New Haitian Ward Is First in Florida, Second in U.S.
Contributed By Adam Bradford, Church News contributor
On May 7, 2017, the Linton Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which serves the Haitian Creole population of Palm Beach County, became the Linton Ward.
The creation of the newly formed Linton Ward marks a milestone in the Church’s growth in south Florida, especially for its more than 300 ward members. The Linton Branch was only established in October 2016.
The Linton Ward is one of only two wards serving Haitian Creole members in the United States (the other is the Boston 3rd Ward). Haitian branches include the Lyons Branch in Coral Springs, Florida, and the West Bridgewater 2nd Branch in the Boston area.
Members of Haitian descent have long been an important component of the Church’s membership in south Florida:
- The first Haitian Creole branch, Morningside Branch, was created in 1986 and became part of the Miami Shores Branch in 1992.
- In 2000, the Morningside Branch, which had been reconstituted in 1997, was again designated as a Haitian Creole unit, with membership drawn from the Miami Shores Ward, the Palm Springs Ward, and the Weston Ward. It functioned as a branch until 2006.
- The New River Branch, part of the Fort Lauderdale Stake, was created in 2004 and served members of Haitian descent until 2009.
- The Providence Branch, created in the same year as the New River Branch, served members until 2012.
- The Celeste Branch, formed in the Fort Meyers area, served members from May 2006 to March of 2013.
Members of Haitian descent are only a part of the tremendous growth that the Church has experienced in recent decades in the ethnically diverse south Florida.
In the Boynton Beach area alone, the Church has grown from five congregations in 2014 (Boca Raton Ward, Delray Beach Ward, Boynton Beach Ward, Palm Beach Ward, and West Palm Beach Ward) to 10 congregations. Those 10 congregations include several language-specific units, such as the Spanish-speaking Camino Gardens and Palm Springs Branches and the Portuguese-speaking Boca Rio Branch.
The completion in 2014 of the Fort Lauderdale Temple in Davie, Florida, which serves members from Jupiter to Key West, is another indicator of Church growth.