Leaders Create New Stakes: Second in Russia, Eighth in Italy
By Gerry Avant, Church News editor
The creation of two stakes—the second in Russia and the eighth in Italy—and visits with two heads of state in the Balkans were among history-making events during recent travels by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
On Church assignments September 7–17, the Brethren went to eight countries: Portugal, Spain, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.
Elder Nelson created the St. Petersburg Russia Stake on September 9.
Elder Rasband divided the Milan Italy Stake to create the new Milan Italy East Stake on September 16; the Milan Italy Stake was renamed the Milan Italy West Stake.
Between the events of new stakes being created, Elder Nelson, Elder Rasband, and Bishop Caussé conducted an area review in Frankfurt, Germany, on September 13. Also, they conducted priesthood leadership training in Portugal and Italy. On September 8, 115 priesthood leaders from seven stakes and four districts in Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands participated in the leadership training meeting held in Lisbon. On September 15, 165 priesthood leaders from seven stakes and five districts received training in Milan.
While in the Europe Area and the Europe East Area, Elder Nelson and Elder Rasband were assisted by members of the Seventy who serve in the two Area Presidencies. From the Europe Area were Elder José A. Teixeira, Area President; Elder Patrick Kearon, First Counselor; and Elder Kent F. Richards, Second Counselor, and from the Europe East Area, Elder Larry R. Lawrence, Area President; and Elder Gvido Senkans, Area Seventy.
Elder Nelson and Elder Rasband met with members and missionaries in special meetings during their travels.
Also, Elder Rasband met with Croatia’s president, Ivo Josipovic, in Zagreb on September 10. In Sarajevo on September 12, he met with Željko Komšic, one of the three-person presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The General Authorities were accompanied by their wives: Sister Wendy W. Nelson, Sister Melanie T. Rasband, Sister Jennifer H. Kearon, Sister Marsha G. Richards, Sister Laurel S. Lawrence, and Sister Velga Senkans.
In Lisbon, Sister Nelson and Sister Rasband met with more than 600 women, most of whom serve in auxiliaries in three stakes.
In Milan, they met with more than 500 women from the stake that was divided the next day.