During the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 3, members sustained 8 new General Authority Seventies and a new Primary general presidency.
Following is a brief look at each new General Authority Seventy. A more in-depth profile on each will appear in coming weeks.
Elder Sean Douglas
As a young missionary serving in the Chile Concepcion Mission, Sean Douglas began his service in the rural backcountry, very different from where he grew up. His “wonderful first Chilean companion and trainer spoke Spanish at lightning speed.” After three months in the mission field, he still struggled speaking and understanding the Spanish language.
A package from home, including a cassette tape from his father, plunged him into a moment of doubt and drove him to his knees. “I am not doing any good,” he prayed. “I do not seem to be impacting anyone.”
His heart filled with a burning question. “Are you here for Me or are you here for you?”
It was at this moment he resolved with God to forget of himself and keep trying. This determination made all the difference. “That very night I dreamt in Spanish.”
The following day everything was a little easier. “I could speak a little better. I could understand a little more. …
“The mission catalyzed my testimony of the power of prayer and that when you go and do what the Lord commands, He always provides a way for you to do it.”
It was a patten and truthful principle that would guide the rest of his life.
Sean Douglas was born in 1964, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Barbara and Leo Douglas. He married Patricia Ann Dickson — his high school best friend and sweetheart — in the Salt Lake Temple in June 1985. He recalls the very sage advice then given to them: “You have chosen your love, now love your choice.” They are the parents of four children.
He graduated in accounting from the University of Utah and worked as an auditor before spending “three enjoyable decades” with Huntsman Corporation, ultimately serving as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
His faith and trust in the Lord, cemented during his youth and his mission, guided him during career moves that led them to England, where he served as a young bishop; to St. Louis, Missouri; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Houston, Texas, twice. He served as president of the Perú Lima South Mission from 2012-2015, and Elder Douglas was serving as an Area Seventy prior to his calling as a General Authority Seventy.
Elder Michael A. Dunn
Although Elder Michael A. Dunn’s parents divorced when he was a small child, he was raised by a mother who instilled in him strong faith and values. After attending a private Episcopal school in Salt Lake City, he transferred as a sophomore to a public high school where he got his first real exposure to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As his new friends and their parents welcomed him with open arms, Michael desired to learn about the Church and eventually met with missionaries. Teachings about the Godhead and Joseph Smith’s First Vision “landed in me with real power,” he said.
Through prayer and the Holy Ghost he knew the gospel was true and was baptized in his senior year of high school. Since then, Elder Dunn said he has been “nurtured by a string of incredible leaders.” He also acknowledges the providence of Heavenly Father and the Savior throughout his life.
“I’m a believer,” Elder Dunn said. “I’m blessed to be a witness of Jesus Christ and promulgate His life, His goodness, His restored gospel today.”
Michael Austin Dunn was born in Tucson, Arizona, on March 5, 1958. He is the son of Patricia Sargeant and James R. Dunn. He grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and married Linda Virigina Poulson on May 1, 1980, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have three children.
Elder Dunn received a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication in 1981 and a Master of Arts degree in communication in 2008, both from the University of Utah. He was the general manager of KUED (PBS Utah), president of Dunn Communications Inc., and most recently, managing director of BYUtv and BYUradio.
Elder Dunn, who was serving as an Area Seventy at the time of his call, has served as mission president of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission, stake president, high councilor, bishop, counselor in a bishopric, ward Young Men president and full-time missionary in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission.
Elder Clark G. Gilbert
Many know Elder Clark G. Gilbert as the president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide and past president of Brigham Young University-Idaho and for his innovative development of online higher education programs at both.
He credits defining Church service two decades ago — helping inner-city youth in Boston, Massachusetts — in preparing him to take educational opportunities to larger audiences. It came as he was busy in graduate school and caring for a young family.
“Those young men didn’t always have a lot of support — they became a part of our lives, and we grew to love them,” he said. “I learned to listen to the Lord and knew He was in their lives. I could hear Him telling me what I needed to do for them.”
The Lord taught him about the needs of other people, Elder Gilbert said. “It wasn’t just that He was preparing me for education, but He was showing me what He could do in the lives of people at a deep, personal level.”
Church News podcast: BYU-Pathway Worldwide President Gilbert discusses innovations blessing Church education
Clark Gordon Gilbert was born in Oakland, California, on June 18, 1970, to Paul Ensign Gilbert and Susan Carlson Gilbert. He grew up in Phoenix. Arizona, and married Christine Calder on Feb. 5, 1994, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have eight children.
