News Release

Ottawa Couple Thrives on Life of Service

After living in and serving the Ottawa, Ontario, community for more than three decades, Dennis and Sue McAteer are heading south of the border to Vancouver, Washington, where Dennis has received an official assignment to be a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Earlier this year, the Church announced 168 new mission president assignments, including the McAteers’.

Each of the Church’s 400-plus mission presidents supervises and trains hundreds of the more than 80,000 full-time missionaries assigned to a specific geographic area. Most mission presidents and their wives serve for three consecutive years.

“Missionary work has been a theme throughout our lives,” says Dennis. “We were brought to the Church by missionaries, and now we are going from being missionaries ourselves to being responsible for missionaries. It’s a unique experience — a duty — and something we think is going to be really great for us.”

The couple will oversee the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of between 160 and 180 missionaries who will serve under their direction, including training them, assigning them companions and ensuring they are comfortable in their environment. Sue says her “mothering instincts” will come in handy for the role, as most missionaries will be between 18 and 23 years of age.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, interviewed the McAteers while they were serving a mission together in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. That mission was cut short when the official call for Dennis to be mission president was given in December 2015 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of the Church.

While the McAteers are excited about their new assignment, it means relocating clear across the continent after serving their mission in New Brunswick for only five months. They will miss the members of that small congregation but cherish the friendships and memories.

Both Sue and Dennis have held many Church positions in the Ottawa area, where Dennis was president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Stake for more than 10 years. During that time he was responsible for watching over more than 2,000 members. Sue’s favourite position in the Church was directing the music for the Primary children.

The McAteers’ spirit of faith and service is admired and respected by Church members and neighbours alike, whose lives have been touched by this couple. “We connect with people through service, especially one-on-one service. It’s how we build relationships,” says Sue. “You need a wall painted, a floor ripped up or a faucet put in? We’re there! We love doing construction and renovation projects and have helped many families and individuals both inside and outside the Church.”

Roughly the size of Prince Edward Island, the area the McAteers will be overseeing in their new assignment includes the southern part of Washington State and a portion of northern Oregon. The area has a large Mormon population, including nine stakes with 68 wards and branches, and missionaries serving there receive close to 200 missionary referrals every week, resulting in close to 35 convert baptisms each month.

Dennis and Sue are both converts who were introduced to the Mormon faith in the late 1970s by young missionaries while they were living in Germany with two young children. They have 6 children and 19 grandchildren.

While they are both optimistic about the future and value the support received from friends and family, Sue commented, “We know we have inadequacies and that no one can ever be fully qualified to be a mission president. But,” she added, “we feel that the Lord will help us and will make up the difference.”

They joke about moving to a city that is on a major fault line and having Mount St. Helens in their backyard.  “We’re going to have to brush up on our emergency preparedness, too!”

They will arrive in Vancouver, Washington, at the end of June.

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