Beginning this August, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will serve in overseas assignments for a period of one year. Elder Oaks will serve as Area President in the Philippines, and Elder Holland will serve in the same capacity in Chile.
The First Presidency announced the appointments in a post–general conference training meeting with General Authorities on 9 April. The appointments mark the first time in decades that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve has lived and presided outside the United States. In the mid-1960s, Elder Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) and Elder Mark E. Petersen (1900–84) presided as Apostles over the European and West European Missions respectively. Elder David O. McKay (1873–1970) presided over the British Mission in the early 1920s as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder Oaks and Elder Holland will assist in training new Church leadership and in helping new members assimilate into the Church and attend the temple in the Philippines and Chile—areas of rapid Church growth. The new assignments will also enable members of the Quorum of the Twelve to gain additional experience in meeting such needs.
In the Philippines, Church membership has grown to nearly half a million, with much of the growth occurring in the past decade. More than 1,200 congregations, grouped in 80 stakes and 13 missions, now exist in this nation.
Chile now has more than 520,000 Latter-day Saints. In 1988 it became the fourth nation in the world to reach 50 stakes. Between 1983 and 1993, the numbers of Chilean members and stakes doubled, making Chile the country with the fastest-growing Church membership in South America. Continued growth, including the creation of 26 new stakes in the 1994–96 period, led to the creation of the Chile Area in 1996.