Church in Asia Turns Milestones into Building Blocks

Contributed By Elder Charles J. Chamberlain, Asia Area Public Affairs

  • 27 June 2016

Stake presidencies from Hong Kong’s six stakes stand behind the Hong Kong China Temple president, Asia Area Presidency, three Area Seventies, and the China Hong Kong Mission president, June 5, 2016.

Article Highlights

  • There are now 35 stakes in the Asia Area, an increase of 14 stakes in just the last two years.
  • In June of this year Hong Kong increased the number of stakes from four to six.
  • The Vietnam Hanoi Mission was opened on March 1 of this year.

In the 22 countries or territories that comprise the Asia Area of the Church, the last two years have been rich with important milestones. In 2014, the Church in Hong Kong celebrated 65 years of missionary work and the Taipei Taiwan Temple celebrated 30 years since its dedication. This year, Hong Kong marks 20 years since the Hong Kong China Temple was dedicated, both Vietnam and Thailand recognize 50 years since the dedication of their lands, and Taiwan celebrates 60 years since the first missionaries arrived from Hong Kong.

Latter-day Saints in Asia have worked to ensure that these milestones are not just anniversaries. In a special conference on June 5, 2016, Hong Kong increased the number of stakes from four to six. As of June 26, 2016, Taiwan has 17 stakes, as the last district in Taiwan becomes the Chiayi Taiwan Stake. In the Asia Area, there are now 35 stakes, an increase of 14 stakes in just the last two years.

In addition, members from Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and many other nations consistently participate in the ordinances of the temple in Hong Kong to strengthen their families, thereby strengthening the Church in their home countries. Members from Thailand are especially faithful in attending the temple in Hong Kong as they prepare for the building of the Bangkok Thailand Temple announced by President Thomas S. Monson in the April 2015 general conference.

The Vietnam Hanoi Mission was opened on March 1 of this year, and the government of Vietnam officially recognized the Church on May 31. Both of these significant events occurred 50 years after Elder Gordon B. Hinckley stood in Saigon in 1966 and dedicated South Vietnam for missionary work, and 20 years after President Hinckley returned to a then-unified Vietnam in 1996 to offer an additional prayer. In his prayer, he pled that in “the due time of the Lord, this land will be opened, and many wonderful people will become the beneficiaries of the gospel.”

The work and heartfelt prayers of thousands of faithful Asian pioneers in previous decades are resulting in the availability of the fruits of the gospel to those in this vast area that is home to half of Heavenly Father’s children.

The Church’s Asia Area includes 22 countries—home to half of the world’s population. Image by Charles Jonathan Chamberlain.

Official recognition of the Church’s Representative Committee by the Vietnam government, May 31, 2016. Photo by Janet Cheong.

The Vietnam Hanoi Mission officially began on March 1, 2016, under President Lewis Hassel. The missionary force was 12 young missionaries and one senior couple.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson presides at Thailand’s 50th anniversary of its dedication. Image courtesy of Charles Jonathan Chamberlain.

The Grand Hotel in Taipei was the venue for a celebration of 60 years since missionaries first arrived. Photo by John Chen.

Recent 60th anniversary celebratory events in Taiwan included an island-wide devotional.