Veteran leaders — Elder L. Whitney Clayton and Gary B. Porter — named counselors in Tabernacle Choir presidency

The recently called president of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Mike Leavitt, faces many challenges at the helm of the iconic choir. 

He will not face those challenges alone.

On Thursday, Aug. 27, Elder L. Whitney Clayton and Gary B. Porter were announced as counselors to Leavitt at a devotional held in the Tabernacle. Together, the new choir presidency will manage the administrative components of the Tabernacle Choir organization, including the supervision of more than 700 volunteers, according to Newsroom.

Both counselors bring years of leadership experience to their new calling.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton, first counselor in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Presidency.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton, first counselor in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Presidency. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

First counselor Elder Clayton served as a General Authority Seventy for almost two decades before being granted emeritus status at the October 2020 general conference. He spent much of that time serving in the Presidency of the Seventy and was the Senior President of the Quorums of the Seventy.

Elder Clayton’s other General Authority assignments included supervising, or serving in Area Presidencies, for the Church in Mexico, Middle East/Africa North, South America South and others. 

The California native earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at the University of Utah and a law degree at the University of the Pacific. Prior to his call as a General Authority Seventy, he was an attorney in California, from 1978 to 2001.

Gary B. Porter, second counselor in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Presidency.
Gary B. Porter, second counselor in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Presidency. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Porter, who will serve as Leavitt’s second counselor, is a senior vice president at Deseret Management Corporation, where his responsibilities include human resources, community relations, executive director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation and president and CEO of Temple Square Hospitality Corporation. 

Porter was also recently named the chairman of the board of governors of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business association. 

He previously served in the Welfare/Self-Reliance Services department and was appointed as secretary to the Presiding Bishopric and served as managing director of the Presiding Bishopric Administrative Services department of the Church.

Thursday’s devotional, held in the Tabernacle and via livestream, was open to all choir organization members. 

Remarks were given by outgoing choir president Ron Jarrett and his wife, Lucie; the two new counselors; President and Sister Jacalyn Leavitt; and the choir’s adviser, Bishop Gérald Caussé, who presided at the meeting.  

Sister Leavitt has been called as a companion to her husband.

Mike Leavitt recently told the Church News that promising days await the choir following the interruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have all been through a year of change and a bit of turmoil with the pandemic,” he said. “We’re now in the process, as a society, of moving back to what we know as normal, recognizing that the world will be different.”

A global Church, he added, “needs a global choir.”

The choir was scheduled to resume rehearsals on Thursday, but the recent surge in COVID-19 cases prompted leaders to briefly delay resumptions.

Choir leadership is now reportedly in consultation with a team of scientists, physicians, and public health experts to establish a detailed set of policies and operating procedures. Such plans will be designed to make rehearsing and performing as safe as reasonably possible while pandemic conditions continue.

Choir leaders anticipate that online training in the safety procedures will be conducted in early to mid-September. The choir is expected to participate in the October general conference.