News Release

Leadership Changes in Presidency of the Seventy Announced

Elder L. Whitney Clayton is the senior president of the Quorums of the Seventy, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong will now serve as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. The Church made this announcement Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton

Elder L. Whitney Clayton will serve as the senior president of the Quorums of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was announced today. He succeeds Elder Ronald A. Rasband, who became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 3, 2015. 

Elder Clayton has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since March 31, 2001. He has served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since 2008 and had supervisory responsibility for the Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City and Utah South Areas. He assisted Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in supervising the Africa Southeast and Africa West Areas. He also serves as a member of the Public Affairs Committee.

Elder Clayton served as a counselor in the South America South Area Presidency in 2002–2003 and as president during 2003–2006, while living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He previously served as an area seventy for the North America West Area for six years. He served as a full-time missionary in Peru in 1970–1971. He is fluent in Spanish.

Elder Clayton was a business litigation attorney with Call, Clayton & Jensen, in Newport Beach, California, from 1981 to 2001.He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at the University of Utah and a law degree at the University of the Pacific.

Elder Clayton was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1950. He married Kathy Ann Kipp on August 9, 1973, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are parents of seven children and grandparents of 20 grandchildren.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong

Elder Gerrit W. Gong has been chosen to fill a vacancy in the Presidency of the Seventy. Until the time of this call, Elder Gong served as president of the Church’s Asia Area. In terms of geography, population, languages spoken and religious diversity, the Asia Area is the largest in the Church.

Elder Gong will continue to serve in Asia for a short time as his responsibilities are transferred.

He became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 3, 2010, at the age of 56. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area. 

Elder Gong received a bachelor of arts degree in Asian and university studies at Brigham Young University in 1977. In 1979 he received a master of philosophy degree and in 1981 a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1985 he served as special assistant to under secretary of state at the U.S. State Department, and in 1987 as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. From 1989 to 2001 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.

Elder Gong served as a full-time missionary in Taiwan.

Gerrit W. Gong was born in Redwood City, California, in 1953. He and his wife, Susan Lindsay Gong, are the parents of four children and have three grandchildren. Elder Gong's grandparents were immigrants from China.

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