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Get to know the Church’s 11 New General Authority Seventies

Sustained in April 2024 general conference, the Church’s 11 new leaders hail from 8 different countries

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The 11 newly sustained General Authority Seventies sit on the stand during the Saturday morning session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 2024.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Church News Staff

During the Saturday morning session of the April 2024 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, members sustained 11 new General Authority Seventies. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, led the sustainings.

Following is a brief look at the new leaders, who hail from eight different countries. A more in-depth profile on each will appear in coming weeks.

Elder David L. Buckner

 
Elder David L. Buckner, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Jennifer Buckner, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.
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Elder David L. Buckner was raised in Ogden, Utah, but “grew up” in Sacramento, California.

Born September 27, 1963, in Ogden — the youngest of Melba and E. LaMar Buckner’s five children, Elder Buckner moved to California at age 11 when his father was called to preside over the Church’s mission in Sacramento. Away from well-established friends in Utah, he learned how to connect with those who are different and found among the missionaries “300 older brothers and sisters.” Most important, his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ took root.

“That mission experience changed everything for me,” he said.

Later he would embark on his own full-time missionary service in the Ecuador Guayaquil Mission. Just three months into his mission, while serving as the branch president in Jipijapa, Ecuador, he mourned with members after an 11-year-old boy drowned while participating in a Church activity. As he pleaded with the Lord in the weeks and months that followed, he gained an unshakable testimony of the plan of salvation. He also witnessed the Lord’s compassion as others in the community embraced the gospel and the plan. Together they had come to understand the sacred nature of life and the power of the Lord’s grace.

After his mission, Elder Buckner went to BYU, where he met Jennifer Romney Jackson; the couple married August 30, 1990, in the Salt Lake Temple. Sister Buckner grew up in New York, and the couple returned to her home state, raising their five children in Manhattan — where Elder Buckner represented the Church on the prominent Commission of Religious Leaders.

Elder Buckner received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Brigham Young University in 1988 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Durham University in 1991. He also received a Master of International Relations from BYU in 1995 and a Juris Doctorate from BYU in 1996. Elder Buckner served as a high councilor, bishop, stake president and Area Seventy. Learn more.

Elder Gregorio E. Casillas

Elder Gregorio E. Casillas, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Alma Angelina Obeso Gonzalez, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.
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Gregorio E. Casillas was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, on August 26, 1975. He lived there until he was called to serve a mission in the Mexico Tampico Mission.

He and Alma Angelina Obeso Gonzalez were sealed in the San Diego California Temple in June 1999. They are the parents of three children.

Before the two were married, they lived 100 miles apart while he studied in Tijuana and she studied in Mexicali. In the months before their marriage, they prayed and fasted to know where to live and start their family. Elder Casillas remembers the feeling he had from the Holy Ghost.

“I remember, while we were fasting, hearing the Lord say, ‘If your mountain is the Rumorosa (a large mountain located between the two cities), I will take it away,’” Elder Casillas said.

The Lord cleared the path for them to be in Mexicali as the university there unexpectedly accepted him as a transfer student, he said.

“And we met people we needed to meet. And we served in callings where we needed to serve,” he said.

Elder Casillas said this set a pattern for their life together.

“When we put God first, all the other things find their place. It requires a little bit of faith and a little bit of action, and then the Lord extends His hand to bless us.”

Elder Casillas earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Universidad Autónoma of Baja California. He also earned an MBA from Xochicalco University. He has worked in construction project management and most recently as the Area Temple Facilities Manager for the Church’s Mexico Area. Learn more.

Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante

Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Christiana Cavalcante, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.
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At the invitation of his cousin, 18-year-old Aroldo B. Cavalcante attended a regional conference with President Gordon B. Hinckley, then first counselor in the First Presidency, in 1988. “I felt something very strong,” he recounted. “I could see a light in President Hinckley.”

The young man attended Church the next three years but wasn’t baptized. Then, missionaries knocked on his door while holding their area book and read what past missionaries wrote about him. What struck him was the last sentence: “But he doesn’t want to commit to Jesus Christ.”

He later recounted: “I thought I was very committed to Jesus Christ, and that line was too strong for me. ‘This is what Jesus Christ thinks about me? What can I do to change this, elders?’”

The missionaries started teaching him, and the 21-year-old was baptized just 10 days later. Now-Elder Cavalcante has committed to his Savior’s gospel ever since.

“This is not about us; it’s about the Savior. And I try to do my very best for Him, not for me,” said Elder Cavalcante. He added, “I know this is His Church, and I’m going to put all my efforts to be the best servant that I can be.”

