Ulisses Soares and Gerrit W. Gong were named as the two newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The announcement came during the first session of the bi-annual General Conference in which Russell M. Nelson was formally sustained by church members as the newest president and prophet.
Soares, born in São Paulo, Brazil, is the first apostle called from South America. He has served as a full-time general authority for the church since 2005 and at the time of his appointment was serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, the LDS Church’s third-highest governing body.
Gong is the first Asian-American apostle called to the quorum and was serving alongside Soares in the Presidency of the Seventy during the time of his call. Gong was born in Redwood City, Calif., and was called as full-time general authority in 2010.
Soares and Gong now serve below President Nelson as part of an all-male governing council. They operate as top policy makers that Mormons worldwide look to for guidance and instruction.
Although the church’s nearly 16 million members are diverse — the majority live outside of the United States — top Mormon leaders are primarily white and American-born. The addition of Gong and Soares shakes up that precedent.
These are the first two apostles appointed by Nelson, who began presiding over the church in January.