Church members sustained five new General Authorities and four new general auxiliary leaders during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church's 185th Annual General Conference on April 4.
Called as new General Authorities to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are Elder Kim B. Clark, Rexburg, Idaho; Elder Allen D. Haynie, San Diego, California; Elder Von G. Keetch, Salt Lake City, Utah; Elder Hugo Montoya, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; and Elder Vern P. Stanfill, Kalispell, Montana.
Called as members of the Young Men general presidency are Brother Stephen W. Owen, president; Brother Douglas D. Holmes, first counselor; and Brother M. Joseph Brough, second counselor.
A new counselor was called to the Primary general presidency to replace Sister Jean A. Stevens, who will serve with her husband in the England London Mission. Sister Rosemary M. Wixom will continue to serve as president, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, who previously served as second counselor, will serve as the first counselor, and Sister Mary R. Durham has been called as second counselor.
Following are brief biographies of the new leaders:
Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy
A lifetime of education — as a student and a teacher — will be of great benefit to Elder Kim Bryce Clark in his new assignment to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy. With his new calling announced on April 4 in general conference, Elder Clark will begin his service just weeks after he finishes his assignment as president of BYU-Idaho.
“I have been in school since I was five years old,” the newly called Seventy said. “I love learning and teaching.”
He was born in Salt Lake City on March 20, 1949, to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark — the eldest of three children. He spent his childhood years growing up in Salt Lake City until age 11, when his father took a job in Spokane, Washington.
Although his original plan was to attend Brigham Young University, as a junior in high school he felt he needed to explore other options and decided to apply to Harvard University — a place that would eventually become his home for more than three decades.
After his freshman year of study, Elder Clark left for the South German Mission from 1968-1970. Upon his return, he decided it would be best that he attend BYU, where he soon met Sue Lorraine Hunt in his ward. They were married a few months later on June 14, 1971. Parents of seven children, they have 23 grandchildren and another on the way.
Right after they were married, the couple moved to the Boston, Massachusetts, area, where Elder Clark again enrolled at Harvard. There he earned his bachelor of arts degree, a master of arts degree and a PhD — all in economics. After finishing his doctorate, Elder Clark became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1978, and would later serve as the school’s dean from 1995-2005. Elder Clark was asked to be the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2005 where he served for nearly a decade.
Elder Clark has served as an elders quorum president, ward executive secretary, bishop’s counselor, bishop, high councilor, stake mission president’s counselor and Area Seventy.
Elder Allen D. Haynie of the Seventy
Elder Allen Decker Haynie was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at general conference April 4. Elder Haynie was born Aug. 29, 1958, to Van Lloyd and Sarah Lulu Lewis Haynie. He was born in Logan, Utah, but due to family circumstances spent much of his youth in other cities in northern Utah and in the Silicon Valley of California. He is a resident of San Diego, California.
He served in the Argentina Cordoba Mission from 1977 to 1979. With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University, Elder Haynie went on to obtain a juris doctorate from the university’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1985. Thereafter, he would fulfill a year-long judicial clerkship on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Diego before joining the law firm of Latham and Watkins, practicing out of the San Diego office.
There he remained until about five years ago, when he and his brother, Van, formed their own law firm. Elder Haynie has most recently been an Area Seventy in the Church’s North America West Area for the past four years. Prior to that, he was a stake president, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a bishopric and a seminary teacher.
He met Deborah Ruth Hall while attending BYU, and the two were married Dec. 19, 1983, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of six children. Growing up, Elder Haynie attended five different elementary schools, two junior high schools and a high school in Bountiful, Utah.
This diversity in experience “taught me a great lesson about learning to appreciate everybody, because it seemed that every year I was changing locales and having to make friends all over again,” he said. “One of the things I love about the Church is that it gives us an opportunity to associate with people who maybe on our own we wouldn’t chose to associate with, yet we find value in their differing backgrounds, experience, talents and abilities.”
Growing emotional when talking about his testimony, Elder Haynie said he first read and marked the Book of Mormon when he was 12. “I don’t have a memory of not believing; I don’t have a memory of not praying.”
Elder Von G. Keetch of the Seventy
The defining moment of Elder Von G. Keetch’s life came as he was completing a judicial clerkship with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court and preparing to enter full-time practice.
He could have worked in any city in the United States for a multitude of big law firms. Instead, he and his wife, Bernice Pymm Keetch, asked the Lord what they should do. After a period of searching, the couple returned to Salt Lake City, where he went to work for the law firm of Kirton McConkie.
At the time, Elder Keetch thought he might be sacrificing his ability to work on cutting-edge legal cases in order to be near family.
Instead, as the chief outside legal counsel for the Church, Elder Keetch, 55, argued constitutional issues and precedent-setting cases on religious liberty. He has represented almost every major religious denomination in the country.
“I have loved being able to work for such a great client — being able to work on such great issues,” he said, noting that Church leaders strive, in every legal matter, to make “the moral choice, not just the legal choice.”
