History was made with the sustaining of Elder Per G. Malm to the Second Quorum of the Seventy at general conference in April. Through the years, there have been General Authorities with Swedish heritage, but Elder Malm is the first to be called from that land.
Elder Malm is part of a generation of Swedish Latter-day Saints to have been born and reared in the Church.
“My father was the first in his family to accept the gospel, and his conversion story has inspired me ever since I learned about it,” Elder Malm related. “He found a brochure about the Church, met the missionaries and asked them for some written material which would explain the doctrines of the Church.”
Elder Geroge Barrus, the missionary who baptized him, wrote: “Brother Malm politely declined when we offered to teach him and said he would read the brochure. Following Tuesday evening, just before our meeting, he again appeared and said that he had read something about a Book of Mormon and requested a copy. He reiterated that he did not require our teaching services. A short time later (not more than a week) he came to us with a startling request that because he had found the true church, he wanted to be baptized right away.”
Elder Malm said, “My father explained to the missionaries that he had studied the New Testament and had written down a list of some 20 or so doctrines and offices that he felt Christ had established in the original Church and which would be found in the true church if it existed upon the earth. When he found the truth, he acted promptly. His example has been a guiding star in my life. The Church became a natural part of our day-to-day living, and I experienced firsthand deep love for the gospel and Church service right there in our home.”
During his youth, he and his friends enjoyed working with the full-time missionaries.
He would soon become even more immersed in missionary work. At age 16, he received a call for a year — ultimately extended to 18 months — in a Church program of that time whereby young male Church members assisted in the construction of meetinghouses. As part of a bricklayer crew, he helped build facilities in Stockholm and in Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. He returned home to do his mandatory military service. Shortly thereafter, he was called as a full-time missionary to serve in his native land of Sweden.
Many years earlier, he had met Agneta Karlsson at a campground while her family and his were traveling to Bern, Switzerland, to do ordinance work at the temple. “We were very young at the time, but we kept in contact, and then, when I returned from my mission in 1969 we were married in October of that year.”
Elder Malm credits his wife with great faith. “She is solidly anchored in the gospel,” he said. “She is a great example of caring for ‘the one’ and is a firm believer in the power of prayer.”
Sister Malm said her husband has a mind that is always working, always seeking constructive solutions to challenges and always finding new projects. She said he has a wonderful way of letting people feel of his love for them, and he teaches with clarity and conviction.
The Malms have eight children, seven of whom were born within 10 years. It was a busy time for the family, as he was involved in the family business at first and later as an employee of the Presiding Bishop’s Office, at the same time earning university degrees and serving in a stake presidency.
“We had our home evenings; some were disastrous and some were very good, but I think we did our best,” he said. “We have felt blessed as we tried to follow the counsel to hold weekly home evenings and have truly experienced the Lord’s loving mercy when our own efforts have fallen short.”
While Paul Oscarson from St. Louis, Mo., presided over the newly created Sweden Goteborg Mission in the 1970s, Elder Malm was a counselor to him. “They had a big family with many small children, and we had a big family with many small children,” he said. “As we went to the different branches in the mission, we often brought our complete families in our vans and helped increase the attendance of children in those mission branches. It was a great time!”
He presided over the Norway Oslo Mission from 2003 to 2006. “Missionaries, of course, are dear to our hearts; we love them,” he said. “Now the refrigerator has been covered with wedding announcements. What a blessing it is to see new generations being formed, built on the foundation of righteous living and service, including diligent full-time missionary work.”
As an Area Seventy serving the past two years in Europe, he has had an assignment to oversee the Church’s Centers for Young Adults, a blending of the Institute program and the stake organization for young single adults.
“These centers are gathering places for young single adults and create wonderful opportunities for them to meet with the full-time missionaries, who bring their young single adult investigators to the centers, where they are taught together with other young people, connecting with a friend immediately and feeling the warmth and the welcoming spirit of being among good Latter-day Saints,” he said. “We see an increasing number of of centers being established under the leadership of inspired and loving stake presidents, and we have experienced how the work among 18- to 30-year-olds is vitalized and prospering.”
Now, as he accepts a new opportunity for service, Elder Malm is grateful for past experience. “I think that over time, I have learned to listen to and more carefully follow the promptings of the Spirit in behalf of those I have been called to serve,” he said. “God is no respecter of persons. His love for each of His children is perfect. I have experienced how God’s love is expressed not only in personal ways, but also through the established structure of the restored Church as we are called upon and strive to help and support ‘the one’ to make and keep sacred covenants.”
FAMILY: Born Sept. 12, 1948, in Jonkoping, Sweden, to Gosta I. Malm and Anna-Greta Horndahl Malm. Married Ingrid Agneta Karlsson on Oct. 8, 1969, a civil ceremony followed directly thereafter with sealing in the Bern Switzerland Temple on Oct. 10, 1969. Parents of eight children: Daniel (Eva), Fredrika, Johanna Amundsen (Espen), Carl Johan (Matilda), Sofia Karlsson (Ulf), Carolina Jensen (Matt), Christoffer (Mary), and Gabriel; 19 grandchildren.
CAREER: Business consultant, recently retired. Former director of temporal affairs for the Church in Europe and previous positions with the Presiding Bishop’s Office.
EDUCATION: Master’s degree in business and public law from the University of Goteborg in Sweden, Swedish law degree (LLM) from University of Lund in Sweden.
CHURCH SERVICE: Area Seventy, president of Norway Oslo Mission from 2003 to 2006; public affairs director for Sweden; stake president; counselor in stake presidency; counselor in mission presidency; high councilor; branch president; stake mission president; full-time missionary in Sweden; Church building missionary in Sweden, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.
MILITARY SERVICE: Compulsory service in Swedish army, 1966-67.