Two days ago the LDS Church News released new mission president assignments for 2018. The affiliated mission adjustments garnered a bit more media attention (5 new missions, 19 missions to be merged with others), but that’s not what caught my eye. It was the inclusion of wives with that list of new mission presidents.
Historically, the announcement of new mission presidents was slightly different. In 2017, the list of 123 new assignments gave the name of each mission with its current mission president in one column and new mission president in another. No wives were listed. The 2016 announcement of 168 new assignments was the same: mission name, current mission president, and new mission president. Same with 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and, well, you get the picture.
But this year they dropped the name of the current mission president and added in the new president’s wife:
So what’s the deal with referring to the wife as a “companion”? Apparently, “mission president’s companion” is a semi-official title for the calling of a mission president’s wife, though it’s public appearance is sporadic. In a 1998 Deseret News obituary, a woman is celebrated as having served four times as “Mission President’s Companion.” The title “mission president’s companion” is used in this 2017 Mormon Newsroom announcement and quite often in this 2011 Church News article. The 2011 article even explained some responsibilities, “Mission presidents’ companions provide assistance in everything from health care to training to counseling.”
Yet the title is conspicuously absent in other places. Take this 2013 Mormon Newsroom press release describing the creation of the new “Mission Leadership Council.” This was at the same time the role of “sister training leader” was created, a leadership responsibility necessitated by the increased numbers of women entering the mission field after the age change. The Mission Leadership Council was to consist of “the mission president and his wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders and sister training leaders.” During this press release, it was also announced that the mission president’s wife would assume new responsibilities: “Additionally, the wives of mission presidents are now being asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries, subject to their individual and family circumstances.” But nowhere is a wife of a mission president described as a “companion.”
And then there’s lds.org, which doesn’t seem to register anything for “mission president’s companion” (or “president’s companion”):
Searching for “president and companion,” “presidents and their companions,” “presidents and companions,” or “presidents’ companions” is more successful, though you’ll never get more than a half dozen results each (if that). For example, “president and companion” yields the recent February news release, a 2003 Ensign article, a 2005 article appearing in both the Ensign and Liahona, and Elder Rasband’s personal bio.
So it’s understandable that members, like me, aren’t familiar with a title of “companion” for the mission president’s wife. Which is why, in a 2016 poll by the online Mormon journal SquareTwo, hundreds of Mormon women indicated they’d like to see the wife of a mission president be given an official title. Authors Valerie Cassler and Neylan McBaine reported that, with over 400 predominantly centrist/orthodox LDS women responding, 96% of respondents wanted to see a change to the title of “mission president’s wife.” People weren’t shy in offering suggestions. Funny enough, “Mission President’s Companion” was offered as an alternative, but not a common one. It’s in the “other” category on SquareTwo‘s description (emphasized below).
The question of what to change her name to resulted in less uniform answers. The majority (58%) suggest also calling her “President,” or some variation: co-president, presidentess, presidenta. “Why can’t they both be mission presidents?” was a common refrain in the comments….
Other suggested names for the mission president’s wife included “matron”, signaling a desire perhaps to have some uniformity in our women’s titles as it would echo the current “temple matron” appellation. “Mission matron” and “temple matron” allow both callings to gain in stature and indicate similar partnerships with their male equivalents. Overall, 23% of respondents indicated that “mission matron,” “mission matriarch,” or “mission mother” felt right to them.
Other terms offered by a few individuals included Mission Advisor, Mission Counselor, Mission Leader, Mission President’s Companion, Mission Associate President, Mission Administrator, and “use Mission Father and Mission Mother.”
- What do you think about the changes to the 2018 announcement, omitting the previous mission president’s name in favor of the new president’s wife?
- How do you feel about the title “Mission President’s Companion”? Is there another title you’d prefer for a mission president’s wife?
New 2018 Mission Presidents Called to China, Indonesia, France, and More
The following new mission presidents and their wives have been called by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July of 2018. Biographies of each mission presidency couple will be published throughout 2018 on news.lds.org.
Utah Layton Mission
Robert Mack Call, 66, and Heather Anne Call, five children, Chambers Creek Ward, Tacoma Washington South Stake: Utah Layton Mission, succeeding President G. Scott Spendlove and Sister Kariane C. Spendlove. Brother Call serves as ward mission leader and is a former Area Seventy, stake president, bishop, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Germany South Mission. Born in Tacoma, Washington, to Mack Elmo Call and Jewel Berniece Call.
Sister Call serves as a ward missionary and is a former temple ordinance worker, stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Primary and Relief Society presidency counselor, and Primary teacher. Born in Glasgow, Montana, to Dudley Leavitt Rushton Sr. and Beth Anne Bailey Rushton.
