The Seventies’ Role in Worldwide Church Administration

Richard O. Cowan

Richard O. Cowan, “The Seventies’ Role in Worldwide Church Administration,” in A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, ed. David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 573–93.

Richard O. Cowan is a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

In March 1835, when there were only a few thousand Latter-day Saints located largely in northeastern Ohio or western Missouri, the Lord revealed an administrative organization that would serve the Church well nearly two centuries later, when its members numbered in the millions and were scattered around the world. The Church was to be headed by three presiding quorums—the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy. The first of the Seventies had been called on February 28, just one month before this revelation was received, [1] were to play a key role in this administrative structure.

Like the Twelve, the Seventy were to be “especial witnesses” of Christ (D&C 107:23, 25; compare D&C 27:12). Both groups were to “build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews,” the Twelve working under the direction of the First Presidency, and the Seventy under the Twelve (D&C 107:33–34). Since both groups had almost identical assignments, the Twelve were to “call upon the Seventy . . . instead of any others” for assistance in administering the Church (D&C 107:38).

According to the 1835 revelation, the Seventy were to have an unusual organization, headed by seven presidents (see v. 93). As the demands of the work required, these seven had the authority to choose additional groups of seventy and preside over them (see v. 95). At the Kirtland Temple dedication, the presidents of the Seventy were sustained among the General Authorities as “Apostles and special witnesses to the nations, to assist the Twelve in opening the Gospel kingdom among all people.” [2] Brigham Young later reaffirmed the special nature of the Seventies’ office: “The Seventies are Apostles; and they stand next in authority to the Twelve.” [3]

At first there was only one quorum of Seventy, but as the Church continued to grow, additional quorums were organized throughout the stakes. Eventually, these quorums numbered in the hundreds. Still, they were regarded as Churchwide quorums and were numbered accordingly; for example, the Los Angeles Stake (where I grew up) had two of these quorums—the 274th and 355th Quorums of Seventy. The seven Presidents of the original quorum presided over all these quorums and came to be known as “the First Council of the Seventy” and continued to be regarded as General Authorities.

The First Council’s Administrative Role

As the number of stakes passed one hundred in 1928, the burden of visiting stake conferences, which were still being held quarterly at that time, overwhelmed members of the Twelve. Even though the practice of sending two visitors to each conference was phased out, the First Council of the Seventy as well as the Presiding Bishopric needed to assume a greater administrative role. [4] Consequently, the First Council was relieved of some specific responsibilities for local seventies quorums. [5] Also, members of the First Council no longer presided personally over missions. In contrast to the late 1920s, when three of the seven members were so engaged, a decade later all seven were available to carry out responsibilities at Church headquarters. When stake missions were organized Churchwide in March 1936, for example, this was done under the direction of the First Council of the Seventy.

In 1931, Elder B. H. Roberts had suggested that the Seventies could carry a greater portion of the administrative burden. Citing the Seventies’ revealed responsibility “in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations” (D&C 107:34), he looked forward to the time when the Church would “get the full measure of service from the Seventy, especially from the First Council and its direct quorum,” meaning the First Quorum, of the Seventy which at that time existed only in theory beyond its seven presidents. [6]

During the next several years, Church leaders considered the possibility of reconstituting the First Quorum of the Seventy and designating its entire membership as General Authorities. This would have required at least thirty-six members because, according to the 1835 revelation, “a majority may form a quorum” (D&C 107:28). But as President Spencer W. Kimball later pointed out, “The scope and demands of the work at that time did not justify the reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy.” [7] There would need to be a different solution.

In April 1941, therefore, Church leaders made the following announcement: “The First Presidency and Twelve feel that to meet adequately their great responsibilities and to carry on efficiently this service for the Lord, they should have some help. Accordingly it has been decided to appoint Assistants to the Twelve, who shall be High Priests, who shall be set apart to act under the direction of the Twelve in the performance of such work as the First Presidency and the Twelve may place upon them.” [8] The 1835 revelation had anticipated that there could be others beyond the Twelve or Seventy who “may hold as high and responsible offices in the church” (D&C 107:98). Five were initially sustained in this new calling, but their number would grow beginning in the 1950s. President Kimball later noted that they would “fill a role similar to that envisioned by the revelations for the First Quorum of the Seventy.” [9]

Moving Toward Quorum Status Graph

These new General Authorities and the First Council of the Seventy functioned side by side and almost interchangeably in helping to carry the administrative load. One difference was that members of the First Council were called only from among members of seventies quorums in the stakes, so they first had to be called to membership in a bishopric or on a high council, which would require their being ordained high priests. Most of the Assistants to the Twelve, on the other hand, were seasoned Church leaders who had served as stake or mission presidents. During the 1940s and 1950s, members of the First Council of the Seventy were called at an average age of thirty-nine, while Assistants to the Twelve were an average of twenty years older.

