Friday, December 10, 2010

LDS Apostle L. Tom Perry Journeys To Guam To Organize Their First Stake

The Territory of Guam has reached a major milestone in LDS history; on December 12th, 2010, the first stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be organized there. And as is the custom, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be there to preside over the transition. This story has not shown up in LDS sources yet; the only stories have been published by Guam News Watch and KUAM News. The LDS Church Growth blog earlier reported that it will be called the Barrigada Guam Stake.

Elder L. Tom Perry will preside over the creation of Guam's first stake; until now, it had been a Mission District. Elder Perry told KUAM News, "Before, a mission person had the responsibility. Now the local leadership will take over. A stake president will be called. He'll be given the keys of authority to reside over this particular unit and then the whole organization will be in existence under a local unit instead of a mission president". News video embedded below:

The selection of Elder Perry to do the honors is particularly inspired, since he has a personal connection to the area. He served in the Pacific with the Marine Corps' 2nd Division during World War II. Elder Perry originally enlisted in the Navy after serving a Mormon mission, but during the time of enlistment, they asked for three volunteers to switch to the Marines. Because he though the Marine unifrom looked better than the Navy uniform, he stepped forward and switched.

According to official LDS statistics, there are 1,971 Church members on Guam, scattered among four congregations. In addition, there are 735 Church members listed under the Northern Mariana Islands. Most are in Saipan, but some may be on Rota and Tinian. The media reports do not make it clear whether the boundaries of the new Guam Stake will be limited to Guam, or if they'll also encompass the Northern Mariana Islands. Elder Perry plans to visit Saipan after his visit to Guam. The LDS Church Growth blog reports that the current Guam Mission District does include a branch in Saipan, so the Saipan branch may become part of the new Guam Stake.

LDS servicemembers first carried the Gospel to Guam during World War II. Afterwards, the bulk of Church growth was initially fueled by American military personnel assigned to the two major installations on the island, Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam. Open houses were frequently held, but attracted few indigenous residents. Finally, in May 1977, the first Chamorro couple to join, Don Calvo and his wife, Maria, were baptized. The Agat Branch was created in 1978, and in 1979, Herbert J. Leddy, the first missionary of Chamorro lineage, was called to the Tennessee Nashville Mission.


Anonymous said...

The Barrigada Guam Stake includes all of Guam, and all of the Northern Mariana islands... There are congregations only on the islands of Guam and Saipan at this time.

Anonymous said...

Arthur Clark, a resident of Guam and member of the church since early childhood, and a local attorney was called as Guam's first stake president. He previously served as the district president under the Guam Micronesia Mission. Oh... and there is only one congregation in Saipan, and I think it is the largest congregation in the stake--so it is very possible that the Saipan Branch will soon be the Saipan Ward.

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for the follow-up information from both of you. I'm sure that LDS Church News will post its own story after the stake is created.

Elder Perry is probably going to Saipan afterwards to preside over the elevation of the branch to ward status.