The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has called new mission presidents to serve with their wives in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
New missions have also been created in both countries to respond to the burgeoning number of young men and women who are accepting calls to missionary service throughout the world.
Beginning mission presidency duties in July were Lon and Carrie Henderson in the Australia Brisbane Mission, Cory and Karen Maxwell in the Australia Melbourne Mission, Larry and Susanna Lew in the new Australia Sydney South Mission, and Mark and Ruta Peteru in the new Papua New Guinea Lae Mission.
Mission presidents are generally called to serve for a term of three years. This allows the Church to rotate through one-third of their total missions each year, with a total of 405 missions worldwide.
Young male missionaries serve for two years, while women serve for 18 months. In consequence, many young missionaries enjoy the opportunity of serving under two different mission presidents, while others serve under the same president for their full term.
Mission presidents share a variety of responsibilities in their service. They instruct missionaries to effectively teach gospel principles and assume responsibility for the baptism of new converts and their initial development as new members of the Church.
On a day-to-day basis, the supervising couples oversee not only the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of their own families who join them on the mission, but also have the same responsibilities for each of the missionaries assigned to their area.
Individual missionaries arrive and depart at approximately six-week intervals, as they begin or conclude their period of service. Each missionary is personally attended to, oriented to the mission environment and then assigned to a companion.
With anywhere from one hundred to 250 missionaries under the jurisdiction of one mission president and his wife, the responsibilities on their shoulders are huge for their three years of service.
Here are brief biographical details of the new mission presidents and their spouses:
• Lon Henderson, 54, and his wife, Carrie, have six children and are from St George in Utah. Mr Henderson is a former instructor in a congregational priesthood group and had served as a stake (diocesan) president and president of a Young Men’s organisation in his ward (parish). As a young adult he had served a full-time mission in Germany. He is a former CEO of a finance firm, Soltis Investment Advisors, and was born in Pocatello, Idaho.
Before her call, Carrie Henderson was president of a stake Young Women’s organisation and is a former president of a ward children’s organisation called the Primary. She was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
• Cory Maxwell, 59, and his wife, Karen, have eight children and are from Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr Maxwell served in many callings prior to this call including as a former Sunday School general board member, bishop (congregational leader similar to a minister), and missionary as a young man in the Germany Central Mission. He worked as a director of publishing at the Church-owned book company, Deseret Book. He was born in Washington, D. C. and is son of former Mormon Apostle, Neal Maxwell.
Before her new assignment, Karen Maxwell was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and music chairman in her local stake (diocese). She was born in Provo, Utah.
• Larry Lew, 61, and his wife, Susanna, have six children, and live in Lehi, Utah. Mr Lew had previously served as a stake president and is a former stake Young Men president, bishop and missionary in the China Hong Kong Mission. He is a retired regional president for Wells Fargo Bank and was born in Provo, Utah.
Susanna Lew was a ward choir director before her call and is a former counsellor in a Stake Primary presidency and president of a ward Relief Society, the women’s organisation of the Church. She was born in Hong Kong, China.
• Mark Peteru, 54, and his wife, Ruta, have five children and are from Sydney. Prior to his call, Mr Peteru served as a stake president and is a former bishop. In his employment he was a senior manager for Corrective Services New South Wales. He was born in Auckland, New Zealand.
Ruta Peteru has previously served as a ward and stake Relief Society president and was an ordinance worker in the Sydney temple. She was born in Apia, Samoa.