President Russell M. Nelson was sustained Saturday as prophet, seer, revelator and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a solemn assembly of Church members worldwide on March 31, 2018.
Dallin H. Oaks was sustained as first counselor and Henry B. Eyring as second counselor in the First Presidency — the Church’s highest governing body.
The new First Presidency was named and introduced to the media on January 16, but the Saturday morning session of the Church’s annual general conference, originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, was the first opportunity for the entire membership of the Church to formally sustain their new leadership.
Two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were also announced during the Saturday morning solemn assembly. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares were sustained as the newest members of that quorum. They fill the vacancies left by the deaths of President Thomas S. Monson and Elder Robert D. Hales.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong
Elder Gerrit W. Gong was serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. He became a General Authority Seventy of the Church in April 2010. He was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on October 6, 2015. From 2011 to 2015, Elder Gong was a member of the Asia Area Presidency, headquartered in Hong Kong, and concluded that service as the Area President.
Elder Gong received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and university studies from Brigham Young University in 1977. In 1979, he received a Master of Philosophy degree and in 1981 a doctorate in in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1985 he served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department and in 1987 as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. From 1989 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 Ulisses Soares
Elder Ulisses Soares was also serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. He has been serving as a General Authority Seventy of the Church since April 2005 and was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on January 6, 2013. He served previously as a counselor in the Africa Southeast Area, President of the Brazil Area and as a counselor in the Brazil South Area.
Elder Soares received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and economics from the São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science in 1985 and later received a Master of Business Administration degree. He was an accountant and auditor for multinational corporations in Brazil and director for temporal affairs in the Church area office in São Paulo, Brazil. At the time of his call as a General Authority, he was serving on a special assignment for the Presiding Bishopric of the Church in Salt Lake City.