Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Former BYU And Houston Oilers Quarterback Gifford Neilsen Selected By LDS Church To Become Area Seventy In Houston, Texas
On April 27th, 2010, FortBendNow reports that S. Gifford Neilsen, who had previously presided over eight congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in southwestern Houston and Fort Bend County as the president of the Houston Texas South Stake, has now been called to serve in the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy as an Area Seventy. Kenneth S. Barrow has been called to serve as the new stake president.
In addition to coordinating the ecclesiastical activities of 159 LDS congregations in southeast Texas, Elder Nielsen will also speak at LDS meetings on a regular rotating basis throughout the southwestern United States. In reaction, Elder Neilsen said, “I am deeply humbled with this assignment to serve in the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy. It is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to bear testimony of Jesus Christ in the Houston community and to the southwest area of the United States.”
To illustrate the LDS Church's growing diversity, Elder Joseph W. Sitati from Nairobi, Kenya, who is the LDS Church’s first Black African General Authority, presided over the stake conference on April 25th where the change of assignments was announced. Elder Sitati was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 2009. The First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, along with the Presiding Bishopric, the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, are considered General Authorities. A PDF chart showing the most current General Authorities is available HERE. A General Authority usually presides over any stake conference where a change in the stake presidency takes place.
But what the media story left out is that this is the same Gifford Neilsen who was a star quarterback at Brigham Young University and a competent backup quarterback with the Houston Oilers (who subsequently became the Tennessee Titans). You can view his NFL stats HERE. At the relatively young age of 30, Neilsen then became a color commentator on Oilers radio broadcasts. This proved to be more than just a "make-work" job for a typical former athlete; he displayed enough talent and enthusiasm for the job that he eventually worked his way up to become sports director at KHOU-TV in Houston. He announced his retirement as the sports director on March 30th, 2009, and his last newscast was on Tuesday March 31st.
The progression of Gifford Neilsen up the LDS hierarchy also indicates that the LDS Church does not consider working on the Sabbath a worthiness issue, although the Church encourages people not to work on the Sabbath if possible. As a NFL player, Neilsen worked on the Sabbath. While we are encouraged to keep the Sabbath day holy, we also remember that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.