Some suggested that members of the First Council could be ordained high priests to give them more flexibility. Others believed that this was not necessary. Elder Rulon S. Wells of the First Council, for example, insisted that the Lord had “endowed the First Quorum of Seventy with all the powers vested in the Twelve or [First] Presidency.” He therefore argued that ordaining members of the First Council as high priests “would not add to their authority, nor change their status from a standpoint of Priesthood or other privileges thereunder.” [10]

Nevertheless, in 1961, President David O. McKay announced: “Under the direction of the Twelve Apostles, the First Council of Seventy go to all parts of the world to set in order the affairs of the Church. That means ordaining high priests, setting apart presidents of stakes, high councilmen, setting apart president of high priests quorums, etc., and doing other things necessary for the advancement of the work. The First Presidency and Twelve recently agreed that the First Seven Presidents of Seventy under appointment by the Twelve, should have power to set in order all things pertaining to these assignments.” Therefore, they were ordained to the office of high priest. [11] Even after this action was taken, members of the First Council continued to be selected only from among those serving as seventies in the stake.

When some critics pointed out that Joseph Smith had stated that it was “contrary to the order of heaven” to have high priests among the Presidents of the Seventy, Elder Harold B. Lee responded, “Had you ever thought that what might have been contrary to the order of heaven in the early 1830’s might not be contrary to the order of heaven in 1960?” [12] Members of the First Council would receive new responsibilities right away.

Missions, Regions, and Areas

The pattern of grouping missions for administrative purposes developed early. By the midpoint of the nineteenth century, missionary work was expanding in Europe. From the beginning, all European missions were supervised by the president of the British Mission, who typically was one of the Twelve. For example, in 1851, Elder Franklin D. Richards served as “President of the British Isles and Adjacent Countries.” In 1929, a separate president was called for the British Mission; he, like presidents of neighboring missions, served under the European Mission president.

Following the disruption caused by World War II and the rapid worldwide growth of the Church during the 1950s, the concept of administrative missions returned. An Assistant to the Twelve (rather than a member of the Twelve) became president of the European Mission and established his residence at Frankfurt in 1960. [13] The following year, this mission was divided to form the West European Mission under another Assistant to the Twelve, who also moved to Europe. [14] Then, at the first worldwide mission presidents seminar in the summer of 1961, the South American Mission, the third of these administrative units, was formed, and Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the First Council of the Seventy moved to Montevideo, Uruguay. At the same time, six other General Authorities—three members of the Twelve and three additional Assistants to the Twelve—were each assigned to supervise a particular grouping of missions. Thus there were nine administrative areas: four in the United States and Canada, and five abroad. [15]

In 1965, these mission supervisory assignments were modified to give responsibility to all twelve, rather than just three Apostles. The world was divided into twelve areas: five in the United States and Canada and seven abroad. In each area, a member of the Twelve was to be assisted by a supervisor. Nine of these supervisors were Assistants to the Twelve, while three were members of the First Council of the Seventy. All of these leaders were to reside in the Salt Lake City area, so the headquarters at Frankfurt, London, and Montevideo were closed. [16] Ten years later, as the Church continued to grow, six Assistants to the Twelve were once again assigned to live overseas in order to give more direct supervision to their respective areas. [17]

While missions were receiving this supervisory help, stakes were also given attention. In 1936, stakes had been grouped into regions to coordinate welfare projects. In 1964, the functions of these welfare regions were expanded to include other Church programs and came to be known as “Priesthood Regions.” [18] Three years later, a new level of Church administration was created. The First Presidency announced “the calling of as many brethren as may be necessary, to be known as Regional Representatives of the Twelve” (later shortened to regional representatives) to provide counsel and “conduct instructional meetings in groups of stakes or regions as may be designated from time to time.” Sixty-nine men, most former stake or mission presidents, received this new calling; their number would grow in coming years. [19] These brethren lived in their own homes, continued their regular employment, and served on a Church-service basis, generally in their own areas or nearby.

