Mark H. Willes, Former President of General Mills, Returns to Minneapolis for Church 50th Anniversary Celebration

Mark Willes, former president of General Mills and Stake President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of several high ranking Mormons to return to Minneapolis for 50th Anniversary celebration of first Mormon stake in Minnesota.

Organized in 1960 with 2,600 members, the Minnesota Stake (think "diocese") of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had boundaries extending from Princeton to the north, Austin to the south, Eau Claire (WI) to the east, and Mound to the west. It was renamed the Minneapolis Minnesota Stake in 1974. Soon after, the stake divided to form the St. Paul Minnesota Stake in 1976. Multiple divisions since then have resulted in five stakes in the larger Twin Cities Metropolitan Area with over 24,000 members in 50 congregations.

The Mormon Church is well known for its lay ministry who receive no financial compensation for their work. This includes stake presidents and bishops (ministers) who also have demanding careers in the business world while serving Church callings that most people would consider full-time jobs.

In a book written by Laura Willes, entitled Minnesota Mormons, she writes: "Mark's calling was both a great challenge and a great blessing to our family...Within his first year of being stake president, he became chief financial officer at General Mills, Inc. Several years later he was named president of the company."

Mark and Laura (former residents of Wayzata, MN) currently live in Salt Lake City, UT where Mark serves as Chairman of the Board of Deseret Book Company and CEO of Deseret Management Corporation including KSL Broadcast Group.

A dinner and historical celebration is planned for Friday, November 19. Mark Willes will join Lewis Bautista of Plymouth, MN, the current Stake President, and other past and present Church leaders the following day to conduct a commemorative conference with sessions on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Mark is scheduled to speak on Sunday morning.

The Church strives to keep stakes at approximately 3,000 members. Each stake has 8-12 congregations. As membership grows, stakes divide and boundaries shrink. Today, the Minneapolis Minnesota Stake has eight congregations throughout Minneapolis, Plymouth, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and Waconia. However, Church membership in the State of Minnesota has grown to 33,300 with 91 congregations. A website commemorating fifty years of faithful service, including a photo gallery of significant milestones, is available at

Past and present priesthood leaders planning to attend are Mark H. Willes, Salt Lake City, UT; Steve W. Hanson, St. George, UT; Lewis E. Bautista, Plymouth, MN; Thomas A. Holt, St. Paul, MN; Nathanial R Payne, Eden Prairie, MN; Lonny R. Gleed, Salt Lake City, UT; R. Lloyd Smith, Nashville, TN; Mark D. Howell, Draper, UT; Kayland Call, Webster, MN; Kent Archibald of St. Paul, MN; G. Kent Hugh of Cedar City, UT; James Lindsay of American Fork, UT; Kirk D. Sherman, Orono, MN; William D. Miller, Maple Grove, MN; and Jeffrey Kerr, Eden Prairie, MN.

Categories: Religion

Tags: 50th anniversary, Mark Willes, Minneapolis Minnesota Stake, Minneapolis Stake, Minnesota Mormons

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Kathryn H Woolley
Press Contact, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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