France Lyon Mission
Christophe Gérard Giraud-Carrier, 52, and Isabelle Sophie Mauclair Giraud-Carrier, eight children, Sunset Heights 4th Ward, Orem Utah Sunset Heights Stake: France Lyon Mission, succeeding President Scott D. Brown and Sister Traci L. Brown. Brother Giraud-Carrier is a former bishop, high councilor, stake Young Men president, stake mission president, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Canada Montreal Mission. Born in Lyon, France, to Gérard Giraud-Carrier and Annie Giraud-Carrier.
Sister Giraud-Carrier is a former ward Primary president, ward Young Women president, ward Relief Society president, Primary teacher, and stake missionary. Born in Talence, France, to Charles Mauclair and Marie-Thérèse Mauclair.
Washington Yakima Mission
Thomas Kelly Jackman, 59, and Margaret Louise Conley Jackman, three children, Country Park 4th Ward, South Jordan Utah Country Park Stake: Washington Yakima Mission, succeeding President John C. Lewis and Sister Ann Lewis. Brother Jackman is a former bishop, bishopric counselor, high councilor, elders quorum president, ward Young Men presidency counselor, and missionary in the Sweden Göteborg Mission. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to H. Lamar Jackman and Jeanne Delores Jackman.
Sister Jackman is a former stake and ward Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Young Women president, and ward Primary presidency counselor. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to William Fred Conley and Margaret Audine Conley.
Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission
Harold Jules, 56, and Sabine Joseph Jules, two children, Croix-des-Missions Ward, Croix-des-Missions Haiti Stake: Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission, succeeding President Karlyle Raphael and Sister Myrlande Raphael. Brother Jules serves as a stake president and is a former bishop, high councilor, branch president, elders quorum president, and branch presidency counselor. Born in Saint-Marc, Haiti, to Nicolas Emmanuel Jules and Edith Paul Lormier Jules.
Sister Jules serves as a seminary teacher and is a former stake Relief Society presidency counselor, ward Relief Society president, branch Primary president, and temple preparation instructor. Born in Saint-Marc, Haiti, to Saintélus Joseph and Marie Paula Sénatus Joseph.
Indonesia Jakarta Mission
Greg Powell Mackay, 58, and Sheila Gilbert Mackay, four children, Overlake Ward, Bellevue Washington Stake: Indonesia Jakarta Mission, succeeding President Paul S. Rowley and Sister Robin M. Rowley. Brother Mackay is a former stake president, bishop, high councilor, elders quorum president, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission. Born in Pasco, Washington, to Boyd Rex Mackay and Gayle Powell Mackay.
Sister Mackay serves as a Church-service missionary and is a former ward missionary, stake and ward Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, and seminary teacher. Born in Othello, Washington, to Glen Albert Gilbert and Lula Mae Horrocks Gilbert.
Massachusetts Boston Mission
Fotios Mavromatis, 51, and Virginia Maia Rocha de Andrade Mavromatis, three children, Wells Ward, Salt Lake Granite Stake: Massachusetts Boston Mission, succeeding President A. Todd Miller and Sister Kimberly K. Miller. Brother Mavromatis serves as a high priests group secretary and is a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, ward Young Men president, and missionary in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission. Born in Recife, Brazil, to Nicolas Mavromatis and Georgia Mavromatis.
Sister Mavromatis is a former stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Relief Society and Young Women president, and seminary teacher. Born in Capivari, Brazil, to José Feitosa de Andrade and Terezinha Rocha de Andrade.
Colombia Bogota South Mission
Zoilo Rudy Palhua Romero, 48, and Lina Betsy Villafuerte de Palhua, two children, Santa Felicia Ward, Lima Perú Santa Patricia Stake: Colombia Bogota South Mission, succeeding President Renzo Baquerizo and Sister Isabel Baquerizo. Brother Palhua serves as a stake president and is a former stake presidency counselor, bishop, high councilor, bishopric counselor, institute teacher, and missionary in the Perú Lima North Mission. Born in Ancash, Perú, to Zoilo Palhua Sandoval and Irma Romero Duran.
Sister Palhua serves as an institute teacher and is a former ward Primary president, ward Young Women presidency counselor, Primary teacher, and missionary in the Perú Lima North Mission. Born in Lima, Perú, to Juan Villafuerte Moran and Lina Zambrano Canales.
China Hong Kong Mission
Dennis Lyn Phillips, 61, and May Lan Lo Phillips, two children, Grandeur Peak Ward, Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake: China Hong Kong Mission, succeeding President Maurice M. Lam and Sister Elizabeth Lam. Brother Phillips is a former stake president, bishop, ward Young Men president, ward mission leader, and missionary in the China Hong Kong Mission. Born in San Francisco, California, to Franklyn Dee Phillips and Geneva Johnson Phillips.
Sister Phillips serves as ward Relief Society compassionate service coordinator and is a former ward Relief Society president, ward Primary presidency counselor, Primary teacher, and missionary in the China Hong Kong Mission. Born in Hong Kong to Wah Lo and May Kum Wong Lo.