With the continuing growth of the Church, the General Authorities had to delegate more responsibilities to the local level. Before 1974, seventies could be ordained only by members of the First Council. In that year, stake presidents were authorized to perform this ordination following approval by the First Council. Two years later, stake presidents were permitted to ordain seventies without approval from headquarters. [20]

Writing in the Ensign, Dean L. Larsen, director of instructional materials for the Church who was also serving as a regional representative, noted that local leaders “come from an almost infinite variety of circumstances. Many are virtually without experience in administrative affairs” and represent “every level of education . . . , yet they are expected to learn and to administer a code of inspired principles, procedures, and policies that are determined by the General Authorities of the Church.” Because it would be impossible to provide a handbook that could “make provisions for every possible contingency,” the General Authorities traveled extensively to meet personally with and train local leaders. On a typical weekend in 1974, Elder Larsen noted, the Brethren traveled over 57,000 miles, visiting four continents. “Perhaps the greatest single challenge,” he concluded, “is to establish and maintain a system of Church government that is universal.” [21]

In 1976, the supervision of both missions and stakes worldwide was brought together into a single structure. The number of administrative areas was expanded to thirty: nineteen in the United States and Canada and eleven abroad (including the International Mission. Members of the Twelve as advisors had one to five areas. Of the thirty supervisors, nineteen were Assistants to the Twelve and eleven were Seventies. [22] However, changes were already under way that would affect the status of both the Assistants to the Twelve and members of the First Council of the Seventy.

First Quorum of the Seventy

By 1975, the combined total of Assistants to the Twelve and the First Council of the Seventy reached thirty, only six short of the minimum number to organize a quorum (see fig. 1). At the October general conference that year, President Spencer W. Kimball made this surprising announcement: “The First Quorum of the Seventy will be gradually organized, eventually with seventy members.” Interestingly, this momentous development would be unfolded to the Saints step by step, allowing them time to absorb the import of what was taking place. President Kimball continued, “Three Brethren this day will be added to the First Quorum of the Seventy.” He specifically pointed out that all three held the office of seventy, meaning that they had never been ordained high priests. [23] Thus these appointments followed the same pattern that had prevailed with calls to the First Council of the Seventy over the years.

However, at the next conference, April 1976, four more brethren were added to the First Quorum. Significantly, three were high priests and one was an elder, none having ever been ordained to the office of seventy. Hence, in each conference, President Kimball introduced a new precedent—first calling additional members into the First Quorum and then calling brethren who were not at the time serving as seventies. Furthermore, the First Presidency noted that members of the First Quorum of the Seventy would “hold the same authority as Assistants to the Twelve.” [24]

At the October 1976 conference, the step-by-step process of organizing the First Quorum of the Seventy was completed. Four additional members were called to this quorum, bringing the total of Seventies, plus the twenty-one Assistants to the Twelve to thirty-nine. President Kimball specifically noted that for the first time this exceeded the minimum number of thirty-six needed for “a quorum to do business.” He announced, “Since the functions and responsibilities of the Assistants to the Twelve and the Seventy are similar, and since the accelerated, worldwide growth of the Church requires a consolidation of its administrative functions at the general level, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve . . . have felt inspired to call all of the Assistants to the Twelve into the First Quorum of the Seventy.” From within the quorum, seven new presidents were chosen, five having been Assistants to the Twelve and two having served in the First Council of the Seventy. “With this move,” he said, “the three governing quorums of the Church defined by the revelations—the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the First Quorum of the Seventy—have been set in their places as revealed by the Lord. This will make it possible to handle efficiently the present heavy workload and to prepare for the increasing expansion and acceleration of the work, anticipating the day when the Lord will return to take direct charge of His church and kingdom.” [25]

At this same conference, Elder S. Dilworth Young, who had been the senior President in the First Council of the Seventy, reflected on this historic development: “It is right. It is inspired. Its time has come. It could not be stayed.” He then added: “I sat in the temple Wednesday last and looked at the two presiding quorums, the First Presidency and the Twelve. I had borne in on me the great increase in the power of President Kimball, as in the third general quorum he placed some of the best-trained, most experienced, and loyal men in the Church. It thrilled me to see something come to pass for which we had so long hoped.” [26]

