A worldwide church with over 16.6 million members is an organizational wonder. With so many moving parts, understanding the who-does-what in general leadership can be hard to follow when you’re not directly involved.
A recent Deseret News article broke down the role of the Presidency of the Seventy. Most Latter-day Saints have heard that term before, but you may be asking, “Who are they?” Most simply, this group consists of seven leaders and is the third-highest ranking leadership body in the Church (after the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).
“Okay, and what do they do?” might be your next question. Under the supervision of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, the seven leaders are each responsible for one or more geographic area of the Church.
“Great. And what does that entail exactly?” Well, that question will take more than a few sentences to answer—these men, along with their wives, keep pretty busy. If you’ll follow along, we will break down some of their core responsibilities. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the Presidency of the Seventy.
1. The Presidency of the Seventy makes recommendations on calling new General Authority Seventies. Because members of the Presidency of the Seventy frequently visit their assigned areas, they are more familiar with many significant leaders there, which aids the Church in knowing who to extend a call to.
“As big as the Church is and as far flung as it is, it always amazed me how knowledgeable the leadership in the church has remained about individuals,” Elder Mark K. Jensen, who served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy until 2019, recently told Deseret News.
2. They travel widely on the weekends. Members of the Presidency of the Seventy work Tuesdays through Friday at noon in their offices in Salt Lake City. Then on the weekends they travel to their assigned areas to preside over stake conferences and the reorganization of stakes.
3. The presidency meets weekly. They have a meeting room in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. When it wasn’t under construction, they would also sometimes meet in the Salt Lake Temple. Elder Jensen explained that in the temple “there’s a meeting room for the Twelve and a meeting room of the seven presidents and then a meeting room large enough for both the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency to meet together.”
4. They hold a weekly meeting for General Authority Seventies. Deseret News writes that these meetings “include direction and instruction and have also included church history lessons.” Information from those meetings is then relayed to General Authority Seventies. They hold regular area councils with all of the Area Seventies and the women who serve as Area Organizational Advisers. From there, training is passed on to those serving at stake levels.
5. President M. Russell Ballard and Elders Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband, Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares all served in the Presidency of the Seventy before their call to the Twelve.
Elder Jensen pointed out that the international nature of the Seventy is very valuable to the Church.
“Many of the Seventy now come from all over the world,” he said, “so there’s a resource there that I think is a tremendous strength to the Church and to the Twelve to have the seven presidents to turn to and to know that not only are they capable, but they have vast experience—they have knowledge of areas that sometimes they haven’t been to.”
Read the more about the Presidency of the Seventy, including recent changes to the members, at Deseret News.