The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global faith. That fact is something President Russell M. Nelson knows first hand.
Within his lifetime the Church has grown from roughly 600,000 members in 1,600 congregations in 1924 to more than 16.5 million in close to 31,000 congregations throughout the world.
It’s something he declared shortly after he was sustained as President of the Church, and then he emphasized by traveling 115,000 miles to 35 nations on six continents in just under two years. The veteran Church leader visited 133 countries as an Apostle and dedicated 31 of those nations for the preaching of the gospel prior to becoming Prophet.
That fact was recently reiterated during the Sunday morning session of the April 2021 general conference where a Church leader from every populated continent spoke to members listening from more than 70 countries.
“Truly, the blessings of the gospel are for every race, language, and people. The Church of Jesus Christ is a global church. Jesus Christ is our leader,” President Nelson declared in his Sunday morning remarks.
In addition to featuring messages from Church leaders from every continent, April’s general conference also included the call of eight new General Authority Seventies from the United States, South America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
The Church currently has 106 General Authority Seventies serving throughout the world. Here are a few facts about this increasingly diverse set of Church leaders.
- Almost exactly half are from the United States.
- 52 of them come from 30 different countries/territories outside the U.S.
- 18 are from South America
- 7 are from Asia
- 7 are from Europe
- 6 are from Africa
- 6 are from Oceania
- 4 are from Mexico
- 3 are from Central America/Caribbean
- 1 is from Canada
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, native Elder Angel Abrea will be remembered in Latter-day Saint history as the first General Authority from Latin America. Since his call in April 1981 when there were roughly a few hundred thousand members in South America, the Church now has 18 native South Americans serving as General Authority Seventies and 4.1 million members.
- Recognized as the Church’s first black General Authority, the late Elder Helvécio Martins served as a General Authority Seventy from 1990-1995.
- Elder Joseph Sitati, a native of Kenya, was the first Black African General Authority called in 2009. Today, there are six General Authority Seventies from Africa: Elder Edward Dube from Zimbabwe; Elder Adeyinka A. Ojediran from Nigeria; Elder Christoffel Golden from South Africa; and Elder Thierry K. Mutombo and Elder Alfred Kyungu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.