Saturday, March 31, 2018

First LDS Asian American and Latin American Apostles - Elder Gong and Elder Soares

This morning, the Church announced two new apostles to replace the two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. The announcement of these two apostles is significant as Elder Gong is the first Asian American LDS apostle and Elder Soares is the first Latin American apostle. The call of these two new apostles signals a new area in the growth of the Church as prior to this time, only North Americans and Europeans have served in the Quorum of the Twelve. Thus, this development indicates significant progress in the internationalization of the Church in regards to its highest leadership bodies.

Elder Gong was first called as a General Authority Seventy in 2010 and served in the Presidency of the Seventy from 2015 until his call as an apostle (click here for more church leadership information). He has also served in the Asia Area Presidency. Elder Gong's ancestors immigrated to the United States from southern China, and Elder Gong was born in California from Chinese-American parents. He served a mission in Taiwan (1973-1975) and worked in Beijing as a special assistant to the United States ambassador in 1987 (click here for more biographical information). Elder Gong worked in several positions for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., from 1989-2001, and later worked at Brigham Young University immediately prior to his call as a General Authority Seventy. Elder Gong served in the Asia Area Presidency in Hong Kong from 2011-2015 (click here for more information).

Elder Soares was first called as a General Authority Seventy in 2005 and began to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy in 2013. He served a mission in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission, and served as the president of the Portugal Porto Mission from 2000-2003. He also served in several area presidencies for the Africa Southeast Area and the Brazil Area as a General Authority Seventy. Elder Soares was born in São Paulo, Brazil (click here for more information).

11 comments:

Eduardo Clinch said...

Pra bens!
I met Elder Gong last year. Very loving and considerate person.
Viva Sudamarica!

MainTour said...

Fascinating - 36 years ago I served my mission in Brazil and my wife in China. Now today both are represented by an Apostle. A historic first - first ever minorities to serve in the Twelve.

Ohhappydane33 said...

Not sure if Elder Soares is or even considers himself a "minority." He is, by accounts I have read, a white person who just happens to be Brazilian. Or is everyone in Latin America considered a "minority" regardless of race?

phxmars said...

Ohhappydane...the latter...

MainTour said...

Wow - that was a big list of new Area Authorities Seventy called in the afternoon session - but hardly any of the older ones were released. What's up with that? No one here in this forum predicted that! Another note - Pres Oaks very pointedly announced that of the 116 current General Authorities of the Church, 40% were born outside the USA.

twinnumerouno said...

Releases of Area Authority Seventies are usually done in October.

Ohhappydane33 said...

And, it would be more correct if Matt wrote here that Elder Gong is the first Asian AMERICAN apostle. Gong was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, not Taipei or Shanghai.

Matt said...

You are correct. I revised the post. I thought I put Asian American.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I think Latin Americans in general are considered a minority in the US. Certainly as far as citizenship, like Elder Uchtdorf. It is interesting that so many registrations and identification papers wish to know if one is Hispanic or not, many times after checking "white". Of course, Brazilians are Latin Americans, and in my opinion Latino, but not Hispanic, based on what language they are native to.
A UCLA sociologist Eduardo Tellez did fascinating surveys in Brazil, finding that many Brazilians self identify as black and look white to North Americans, and vice versa. I also think there is a third category of race in Brazil considered mulatto; some one can verify that or not who knows Brazil better than me.
As for a Latin American, period, to be called, I believe this a positive development for sure. Regardless of race, which is way over-emphasized way too much. Culture is a bigger deal, however, as I think English speakers can and should learn a lot from native speakers of foreign tongues and perspectives, like two of our 15 current apostles. (German and Portuguese).

John Pack Lambert said...

Race is a myth. It is based on false notions about human history and human genetic history. The situation in Brazil is complex. Some reports I have read speak of the population of mixed European and African descent with the moniker of Brown. Brazil also has significant populations of Japanese and Middle Eastern descent. I have known people of both such descents. My dad had multiple occasions of teaching people of,Japanese descent on his mission in Brazil.

I knew one of Elder Gong's sons, who was a classmate at BYU and later in the bishopric of a YSA ward I was in in Michigan. When I asked him if his father's or mother's ancestors emigrated to the US first he hesitated in answering. Elder Gong's wife is anglo but served her mission in Taiwan so has spent almost as much time in Asia. In fact the main difference in their time spent abroad is that Elder Gong was a Rhodes Scholar and spent more time in Britain, since the Gong's didnt marry until about a year before he completed his DPhill.

Elder Gong's father was born in Merved, California. I believe his grandparents ran a luandry there. Yes this is stereotypical Chinese employment. His fathers ancestors left southern China for the US in the late 19th-century. Elder Gong's mother was of Chinese descent and raised in Hawaii. Elder Gong's parents met while students at Stanford.

John Pack Lambert said...

One question I have no answer to is if Elder Gong learned English or Chinese first or how much he was fluent in Chinese prior to his mission. I do know Chinese culture was present in how he raised his sons.