First Presidency Announces Consolidation of South America South and Chile Areas
"The kingdom of God transcends nations, cultures and borders. ... We are not as much North American, Chilean, Argentine, German, or Korean as we are Latter-day Saints." —Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, Chile Area President
In a letter dated September 28, 2011, the First Presidency announced that the South America South Area and the Chile Area will be combined into one area—the South America South Area, headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Chile Area, which was created on August 15, 1996, following tremendous growth (26 stakes were created between 1994 and 1996), is headquartered in Santiago, Chile. Members of the Church in the nation—which number 563,689—recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of missionary work in Chile.
Aside from the addition of Chile, the South America South Area as it currently stands will remain unchanged. The other countries included in the area are Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
“What a wonderful blessing that will be,” said Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy, President of the South America South Area. “Additional responsibilities will be delegated to Area Seventies and other local leaders. The talents and spiritual gifts of the leaders and members will increase as our Heavenly Father blesses them with additional opportunities to serve.”
Similar changes have occurred in other areas of the world. For instance, in August 2009 the South America North Area and South America West Area were combined into what is now the South America Northwest Area. Similarly, in 2008, the Europe Central and Europe West Areas were consolidated into a single area, the Europe Area.
Elder Arnold presided over the Brazil South Area when its consolidation with the Brazil North Area was announced and participated in the transition, which took place in 2007. “What a blessing for the people of Brazil,” he said. “The consolidation demonstrated the great confidence that our Heavenly Father has in the local leadership of the Church.”
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Seventy, President of the Chile Area, said: “As we witness the expansion of the Church and the gospel throughout the world, we see a commensurate expansion of trust extended to local leaders. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uniquely relies upon local leaders and the faithfulness of individual members everywhere throughout the world to build the kingdom.
“The kingdom of God transcends nations, cultures and borders,” he continued. “The Lord has given the keys of the ministry to the prophets and apostles of our day to ‘gather together in one all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 27:13). He also described His kingdom as a stone cut out of the mountain without hands which will roll forth, break in pieces all other nations and stand forever (see Daniel 2:28–45). That prophecy is being fulfilled as the gospel is preached throughout the world uniting all nations under ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5).
“While national pride is good,” he said, “we are not as much North American, Chilean, Argentine, German, or Korean as we are Latter-day Saints.”
The changes the First Presidency announced become effective on August 1, 2012.