In subsequent years, others continued to be added to the First Quorum of the Seventy. Soon the title “Presidency of the Seventy” replaced “First Council of the Seventy.” In October 1978, the First Presidency announced a new status for certain members of the First Quorum. “The very rapid growth of the Church across the world, with the attendant increase in travel and responsibility, has made it necessary to consider a change in the status for some of the Brethren of the General Authorities. Some of our associates have served for many years with complete and unselfish dedication, and they deserve every honor and recognition for such devoted service.” Therefore, following several years of prayerful consideration the decision was made to designate selected individuals from time to time as “emeritus members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.” These brethren would not be released, but “the load of responsibility that they carry” would be reduced somewhat (for example, some became temple presidents or visitors’ center directors). On this occasion, seven were given this new status. [27] In 1991, the policy was adopted of giving members emeritus status when they reached the age of seventy, although it was given earlier in a few cases, and since 2005 there have been some “year-by-year extensions as determined by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.” [28]

Traditionally, General Authorities had been called for a lifetime term of service, but in 1984 the First Presidency announced: “After much prayerful consideration, we have called six men, mature and tested through long years of service, to become members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to serve for periods of three to five years, just as a mission president or temple president would do, and then to be released with honor and appreciation. While they so serve, they will be General Authorities with every right, power, and authority necessary to function. They will be expected to give their full time to this work while they are in office.” The First Presidency believed that this practice would “provide a constant infusion of new talent and a much widened opportunity for men of ability and faith to serve in these offices.” [29] Similar calls came in subsequent years (see fig. 2).

At the April 1989 conference, eight more were called on a “non-lifetime basis,” bringing the total in this category to thirty-six. At the same time, four others were given a lifetime call. This brought the total number of Seventies to seventy-eight, more than can be accommodated in a single quorum; therefore, the Second Quorum of the Seventy was organized to include those serving “under a five-year call.” Its members would be General Authorities like those in the First Quorum. [30] “No distinction is made in the authority of members of these two quorums,” the Church News explained. [31]

General Authority Quorums of the Seventy Graph

The Presidency of the First Quorum now presided over both quorums, consistent with the instructions in the 1835 revelation (see D&C 107:95). In the future, explained Elder Earl C. Tingey, senior President of the Seventy, these presidents could be drawn from either of the General Authority quorums. [32] Generally they have come from the First Quorum, but Elder Robert C. Oaks, who served as one of the seven presidents from 2004 to 2007, was a member of the Second Quorum.

With the creation of these General Authority Quorums of the Seventy in 1984 and 1989, the First Presidency decided that “the seventies quorums in the stakes of the Church are to be discontinued.” Their members returned to their ward elders quorums or were ordained high priests. [33] This change eliminated any possible confusion concerning the relative authority of General Authority Seventies compared to seventies and other priesthood officers at the local level. “The office of Seventy was thus reserved for General Authorities of the Church,” pointed out Elder Tingey. [34] Meanwhile, during the same year when limited-time calls were first extended, another important organizational development significantly affected the Seventies’ role in worldwide Church administration.

Area Presidencies

The pattern of having one of the Twelve serve as adviser and a member of the Seventy act as supervisor continued, although the title “supervisor” was changed to “executive administrator” in 1979 when a council was created in each area composed of the regional representatives and director of Temporal Affairs. [35] Still, there was a single Seventy responsible for each area under the supervision of a single member of the Twelve. This pattern would change, however, with a far-reaching development in 1984.

In June of that year, the First Presidency announced the formation of thirteen areas, each presided over by three members drawn from the First Quorum of the Seventy. They were to be “accountable to the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve for building up the Church and regulating its affairs in their respective areas.” The structure at the area level thus became like that at other levels of Church organization—the divinely instituted pattern of a council consisting of a president with two counselors with whom he could confer. President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that “this organization lends strength to administration and brings a combined wisdom to decisions and provides flexibility in meeting challenges of growth.” Presidencies of the seven areas in the United States and Canada would live near Church headquarters. Leaders of the other six areas would reside abroad, thus reducing the need for extensive travel. [36]

After the Second Quorum of the Seventy was formed, members of both quorums received assignments somewhat interchangeably. Area Presidents were most often drawn from the First Quorum, but not always. For example, for several years beginning in 1985, the entire presidency of the Pacific Area was drawn from the Second Quorum. [37] In 1989, presidents of the Brazil and Asian Areas were drawn from the Second Quorum and had at least one counselor from the First Quorum. The following year this same arrangement was seen in the Utah South Area. Thus these unusual patterns were not limited to international areas, and the appointments underscored the fact that members of both quorums had the same authority and could be used interchangeably.