Aroldo Barreto Cavalcante Filho was born November 22, 1970, in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. He was sealed to Christiana Ramalho Bezerra Leite in the Recife Brazil Temple on January 21, 2004. They are the parents of four children.

Elder Cavalcante received a postgraduate degree in administrative law from the Federal University of Ceará in 1997. He worked as an attorney for Procuradoria Geral do Município from 1997 to 2005 and managing partner of Barreto Cavalcante Advogados since 1999.

Until his call as General Authority Seventy, Elder Cavalcante had been serving as president of the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission. Other callings have included full-time missionary in the Brazil Recife South Mission, bishopric counselor, bishop, stake president and Area Seventy. Learn more.

Elder I. Raymond Egbo

Elder I. Raymond Egbo, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Comfort Egbo, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Though he was going to a Catholic boarding school in Nigeria, Elder I. Raymond Egbo’s older sister kept inviting him to “come and see” what the Church of Jesus Christ was all about. At 14 years old, he started going to seminary in the evenings and sneaking back to school afterward.

While reading the seminary course of study, Elder Egbo came to Doctrine and Covenants 135 and the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.

“Something powerfully touched me, and I knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I knew that he was killed for the truth,” he said. “I still feel right now how I felt that day when I read it.”

Later, while he was attending university, his sister encouraged him to serve a mission. Their father was angry with him for leaving his studies. But Elder Egbo regularly wrote him letters describing everything he was doing and what he was teaching.

To his amazement, near the end of his mission, his mission president read to him a letter from his father that said he had been baptized: “Tell him I will be waiting for him.”

Elder Idyo Ryamon Egdo was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, on June 25, 1974, to Udo Idio Egbo and Veronica Ukamaka Egbo. He met Comfort Ikip Ese when her family moved into his branch in 1994, and they were married on May 15, 2003, in Calabar, Nigeria. They have three children.

Elder Egbo has degrees in education, regional planning and business administration from three universities. He has worked in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion since 2002 in a variety of positions, including country director and area director.

At the time of his call, Elder Egbo was an Area Seventy in the Africa West Area. He served as president of the Nigeria Calabar Mission and has been a stake presidency counselor and high councilor. He served a full-time mission in the Nigeria Lagos Mission as a young man.

Elder D. Martin Goury

Elder D. Martin Goury, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Ruth Goury, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.
Elder D. Martin Goury, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Ruth Goury, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.
Elder D. Martin Goury, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Ruth Goury, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Growing up in a village near Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire, Elder D. Martin Goury dreamed of becoming a priest.

In October 1992, he was in London, England, trying to learn English and gain an education, when he met Latter-day Saint missionaries. One was the only native French-speaking missionary in London, and they gave Elder Goury a French copy of the Book of Mormon.

He started reading the book and received a witness of its truthfulness by the end of November 1992. The next set of missionaries came by his apartment one year later, and he was baptized in April 1993.

“I remember being very happy,” he said.

His joy increased as the missionaries taught him about the priesthood.

“They explained the meaning of the priesthood and how I could use that to serve other people. For me, that was my dream coming true,” he said. “I was delighted to become a member.”

Dalébé Martin Goury was born in Gagnoa on January 30, 1964, to Yoro Goury Maurice and Bame Gaby Odette. He grew up in a village called Lehipa and the cities of Oume and Gagnoa. He married Ruth Simone Kennington in the London England Temple on April 8, 1995. They live in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and have four children.

Elder Goury earned bachelor’s degrees in teaching from CAFOP de Man in 1988 and mechanical engineering from London South Bank University in 1997. He worked as a primary school teacher, a design engineer, a senior project manager and deputy project director for Cameron, a general manager of Nigeria operations for OneSubsea Services and country operations manager for Schlumberger. Most recently he worked for the Church as a leader and member support coordinator.

Elder Goury was serving as a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy in the Africa West Area at the time of his call. He has previously served as an elders quorum president, bishopric counselor, branch president, bishop and president of the Benin Cotonou Mission.

Elder Karl D. Hirst

Elder Karl D. Hirst, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Claire Hirst, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.
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Elder Karl D. Hirst considers himself “an ordinary person in an extraordinary calling.”

The new General Authority Seventy sees his testimony and its confirmations as somewhat ordinary as well.

“No visitations, absolutely nothing spectacularly spiritual — and I have stopped worrying about that, because I am so fulfilled by the way that God has chosen to speak to me, even if He chooses to speak to other people in a different way,” Elder Hirst said. “It is not spectacular, but it is abundant.”

