Church Creates 100th Stake in Philippines (Updated 15 September 2017)

Church Creates 100th Stake in Philippines (Updated 15 September 2017)

News Release
 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created the 100th stake (diocese) as a result of significant membership expansion and growth. The Philippines becomes the fifth country in the world to have 100 or more stakes and the first in Asia. The stake was created by Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at a special conference at the Kia Theater, Cubao. The evening before there was a cultural celebration called "Upon the Isles of the Sea" that included over 600 enthusiastic participants celebrating the gospel in the Philippines in song and dance.

The 100th stake is the Mandaluyong stake created from the Makati, Makati East and Manila Philippines stakes. The new stake's boundaries were included in the original Manila stake, which was the first stake in the country, created on 20 May 1973.

Elder Andersen in talking about the significant growth in the Philippines explained that "it is because of who you are." He encouraged the people to "see the great place in the history of the restoration that you play."

Sister Kathy Andersen shared some brief comments in Tagalog at the conference session that were greatly appreciated by the audience.

Three of the early members of the Church in the Philippines were also invited to share their thoughts at the meeting. Augusto Lim, who joined the Church in October 1964, was the first stake president in the Philippines in 1973 and the first general authority of the Church called from the Philippines in 1992. Nenita Gapiz was the fifth member to be baptized, in November 1961. Rufelia Salangad was baptized in August 1963 and became an early sister missionary in January 1966.

Ray Goodson, who was one of the first four missionaries in the Philippines in 1961, and his wife Debbie who served with him when he was a mission president, were not able to attend the events. However, they sent a video message which included a statement from Ray that, "I never could have imagined that in my lifetime there would be 100 stakes."

Elder Andersen also referred to the cultural performance the previous night by saying, "I have never seen a better performance in all my life."

Elder Shayne M. Bowen, Philippines Area President, opened the cultural program. He said, "Tonight, we celebrate this significant milestone with riveting songs and dances. Each performance will highlight the rich and diverse culture of the different islands of the Philippines to show that despite cultural diversity, the Church can bring unity, peace and harmony among Filipinos as it continues to grow and spread throughout the isles of the sea."

The cultural program "Upon the Isles of the Sea" included over 600 excited participants from 19 stakes, made up of mostly youth, but also included children, young adults, and adults. Each of the major regions' cultures, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, were exhibited.

The finale included all participants together on the stage as a counter on the screen showed each of the existing 99 stakes in order of creation. Following this Elder Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen joined the participants on the stage. Elder Andersen's first words were "Wow, that was outstanding!" He later said, "We will never forget this and I hope you won't either." He also said that, "The next time I talk to President Monson (President of the Church) I am going to talk about you."

Following the program, Elder and Sister Andersen mingled with the participants on stage to the delight of all involved.

Dino Antenorcruz, the Director of the cultural celebration program said, "The real heroes of the show are the youth." He related that one of the participants said, "My experience will serve as an inspiration to serve more and follow the Savior."

The beginning of the Church in the Philippines started with a prayer offered on 28 April 1961, by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. In the prayer he asked for "the blessings of the Lord upon the missionary work in the Philippines." He also prayed that "there shall be many, many thousands who shall receive this message and be blessed thereby." Shortly after, the church was legally registered in the Philippines and the first four missionaries arrived.

In just 56 years, the church has grown to about 750,000 members in 100 stakes and 75 districts. There are currently 21 missions, 2 operating temples in Manila and Cebu and 2 more announced in Urdaneta and Alabang. There is a Missionary Training Center in Manila that recently doubled in size.

Other general authorities in attendance at the two events included President Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Allen D. Haynie, and Elder Evan A. Schmutz, of the Philippines Area Presidency, and wives Sister Rosana Soares, Sister Lynette Bowen, Sister Deborah Haynie, and Sister Cindy Schmutz.

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