt Lake City.
Soares has served in a number of Church callings, including full-time missionary in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission and president of the Portugal Porto Mission.



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