Although individual Seventies were sometimes moved to a new area after serving for only one year, they typically stayed in a given area from three to five years. Sometimes they started their service as a counselor and then became president for two or more years. Even though an individual might serve as president over one area, he could subsequently be assigned as a counselor in other areas. Sometimes Seventies were assigned to areas where they had personal experience, such as Elder John K. Carmack, who had been a stake president in Los Angeles, presiding over the North America West Area for three years beginning in 1984, and Elder F. Melvin Hammond, who had been mission president in Bolivia, being assigned to areas in South America. On the other hand, Elder Charles A. Didier, who was from Belgium, never served in the Europe West Area, nor did Elder John H. Groberg, who had been a missionary in Tonga, ever serve in the Pacific. [38]

Area Seventies

In 1995, the 284 regional representatives then serving were released and were replaced with 117 Area Authorities. Previously, regional representatives had primarily advisory “limited line authority” and were assigned to serve within specific regions consisting of only a few stakes. The new Area Authorities, on the other hand, could serve anywhere within broader geographical areas as assigned by the Area Presidency. They could create or reorganize stakes; preside at stake conferences; train stake, mission, or district presidents; and give general oversight as assigned by the Area Presidency. [39]

General Authority and Area Seventies Graph

In 1997, these Area Authorities were ordained to the office of Seventy. President Hinckley explained: “They will then have a quorum relationship presided over by the Presidents of the Seventy. They will be known as Area Authority Seventies [by 2005 simplified to “Area Seventies”], to serve for a period of years in a voluntary capacity in the area in which they reside.” They would serve under the direction of the Presidents of the Seventy and their respective Area Presidency. [40] Thus there were now two categories of Seventies: General Authority Seventies (in the First and Second Quorums) and Area Seventies. Nevertheless, President Boyd K. Packer has been quoted as saying, “a Seventy is a Seventy, is a Seventy.” [41] The authority of these two groups was comparable. Elder L. Aldin Porter noted “that an Area Authority Seventy, within his area and by assignment of the Area Presidency or the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, can do almost anything that a General Authority Seventy can do.” [42] Elder Tingey clarified that Area Authorities “receive assignments similar to those received by General Authority Seventies, with the exception that they serve in their local areas rather than worldwide.” [43] Specifically, in 1997 they were authorized to preside over “member-missionary coordinating councils” which were composed of stake and mission presidents; in 2002 the jurisdiction of these councils was expanded to include all Church programs. [44]

The Area Seventies received assignments to serve in Area Presidencies. Typically Area Seventies served as second counselors in international Area Presidencies. However, the entire presidencies of the Idaho and Central America areas were composed of Area Seventies in 2001 and 2002. A significant departure from prevailing patterns took place in 2002 when two members of the Quorum of the Twelve were assigned to live abroad for two years and serve as Area Presidents. Elder Dallin H. Oaks went to the Philippines, while Elder Jeffrey R. Holland went to Chile—both areas where the Church had experienced explosive growth. Elder L. Tom Perry was similarly assigned to the Europe Central Area in 2004.

Initially there were 134 Area Seventies. The Third Quorum was composed of Area Seventies in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific; the Fourth Quorum was for those in Latin America, and the Fifth Quorum was for the United States and Canada. By 2004, the number of Area Authorities was about two hundred. In that and the following year, all three quorums were divided. The six resulting quorums covered the following areas: Third Quorum: Europe and Africa; Fourth Quorum: Mexico, Central America, and northwestern South America; Fifth Quorum: western and central United States and Canada; Sixth Quorum: southern and eastern United States and Canada; Seventh Quorum: Brazil and southern portions of South America; Eighth Quorum: Asia and the Pacific. [45]

Members of the two General Authority quorums held meetings at Church headquarters each week. Members of Area Seventy quorums met twice each year—once in Salt Lake City at the time of the April general conference, and then for the second time at a designated city within the area.

