Peruvian Saints Celebrate the Creation of the 100th Stake in Peru
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
- Peru has more than a half-million members, 10 missions, one temple, and plans for two more temples to be built.
- Elder Christofferson presided over the organization of the new stake.
- The celebration was the largest Latter-day Saint gathering in Peru’s history.
With more than a half-million members, 10 missions, a beautiful temple in the capital city, and plans to build two more—one in Trujillo and one in Arequipa—the South American nation of Peru can truly be called an anchor for the Church. On June 30, it became just the fourth country (alongside the United States, Mexico, and Brazil) to reach the 100-stake milestone.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve presided over the organization of the Lima Peru Santa Patricia Stake. Rudy Palhua Romero was called to preside over the new stake. Manuel Fernando Belaunde Suarez and Oscar Eduardo Gonzalez Aguilar are his counselors.
The new stake was cause for celebration for members throughout the country and beyond. On the eve of the organization of the 100th stake, Elder Christofferson joined thousands of members in Lima for a celebration at the Universidad de San Marcos stadium.
The celebration, which marked the largest Latter-day Saint gathering in Peru’s history, was not limited to those in attendance at the outdoor soccer facility. Members and others from around the world tuned in via the Internet through the country’s Church website.
In his brief comments, Elder Christofferson thanked the Peruvian members for their efforts that allowed for such a historic stake organization. He also encouraged the local members to be loyal citizens of Peru and do all they can to help strengthen their country. Several other General Authorities attended, including the South America Northwest Area Presidency—Elder Rafael E. Pino, Elder Juan A. Uceda, and Elder W. Christopher Waddell.
Scores of young people performed Peruvian folk dances at the celebration. Spectators also enjoyed a video highlighting the history of the Church in Peru and saluted a parade of missionaries and young people who represent future generations of missionaries. A team of more than 300 people worked behind the scenes to stage and produce the celebration.
Elder Christofferson enjoyed a full agenda while in Peru. The Spanish-speaking Apostle participated in an interview on Peru National Radio, during which he spoke of an upcoming national service and beautification project.
“We have scheduled December 7 of this year to clean [the Peruvian] coasts.” He welcomed the cooperation of all Peruvians and local municipalities. He also met with local religious and civic leaders, including Congressman and former Peruvian Interior Minister Octavio Salazar Miranda. In each meeting, Elder Christofferson spoke of the central role of the family in the Church and in modern society. He also noted the Church’s efforts to help communities enjoy self-sufficiency.
The beginnings of the Church in Peru stretch back just over half a century. Frederick S. Williams—whose name is synonymous with the establishment of the Church in South America—moved with his family to Peru in 1956. He immediately contacted Church headquarters for permission to organize a branch and begin missionary work.
Elder Henry D. Moyle of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled to Peru and, on July 8, 1956, organized the Lima Branch. Three years later the Andes Mission was established and headquartered in Lima. Steady growth over the next decade was highlighted by the creation of Peru’s first stake in 1970, which was organized by then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Peru’s first General Authority, Elder Juan A. Uceda of the Seventy, was sustained in 2010.