Elder Terence M. Vinson has been called as the first Australian resident to become a General Authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will serve in the Second Quorum of Seventy. Elder Vinson is from Sydney and was serving as an Area Seventy in the Pacific when he was called.
His assignment was announced at the Church’s bi-annual General Conference held on 6-7th April in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference was aired in Australia this last weekend in Church buildings across the country and via streamed video on the internet.
In Church government, the Seventy preach the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. The Seventy, whose offices are mentioned in the New Testament, are also known as “travelling ministers”.
Divided into eight quorums, the Seventy administer the Church internationally under the leadership of the Twelve Apostles who, in turn, are led by the Church’s international president, Thomas S. Monson, and his two counsellors.
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Elder Vinson, 62, from Sydney, grew up in a Catholic family. He was introduced to the Mormon faith through, in his words, “a beautiful young lady”, Kay Anne Carden, whom he subsequently married in 1974.
They met as they worked together part-time at McDonalds while he was in the final year of his university degree and she was completing her teaching diploma. He was baptised into the Church three months after they were married. According to Elder Vinson, he “hungered to learn more of the gospel by attending the Institute program” and became the class president during the first year of his Church membership.
“My voracious appetite to learn of the Lord's ways has not waned,” he says.
Elder Vinson received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Sydney University and an education and teaching diploma from Sydney Teachers College. He also received a financial planning diploma from Deakin University and a master’s degree in applied finance from Macquarie University.
In the early part of his career, he was a maths and finance teacher in high school and university for 14 years. Later he moved into the financial sector and established a financial planning and investment firm. He remained in this career for 23 years before retiring.
Elder Vinson and his wife, Kay, have six children and 12 grandchildren. He has served in many Church callings, including as a Seminary teacher, as an Institute teacher, as a temple ordinance worker, twice as a bishop, in three stake presidencies, as a counsellor to two mission presidents, as a Regional Representative and, for the last six years, as an Area Seventy.
His most recent responsibilities as a Seventy have been for the state of New South Wales and Papua New Guinea. He has also served as the national public affairs priesthood adviser for Australia and Papua New Guinea. As an Area Seventy he was assigned to attend stake (diocese) and district conferences across the Pacific Area as the presiding officer. These conferences are normally held twice each year in every stake/district of the Church.
Although Elder Vinson is the first resident of Australia to be called as a General Authority, another Australian preceded him into the Church's senior ranks.
Elder Robert E. Sackley was called as a member of the Seventy and as a General Authority in 1988. However, he was called to this role from his then home in Canada. Elder Sackley and his wife, Marjorie, travelled to Alberta, Canada to be married for eternity in the Cardston temple shortly after their civil marriage in Brisbane in 1947.
Intending to stay for one year, they became deeply involved in Church work there and made Alberta their home. Elder Sackley passed away in 1993 aged 70 while in Brisbane on a Church assignment.
Members of the first two quorums of Seventy are known as General Authorities and serve in their positions on a full-time basis. Members of the first quorum may serve for many years while those in the second quorum are generally in their roles for 5-6 years. As general Church officers, they may fulfil roles anywhere in the world.
The other six quorums comprise officers who live at home and continue in regular employment while serving in their senior Church administrative roles. These leaders are also called for a period of 5-6 years and stay within their own ecclesiastical Area. Australia is part of the Pacific Area which spans from Perth in the west to Tahiti in the east and as far north as the Marianas Islands.