In August 2004, the stewardship of the seven Presidents of the Seventy was changed. The First Presidency relieved them of responsibility as “Executive Directors of major headquarters departments.” [46] Specifically, Area Presidencies in the United States and Canada were discontinued, and those areas were to be “supervised directly by the Presidency of the Seventy under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve.” [47] The seven Presidents also assisted members of the Twelve assigned to preside over international areas by taking care of assignments, tasks, and other details.

Area Seventies increasingly are filling the role originally described for members who served for a limited time in the Second Quorum. While ranks in the First Quorum continue to grow, numbers in the Second Quorum have been dropping for several years, however, three new members were called to this quorum at the April conference in 2010 (see fig. 2).


In 1999, Elder L. Aldin Porter, the senior President of the Seventy, referred to the important 1835 revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 107: “The basics were revealed then, and continuing revelation has brought the Seventy to the present day.” The Lord didn’t give this revelation only for the Church in 1835; rather, “he gave it to meet the needs of the Church today and in the future. We can have 50 quorums of the Seventy, even 70 quorums of the Seventy as they are needed.” [48] Thus the growth and unfolding organization of the Seventy are visible evidences of continuing revelation. As the needs of the Church change, inspired leaders will receive divine guidance in meeting them.

Appendix A: Seventies Milestones

1835Quorum of Seventies formed (February 28)
 Revelation on Church organization received: D&C 107 (March 28)
1883Seventies quorums reorganized geographically
1931B. H. Roberts urged that the Seventy be utilized more
1936Stake missions organized under direction of First Council
 Regions formed to coordinate welfare projects
1941Assistants to the Twelve called
1961Members of First Council ordained as high priests
 Members of First Council supervised groups of missions
1967Regional representatives of the Twelve called
1976Both missions and stakes grouped into administrative areas
 First Quorum of the Seventy organized (October 1)
1978Selected General Authorities receive emeritus status
1984Seventies called to serve as General Authorities for up to five years
 Area Presidencies formed (June)
1986Local seventies quorums discontinued
1989Second Quorum of the Seventy formed for those with five-year calls
1991Members of First Quorum to receive emeritus status at age of seventy
1995Area Authorities replace regional representatives
1997Area Authorities become Seventies, grouped into three quorums
2004Seven Presidents preside over North America areas

Appendix B: Areas of the Church

Date OrganizedAreas of the Church
July 1, 1984Europe
 Mexico and Central America
 South America North
 South America South
 North America Northeast
 North America Southeast
 North America Northwest
 Salt Lake City North (renamed Utah North)
 Salt Lake City South (renamed Utah South)
 North America Southwest
 North America West
August 15, 1987Philippines/Micronesia
 British Isles/Africa (renamed United Kingdom/Africa) (from Europe)
 Brazil (from South America North)
 North America Central (from North America Northwest and Northeast)
November 1, 1988Utah Central (from Utah North and South)
October 1, 1990Mexico (Mexico and Central America divided)
 Central America (Mexico and Central America divided)
 Africa (United Kingdom/Africa divided)
 United Kingdom (UK/Africa divided)
June 1, 1991Europe North (UK/Ireland expanded to include Scandinavia)
October 1, 1991Asia North (from Asia)
 Europe/Mediterranean (from Europe)
August 15, 1992Mexico North (Mexico divided)
 Mexico South (Mexico divided)
August 15, 1994Utah Central merged into Utah North
1995Europe East (Europe and Mediterranean divided)
 Europe West (Europe and Mediterranean divided)
August 15, 1996Chile (from South America South)
August 15, 1998Africa West (Africa divided)
 Africa Southeast (Africa divided)
August 15, 1998Brazil North (Brazil divided)
 Brazil South (Brazil divided)
 South America West (from South America North)
 Australia/New Zealand (Pacific divided)
 Pacific Islands (Pacific divided)
 North America East (from North America Northeast and Southeast)
August 15, 2001Europe Central (Europe North, which was discontinued)
 Idaho (from North America Northwest)
August 15, 2003Salt Lake City (from Utah North)
August 15, 2005Australia (New Zealand transferred to Pacific Islands)
 New Zealand/Pacific Islands (New Zealand transferred from Australia/New Zealand)
August 15, 2006Caribbean (from North America Southeast)
August 1, 2007Brazil (North and South recombined)
 Mexico (North and South recombined)
July 31, 2008Middle East/Africa North
August 1, 2008Europe (Europe West and Central recombined)
 Pacific (Australia and New Zealand/Pacific Islands recombined)
August 1, 2008(North America East remerged)
August 1, 2009South America Northwest (South America West and North combined)


[1] History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:201.