His testimony has its origins in learning the stories of Jesus and singing hymns in the Methodist Church, attending as a child with his mother and grandmother in the county of Lancashire in northwest England.

His father, who ran a humble corner shop, had learned of the Church of Jesus Christ through customers and converted several years after Karl’s February 28, 1972, birth to Jack Hirst and Vivien Ruth Meakin Hirst in Bury, Lancashire.

Young Karl later attended Latter-day Saint meetings and was invited by a Primary teacher to be baptized; he did so at age 10. Through five-plus decades of life, Elder Hirst has carried that childlike faith and testimony.

“God has spoken to me in my heart in the same way He did when I was in Primary and the same way as He did when I was in the Methodist Sunday School,” Elder Hirst said.

He married Claire Elizabeth Wright on May 29, 1993, in Burnley, Lancashire; they were sealed later that day in the London England Temple, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of Burnley.

He received a Bachelor of Law degree in 1996 from Lancaster University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Alliance Manchester Business School in 2016. Since 1997, he has worked as a barrister (lawyer).

The parents of six children, the Hirsts were residing in Bolsover, Chesterfield, England, and serving as FSY session directors at the time of his call. His previous Church callings include full-time missionary in the London South Mission, bishop, stake president and Area Seventy.

Elder Christopher H. Kim

Elder Christopher H. Kim, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Seongmi (Sue) Kim, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

When Elder Christopher H. Kim was 14 years old and had a chance to share the gospel with friends, he realized he needed to know the truth of the Book of Mormon so he could speak with conviction.

He had read the scriptures personally and with his family. “As I prayed about it, I felt a soul-comforting feeling. And suddenly, there was not any question or any doubt about the Book of Mormon. … And that is, I think, the first time that I really felt the Spirit, and I knew about the Book of Mormon, and I knew that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.”

Christopher Hyunsu Kim was born November 18, 1965, in Daegu, South Korea, the oldest of four children of Chinho Kim and Kuncha Kim. His parents joined the Church when he was an infant. Elder Kim lived in Daegu until he graduated from high school and his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Southern California.

While he was serving in the Washington Seattle Mission, the future Sister Kim — then Sister Seongmi (Sue) Hong — was serving in the California Los Angeles Mission. She got to know Elder Kim’s mother, and later, after both Elder Kim and Sister Hong completed their missions, they dated and then married Dec. 7, 1991, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They have one son and three daughters.

Elder Kim graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1995 and a Master of Business Administration in 1997. After school, he worked in the United States, Thailand and South Korea. Since 2005 he has been employed by Unicity International, a Utah-based nutritional products and cosmetics supplier, most recently as president of global markets, based in Seoul, South Korea.

Elder Kim has served since 2019 as an Area Seventy. His Church service also has included stake president, stake presidency counselor, stake mission president and high councilor.

Elder Sandino Roman

Elder Sandino Roman, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Guadalupe Villanueva Rojas, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Elder Sandino Roman was introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ as a child. A friend of his mother’s brought him and his sister each Sunday to meet with the 15 other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a small meetinghouse in Iguala, Mexico.

The 5-year-old prayed every day that his family would become converted to the gospel. Two years later, his mother and father were baptized. One year after that, his father baptized him. “For that reason, I know that the Lord hears children’s prayers,” Elder Roman said.

Embracing the gospel and serving in the Church had a transformative effect on his family. “I’ve seen the end result that the gospel brings into lives. I know it brings happiness and hope.”

Elder Roman met Guadalupe Villanueva Rojas while playing on the Benemerito de las Américas high school volleyball team. Years later they were sealed in the Mexico City Mexico Temple on December 19, 1998, and they have four children. As a family, they love traveling, road trips and movie nights with pizza.

Elder Roman received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer systems from the ITESM Mexico in 2000 and a Master of Business Administration from Brigham Young University in 2006. He has worked as a marketing manager for Johnson & Johnson and for the Church as the manager of the Mexico Area Support Services Office.

At the time of his call, he and his wife were serving as leaders of the Ecuador Quito North Mission. Elder Roman has also served as an elders quorum president, bishop, stake presidency counselor, high councilor and Area Seventy.

His main goal in life and wherever he serves, Elder Roman says, is to earn the trust of the Lord. “I want Him to know He can trust me to do this work.”

Sandino Roman was born August 7, 1973, to Lidia Corral and Prometeo Roman in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

Elder Steven D. Shumway

Elder Steven D. Shumway, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Heidi Shumway, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Two years into his work at Exxon Chemical Co. in Houston, Texas, Elder Steven D. Shumway learned his parents had been called to preside over a mission in Bolivia and needed help with the family business.

