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LDS Church announces changes to presiding bishopric, Relief Society presidency, First Quorum of the Seventy

Published: Saturday, March 31 2012 11:10 p.m. MDT

Brook P. Hales speaks during the 182nd Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Changes in leadership of the Relief Society and Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were announced in the Saturday afternoon session of the 182nd General Annual Conference.

Three men were also added to the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the calling of 40 new Area Seventies were also announced.

Sustained as presiding bishop is Gary E. Stevenson. His first counselor is Gerald Causse and second counselor Dean M. Davies. They succeed Bishop H. David Burton and his counselors, Richard C. Edgley and Keith B. McMullin, who were lauded for years of faithful service in the bishopric, which acts under direction of the First Presidency to head the Aaronic Priesthood of the church and administer the church's temporal affairs.

Bishop Burton, who has been involved in a number of interfaith and cooperative civic projects, also received the plaudits and thanks of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, as a man who has "remarkable ability to bring an entire community together. His leadership in a time of unprecedented challenges has benefited Utahns of all faiths and people across the world," said a chamber release. Bishop Burton's volunteer service was often outside the scope of his assigned activities related to his church office. In March 2011, the chamber named him A Giant in Our City.

Sister Linda K. Burton was sustained as president of the Relief Society, which oversees women's activities in the church. Her counselors are Sister Carole M. Stephens and Sister Linda S. Reeves. Their predecessors, Sister Julie B. Beck, president, and counselors Silvia H. Allred and Barbara Thompson, have served some five years at the head of the multi-million-member organization with units throughout the world.

Changes in the First Quorum of the Seventy also were announced, including a new assignment to the presidency of the quorum. Elder Steven E. Snow was released as president, to be succeeded by Elder Richard J. Maynes, who has been a member of the quorum, having served as executive director of the Family History Department, assistant executive director of the Priesthood and Missionary Departments and president of the Philippines and South America West Areas. He also has been a missionary president and full time missionary.

Additional changes in the members of the First Quorum of Seventy also were announced. Called to the quorum were:

Elder Larry Echo Hawk, 63, a former bishop and stake president. Elder Echo Hawk was serving as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior at the time of his call, and is a former Attorney General of Idaho. He and his wife, Teresa, are parents of six children.

Elder Robert C. Gay, 60, who was released today as an Area Seventy in the North America Southeast Area. He has previously served as a high councilor, bishop's counselor and mission president. Professionally has was an economics instructor at Harvard University. He and his wife, Lynette, are parents of seven children.

Elder Scott D. Whiting, 50, was released today as an Area Seventy in the North America West Area He has previously served as bishop, high councilor and stake president. He has worked professionally in agricultural management and real estate development. He and his wife, Jeri, are parents of five children.

Bishop Stevenson, 56, was serving as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and as president of the Asia North Area prior to his call to the bishopric. He also has filled ward, stake and mission callings. He is co-founder of Icon Health & Fitness Inc. and was president and CEO until 2008. He has volunteered in civic and advisory bodies. A Cache County native, he is married to Lesa Jean Higley and they have four children.

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