[2] History of the Church, 2:418.

[3] Brigham Young, address, May 25, 1877, Deseret News Weekly, June 6, 1877, 274.

[4] Stake conference appointments published in the Church News as early as 1942 regularly listed Presidents of the Seventy among conference visitors.

[5] First Presidency to the Council of the Twelve, February 1, 1927, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

[6] B. H. Roberts to Heber J. Grant, April 27, 1931, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[7] Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, October 1976, 10.

[8] In Conference Report, April 1941, 95.

[9] Kimball, in Conference Report, October 1976, 10.

[10] First Council of the Seventy, minutes, March 27, 1941, 44–45, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[11] “Status Changed for Seventy Council,” Church News, June 17, 1961, 3.

[12] Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, September–October 1961, 81.

[13] “Elder Dyer to Re-Open Europe Mission Office,” Church News, November 28, 1959, 5.

[14] “Elder Tanner to Direct W. European Mission,” Church News, April 15, 1961, 12.

[15] “New Program to Intensify Supervision of Worldwide Church Missions,” Church News, July 1, 1961, 6.

[16] “Church Enlarges World Assignments of General Authorities,” Church News, June 19, 1965, 3–5.

[17] “Six Assistants to Live Abroad,” Church News, May 3, 1975, 3, 12; “New Mission Program,” Church News, May 17, 1975, 3.

[18] “Four-Phase Priesthood Program Set for ’64,” Church News, December 28, 1963, 6.

[19] In Conference Report, October 1967, 25–26; see also 105–6.

[20] Earl C. Tingey, “The Saga of Revelation: The Unfolding Role of the Seventy,” Ensign, September 2009, 57.

[21] Dean L. Larsen, “The Challenges of Administering a Worldwide Church,” Ensign, July 1974, 20–21.

[22] “Area Supervision Worldwide,” Church News, June 26, 1976, 7, 11.

[23] Kimball, in Conference Report, October 1975, 3–4.

[24] N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, April 1976, 29.

[25] Kimball, in Conference Report, October 1976, 10.

[26] S. Dilworth Young, in Conference Report, October 1976, 152.

[27] Tanner, in Conference Report, October 1978, 23.

[28] Tingey, “The Quorums of the Seventy,” Ensign, August 2005, 48.

[29] Conference Report, April 1984, 4.

[30] Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, April 1989, 22.

[31] Larsen, “New Quorum Is a Historic Development,” Church News, April 15, 1989, 7.

[32] Tingey, “Quorums of the Seventy,” 50.

[33] Conference Report, October 1986, 64.

[34] Tingey, “Saga of Revelation,” 58.

[35] “Church Councils Now at Area, Region Level,” Church News, April 7, 1979, 20.

[36] “New Presidencies Announced for 13 Geographic Areas,” Church News, June 24, 1984, 3.

[37] Examples of Area Presidency assignments are taken from the Church News, which published lists of Area Presidencies in about June of each year.

[38] Based on annual publications in the Church News of area assignments.

[39] “First Presidency Names Area Authorities,” Church News, August 5, 1995, 3.

[40] Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, April 1997, 4.

[41] Jay E. Jensen to author, e-mail correspondence, January 21, 2010.

[42] Greg Hill, “Quorums of the Seventy Set in Place,” Church News, May 1, 1999, 13.

[43] Tingey, “Quorums of the Seventy,” 49.

[44] Tingey, “Saga of Revelation,” 59.

[45] Tingey, “Quorums of the Seventy,” 49.

[46] Tingey, “Saga of Revelation,” 59.

[47] “New Area Leadership Assignments,” Church News, June 26, 2004, 8.

[48] Hill, “Quorums of Seventy,” 4; see also Tingey, “Quorums of the Seventy,” 50.