“I don’t want to put pressure on you to come back,” his father said to him. “But if you don’t come back, I worry about what will happen to the business.”

It was a difficult decision to make, said Elder Shumway.

He and his wife traveled five hours to the Dallas Texas Temple and spent the day there without finding an answer. Afterward, they visited the bookstore and spotted President Gordon B. Hinckley’s biography, “Go Forward With Faith.”

Elder Shumway said: “Both of us felt the Lord say, ‘You need to go forward with faith in My way, not in your way.’ And so we moved to Arizona, which has turned out to be one of the most significant and beautiful changes in our lives.”

One of the best things they have learned in their marriage, Elder Shumway said, is “when you accept [the Lord’s] invitation, you prosper. You progress. Things are better than if you try to do things your way.”

Steven D. Shumway was born on June 30, 1970, in Springerville, Arizona, to Wilford Douglas and Dixie Ann Shumway and grew up in Eager, Arizona. He married Heidi O’Brien in the Salt Lake Temple on December 29, 1994. They are the parents of four children and live in Pinetop, Arizona.

Elder Shumway earned a degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1996, worked at Exxon Chemical Co. 1996-1998, and has been the president and CEO of Whiting Brothers Investment Co. since 1998.

At the time of his call, he was serving as an Area Seventy. He is a former Illinois Chicago Mission president, stake president, bishop, elders quorum president, stake mission preparation teacher and missionary in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission.

Elder Michael B. Strong

Elder Michael B. Strong, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Cristin Strong, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Elder Michael B. Strong’s gospel learning began at home, taught by his parents.

“My testimony has just grown and become just stronger and stronger over time, almost in imperceptible ways,” Elder Strong said. As he looks back, “I’ve seen His hand so frequently in my life, but it has been punctuated by several very deeply spiritual and profound experiences.”

As he and his wife, Sister Cristin Strong, have raised their family, they’ve been deliberate in how the gospel is incorporated into their lives.

“We’ve tried to make it so the gospel is just woven into the fabric of our lives,” Elder Strong said. “It is who we are.”

Elder Strong has been a physician and at the time of his call was chief medical information officer for the University of Utah.

Elder Strong found that when he has encountered problems, including those in his profession, and he’s made it a matter of prayer, he’s been guided to solutions.

“I could just feel Him giving me ideas and making solutions become apparent to me that I would not have otherwise seen,” Elder Strong said. “I’ve come to realize that the Lord truly cares about us.”

At the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy, Elder Strong was serving as a member of the Twelfth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah Area. Previous Church callings include full-time missionary in the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission, bishop, stake president, and president of the Perú Lima Central Mission from 2018 to 2021.

Elder Strong received a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and a minor in chemistry from Brigham Young University in 1989 and a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 1993.

Michael Brent Strong was born in Salt Lake City on August 6, 1965. He married Cristin Connelly on August 22, 1987, in the Salt Lake Temple; they are the parents of six children. Elder and Sister Strong reside in Centerville, Utah.

Elder Sergio R. Vargas

Elder Sergio R. Vargas, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Andrea Vargas, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

When Elder Sergio R. Vargas fell in love with Andrea Sanchez, he had a simple solution to their religious differences: They would have one wedding in his church for his family, and another in her church for her family.

But he quickly learned it would not be that easy. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she wanted a temple marriage. So she invited him to learn more about her faith from the missionaries.

Elder Vargas accepted the invitation, and his entire life changed.

He recalled working for a salmon company at the time, helping transport live fish by sea. During a 25-hour voyage, he found a private place to read the Book of Mormon and ask Heavenly Father about the gospel. “That was my sacred grove,” he said.

Elder Vargas was born November 2, 1976, in Puerto Varas, Chile, where he and his two siblings were raised. His mother, Gladys Barria, kept the home, and his father, Renato Vargas, was a police officer. Despite encounters with missionaries as a young man, he was more interested in playing basketball than learning from them, he said.

It was not until Elder Vargas met Andrea Vargas that he was prepared to hear the missionaries with an open mind and heart, he said. They were married July 26, 2003, and were later sealed in the Santiago Chile Temple. The couple has three children, ages 18, 14 and 13.

When called as a new General Authority Seventy, Elder Vargas was serving as a member of the Ninth Quorum of the Seventy in the South America South Area. His previous Church callings include high councilor, branch president and stake president.

Elder Vargas’ education includes a bachelor’s degree in marine resources from Los Lagos University in 1999 and a business administration diploma from Austral University in 2002. At the time of his call, he was working as a production and operational manager for Ventisqueros, a member of the German Schörghuber Corporate Group.

Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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