Elder Gilbert received a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations in 1994 from Brigham Young University, a Master of Arts degree in Asian studies in 1995 from Stanford University and a Doctor of Business Administration degree in 2001 from Harvard University. Other work experiences include professor at Harvard Business School, associate academic vice president at BYU-Idaho and president and chief executive officer of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media.
An Area Seventy at the time of his call, Elder Gilbert has served as a full-time missionary in the Japan Kobe Mission, elders quorum president, counselor in a stake Young Men presidency, counselor in a stake presidency and bishop.
Elder Patricio M. Giuffra
Elder Patricio Giuffra was 4 years old when his father died of cancer. As a result, he grew up questioning God and wondering why life was so unfair.
“My father was a good husband, father and provider,” Elder Giuffra recalled thinking. “Why did he have to die?”
Answers and understanding came about a decade later when 14-year-old Patricio and his mother met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and accepted the gospel.
“The plan of salvation gave me hope because I understood the purpose,” he said. “My father prepared the way for us to join the Church.”
One of the special moments of Elder Giuffra’s life happened in 1989 when he was sealed to his parents and deceased siblings in the Ogden Utah Temple. After the ordinance, his mother whispered, “I felt your father’s presence.”
From the time he was baptized, the gospel of Jesus Christ has anchored Elder Giuffra’s life.
“The Church has been my life,” he said. “I feel like I’ve always belonged to the Church.”
Patricio Mauricio Giuffra Vargas was born in Valparaíso, Chile, on April 6, 1962, to Lazaro Dante Giuffra Riffo and Olga Rosa Vargas Canales. He grew up in Valparaíso, Chile, and married Maria Eugenia Gonzalez Olmos in the Santiago Chile Temple on Dec. 23, 1992. They have four children.
Elder Giuffra graduated from Brigham Young University in 1990 with Bachelor of Science degrees in marketing and translation/interpretation and received his Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing and operations from BYU in 1994.
He has worked as a purchasing manager for Woodgrain Millwork (1994-1996), sales manager and operations manager for Alvenius Chilena (1996-1998), and as general manager at Carbotech Chile (1998-1999) and a general manager at Arcotex SA (2000 to present).
He has served as a full-time missionary in the Chile Osorno Mission, stake executive secretary, stake Young Men president, bishop and stake president. Prior to his call as a General Authority Seventy, he served as an Area Seventy (2015-2020).
Elder Alfred Kyungu
In 1991, Elder Alfred Kyungu was a 24-year-old student at the University of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, living with his uncle, Polydor Ngoy. One day his uncle told him about an appointment with some missionaries, who would explain more about their church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Don’t miss this good opportunity,” his uncle told him.
Soon both he and his uncle were meeting regularly with a senior missionary couple from Utah.
At first, Elder Kyungu was hesitant to join a new, foreign religion. After six months of discussions and many questions, however, Elder Kyungu and his uncle were baptized on the same day, Sept. 21, 1991.
In some ways it was not an easy transition. Many in the community were suspicious of the Church and wondered if Latter-day Saints were mystics or even truly Christian. Fortunately, the members of their small branch were kind and welcoming. Elder Kyungu and his uncle were also fortified by what they were being taught. “We knew we were being taught the principles taught by Jesus Christ.”
Elder Kyungu married Lucie Kabulo Malale on Nov. 28, 1998, in Lubumbashi. They were sealed in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple in 2004. They are the parents of two daughters and one son.
Alfred Kyungu Kibamba was born in Kamina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Oct. 31, 1966, to Domitien Kyungu Nkimba and Celestine Ngoy Mbuyu.
Elder Kyungu received both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in social sciences and international relations from the University of Lubumbashi. He worked in several positions for the Democratic Republic of the Congo government and for the Church as a coordinator for Seminaries and Institutes and as a family history manager.
An Area Seventy at the time of his call, he has also served as an institute teacher, ward Sunday School teacher, counselor in a bishopric, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency and president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission from 2016 to 2019.
Elder Alvin F. Meredith III
In Alvin (known as “Trip” among family and friends) Meredith’s final year of high school in Tennessee, he was selected as his school’s athlete of the year by a group of Christian student athletes.
Shortly after, his coach notified him that the state leadership of the group had disqualified him because they didn’t recognize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a Christian faith.
