Letter of Counsel Regarding the Presiding Quorums (March 9th, 2000)

Archived Version

To the Councils, Quorums, and Orders,
to the World Conference, and to the Church:

This is a challenging, exciting, and historically significant time in the life of the church. God’s blessings have been evident in many parts of the world as we have sought to implement the principles of Transformation 2000 and give expression to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the places where we serve.

The effectiveness of the church is heavily dependent upon leadership exercised at all levels. We are all partners in the task of giving vibrant witness to God’s work amongst us. As a church called into a new time, called to be transformed, called to a mission of peace, reconciliation, and healing, it has been especially important that our ministry be strong, visionary, and affirmative. We have truly been blessed by many who carry both the heavy burden and the unspeakable joy of church leadership.

The responsibilities to which I have been called require that I struggle with issues of meaning, with discerning God’s hopes and dreams for us as a people, and with calling from out of our midst those who will serve in the presiding quorums of the church. This process has never been easy for me, and at times it has seemed unreasonably onerous and difficult. Nonetheless, on each of the occasions when I have made these preparations, I have been ultimately blessed by a calm assurance and inner peace that I understand to be confirmation of the divine will.

It is with that conviction, and with faith that God continues to bless us as a people, that I present the following instruction with regard to the presiding quorums of the church.

  1. Howard S. Sheehy, Jr. has served for 22 years as a member of the First Presidency and as counselor to the president of the church. His service in the presiding quorums also includes a decade in the Council of Twelve, and over the years he has been instrumental in advancing the gospel in the Philippines, in Japan and Korea, in India, and in China, among many other places. His ministry has reached across the generations and he has always been known as “Bud,” a beloved friend to the youth of the church. His service has been marked by superb administrative skills, by a deep sense of history and tradition, by an openness to the demands of a new time, and by a vibrant and compelling witness of the Lord Jesus. He is now afforded the honor of retirement, free to lay down the burdens of day-to-day administration but summoned anew to a ministry of presence, affirmation, mentoring, and visionary service. To give renewed expression to his pastoral spirit and loving heart, he is called to serve in the office of evangelist and should be ordained without delay. He has the profound thanks of a grateful church for his lifetime of commitment to the cause of the Kingdom.
  2. To fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the First Presidency, Peter A. Judd is called from the Council of Twelve to serve as a member of the First Presidency and a counselor to the president of the church. His apostolic witness has been built upon his years of service as a writer, resource producer, worship leader, pastor, and administrator. His heritage in the church, beginning with the teaching of his parents in his homeland in the British Isles, has prepared him well to carry the responsibilities of leadership in this new calling. He knows the church and loves it deeply. He has a heart for people and a desire to serve. He is now called by divine initiative to extend his ministry as an apostle into presidency, to counsel, to reflect, and to lead, using the abundant gifts God has granted him.
  3. Everett S. Graffeo has served with distinction and dedication as an apostle for fourteen years and as Presiding Evangelist for the past six years. His loving ministry has been a blessing to the church throughout the world, and he has been recognized widely for his commitment to youth. His tender spirit is evidence of a life of openness to the love of God and his desire to impart that love to all with whom he comes in contact. As Presiding Evangelist, he has helped clarify the call of the Order of Evangelists to be ministers of blessing and has reminded all evangelists of the necessity of a vibrant and compelling testimony. He is now granted the honor of retirement, assured that his ministry has been fully acceptable to his God and to the people he has served so well.
  4. Danny A. Belrose is called from the Council of Twelve to be the Presiding Evangelist of the church. He has been a creative and energetic witness of the Lord Jesus and that apostolic ministry will go with him into his new responsibilities. Gifted with poetic language and with song, his sparkling wit adorning the edges of a deep and profound testimony, he is called to preach and teach, to listen and inspire, to be a minister of blessing with an evangelistic spirit. He is called especially to lead the Order of Evangelists in fulfilling the significant ministry they provide to the church, especially in a time of transformation and change.
  5. To fill one of the vacancies in the Council of Twelve, Bunda C. Chibwe is called from the Council of Presidents of Seventy to serve as a special witness of Jesus Christ and as an apostle in the church. Nurtured on the soil of his African homeland, his calling is a testimony not only to his own giftedness but to the dedicated ministry of countless persons who have shared the gospel in distant places, in new cultures, and sometimes amidst hardship and sacrifice. He is called as an African, called to represent his people in the councils of the church, and called to bring the perspective of his culture and experience so that the richness of God’s human family can be embraced more fully in all areas of the church. He is commended for his faithfulness and learning, for the commitment of his life, and for his fervent testimony of the Christ. His calling has been made known previously, and now is the time for its full expression in apostolic witness.
  6. Leonard M. Young is a gifted field minister; a prolific and creative resource producer, educator, and writer; and a deeply devoted church leader. He is now called to serve in the Council of Twelve Apostles, bringing his diverse experience to service as a special witness of the Christ. His skills in administration and resource production will continue to be valuable to the church as he sits with his colleagues in the Council to determine how best to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. The depth of his devotion to the church is known by his God, and he is called to give full expression to that love which nests deeply within him. His call is to be a minister of the Lord Jesus. This calling was sensed by him even in his youth and he now sees its further fulfillment as he serves in this sacred responsibility.

It is a humbling and sometimes daunting task to give expression to these calls. In the struggle there is an awareness of all who serve, and of others whose special ministries are yet to unfold. While some are called this day to specific responsibilities, we are likewise reminded that each and every one of us are disciples, urgently needed in the task to which we have been entrusted.

What a wonderful time to be in the cause of Christ! We need only look around at our world to see the pain and destruction of needless violence, the shattered lives of children, the division and brokenness of the social fabric, and our urgent need for spiritual healing. We are called to be peacemakers and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. In whatever ways we serve, may we keep that fundamental calling nestled in the corners of our hearts.

Let us be assured that the God of our past, the One who nurtured us during times of travail and uncertainty, is the same God who leads us now into the future. May we each respond, whatever our calling may be, as disciples of Jesus Christ, the bedrock of our hope, the source of our peace.

Respectfully submitted,

W. Grant McMurray
President of the Church