Letter of Counsel Regarding the Presiding Quorums (January 3rd, 2013)

As communicated previously, vacancies were created in the Council of Twelve and Presiding Bishopric by the release of people from these quorums since the last World Conference. In response to the guidance of God’s Spirit, I was able to present the call of Barbara Carter to serve as apostle-designate and James Poirier to serve as Presiding Bishopric member-designate. While these two ministers have carried certain responsibilities related to their future roles, their functioning was within the prerogatives of their current priesthood offices. This was done with the clear understanding that their calls would need to be approved by the next World Conference. This letter of counsel makes provision for those calls to be officially approved at the 2013 World Conference.

A vacancy in the First Presidency also was created by the release of David Schaal from the Presidency in May 2012 as previously communicated to the church. This letter of counsel makes provision for filling that vacancy at the 2013 World Conference.

Additional vacancies in the presiding quorums will occur as a result of granting requests for retirement. This counsel also presents calls to fill those pending vacancies for consideration at the 2013 World Conference.

To the church:

1. The Spirit has borne clear and consistent witness that Apostle K. Scott Murphy is called to extend his apostleship in the Presidency. Brother Murphy is called to serve as a member of the First Presidency and as a counselor to the president of the church. His broad experience in various church leadership roles, such as stake and mission center president, director of Human Resource Ministries, member of the Council of Twelve, president of the Council of Twelve, and director of Field Ministries has honed his natural leadership and ministerial abilities and prepared him well to serve in the Presidency. Scott’s strong advocacy for inclusiveness based on the Worth of All Persons and cultures will be a blessing to the church. Scott also brings to this call a strong emphasis on the importance of supporting all discipleship, ministry, and leadership with spiritual formation. This emphasis will help the church better understand that effective engagement in the mission of Jesus Christ can be achieved only through ongoing immersion in the Spirit of the Living Christ.

2. Apostle Dale E. Luffman has served more than 18 years in the Council of Twelve Apostles. In harmony with his wishes, and with the Spirit’s blessing, Apostle Luffman is released from the Council of Twelve and will be afforded the honor of retirement on an appropriate date. Throughout his apostolic ministry, Brother Luffman has provided effective leadership in his field assignments, including being instrumental in the expansion of the church. He also has provided vital theological perspective in World Church Leadership Council and Council of Twelve meetings, as well as other church settings. In addition, he has been instrumental in Community of Christ Seminary development and increasing church engagement in ecumenical and interfaith ministries. In retirement, Dale will be free to serve as a high priest and to pursue his interests in theological studies, teaching, and writing. During the next three years he will continue to serve as the church’s ecumenical and interfaith officer as he mentors another to serve in that role.

3. As previously communicated, Barbara L. Carter is called to serve as an apostle and member of the Council of Twelve Apostles. As a World Church minister she has served as a stewardship commissioner, bishop, stake and mission center president, and apostolic assistant. Her vibrant testimony of the Living Christ, mission leadership skills, and pastoral sensitivity combine to offer evident capacity for apostolic ministry. Barbara’s ministerial gifts are magnified by her strong, yet calming personality, genuine humility, and overflowing love for people of all ages and life circumstances. This love streams through her from the Living Christ, who has chosen her as an open vessel for pouring his lavish grace into creation to bring healing and redemption. Barbara is called by the One who is our peace and is seeking to bring God’s just and peaceful reign to fuller expression in a conflicted world.

4. The Spirit’s witness is that Mareva M. Arnaud Tchong, a citizen of French Polynesia, is called to serve as an apostle and a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Sister Arnaud is a humble, yet dynamic witness of the Living Christ. She has served in various church ministry and leadership roles, including most recently as the French Polynesia Mission Centre president. Sister Mareva has been prepared for additional church responsibility through theological education, language study, and acceptance of various ministerial assignments in culturally diverse settings. Over the years, the church in French Polynesia has abundantly blessed the worldwide church with many gifts that have helped it better experience essential dimensions of the gospel such as loving community, abundant generosity, warm hospitality, vibrant singing, and joyfulness. Now the church in French Polynesia blesses the World Church once again by offering an apostle who is prepared to lead church mission and who will enrich the leadership councils of the church.

5. The Spirit also has borne witness that Arthur E. Smith, a native of Quebec, Canada, is called to serve as an apostle and as a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Brother Smith most recently has served as an apostolic assistant for the Central and South America Mission Field. Previous assignments have included education and leadership development coordinator in the Latin America and Caribbean Field; service in the Pacific Mission Field while living in French Polynesia; and as children, youth, and young-adult minister in the Canada East Mission Centre. Art’s broad intercultural experience, fluency in multiple languages, and passion for justice and the Worth of All Persons will be magnified as he accepts this apostolic calling. In addition, his knowledge of theology, history, and scripture will be a blessing to the church, its leadership councils, and its educational endeavors.

6. According to his desires, and with the Spirit’s blessing, David J. Brown is released as a member of the Presiding Bishopric and counselor to the presiding bishop of the church. He will be afforded the honor of retirement on an appropriate date after almost 40 years of church employment. Called and ordained to the Presiding Bishopric in 2007, Brother Brown has served effectively as the Presiding Bishopric has led the church in expanding its concepts of generosity, true capacity, and sources of funding for mission. His comprehensive and detailed understanding of church finances and accounting standards has ensured high integrity in all aspects of World Church fiscal management. Beyond this, Dave has expressed ministerial giftedness and spiritual sensitivity that have blessed his colleagues and the fields where he has offered ministry. In retirement, Dave will continue to serve for a time as a bishop as he continues to offer support to the Presiding Bishopric by accepting specific assignments.

7. As previously communicated, James A. Poirier, born in Ontario, Canada, where he resides, is called to serve as a member of the Presiding Bishopric and counselor to the presiding bishop of the church. Bishop Poirier’s work in banking systems, professional financial planning, and various church financial officer roles provides extensive experience and insight that uniquely equip him to serve in the Presiding Bishopric. His demonstrated ability to mobilize congregations around spiritual principles of grace, generosity, and discipleship formation to support Christ’s mission is matched well to current opportunities. Jim’s ministerial passion, international experience perspective, and visionary outlook will be a blessing to the worldwide church as he responds to his call.

8. To complete the organization of the Presiding Bishopric, the Spirit’s witness is that Steven E. Graffeo is called to serve as a member of the Presiding Bishopric and counselor to the presiding bishop of the church. Brother Graffeo’s previous assignments as a World Church appointee include serving as World Church Human Resource Ministries director, bishop and financial officer for the French Polynesia Mission Centre, and executive assistant to the director of Field Ministries. Steve also has served as a French and Tahitian translator and congregational pastor. His extensive ministerial gifts are enhanced by his professional business administration background and formal education in political science. These gifts are further enriched by his multicultural upbringing, passion for the church’s mission, and compassionate spirit. As Steve takes his place in the Presiding Bishopric, he may do so with the full assurance that he is fully capable of responding to the opportunities and needs before the church.

In conclusion, I am deeply grateful for how the Spirit has blessed me with heightened insight and peace as I have prayerfully considered calls to the presiding quorums of the church. And, because of my experience with the calling process, I remain confident that God is always aware of the leadership needs of the church and is, even now, preparing others to serve in the future. Now, I humbly invite the church to consider these calls and, if it is the will of the body, to approve them and provide for the necessary ordinations.

In the Peace of Jesus Christ,

Stephen M. Veazey
President of the Church
3 January 2013