When we read of refugees, we might think of huddled masses starving in a camp somewhere in sub-saharan Africa. That was not quite the situation for the parents of Elder Gerald Caussé of the First Quorum of the Seventy. But as French citizens living in Algeria in the early 1960s when war broke out in that north African colony, they were forced to move to France, their home land, but a land about which they knew little. Indeed, it might be argued that the forced move opened new opportunities for the young couple and their toddler son, Gerald.
They were young students who were resilient and eager to learn. In this spirit of change and adjustment they were open to new ideas and became intrigued by two American young men who sent a letter announcing their intention to share the gospel.
They were curious and invited the young men into their home. Testimonies took root after a few lessons. In a short time, they were baptized in a collapsible pool supplied by the missionaries. They joined the fledgling Bordeaux Branch with a dozen members. Soon, large numbers of French Algerian exiles were baptized, marking a significant time in Church history in France when a sturdy foundation of faithful membership was created. This was the world in which young Gerald was raised.
The testimony that ignited his parents' faith quickly burned within him. Privileges and responsibility came early in his young life in the form of Church service, such as Sunday School president at age 16.
"For those members who stayed active, it was good training," he said.
One day in a high school-age philosophy class, the instructor berated the faith of anyone gullible enough to believe in Adam and Eve. After a few of minutes of ranting, the instructor glared over the class asking for any enduring believers. "I looked around and saw that no one had raised a hand but me," said Elder Caussé. "It surprised the teacher, who said nothing, but continued his lesson." Following class, appreciative friends surrounded him to ask questions and applaud his courage.
Music has been a central theme in Elder Caussé's life, the cause of much joy. Playing the piano since age 7, Elder Caussé became very accomplished and frequently accompanied various choirs, including the choir of the young adult ward where his future wife, Valerie, sang.
He had known Valerie since age 8. Each summer her family would visit the ward when they came to the coast to vacation. "She was already pretty," Elder Caussé said in reflection.
But it wasn't until years later when both were attending a young adult ward where her father presided as bishop that they fell in love. Feelings came unexpectedly during a break in choir practice. Sitting at the piano keyboard, Elder Caussé was casually scanning the choir when his eyes locked on Valerie's.
"We both felt something happen," he said. They'd been friends for years, but this time, affection flowered. They were married civilly according to law, then drove the next day to the Bern Switzerland Temple in their box-shaped Renault with cardboard-thin sides where they were sealed Aug. 5, 1986.
Elder Caussé was a 33-year-old father getting firmly established in his career in the food industry in France when the president of the group asked to meet with him.
At the time, Elder Caussé had never distinguished himself as a leader of large numbers of people.
The president was a religious man who adhered to Christian principles. He knew Elder Caussé's faith and devotion to his Church — traits he prized. The president felt to appoint this budding business mind as general manager of a company with 1,800 employees.
The task was daunting, Elder Caussé said. The company was suffering from difficult times. Labor disputes and other matters were fracturing productivity. The president wanted a leader who could be trusted. After conferring with aides in the company, the president gained confidence in Elder Caussé's ability to make sound judgments and unify diverse groups.
"I was able to assume responsibility because of Church callings that I'd held since I was a teenager," Elder Caussé said. "One of the main reasons for success in my career comes from applying the same principles used in Church leadership." He eventually rose to direct 3,000 employees.
Within the Church, Elder Caussé served as a Sunday School President, Hight Priest Group Leader, Counselor in a Stake Presidency and as a Stake President. At the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was an Area Seventy in the Europe West Area. Despite a shock of silver gray hair, Elder Caussé, at age 44, was, when called, among the youngest of the General Authorities.
Elder Caussé was releaed from the First Quorum, and called as First Counselor the the Presiding Bishop,
Gary E. Stevenson in April 2012. He continues to serve at this posting. So I suppose we should call
him Bishop Caussé.