SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church has a new general presidency for its 7.1-million member Relief Society, and it is unique.
Sister Jean B. Bingham was named as the new Relief Society general president after serving for one year in the Primary general presidency, an unprecedented move for a woman leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The director of LDS Charities, Sister Sharon Eubank, was named first counselor. She will continue in her work directing humanitarian services for LDS Charities.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto will be the second counselor.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church's First Presidency, made the announcement in the Saturday afternoon session of the 187th Annual General Conference.
One year ago, Sister Bingham was called as first counselor in the Primary general presidency. Previous leaders have moved from positions as counselors in the Young Women general presidency to become Relief Society general president, but none had made taken that position after serving as s counselor in the primary general presidency.
Sister Bingham's moved triggered changes in the Primary general presidency. Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, formerly the second counselor, will become first counselor, and Sister Cristina B. Franco, a native of Nicaragua, will be the new second counselor.
Sister Franco is serving with her husband, Rodolfo Franco, as he presides over the Argentina Resistencia Mission. She will assume her new duties when their mission concludes in July, President Uchtdorf said.
Sister Bingham, the 17th general president of the Relief Society, is originally from Provo, Utah, but has lived in Texas, Minnesota and New Jersey, according to her biography.
Sister Bingham and her husband, Bruce, met when they were students at Brigham Young University. They married in 1972 and became the parents of two daughters and some foster children, her biography states.
When the children were older, Sister Bingham returned to her college education and earned multiple degrees in teaching. Her career has included teaching English as a second language, being a nurse's aide, volunteering in her children's schools and serving in various church leadership positions. She also spent six years as an early morning seminary teacher before serving on the general board of the Primary general presidency.
In her bio, Sister Bingham said her testimony was greatly influenced by her parents' "faithful examples," church attendance and service. She also has a passion for family history work.
In February, Sister Bingham traveled with her new first counselor, Sister Eubank, to the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda, according to a Deseret News article.
Sister Eubank is the first director of a LDS Charities to be called to the Relief Society general presidency. She will perform both roles, according the MormonNewsroom.org. She served on the Relief Society general board from 2009-2012, among many leadership callings.
The oldest of seven children in the Mark and Jean Eubank family, she served a full-time mission in Finland. After attending BYU, worked in a variety of professions: She taught English as a second language in Japan, was an aide in the U.S. Senate and owned a retail store in Provo, according to her biography.
In the last two decades, Sister Eubank has worked for the Church's Welfare Department and LDS Charities. Serving others is the DNA of church membership and the "heart and soul of the Relief Society," Sister Eubank said in her biography.
Sister Aburto and her husband, Carlos Aburto of Mexico, are both converts to the LDS Church. As young woman, her life was changed when she survived an earthquake that demolished her home and killed her younger brother. Her life was also shaped by lessons she learned during a period of civil unrest in Nicaragua during the 1970s.
Those two events helped prepare her for a day in 1989 when LDS missionaries invited Sister Aburto to attend worship services. The 26-year-old hesitated at first but decided to go and was later baptized. She has "never stopped marveling at the beauty of the gospel," Sister Aburto said in her biography.
Sister Aburto, who served on the Primary general board from 2012-2016, married married Carlos Aburto of Mexico in the Jordan River Utah Temple in 1993. They have two grandchildren. She has studied industrial engineering and computer science and found a career in the language industry. She and her husband own a small translation business, according to her biography.
Sister Franco, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, joined the church at age 3. What she learned as a child in primary has served her all her life.
"I learned that if I had a question, I could ask my father in heaven and I would get an answer," Sister Franco said in her biography.
In the late 1970s, Sister Franco's family moved to Utah and her father started a family-owned watch-making business. Sister Franco has worked in the business for nearly three decades.
Sister Franco and her husband married in 1978 and have three sons. She brings a wealth of experience to her new calling, having served on the Primary general board from 2005-2010, among many other callings.
No leader has ever gone from the general Primary presidency to the Relief Society, but similar moves have taken place in church history.
In 2007, Sister Julie B. Beck moved from first counselor in the Young Women general presidency to become the 15th general president of the Relief Society.
Sister Bonnie D. Parkin served in the Young Women general presidency from 1994-1997 before she was called as the 14th Relief Society general president in 2002.
After serving as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency for two years, Sister Patrica P. Pinegar was named the ninth Primary general president in 1994.
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Sister Burton became the Relief Society general president at the April 2012 general conference. Prior to her call, she served as a member of the Relief Society general board. During her presidency, Sister Burton championed the "I Was a Stranger" relief efforts several other developments, according to a Deseret News article.
Sister Stephens was also a member of the board when called as a counselor in 2012. Sister Reeves was serving as the first counselor in her ward’s Relief Society when called to the worldwide presidency.