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What is the difference between a General Authority Seventy, Area Seventy and general officer?

New General Authority Seventies, Area Seventies and general officers were sustained during April 2023 general conference

President Dallin H. Oaks raises his hand for a sustaining vote at the pulpit in the Conference Center during April 2023 general conference.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, presents the names of General Authority Seventies, Area Seventies and general officers of the Church for sustaining vote during the Saturday afternoon session of April 2023 general conference on April 1, 2023.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


What is the difference between a General Authority Seventy, Area Seventy and general officer?

New General Authority Seventies, Area Seventies and general officers were sustained during April 2023 general conference

President Dallin H. Oaks raises his hand for a sustaining vote at the pulpit in the Conference Center during April 2023 general conference.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, presents the names of General Authority Seventies, Area Seventies and general officers of the Church for sustaining vote during the Saturday afternoon session of April 2023 general conference on April 1, 2023.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

During general conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the First Presidency typically presents the names of newly called General Authority Seventies, Area Seventies and general officers for sustaining by Church members.

In April 2023 general conference, five new General Authority Seventies were sustained; a new Young Women general presidency was sustained and a change was made in the Young Men general presidency; and 61 new Area Seventies were sustained during the leadership session.

What is the difference between these titles and callings, and what do they mean? 

As President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized, Jesus Christ is at the head of His Church. With His guidance, leaders are called to minister to and teach the more than 17 million members throughout the world. 

The leaders of the worldwide Church are known as general authorities and general officers. General authorities include the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Authority Seventies and the Presiding Bishopric. General officers are the general presidencies of the Relief Society, Primary, Sunday School, Young Women and Young Men organizations. Area Seventies serve in specific geographical areas.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson wave to attendees at April 2023 general conference.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson wave to attendees upon leaving the Conference Center after the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Below is information from the Church’s website on general Church leadership. For more, see General Handbook Chapter 5: General and Area Leadership.

What is a General Authority Seventy?

General Authority Seventies are called by the First Presidency to be “especial witnesses” and to assist the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in “building up the church and regulating all the affairs” and “preaching and administering the gospel” throughout the world (Doctrine and Covenants 107:25, 34, 38).

Acting under the keys and direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Authority Seventies travel widely to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, support and counsel with Church leaders, and assist in efforts such as directing missionary work, humanitarian aid, temple building and family history.

General Authority Seventies serve full-time in the Church. They are generally released in the year they turn 70 years old and are granted emeritus status.

Some General Authority Seventies may serve in the Presidency of the Seventy or area presidencies or help direct efforts at Church headquarters.

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Newly called General Authority Seventies, from left, Elder Alan T. Phillips, Elder Christophe G. Giraud-Carrier, Elder J. Kimo Esplin and Elder Robert M. Daines, take their seats on the stand during general conference on April 1, 2023.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What is an Area Seventy?

Though all Seventies have equal authority and the same scriptural responsibilities, some are designated as general authorities and others are designated as Area Seventies.

Area Seventies are called and set apart to serve in specific geographical areas and may be assigned to serve in other areas as needed. The duties of an Area Seventy includes meeting and counseling with local Church leaders to help them fulfill their responsibilities.

These leaders are not called to full-time service and typically serve for five years.

Similar to other offices in the priesthood, General Authority Seventies and Area Seventies are organized in quorums. There are currently 12 Quorums of the Seventy, and the First and Second Quorum of the Seventy are composed of General Authority Seventies. The remaining quorums are composed of Area Seventies.

New quorums are created or realigned when a quorum’s number exceeds 70. Latter-day revelation contains provisions for additional quorums of the Seventy, “until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:96).

The First Presidency announced in May 2020 an increase in the number of quorums of the Seventy, adding four quorums for Area Seventies to the existing eight quorums and changing the geographic structure of quorum assignments.

The term “Area Authority” is no longer used in the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the creation of the Area Authority position in April 1995 general conference. In 1997, Area Authorities were renamed Area Authority Seventies and ordained to the priesthood office of Seventy. The name of the position was later shortened to Area Seventy.

What is the Presidency of the Seventy?

The Presidency of the Seventy consists of seven General Authority Seventies who are called by the First Presidency and preside over all members of the Seventy.

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The Presidency of the Seventy, as of August 2021. From bottom left: Elder Patrick Kearon, Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder José Teixeira, Elder Carlos A. Godoy, Elder Brent H. Nielson, Elder Paul V. Johnson and Elder S. Mark Palmer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Though most presidencies in the Church have a president and two counselors, the Presidency of the Seventy has all presidents and no counselors. One of the seven presidents is chosen to preside over the other six. This is in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 107:93-94: “And it is according to the vision showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the seventy; and the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six.”

Under the keys and direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presidency of the Seventy travels widely to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet with Church members and missionaries; administer missionary, temple, family history, humanitarian and other efforts; organize Church units; and work and counsel with local Church leaders, among many other responsibilities.

What is an area presidency?

The administration of the Church is facilitated in geographic areas overseen by area presidencies. In each area, a General Authority Seventy is assigned by the First Presidency to serve as the area president. Two counselors — who are General Authority Seventies or Area Seventies — are assigned to assist the area president.

Working under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the area presidency teaches and supports Church members, missionaries, leaders, and temple presidents and matrons in their specific area. Area Presidencies outside of the United States live in their assigned area.

Area presidencies were first created in the 1980s when the growth of the worldwide Church made it impractical for the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to respond directly to the unique needs of the many areas.

What is a general officer?

The general officers of the Church are the members of the Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary and Sunday School general presidencies:

Each presidency consists of a president, called by the First Presidency, and two counselors. These leaders travel worldwide to visit, teach and minister to members of their respective organizations and their families. They help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ and build faith in Him.

General officers typically serve for five years.

Sister Tamara W. Runia, President Emily Belle Freeman, and Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, after being called as the Young Women general presidency during April 2023 general conference.

The new Young Women general presidency are Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor, President Emily Belle Freeman, and Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, second counselor, during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 1, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

This article was first published in 2020 and has been updated.

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