Born on March 17, 1960, in Provo, Utah, to Gary and Deanne Keetch, Elder Keetch is the oldest of four children. His family lived in West Orem, Utah, before moving to Pleasant Grove, Utah — where he and his future wife would serve on their high school seminary council.
As a young man, Elder Keetch served in Germany Dusseldorf Mission, held many leadership positions and came to love the German people. After returning from the mission field, he married Bernice in the Salt Lake Temple on Nov. 21, 1981; they have six children. Elder Keetch graduated from BYU in 1984 in Political Science and received a law degree from the university in 1987.
Through the years, Elder Keetch, who lives in Highland, has served in bishoprics, on high councils, as a stake president and an Area Seventy in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Hugo Montoya of the Seventy
Elder Hugo Montoya was understandably overwhelmed when he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. He would be comforted by a prophet’s gentle words. “In a training meeting [for new General Authorities], President Thomas S. Monson said, ‘You are here because you love the Savior.’ ”
Elder Montoya was uplifted knowing his new calling placed him on the Lord’s errand. “I love the Savior and I will go wherever I am asked to go,” he said. “I will do whatever I am asked to do. I will say whatever I am asked to say.”
Elder Montoya was sustained during the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 185th Annual General Conference. A fifth-generation Latter-day Saint, Elder Montoya also finds strength in his family’s legacy of faith.
His great-grandfather, Rafael Monroy, is a pivotal figure of the history of the Church in Mexico. In 1915, Brother Monroy and a fellow member, Vicente Morales, were arrested by a group of revolutionaries during the Mexican Revolution. Both men were told they would be released if, among other demands, they renounced their religion.
The two refused and were shot to death by firing squad. Elder Montoya said his great-grandfather’s example remains a powerful influence in his life. “I’ve learned that feelings of fear can be overcome by feelings of faith and testimony when you know you are doing the right things.”
Elder Montoya was born April 2, 1960, in Fresno, California, to Abel Montoya and Maclovia Monroy. He has lived most of his life in Mexico and resides in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo. He married Maria del Carmen Balvastro in Hermosillo they were sealed in the Mesa, Arizona Temple on April 6, 1983.
They have five children. After laboring in the Mexico City North Mission (1979-1981), he served as a ward Young Men president, high councilor, bishop, stake president, area auditor and Area Seventy.
He graduated from Sonora State University in 1986 with an agricultural engineering degree and has worked in several management positions with Xerox and as a Church institute teacher.
Elder Vern P. Stanfill of the Seventy
Elder Vern Perry Stanfill believes there is no such thing as a coincidence. There are intersections in this life between people for a purpose. The Lord can inspire His children to be a blessing to others.
Elder Stanfill enjoys ministering to others in the gospel and feels the gospel work is most enjoyable when helping and working with people one on one.
Born August 8, 1957, to Jed and Peggy Stanfill, he grew up on a cattle ranch near Townsend, Montana. He learned the value of hard work and cultivated a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. The third of four children, Elder Stanfill has two older brothers and a younger sister who have faithfully served in the Church.
“The hand of the Lord is present in our lives despite our weaknesses,” he said. “My wife and I are not perfect people. We don’t have a perfect family. We are just ordinary people who have tried to live our lives day by day and allow the Lord to be part of it.”
After serving a full-time mission in Toulouse, France, and pursuing a degree in agricultural economics at BYU, he met Alicia Cox Stanfill. They were married Dec. 17, 1980, in the Salt Lake Temple. After graduation, Elder Stanfill moved back to Montana to help manage the family ranch dealing in cattle, hay and grain operations. He sold the business in 1998 and began managing a portfolio of real estate and financial instruments, as well as structuring philanthropic and estate matters.
Raising four daughters with his wife, Elder Stanfill had opportunities to serve in the Church as an elders quorum president, bishop, high councilor, stake president and Area Seventy. He was serving in the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Mary R. Durham of the Primary general presidency
Throughout her married life, Mary Richards Durham has noticed that if she and her husband put the Lord first, everything falls into place as they sometimes struggle to balance the demands of home life, Church callings, career and other responsibilities.
“It’s a sweet thing. If you trust, the Lord blesses you,” she said.
It is a theme she has seen repeated many times: as she was called to serve as the ward Young Women president while her husband served in the stake presidency; later as they served together as her husband presided over the Japan Tokyo Mission from 2000 to 2003; and now as she serves as the second counselor in the Primary general presidency as her husband begins his service as an Area Seventy.
“As we are yoked with each other and with the Lord, everything goes easier.”
Mary Lucille Richards was born on March 15, 1954, in Portsmouth, Virginia, to L. Stephen Richards Jr. and Annette Richards. While her father pursued his medical degree, the family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, before settling in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nurtured by the faith and love of her parents and a large extended family, she came to know that the gospel was true.
“It was a happy experience to live the gospel. It wasn’t hard. It was fun,” Sister Durham said.
As a young woman, she was impressed with the importance of finding a worthy young man to marry and made it a matter of daily prayer and weekly fasting. After high school she attended BYU on a dance scholarship and met Mark Durham, who was attending the University of Utah. “I immediately recognized his goodness,” she said.
