The Genesis Group

What Is Genesis?

The Genesis Group was established in October 1971 by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a dependent branch to serve the needs of African-American Latter-day Saints. Following the priesthood revelation in 1978, The Genesis Group continues to host firesides and other activities to support and edify all Latter-day Saints, their families and friends, and individuals interested in the Church. The Genesis Group also provides assistance to mission presidents, stake presidents, and bishops. Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr., General Authority in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, currently oversees The Genesis Group.


The Genesis Group meets on the first Sunday of each month from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the meetinghouse located at 6710 South 1300 East in Salt Lake City, Utah. Everyone is welcome to attend. The monthly meetings feature a fireside format with guest speakers, a Black gospel song as a practice hymn, and testimonies. The organization operates with Relief Society, Singles, Youth, and Primary auxiliaries.

Genesis is not a substitute for ward activities, but is a support to members of the Church and to those interested in the Church.

Purpose of Genesis

The purpose of The Genesis Group is to strengthen members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by supporting and edifying Black members, their families and friends, and individuals interested in the Church.

1. How does Genesis support and edify people?

  • Performing missionary work (proclaiming the gospel)
  • Providing spiritual and temporal welfare (perfecting the saints)
  • Performing temple and family history work (redeeming the dead)

2. Which Genesis committees and organizations are directly responsible for supporting and edifying people?

  • Missionary—Proclaiming the Gospel
  • Relief Society—Perfecting the Saints
  • Single Adults—Perfecting the Saints
  • Young Men—Perfecting the Saints
  • Young Women—Perfecting the Saints
  • Primary—Perfecting the Saints
  • Music/Choir—Perfecting the Saints
  • Activity Committee— Perfecting the Saints
  • Temple Committee—Redeeming the Dead
  • Family History Committee—Redeeming the Dead

3. What tasks do Genesis auxiliaries perform to support and edify people? (Note: the following is not all-inclusive.)

  • Perform Missionary Work
    • Use monthly meetings to teach about the doctrines, principles, and blessings related to missionary work.
    • Fellowship Black members and their families and friends, as well as others interested in the Church.
    • Assist, strengthen, and/or reactivate Black members and their families and friends whose light has grown dim or who have other problems that hinder spiritual growth.
    • Find and prepare people of Black descent and others interested in the Church for the full-time missionaries to teach.
    • Show love by ministering to members and others individually.
  • Provide Spiritual and Temporal Welfare
    Assist Black members, their families and friends, and others in building spiritual strength and camaraderie.

    • Provide support and assistance to priesthood and auxiliary leaders in strengthening Black members and new converts.
    • Assist, strengthen, and/or reactivate black members and their families and friends whose light has grown dim or have other problems that hinder spiritual growth
    • Teach and testify of the gospel.
    • Teach members to accept and understand the important role diversity plays within the gospel.
    • Encourage Black members and their families and friends to actively participate in their home wards and branches.
    • Encourage routine scripture study and prayer.
    • Emphasize the importance of the family and the Proclamation to the World concerning the family.
    • Help members keep essential ordinances and covenants.
    • Provide opportunities to serve.
    • Make meetings edifying.
    • Show love by ministering to members individually.
    • Fellowship Black members and their families and friends.
    • Set an example in temporal welfare by teaching and striving to become self-reliant.
    • Host wholesome activities to build friendships and family relationships.
  • Perform Temple and Family History Work
    • Help Black members and their families and friends receive blessings and spiritual uplift by encouraging and assisting them in attending the temple and performing temple ordinances.
    • Encourage Black members and their families and friends to identify their kindred dead and provide temple ordinances for them.
    • Help with family record extraction for Black members and their families and friends.

4. The following additional callings support Genesis activities:

  • Newsletter Editor
  • Membership Directory Coordinator
  • Meeting Program Director
  • Historian
  • Web Site Developer
  • Web Site Administrator
  • Bulletin Editor

The Genesis Presidency

The current presidency of the Genesis Group was set apart by President Merrill J. Bateman of the First Quorum of Seventy on August 3, 2003. It consists of the following members:

President. Don Harwell is from Los Angeles, California, and attended California State University at Los Angeles. He was baptized in 1983 in the Salt Lake City Ensign Stake. He also serves on the Stake Extraction Unit of the Midvale Utah Union Fort Stake. He works for an electronics company as the vice-president of sales and is the director of the Salt Lake County Citizens Review Board for Adult Probation and Parole. His wife, Jerri A. (Hale) Harwell, is from Detroit, Michigan. They have been married for twenty-one years and have six children.

First Counselor. Orin Howell was born in Liverpool, United Kingdom, and was baptized in 1996 in Bosnia (currently Bosnia-Herzegovina) while serving as the commander of a U.S. Army Reserve unit. He also serves as the Executive Secretary in his home ward, North Point First Ward. Brother Howell is a graduate of Northern Michigan University and University of Utah. He is currently employed by the psychology services department of a federal government agency. Brother Howell also serves as a Special Emphasizes Program Manger for African Americans and as the Acting Special Program Emphasizes Manager for Asia Pacific Americans for the same federal agency. He is also a facilitator and mediator within the community. He remains a military officer with the U.S. Army Reserves. He and his wife, Tina, have four children: Tavia, TJ, Amanda, and Zack.

Second Counselor. Eddie Gist is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and was baptized in 1997 in the Rochester Palmyra New York Stake. He also serves as president of the Elders Quorum of the Midvale East First Ward. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University. He and his wife, Heather (Ferguson) Gist, own a clothing company in Murray, Utah, that specializes in modest apparel. They have three children: Eddie Jr., Shelby, and Sariah.

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