Letter of Counsel about World Church Leadership (March 31st, 2016)

Archived Version

The leadership needs of the church weigh on my mind and heart constantly. I pray often for awareness and guidance. The Holy Spirit provides insights about needed transitions related to changing personal circumstances and evidence of calls for people to serve in various roles. I am thankful the Holy Spirit gives such guidance, and I humbly offer it for consideration by the 2016 World Conference.

To the church:

1. Becky L. Savage has served as a member of the First Presidency since her ordination to that role in April 2007. She shall be released from the heavy burdens of her responsibilities in the Presidency and freed to accept early retirement from World Church employment. Sister Savage has served faithfully and effectively in the Presidency as she managed multiple responsibilities. Her calm, wise counsel and pastoral sensitivity have been blessings to the president of the church, especially during great challenges in the church’s life. It is the Spirit’s witness that Becky is called to the office of evangelist, a ministry for which she is particularly gifted and through which she will find deep meaning and fulfillment in the years ahead.

2. Andrew Bolton has served as an apostle since his ordination to that office in April 2007. He shall be released from his role as a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles to accept retirement from World Church employment. When he is released as an apostle, he will be reinstated as a member of the seventy, a priesthood office he previously held. During his ministry in the Council of Twelve, Brother Bolton exemplified what it means to be an apostle of the peace of Jesus Christ in many nations. His tireless advocacy for the Worth of All Persons, especially the impoverished and downtrodden, has significantly helped the church focus its ministries on the true mission of Jesus Christ, who is always found serving the “least of these.”

3. David R. Brock has served as presiding evangelist since his ordination to that role in April 2007. Brother Brock shall be released as presiding evangelist to accept early retirement from World Church employment. David will continue to minister as a beloved evangelist among the people and congregations of the church, giving particular attention to spiritual-formation ministries leadership training. As presiding evangelist, David was a compassionate and wise spiritual mentor to the global church and the Order of Evangelists. He blessed his colleagues in the World Church Leadership Council as a discerning presence and voice, especially during difficult discussions about controversial issues. Also, he has been a blessing to the president of the church through his steady prayerful support, listening ear, and faithful friendship.

4. Stephen M. Jones was ordained presiding bishop in April 2007 after serving as a counselor to the presiding bishop since 1998. As previously indicated, Brother Jones was released as presiding bishop and granted early retirement March 1, 2016. This freed him to have more time to tend to his wife’s health issues. It also clarified roles and responsibilities related to budget planning in anticipation of leadership transitions. As presiding bishop, Brother Jones was an enthusiastic and articulate advocate for generosity in response to God’s grace rather than by commandment. He was particularly adept at facilitating negotiations during major real estate transactions to the benefit of the church. He also accelerated efforts to create a more intentional and comprehensive approach to financial-development ministries that will bless the church for many generations. Freed from the burdens of being presiding bishop, Steve will continue to serve as a bishop as he gathers in financial resources to fund the church’s mission.

First Presidency and Presiding Bishop

5. Stassi D. Cramm was released from the Council of Twelve on March 1, 2016, to serve as acting presiding bishop. As previously stated, Sister Cramm is called to the office of presiding bishop. She also is called to serve as a member of the First Presidency and counselor to the president of the church. Because of her prior ministry as a regional administrator, member of the Presiding Bishopric, and member of the Council of Twelve, Stassi has the experience and skills to serve effectively as presiding bishop and in the First Presidency. Her ability to analyze issues, apply knowledge, and determine appropriate action will enrich both quorums. Underlying all of her inherent leadership skills is a deep commitment to the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Council of Twelve Apostles

There are some specific needs related to vacancies in the Council of Twelve. These involve emerging evangelism opportunities in some Western nations and organizational functions to be assumed by members of the Council of Twelve because of budget reductions. With these realities in mind, I have been blessed by the Holy Spirit’s confirmation of the following calls to apostolic ministry:

6. Janné C. Grover is called to serve as an apostle and member of the Council of Twelve. Because of field needs, Sister Grover, as apostle designate, will receive responsibility for an apostolic field beginning March 31, 2016. Janné’s ability to communicate gospel truths to all ages through words, music, and creative worship experiences will be magnified through apostolic ministry for the benefit of many. Equipping disciples to serve is a church priority. Janné is particularly called to coordinate the creation of culturally relevant disciple- and priesthood-formation ministries and resources in association with her apostolic colleagues. She also will focus on helping congregations of members and seekers relatively near the Temple to become a “people of the Temple” who embody and generously share the peace of Jesus Christ.