The couple married in June 1974 in the Salt Lake Temple. Together they have raised seven children and have 29 grandchildren.
Through the years Sister Durham has also served as a stake Relief Society president, counselor in a ward Relief Society presidency, gospel doctrine instructor, ward Young Women president and, most recently, on the Primary general board.
Stephen W. Owen of the Young Men general presidency
When Stephen W. Owen was 14 years old, his neighbor, A. Ray Curtis, hired him to cut the grass in his spacious yard and weed his garden every week. “It took me three days to mow that lawn,” said a smiling Brother Owen, who was sustained April 4 as the Young Men general president. When young Stephen finally finished the job, his wise employer asked him to join him for a walk through the garden. Brother Curtis spotted a weed or two that had been overlooked. “He told me that I needed to pull every weed,” he said. “That was my first job and it helped me understand what it meant to be duty-bound.”
Brother Owen would learn lessons that year that went far beyond lawn and garden care. For one, he found that satisfaction is found in doing hard things the right way. He also learned the value of mentors. Brother Curtis expected only the best from Stephen. “It was like he was saying to me, ‘I know who you can become, and I want to help you.’ ”
Every young man in the Church, he added, needs such mentors to help him become the best priesthood holder he can be. “I have a lot of empathy for the youth,” he said. “I love them and I know this is a critical time that will set the pattern for the rest of their lives.”
Brother Owen served in the Texas San Antonio Mission and was later called as a bishop, stake president, high councilor, Scoutmaster and ward Young Men president. The Holladay, Utah, native also presided over the California Arcadia Mission (2005-2008) where he served with his wife, Sister Jane Stringham Owen. They were married Dec. 28, 1979, in the Provo Utah Temple. They have five children. He was born in March 1958, in Salt Lake City to Gordon and Carolyn Owen. He graduated from the University of Utah with a finance degree and is the president of Great Harvest Bread Company in Provo, Utah.
Douglas D. Holmes of the Young Men general presidency
Brother Douglas D. Holmes was sustained April 4 in general conference as the first counselor in the new Young Men general presidency.
Brother Holmes was born February 27, 1961, in Salt Lake City to Dee W. and Melba Howell Holmes and grew up in the Cottonwood Heights community of Salt Lake City.
He is a resident of Farmington, Utah.
After serving in the Scotland Glasgow Mission from 1980 to 1982, Brother Holmes received a bachelor’s degree in family science from Brigham Young University in 1986 and went on to earn an MBA degree from the university’s Marriott School of Management, awarded in 1988.
After graduation, he was a management consultant for three years and then undertook a successful career in the telecommunications industry, becoming executive vice president of strategy and corporate development for MEDIA ONE group. From 2000 until his calling as a mission president in 2010 and again from 2013, he has been self-employed in investment and real estate development.
Much his time and talents have been occupied with non-profit organizations. He was board chairman of United Way of Davis County, Utah, co-founded and chaired Parents for Choice in Education, and was on the board of the Safe Harbor Women’s Shelter in Davis County. At the time of his call he was vice chairman of the Academy for Creating Enterprise.
Brother Holmes most recently has been first counselor in the presidency of a young single adult stake. He presided over the Michigan Detroit Mission from 2010-2013 and has served as a bishop, a ward Young Men president, a teachers quorum adviser and ward mission leader.
He married Erin Sue Toone June 22, 1985, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of six children.
“We’ve seen the power of the word in our lives, whether it’s been the word of the prophets or the word of the scriptures or the whisperings of the Holy Ghost,” Brother Holmes said.
Reflecting on a statement attributed to the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve, he said, “This generation of youth has a greater capacity for obedience than any previous generation. I think that’s part of the Lord’s timetable and preparation for the days we live in.”
M. Joseph Brough of the Young Men general presidency
During the three years M. Joseph Brough served as president of the Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission from 2011 to 2014, he lost his father and his father-in-law.
Although his wife, Sister Emily Jane Brough, could have returned to the United States for the funerals, the couple decided in both cases that she should stay in Guatemala and continue with their missionary work.
“We knew we were better off staying and working as well as we could,” said Brother Brough, called April 4 as second counselor in the Young Men general presidency. “That was exactly what her father and my father would expect of us.”
Brother Brough was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 11, 1963, to Monte J. and Ada B. Brough. He spent his youth in Farmington, Utah, and Robertson, Wyoming. The family moved to Minnesota when Joseph’s father, who would later serve as a member of the Seventy, was called as a mission president. Joseph was a senior in high school when his father completed his service as a mission president.
Instead of returning to high school, Joseph took the high school equivalency exam and went straight to Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. His parents, however, insisted he graduate from seminary with a four-year certificate. It was while attending seminary at Davis High School that he met Emily Jane Brough. They were married on April 25, 1985, in the Salt Lake Temple; they are parents of four children.
Before the couple married, however, Brother Brough served as a missionary in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission. His mission president, Jorge H. Perez, became a “most influential man in my life,” he said.
An owner and vice president of Rotational Molding of Utah, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Utah. In the Church he has served as a bishop, ward Young Men president and high councilor.