The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints named Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares as the two newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Many members are celebrating the new calling of racially diverse apostles. Elder Gong is the first Asian-American apostle, and Elder Soares is the first Latin American apostle.
ELDER GONG AND ELDER SOARES ARE THE NEW APOSTLES
I AM SPEECHLESS AND SO EXCITED TO SUSTAIN THEM#ldsconf
— poetic kate (@poetickate) March 31, 2018
After being sustained, the two new apostles approached the stand during the morning session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference on March 31.
Elder Gong and Elder Soares were called and sustained after the deaths of President Thomas S. Monson in January and Elder Robert D. Hales in October.
Elder Gong has served as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since April 3, 2010. On Oct. 6, 2015, he was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.
I'm so happy. I burst into tears, and I can't stop crying. My heart is full. This means so much to me as an Asian/brown member of this church. #ElderGong #ElderSoares #ldsconf
— Sara N. (@saralnelson) March 31, 2018
Elder Gong was a member of the Asia Area Presidency, headquartered in Hong Kong, from 2011 to 2015.
Elder Gong is a BYU graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in Asian and university studies from 1977.
In 1979, he received a master of philosophy and in 1981 a doctoral degree in international relations from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1985, he served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department, and in 1987 he served as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China.
Since 1989, he has served in several positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was assistant to the president for planning and assessment at Brigham Young University until April 2010.
Elder Gong gave a brief message during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference. He spoke on covenants and shared his testimony of President Nelson’s role as prophet.
“Together, our covenants and our Savior’s Atonement enable and ennoble,” Elder Gong said during his conference message. “Together, they help us hold on and let go. Together, they sweeten, preserve, sanctify and redeem.”
Elder Gong gave a BYU devotional in 2007 called “Live Right Now.”
In the devotional, Elder Gong spoke on the importance of choices, promptings and promises.
“’Live right now’ can mean ‘live—right now,'” Elder Gong said in the devotional. “It can also mean ‘live right—now.’ Both meanings testify to the supernal blessings of choice—what the scriptures call ‘moral agency.’”
According to LDS.org, Elder Soares was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 2005. He was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on Jan. 6, 2013. He served previously as a counselor in the Africa Southeast Area, President of the Brazil Area and a counselor in the Brazil South Area.
Elder Soares received a bachelor of arts degree in accounting and economics from the Sao Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science in 1985 and later received a master’s of business administration.
Elder Soares gave a brief message during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference. He highlighted the importance of following the prophet.
“It is comforting to know that we are not alone in the world, despite the challenges we face in life,” Elder Soares said during his conference address. “Having prophets is a sign of God’s love for his children.”
Elder Soares gave a BYU devotional in 2013 called “Becoming a Work of Art.” In his address, he compared humans to works of art because of their divine potential.
“Figuratively, we all have the potential to become beautiful works of art in the Lord’s hands,” Elder Soares said. “In this sense, He is the sculptor and He uses a hammer and chisel to mold us through our experiences day by day. If we allow the Lord to shape us, the result will be wonderful.”
We are an international church. These appointments signal the degree to which we are no longer a parochial sect.
— BCC (@ByCommonConsent) March 31, 2018