7. Robin K. Linkhart is called to serve as an apostle and member of the Council of Twelve. Because of pressing field needs, she will be released from her responsibilities as a president of seventy—a role in which she has served effectively—on March 31, 2016, to accept a field assignment as an apostle designate. Sister Linkhart is blessed both with pastoral and evangelistic gifts. By faithfully applying her giftedness and following the leading of the Spirit, she has played a major role in identifying and responding to evangelism opportunities among Restoration-heritage seekers. As her ministry expands through apostolic calling, more new members will be gathered to help in this great work in response to her vibrant witness and welcoming invitation.

8. Lachlan E. Mackay is called from his ministry as a seventy to serve as an apostle and member of the Council of Twelve. Because of imminent field leadership and organization transitions, Brother Mackay, as an apostle designate, will receive responsibility for an apostolic field beginning March 31, 2016. In addition to his compelling witness of Jesus Christ and the blessings of zionic community, Brother Mackay has a unique gift for conveying the meaning and value of church history by applying it to the church’s message and mission today. His ministry as an apostle will enhance the church’s understanding and appreciation of its sacred story as it continues its journey in response to God’s call. Lach also will continue to play a vital role in outreach ministries to Restoration-heritage seekers who are searching for a spiritual home. Lach will continue to serve as director of Historic Sites in addition to other responsibilities.

Presiding Bishopric

9. Steven E. Graffeo, currently serving as a member of the Acting Presiding Bishopric, is called to serve as a counselor to the presiding bishop and member of the Presiding Bishopric. Steve has a passionate commitment to the gospel and the church, evident administrative and financial skills, and unique ability to minister interculturally. His thoughtful oversight of World Church facilities during reduced capital-needs funding has blessed the church. Having gained vital experience in the Presiding Bishopric over the past three years, he will receive additional duties related to the responsibilities of that quorum. His French and Tahitian fluency will enhance the Presiding Bishopric’s ability to communicate important stewardship concepts and financial information to the church.

10. Michele K. McGrath is called to the priesthood office of bishop. As a member of the Acting Presiding Bishopric, she is called to serve as a counselor to the presiding bishop and member of the Presiding Bishopric. As a Presiding Bishopric member, Sister McGrath will continue in her role as World Church director of Finance. In addition to her abundant ministerial and leadership skills, Michele brings ample education and experience in business administration, accounting, auditing, and financial management to her calling. Her passion for promoting generosity and engaging in peace and justice ministries will find additional opportunities for expression through the Presiding Bishopric. Her fluency in Spanish will enable the Presiding Bishopric to communicate with the entire church more effectively.

Presiding Evangelist

11. Jane M. Gardner has served as president of the High Priests Quorum since 2007. She will be released from that responsibility to accept a call to the priesthood office of evangelist. Sister Gardner also is called to serve as presiding evangelist. As presiding evangelist, she will work closely with the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve to help the church experience the fullness of spiritual blessings offered through the sacraments, including the sacrament of evangelist blessing. As a gifted presiding minister, Jane will be a blessing to the Order of Evangelists during its deliberations and worship experiences. Because of her gifts, experience, and reductions in World Church staff, she also will provide leadership for worship, spiritual formation, hymnody, music, and Temple ministries.

President of High Priests Quorum

12. David N. Anderson, in addition to his primary role as director of Human Resource Ministries, is called to serve as president of the High Priests Quorum. As the personification of high priestly ministry revealed in Jesus Christ, Brother Anderson will motivate and equip high priests throughout the church to fulfill their calling as ministers of vision, leadership, and sacrificial servanthood. He will continue to inspire high priests to lead the church in generosity to support Christ’s mission. As president of the quorum, he also will have opportunity to shape educational experiences to prepare high priests for leadership and ministry in today’s culturally and spiritually complex world.

Through the foresight of the Holy Spirit, I am aware of several individuals in Southern Hemisphere nations who are being prepared to serve as World Church leaders and officers. If they remain faithful and diligent in their current assignments, their calls will be made clear to them and the church before the next World Conference.

It also is interesting to note that if the above counsel is approved, the church will be blessed by the gifted leadership of its first female presiding bishop and presiding evangelist.

In the Peace of Christ,

Stephen M. Veazey
president of the church
March 31st, 2016