Two new quorums of the Seventy the Seventh and Eighth quorums have been created, the First Presidency announced April 19 by letter to priesthood leaders.
The Seventh Quorum was created from a division of the Fourth Quorum, which includes Latin American areas and had reached 72 members. The Eighth Quorum was created by dividing the Third Quorum, which covered Asia and the Pacific, "a large geographic area" that "made it advisable to create the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy," the letter stated.
The new Seventh Quorum will consist of Area Seventies in the Brazil North, Brazil South, Chile and South America South areas.
The new Eighth Quorum will include Area Seventies in the Asia, Asia North, Australia, New Zealand/Pacific Islands, and the Philippines areas.
The revised Third Quorum will include Area Seventies in the Europe Central, Europe West, Europe East, Africa West, and Africa Southeast areas.
The revised Fourth Quorum will include Area Seventies in the Mexico North, Mexico South, Central America, South America North and South America West areas.
The First and Second quorums, comprised of General Authorities, and the Fifth and Sixth quorums, made up of Area Seventies in the United States and Canada, remain unchanged. A total of 195 Area Seventies comprise the membership of the Third through Eighth quorums.
The creation of the additional quorums of the Seventy are in response to the two greatest challenges of the Church growth, and the training of leadership to take care of that growth, as identified by President Gordon B. Hinckley at a press conference held on the 10th anniversary of the First Presidency on March 11.
Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy quoted Doctrine and Covenants Section 107, which states: "The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve or the traveling high council, in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations . . . (verse 34).
"It is the duty of the traveling high council to call upon the Seventy, when they need assistance, to fill the several calls for preaching and administering the gospel, instead of any others . . . . (verse 38).
"And also other seventy, until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it" (verse 96).
Elder Tingey noted that area presidencies in North America were eliminated about a year ago and the Presidency of the Seventy were assigned to supervise those areas. These changes are in harmony with revelation and continuing headquarters efforts to simplify and unify Church administration by improving training, enhancing accountability, and strengthening priesthood leaders and magnifying stake presidents.
He also cited a revelation referring to the organization of the Seventies given in 1883 to President John Taylor, which states: "Fear me and observe my laws and I will reveal unto you, from time to time, through the channels that I have appointed, everything that shall be necessary for the future development and perfection of my Church, for the adjustment and rolling forth of my kingdom, and for the building up and establishment of my Zion. For ye are my priesthood and I am your God" (Messages of the First Presidency, 2:354).
"As Elder Neal A. Maxwell used to counsel us, there is no elasticity in the ranks of the Twelve," said Elder Tingey. "It is fixed at twelve. The elasticity is in the ranks of the Seventy. We have seen the Seventy increase from 137 in 1997 to 195 today. We have seen the number of quorums increase from one in 1976, from two in 1986, and from five in 1997 to eight today."
The additional Area Seventies were called to meet the needs of growth which, combined with retention and activation efforts, has brought the Church to 2,676 stakes and 338 missions, with a membership of some 12.4 million.
"This is a reflection of the Lord inspiring the prophet, from time to time, on how to organize the Seventies.
"The beauty of it is that the organization is in place to add Seventies to a quorum," he said. "You don't have to create a new structure. If there is a lot of growth in one part of the world, you can add three or four. It is flexible, it has elasticity to fit whatever situation is out there, based on the growth of the Church."
Using Area Seventies has allowed the numbers in the First and Second quorums to remain stable for the past 10 years, with many area presidencies that include one Area Seventy.
He said that generally each April, the Area Seventies are brought to Salt Lake City where they receive exactly the same training that the General Authorities receive. "We get to meet them and get to know them all. During the year, we will hold seven quorum meetings in various parts of the world Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and Lima, Peru. There will also be two quorum meetings in the United States. Additionally, each of the seven presidents, who supervise the North America areas, will meet with the Area Seventies in his area several times a year for additional training."
When a need arises for assistance in a stake, a nearby Area Seventy is called to meet with a stake president and help resolve a situation.
In the quorums are "many outstanding men. These are really powerful men; most have been presidents of missions and stakes. They are seasoned people who know the local area well the customs, languages and carry the office of Seventy to preside. Once we have a Seventy, we can convene groups of stake presidents and let the Seventy train them as needed by direction of the seven presidents or the area presidency.
He said the Seventy have been counseled to make sure the stake presidencies are properly trained, and then to "leave them alone to be a stake presidency."
"Stake presidents can rely more on inspiration and revelation," Elder Tingey said. "We cannot be out there as much as we used to. This also magnifies Area Seventies, because through area coordinating councils, they are responsible for training stake presidencies.
"We have streamlined a lot of procedures that used to be in place . . . and a lot of correspondence has been eliminated.
"Every week the seven presidents meet with the Twelve," said Elder Tingey. "We present to them our reports of supervision. We have specific questions on things we are not sure of and they counsel us. What we get is the counsel of the Twelve."
He said the relationships between areas and headquarters "has never been better."
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