SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called and sustained its first Latin American apostle as part of the church’s annual general conference Saturday.
Elder Ulisses Soares, originally from São Paulo, Brazil, is the first individual from Brazil and from Latin America to serve as an apostle in the church. He was one of two new apostles called Saturday to serve in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. The other was Elder Gerrit W. Gong, the first Asian-American called as an apostle.
Before Saturday, he had served as a member of the church’s Presidency of the Seventy since January 2013. Members of the Presidency of the Seventy are called to preside over the various Seventy of the church, or as the Bible refers to them, “traveling ministers.”
An apostle is one of 12 men called to lead the LDS Church and is the second-highest presiding entity in the church. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are called to serve as a “special witness of the name of Christ throughout the world.” These men also oversee the day-to-day administrative duties of the church.
Many church members will be familiar with Elder Soares who has given talks about the fight against good and evil and about the importance of looking out for individuals.
Speaking at a session of the church's general conference in April 2015, Elder Soares cautioned those in attendance about the “war of good against evil.”
“We cannot allow ourselves to be confused by popular messages that are easily accepted by the world and that contradict the doctrine and true principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Many of these worldly messages represent nothing more than an attempt of our society to justify sin.”
He urged those in attendance to “remember that, at the end, all will stand before Christ to be judged of our works, whether they are good or whether they are evil” and that “great courage and a solid knowledge of the plan of our Heavenly Father will be required to choose the right.”
Elder Soares taught in 2005 that the church, and its gospel, is “about people, not programs,” and that members of the church should focus on the needs of others to help them reach “their divine potential to gain eternal life.”
In the same message to members of the church, Elder Soares recalled a bishop he had when he was 11 years old who showed he cared about his spiritual future. Elder Soares said the bishop invited him to fill out papers to serve a mission.
“I was astonished,” he said. “After all, I was only 11. But that bishop had a vision of the future and of the blessings that would be mine if I prepared properly to serve a mission when my time came."
He added, “It does not matter whether it is a child, youth or adult — everyone needs to feel loved."
Elder Soares was born in São Paulo Brazil on Oct. 2, 1958, and lived in Brazil for much of his life. He is married to Rosana Fernandes and they have three children.
He served as a full-time missionary in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission before receiving a bachelor of arts degree in accounting and economics from the São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science. He later received an MBA and worked as an accountant and auditor in Brazil.
After serving in several positions in the church, including a mission president over the Portugal Porto Mission from 2000-2003, Elder Soares was called as a general authority and helped the church’s presiding bishopric in Salt Lake City. He also served as a counselor in the Africa Southeast Area and Brazil South Area, and as president of the Brazil Area.