His coach, “a really good Christian man,” asked the organization to send someone to the school to meet with the young athlete.
The organization’s representative came to the school and explained 10 points of doctrine that he felt justified their decision to disqualify the Latter-day Saint athlete. Upon seeing a Bible in the man’s bag, Elder Meredith asked if the two of them could review some verses.
“We looked at each of those 10 points and went to Chronicles and James and the Book of Revelation and Corinthians,” Elder Meredith said. “My faith was challenged, and through the fire of that challenge, it was strengthened and has never wavered since.”
Elder Alvin Frazier “Trip” Meredith III was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 22, 1970, to Alvin Frazier Meredith Jr. and Mary Smartt Meredith. He married Jennifer Denise Edgin on June 6, 1998, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have six children.
Elder Meredith graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1994 and earned his Master of Business Administration in 2001 from the University of Chicago. He worked with GE Capital, Boston Consulting Group and Asurion.
Elder Meredith was serving as the mission president of the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission at the time of his call and served as a young man in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. Prior to being a mission president, he served as an Area Seventy, stake president, mission presidency counselor, bishop and Sunday School teacher.
Elder Carlos G. Revillo Jr.
Elder Carlos G. Revillo Jr. always had a desire to serve a full-time mission since childhood, but that was tested when he went to college. He decided to postpone his mission by a year to finish the five-year chemical engineering degree and pass the national board certification exams. He landed in the top five in the board exams and had several good job offers by multinational companies. Because of this, he wavered on his plan to go.
“During that I had to ask myself: ‘Do I really want to serve a mission?’” Elder Revillo said. “I had to pray and really look at what I believe. … Do I really know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true?”
Also, he learned later on that his mother was praying and fasting for him.
Elder Revillo said the Spirit touched his heart and he decided to serve a mission.
“My testimony was fully galvanized when I served a full-time mission,” he said. “All of the blessings that I have now, I attribute to that critical decision.”
Carlos Garcia Revillo Jr. was born in General Santos City, Philippines, on Nov. 8, 1965, to Carlos G. Revillo Sr. and Amparo Garcia Revillo. He grew up in General Santos and married Marites Enriquez Fernando Revillo in the Manila Philippines Temple on Sept. 12, 1989.
Elder Revillo graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1986. He has worked for 22 years in various management positions for Procter & Gamble in the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific region and at the company’s global headquarters in the United States and also as head of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs in Asia for the Kellogg Co.
Elder Revillo, who was the Church’s welfare and self-reliance manager in the Philippines at the time of his call, has served as mission president in the Philippines Quezon City Mission. He served a full-time mission in the Philippines Bacolod Mission and has served as bishop, stake president, seminary teacher and high councilor.
Elder Vaiangina Sikahema
From the time he began drawing the attention of college recruiters as an Arizona high school football star, Elder Vaiangina (Vai) Sikahema has lived in the public eye.
He excelled on the gridiron at Brigham Young University, competing on the Cougars’ 1984 national championship team. He played professionally for several National Football League teams and was twice named to the Pro Bowl before transitioning to a successful career as a Philadelphia news broadcaster.
But “football player” or “TV anchorman” was always something that the genial 58-year-old did — it was never who he was.
“I never relied on being a professional athlete or a broadcaster as my identity,” said Elder Sikahema, who was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 3, 2021. “I identify first as a son of God and as a Latter-day Saint.”
He is also a husband, a father and a priesthood holder — all eternal identities.
Born Aug. 29, 1962, in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, to Sione and Ruby Sikahema, Elder Sikahema was raised in a household defined by family and faith. His ancestors were among the first in Tonga to join the Church.
Growing up in Mesa, Arizona, his preparation to become a professional boxer was set aside when he discovered his football talents. He had not planned to serve a full-time mission when he accepted a scholarship offer to play at BYU.
“But I found myself around young men who were deeply committed to living the gospel, and I wanted to be more like them,” he said.
In 1982, he stepped away from college football to serve in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission.
Returning to BYU, he met Hawaii native Keala Heder. The two later married in the Mesa Arizona Temple on July 21, 1984. The Sikahemas are the parents of four children.
Prior to becoming a General Authority, Elder Sikahema fulfilled a variety of Church callings, including ward Young Men president, bishop, regional director of public affairs, mission presidency counselor, stake president and Area Seventy.