Another hallmark in Church growth has been reached with the creation in April of the Sixth Quorum of Seventy, the First Presidency announced.
The new quorum is a division of the Fifth Quorum, which, following the Area Authority Seventies sustainings at the 174th Annual General Conference April 3.
The Sixth Quorum is made up of 34 Area Authority Seventies from the North America Central, North America East, North America Northeast, North America Southeast and North America Southwest areas. These brethren were previously in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy.
The Fifth Quorum of the Seventy is now comprised of 44 members of the North America Northwest, Idaho, Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City, Utah South and North America West areas.
Area Authority Seventies have been serving since the April 1997 general conference when they were announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. After announcing the calling of previously serving Area Authorities to the office of Seventy, he observed:
"With these respective quorums (of the Seventy) in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size with an organization of Area Presidencies and Area Authority Seventies, chosen and working across the world according to need."
He explained that the Area Authority Seventies are called by the First Presidency, work under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve, Presidents of the Seventy and area presidencies.
"They will continue with their present employment, reside in their own homes, and serve on a Church-service basis," he said. He explained that these leaders may be assigned to preside at stake conferences and train stake presidencies, serve as counselors in area presidencies, tour missions and train mission presidents and serve in regional and area assignments.
Elder Earl C. Tingey, a president of the Seventy, said the creation of a new Quorum of the Seventy follows a pattern that began with the creation of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1975.
"Now we are looking at 260-plus seventies, and (the number) is growing," he said in a Church News interview. Quoting Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve, he said, "The only elasticity we have in terms of Church leadership is the Seventy. We now have the Sixth Quorum, with two General Authority quorums and four Area Authority Seventy quorums, but all of them are men who hold the office of Seventy. When a man is called who was ordained a seventy under the stake, as was the practice many years ago, he is not re-ordained, but is set apart to serve within a quorum," said Elder Tingey. "Theirs is the same priesthood office as mine, a seventy."
The Area Authority Seventies serve on a Church Service basis for the duration of their callings. Some have served seven years. "We have a great investment of training in them," he said.
"We are managing a larger group worldwide, but because of the quorum relationship, there is a greater feeling of brotherhood and greater loyalty, than we have had in earlier callings and it is a great blessing to have these men with us."
Elder Tingey said that in the past seven years since the quorums were created, these leaders have brought with them a great advantage to the Church through their understanding of local conditions and customs, and their ability to speak local languages.
"They carry many of the same responsibilities (as General Authorities) as far as training of stake and mission leaders are concerned, and carrying out assignments received from the Twelve," he said. While the reach and sphere of the Twelve is broad, such as when they conduct training via the satellite system, it is the Area Authority Seventies who are on the scene locally to take assignments.
As the Area Authority Seventies serve while employed full-time, it can be a challenge for them to find the time needed for weekend assignments, but "they are men we know have the capacity and opportunity timewise to do it," said Elder Tingey. He said 13 Area Authority Seventies will serve in area presidencies in international areas starting in August. Also, in the past, Area Authority Seventies have comprised entire area presidencies and "proved it could be done."
Supervising the Area Authority Seventies through their growing number of quorums around the world is the responsibility of the Presidency of the Seventy, said Elder Tingey.
He said one aspect of this is holding periodic training for them. "For example, the Area Authority Seventies were invited to April general conference where they received exactly the same training as the other Seventy by the Twelve and First Presidency.
"Secondly, we followed the pattern of the last four or five years of having quorum meetings in the field, which are held in August. These are held in seven key cities worldwide. A member of the Twelve, with one of the seven presidents, travels to that location and conducts a quorum meeting of the Area Authority Seventies in that area. Last year, for example, I went with Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve to Sydney, Australia, and held a quorum meeting for the Pacific, and Australia/New Zealand areas, and then we went up into Asia, in Thailand, and held a quorum meeting for Asia and Asia North, and similar meetings were held in other key cities."
He said quorum meetings in the United States are held in four cities. "We have probably 15 to 20 Area Authority Seventies at each meeting. We'd have a full-day meeting."
He said the new Sixth Quorum of the Seventy is evidence of the growth and vitality of the Church.
"The Church is growing in its strength and influence and in the spiritual testimony of the members," said Elder Tingey. "The Church is in need of leaders worldwide to accomplish these purposes and I think the callings of Area Authority Seventies is one of the ways in which we do it."
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