The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new Relief Society general presidency during the 187th Annual General Conference on April 1. Members sustained Sister Jean B. Bingham as president, Sister Sharon Eubank as first counselor and Sister Reyna I. Aburto as second counselor. Today there are 7,107,193 Relief Society sisters worldwide; they reside in 188 countries. Following are brief biographies of the new leaders:
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president
Having lived in several locations in the United States, Sister Jean B.Bingham appreciates how the gospel provides a stable influence during changes in environment.
Born in 1952 in Provo, Utah, to Robert and Edith Joy Barrus, she grew up with six sisters and two brothers. She attended elementary school in Texas and Minnesota, finishing high school in New Jersey. She and her siblings were the only LDS students in their schools until they moved to New Jersey, where she was delighted to discover a girl from her new ward in her freshman class.
After she and Bruce Bingham married in the Provo Utah Temple on Dec. 22, 1972, they moved to Illinois to continue his schooling. As she has traveled during her time as a Primary general board member and as a counselor in its general presidency, Sister Bingham has seen the challenges and blessings of being a member of the Church in areas across the globe.
Two children were born to Brother and Sister Bingham, and they claim as their own others whom they have fostered. She earned an associate degree in family living and, when their youngest child was in high school, returned to school and eventually earned a master's degree in teaching.
Sister Bingham's first calling in Relief Society came shortly after the birth of her first child. "I was called to teach the mother education lessons. ... It was a great opportunity to learn from the examples of other sisters as well as the manual."
Sister Bingham said she hopes Relief Society sisters will recognize the goodness in one another. "It's a temptation, with the influences of the world, to compare ourselves with others, which is counter-productive and opposite of what Heavenly Father wants for us," she said, noting that Relief Society is geared to help each sister develop an understanding of who she is in the eternal realm. "When we center our lives on Jesus Christ, we really know who we are," she said.
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor
As a new employee with LDS Humanitarian Services, Sister Sharon Eubank witnessed misery, sadness and grief that made it hard for her to function.
Then, through prayer, she received an answer that changed her ability to reach out and serve.
She came to understand that, although she could help the Lord take care of His children, she was not in charge of that sorrow. “Jesus Christ is in charge. He will bear this burden. They are His people and He hears and answers their prayers.”
Years later Sister Eubank, the director of LDS Charities — the humanitarian arm of the Church — has worked through established welfare principles to deliver aid and promote self-reliance to those in need across the globe.
Now, after being sustained April 1 as the first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, she will continue in her role as director of LDS Charities. There “is a great link” between LDS Charities and Relief Society; members of the Relief Society general presidency sit on the board of directors for LDS Charities, she explained. Her responsibilities with both organizations will “be a strengthening” of that link.
Born in 1963 in Redding, California, Sharon is the oldest of Mark and Jean Tollack Eubank’s seven children. Raised in Bountiful, Utah, Sister Eubank grew up on a 10-acre plot of land — where the Eubank children picked apricots, repaired sprinklers and had close access to Utah’s mountains and numerous camping opportunities.
Sister Eubank received her bachelor’s degree in English and history from BYU and served as a full-time missionary in the Finland Helsinki Mission. In addition to her work with the Church’s Welfare Department, Sister Eubank worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., was co-owner of a small business and lived abroad in Japan and France. Each opportunity was a “leap of faith” that helped her learn the skills she uses today, allowed her to meet wonderful people inside and outside of the Church and gave her a love and appreciation for many of the world’s cultures, languages and foods.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor
Sister Reyna I. Aburto was born in Managua, Nicaragua, to Noel Blanco and Delbi Cardoza in 1963. “My parents always worked hard so they could provide for us,” Sister Aburto said. “I had a very happy childhood. I grew up playing with my cousins and walking to school.” She is the second of four children.
Just past midnight on Dec. 23, 1972, an earthquake struck Managua when she was 9 years old. “I was saved by a triangle of life because there was a piece of furniture behind me, but my legs were trapped.” Hearing her and her mother’s screams, neighbors came to pull them from the destroyed adobe house. In the wreckage, they found her older brother in the bed next to hers, but he had died. She learned “that material possessions are just so temporal ,” she said. “But the important thing is our family.”
When she was 21, Sister Aburto immigrated to the United States with her family. While she was living in San Francisco, California, she was introduced to missionaries and decided to come to church. “It was amazing how as soon as I stepped into that building, I could feel the Spirit. It was stake conference, and I felt that every single message was for me,” she said. She was baptized in 1989.
During this time, she met Carlos Aburto, and they became friends. Over the years, they corresponded, even when Sister Aburto moved to Orem, Utah. They were married in the Jordan River Utah Temple in May 1993. They are the parents of three children.
Sister Aburto has worked in the translation industry for more than 25 years, including at Novell and Lemoine International. She and her husband now own a small translation agency. She studied industrial engineering at Universidad Centroamericana for four years and earned an associate degree in computer science from Utah Valley University in 1997.
Sister Aburto has served in a wide variety of Church callings, including the Primary general board from 2012 to 2016.