The Mormon church on Saturday appointed an Asian-American man and a Brazilian man to its Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The appointments of Gerrit W. Gong, 64, and Ulisses Soares, 59, mark a historical moment in the church, which since its founding in the 1800s only filled top positions with people of European ancestry.
Gong, born in Redwood City, Calif., is of Chinese ancestry and has worked in international relations. Soares, born in São Paulo, Brazil, has a business background. Both had been church leaders in lower governing bodies and had held various volunteer positions.
The appointments are of significance within the church hierarchy because unlike many local positions, an appointment to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a full-time, lifetime role.